As a child of divorce, I did not believe in love. I certainly did not believe in marriage. And I was never going to be like my friends who fell in love as teens, married their high school sweethearts, and ended up…you guessed it…divorced.
At the impressionable age of thirteen, a fiercely curious freshman exploring the world wide-eyed with wonder, I gravitated toward anyone with a car. I’d always been a bit of a rolling stone and had already grown bored with our no-redlight town. I wanted to GO!
It didn’t take long for me to find friends who loved to do just that. We were not kids with money. We all worked hard, juggling multiple low-pay jobs and tons of extracurricular activities. We also maintained strong grades and kept out of any real trouble. But when we found a sliver of time, we’d hit the road. Fun? Plenty. Sleep? Never!
My mother, bless her heart, did her best to hold the reins, but for some reason she trusted a boy named Chuck. I had a “boyfriend” (whom I was never allowed to see), so Chuck was safe. And I was all for it, because Chuck was not contained by silly little things like curfews, and parents who stayed in town on weekends, and a lack of transportation. And most importantly, Chuck had my taste in music!
Over time, Chuck became my best friend, and he stayed that way for more than a year before he dared to kiss me. When he did, oh, how my heart was broken! I was no fool. I knew love never lasted. Especially not silly high school love. And I was terrified of losing my best friend. I relied on him for everything, and I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life. One thing was for sure…he would never kiss me again.
Well, never say never.
Throughout my high school years, Chuck and I fell in and out of love, breaking each other’s hearts, as teens seem to do. But through it all, we continued to call every day, even when we were dating other people. We likely had the most bizarre relationship ever charted. But it stuck. All the way through high school, and on into college.
Our lives drifted apart when Chuck set off for college, but still we made time for a daily phone call, even if it was just to check in. By my sophomore year at university, Chuck transferred to LSU (where I was studying) and our relationship slowly evolved into something more mature.
He was in graduate school when we were visiting one of my favorite old Florida beach towns. There, Chuck proposed. After the initial shock, I accepted. Then I completely and totally freaked out. I was the girl who was never going to build my life around some guy. I was not going to have his children only to watch him walk away, leaving me anchored and him on the “Go!” What in the world had I done?
I’d like to say that feeling eased during the year we planned our wedding, but, honestly, I was one of those brides who stood in the dressing room trying to decide how to bolt without hurting everyone’s feelings. I did not believe in love. I did not believe in marriage. And I certainly was not going to be the one who married my high school sweetheart.
But that’s exactly what I did. I took the leap. I walked the aisle and said, “I do” March 18, 1995. And what do ya’ know…Chuck and I are still hanging on, and he’s still my best friend, and we now have two amazing children who are eagerly exploring the world wide-eyed with wonder.
Next month, we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. We have packed as much adventure as possible into these years, and I’m happy to say Chuck remains the one person I count on for everything, and the one who understands when I say, “Let’s go!”