On this day in 2012, my wife and I stood in front of our family and friends to proclaim our undying commitment to one another. Four years later, one condo, one dog, a couple career changes, countless trips, and one child later, we’re as happy and as strong as we’ve ever been. I’m not quite sure what I’d be doing right now if my life didn’t turn out exactly how it is right now, and frankly, I don’t even want to think about that, because this is right where I’m supposed to be, and I knew that way before my wife and I ever got married.
Most people are aware that my wife and I have known each other for over 20 years now, we went to Junior High School together, but I’m not sure if everyone knows our complete origin story…
Our Jr. High was comprised of a handful of students from two different elementary schools in neighboring towns. The grade levels were broken into two teams, each team consisted of 3 (maybe 4) teachers of which you rotated between for different classes, while maintaining a home room. You never had any classes with the the other team except for maybe on a rare occasion. Because of these segregated teams, and since we didn’t go to the same elementary school, my wife and I did not know each other in 6th grade at all. We probably passed each other in the halls, maybe made eye contact a few times, but never really knew each other, or anything about each other. But as fate would have it, our worlds collided in 7th grade when we were placed on the same team.
Now I can’t recall if we had the same home room teacher or not, but I do remember that we both had Ms. Herbert for science class. It was in this class that I remember noticing her for the first time and developing a middle-school crush. I still knew nothing about her other than what I could gather from seeing her in a couple classes each day, but there was just something about her that drew me in.
What I do remember, however, is being paired up with her for a genetics project in that class. We were learning about dominant and recessive genes and traits that can be passed down from parents to a child. There were these weird box charts we had to make to determine, based on our physical features, what traits our child would have if we were to have a child together. Obviously at the time I had no idea that 20+ years later I would actually have a child with this person or I would have saved the terrible drawing I did for this project. I swore up and down that I could handle the drawing, and it basically turned out like a potato with hair only on the very top of its head, it was awful. Outside of this drawing, I don’t remember any of the traits that our child “could have had”, but I do remember that it was around this time that I told one of her friends to tell her that I liked her, and that’s how it all began.
We “dated” for about 6 months that school year. I remember our first date was going to see the movie Before Sunrise with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. We saw it at the Golf Glen movie theater in Glenview, which is now a movie theater that only shows Bollywood movies, but it used to be one of the only movie theaters that allowed underage people into rated R movies, which is how we were able to see this flick. Years later, days after we would start dating, I would buy her this movie (and it’s sequel), for her birthday.
I only remember a couple of other things from our time dating. I know there were some bar/bat mitzvahs that we would attend, more movies we would see, and field trip bus rides together, but the big thing I remember is the first time we kissed.
We were terrible about public PDA at school, and even got scolded for it a couple times, but I’ll never forget this day. Celeste and I would see each other in between classes near the gym (which was near all the 7th grade classrooms) and we’d chat for a minute and then hug and kiss on the cheek before we would part ways and head to our next classes. On this particular day we hugged and then went to kiss each other on the cheek, but neither of us made it fully to the cheek and we ever so slightly caught lips.
It wasn’t a full blown kiss on the lips, but it was enough for Celeste to write me a letter during her next class about it where she proceeded to dot all of her “i’s” with hearts. And it was enough for me to be able to relive that day in my mind forever. I can’t speak for her, but I think it may have been my first real kiss, ever… Sure there are pictures of me and other toddlers (family friends) kissing when we were like 2, but those don’t count. So this might have actually been my first real kiss… and who would have guessed what that would lead to… us breaking up a few months later.
I mean seriously, it was 7th grade. I hope nobody thought that we actually dated from 1995 until now… that’s a bit unrealistic. In fact, a couple months after we broke up, I set her up with my best friend Pat, whom she dated for a few months, and whom we’re still extremely close friends with and see on a regular basis. So while we did “date” in 7th grade, it wasn’t until after college that we would reconnect and date for real.
After Jr. High, Celeste went off to Loyola High School and I went to Glenbrook North. We still kept in touch, but mainly through a mutual Jr. High friend that she had become close to, Mike Buell. Mike and I went to the same high school and remained close friends (still to this day), but him and Celeste remained closer friends during high school than Celeste and I did. But because of their friendship, her and I still kept in touch and still saw each other every once in a while, but it wasn’t until college when the two of us really started talking again.
We did not go to the same colleges, although we were only a few hours away from each other, but something brought us together during that time… and that something was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). AIM was the way to keep in touch with your friends during the infancy of the internet and cell phones. I don’t know exactly when we started talking again, but as soon as we did, we talked quite a bit (I actually have old logs to prove it). We became pretty close through chatting and would hang out quite a bit when we were both home for breaks and the summer. But it wasn’t until after college ended that we started hanging out all the time.
Celeste and I started dating in March of 2006, about a week before her birthday. Again, I remember exactly where I was (Tom Q’s basement playing Xbox against people upstairs on another Xbox, exciting stuff) and what the circumstances were that lead to us finally making it official. We had been hanging out a lot prior to all of this, but I’m not sure why we were hesitant to jump into a full blown relationship. Actually, I lied, I do know why I was a little hesitant.
We were 24 years old and I knew that if Celeste and I started dating that I would marry her…
There was no doubt in my mind what so ever… and that scared me a bit. I didn’t know if I was ready for that or not, but there were certain things that happened that night that made me realize that I was truly in love with this girl and I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t jump into this thing head first… so we did. Six years later, on May 19, 2012, we got married, just as I had predicted in my head, and it was one of the greatest days of my life. That same year we would buy our condo together, the following year we would be joined by our dog [Peter] Parker, and in 2015 we would welcome into our lives our beautiful daughter Cameron (CJ).
Who would have known that all of this would have come out of a shitty drawing of a balding potato in 7th grade. Who would have known that we would have become best friends years before dating and subsequently getting married, and who would have guessed that we would have this awesome story to tell about how we ended up together…
And who would have guessed that this is just the beginning…