Eighteen years ago today Derek and I went on our first official date.
We were 19 years old. Young. Very young.
When he came to pick me up he got out of the car and opened my door for me. It embarrassed me a little. It's only since we've had children that he's stopped doing that. Over the years I grew to appreciate the gesture. It made me feel special.
We had a nice dinner at The Fairmount Hotel. He paid. It was the first time anyone ever took me to a restaurant for a date. I had beef kabobs and rice. Derek got salad dressing on his upper lip and lettuce in his teeth. I didn't tell him about either one. It was awkward.
I wore a flimsy, short sleeved, navy blue, shoulder-padded, floral print dress with black pantyhose. I wore the only "dressy" shoes I had - flat heeled, brown leather in a basketweave design with scuffed up toes. They went really well with my summery dress - not! I was freezing cold.
We discovered that our birthdays were only 10 days apart. I was disappointed in that. I wanted him to be at least a year older than me for some reason. We talked about our university classes. Derek said he was going to redo any courses that he didn't get an A in. Uh-huh. He lost that ambition pretty quickly. He talked about his sister and told me his father was a professor at the university. I don't recall what I talked about. Probably not much. At 19 I wouldn't have considered myself a very interesting person. I'm sure I was right. Telling him I like to stay home and do cross-stitch would have broken all the dating rules according to Cosmo, anyway.
I remember the waitress bringing the dessert cart to us and I chose something that had a chocolate heart on top. I think Derek chose pie.
Afterwards we went to see a movie. Philadelphia. We liked it.
It was such a nice, comfortable first date. I enjoyed myself so much I didn't want to go home. So we drove around in his parents' powder blue, Cutlass Ciera. It felt swanky to me. I was used to driving around in a glittery green jalopy Dodge Shadow. We drove around for hours. Just talking. Getting to know each other.
When he brought me home he walked me to my door and kissed my hand. Nerd.
But I had a good feeling about that boy. He felt safe. Dependable.
He helped me with my physics homework.
Twelve years later I married him.
We didn't do anything fancy to celebrate the big 18.
Instead, we hung out with our little girls, played and had a nice family day.
Eighteen years later we no longer have time for quiet restaurant dinners or blockbuster movies.
Now there are no awkward silences.
I'm no longer too shy and polite to tell him when he has something in his teeth. Or when he needs a haircut.
If someone had told me on February 12, 1994 that eighteen years later I would be sitting with that man in a little, pink bedroom, watching a little girl "read" a book to her baby sister I wouldn't have believed it. I certainly never dreamed it. Back then I would have probably thought my life would be filled with dinner parties and world travelling. Isn't that what you're supposed to want? At least isn't that what a young girl raised on meat and potatoes, in a six room house shared amongst six people and who never set foot on an airplane until she was 22, is supposed to want? Isn't having a life filled with opulence and adventure the grandest definition of "making it"?
Well... I'll tell you what. While I wish Derek and I had travelled more before we had children, the greatest gift I could have ever received, the greatest life I never could have imagined, I got. Right here, in this house, with these people who exsist because I chose to say "I will". Who needs dinner parties and elaborate celebrations when you can have imaginary tea parties and read stories about fairy princesses? Not me. Not us.
We made it. We're stilling making it.