Today is my wedding anniversary. While Brian and I have been married 5 years, we have known each other since we were 15 years old. We met at summer camp.
Though recently we've decided that that's way too sweet, and we should start telling people we met at rehab.
That would be much more interesting, and fewer people would assume that we are childhood sweethearts. But the truth is that we met at a Methodist church camp, where we went canoeing and white water rafting.
That was the year several of us snuck out of our tents in the middle of the last night at camp, thinking we would walk around like cool teenagers. Someone saw our flashlights in the dark, as we hadn't been expecting any of the staff to be in the administrative office so late.
We all ran like the dickens back to our tents, but not all of us made it back. One girl ran into the woods rather than straight up the path through the power easement the way we had come, and was eventually discovered by the staff person who had hopped on a golf cart to give chase. This wouldn't have been so bad, except that I had brought a lighter as an additional source of light, which dropped out of my shorts as we sprinted. This gave the camp's administrators reason to believe that there had been more shenanigans than just the two flashlights they had seen. The next day, our last day at camp, they interrogated the girl who had been found in the woods and another girl who had thrown herself on the grenade and claimed to have also been out. But the staff wasn't satisfied, bringing everyone from our group together to interrogate us, hoping to smoke out the truth. After hours of this uncomfortable deadlock, I finally decided that I had to put an end to the truly ridiculous waste of our last moments at camp. And besides, they couldn't send us home early - our parents were probably already on their way to pick us up. I admitted that I had been out the night before, and that was the reason they saw more flashlights. My intent was to end this ordeal, but before the staff could regain composure and hide their surprise, another friend announced that he had also been out. Soon everyone who had been out was announcing that they, too, had been a part of this massive escape. One boy stood on his chair, in the middle of the concrete floor in the camp administration building, and said, "My name is [name extracted to protect the current law enforcement officer], and I am an alcoholic. ...I mean, I was out last night, too." So you see, within the first ten days of meeting each other, Brian and I participated in something of a group meeting you might see in rehab...
We stayed in touch by writing letters to each other, as electronic mail was not available to those outside the Pentagon.
We also would meet up at a mall situated between our homes, having our parents drive us there and back. Of course, after some time, we lost touch, since no one actually keeps in touch with camp buddies, right?
A few years passed, but we eventually reconnected through an invention called e-mail. He had gone off to college, and therefore had plenty of free time in front of a computer on a university network, and I had dragged the old family computer into my bedroom, and was soon staring at a black screen with luminous green text late into the evenings. We emailed like crazy, discussing important topics such as Newt Gingrich, which college I would be choosing to attend, and monkeys, until he came home for the summer break, and we were able to spend time in person. By that time, I had chosen a different college than the one he was attending, but the vast majority of our friendship was based on written communication anyway. We celebrated his birthday by going bowling, and on the score sheet, he drew stick figures of fat people falling on me, which was quite romantic.
When fall arrived, we headed off to our separate schools, and now that I had a new computer and a magical thing called "the ethernet," our communication really ramped up. Also around this time, a new technology called "instant messaging," where one could send a message from one computer nearly instantly to another computer (different from electronic mail in that it was more instant), was invented, and we spent many hours engaged in what the kids of the time called "chatting." Brian had become my best friend, and while there was a lot of nonsense and joking in all of that typing, there was also a lot of genuine support and friendship. By the end of winter break that year, we were dating. There are a lot of stories associated with our years of dating, to include the time we were busted for fishing without a license... the time his 1971 Dodge Charger R/T (with a 440 engine) broke down and while he was running to a pay phone to call for a tow, I was able to get it to start and drove it to a parking lot... the time he got me a cellular telephone device so we could talk over long distance for free, and the first bill was over $800... and the time we didn't actually break up when I got a puppy... But since this is about our wedding anniversary, I won't go much into our dating years.
We got engaged at the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago during a weekend trip there. I had convinced him that I would love a sapphire ring - otherwise I think he would still be saving for the most expensive diamond ring on the planet. And the ring he found was absolutely perfect.
We got married in our dining room, with our County's Clerk of the Court (a friend) officiating, and his wife directing, and our parents, brothers and grandmothers attending. I wore a blue dress my mom and I found on sale at a department store. We then negotiated the sales woman down even further.
We've been through job transitions together, the acquisitions and deaths of dogs, and the purchase of two homes. We've attended more blues concerts than I can count, accomplished more home improvement projects than I ever would have predicted we could take on, and we're still the best of friends. All this despite my considerable foibles! Two years ago we were in Chicago on vacation during the week of our anniversary. Somehow, we both managed to forget our anniversary until about 9:30 p.m. when we were at the airport waiting to board our flight home. I glanced at the tv playing CNN, and caught a glimpse of the date. It slowly dawned on me that it was our wedding anniversary. I laughed and laughed, until I could finally say to a very confused Brian, "happy anniversary!" I am happy to report that we haven't driven each other to rehab yet. But if we went, we'd go together. Five long years. You know just what I'm talking about.