July 4, 2011, will be the 30th anniversary of the day we fell in love. Even though we got married 10 years, 2 kids, a house and a Volvo later, we still count from the first day, because it was truly Love at First Sight (the way we count it, we got married for our 10th anniversary). For our 20th anniversary Sarah wrote about it for a “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” Valentine’s Radio Show, and here’s the story…
As I child I was a hopeless romantic. I believed that there was a True Love for me out there, somewhere in the world. I had recurring dreams about a boy, always the same age as me as I grew, who was with me on all my adventures. He had straight brown hair and the most amazing blue-green, sparkly eyes. Starting in Jr. High School I would fall head-over-heels in love with every brown-haired, blue-green-eyed adventurous boy I met. I’d hurt with how much I loved them, and was sure each one was The One. But no boy ever felt the same about me. By the time I got to high school, the cynicism had already sunk in–I knew there was no dream adventure boy. But that didn’t stop me from falling in love with a long-time friend who’d been loving me from afar for a couple of years already. When I graduated from high school, he asked me to marry him and I thought, “Now here’s the Real prince charming–he has brown eyes.” We planned to get married in a year when he graduated from college and I made plans to attend college myself. It was all so wonderful, I thought I couldn’t be happier.
My best friend was a year younger, so she was still a senior in high school and a little less worldly, I thought, than I, engaged to be married and all. When her brother had a Fourth of July party, inviting all his high school chums, she asked me to PLEASE come so she wouldn’t be the only girl. I wasn’t that interested in going–I didn’t need to meet any new people, I had my life going for me!–but I promised her I wouldn’t leave her alone.
As I was driving down the street in front of her house, looking for a parking spot, I happened to glance up at her front steps. Two boys were coming out of the house and one of them looked up at me, smiling at something they were talking about. At that moment, I felt the most amazing thing… it was as if I had just been knocked in the chest, all the air went out of me, WHOOMP. He literally took my breath away. He was cute, for sure, with a bit of that cockiness that cute young guys often get when they know they’re cute. But it wasn’t his looks that so shocked me. It was more like recognition, though I’d never seen him before. “Calm yourself, girl” I chided myself. “You’re happily engaged to be married and you have no business thinking about some other cute boy.”
I pulled myself together, trying to calm the adrenaline coursing through me, found a place to park and forged on in to the party. Fortunately, the cute boy had left, so I had a chance to compose myself. I found my friend and she introduced me around a bit. There were lots of other cute boys there and I found myself unintentionally attracting attention–something my mother had mentioned once about how married women can become even more attractive because of their relaxed self-assurance. I wandered into the dining room, grazed at the munchies, talked and laughed, and then HE walked in. The Cute Boy. Ohmygod, he took my breath away again. I felt like a Jr. High dorky kid, scared to say you like someone–you know that whole game of actively ignoring someone? “If I walk out of the room now, he’ll know I’m avoiding him, so better just act nonchalant, like nothing ever happened. Ohmygod, he’s right next to me getting chips! Quick, turn the other way.” But then one of the other boys who’d been paying way too much attention to me said, “oh, Sarah, have you met Max? Max, this is Sarah.” Max smiled and his eyes met mine, and it was like an electric shock…he had blue-green eyes that glittered.
I spent the rest of the evening avoiding him, slipping out of rooms he’d walked in to, choosing another way if I saw he was up ahead. I knew at every moment exactly where he was, but I wasn’t going to let him know that! Later the party moved out to the beach to watch the fireworks–oh yeah, I’d forgot it was Fourth of July! I kept my distance from the Cute Boy at all times, but I had my radar locked on him. Sometime during the fireworks, my friend got up from the log we were sitting on and THERE HE WAS, right there on the other side of her! I just couldn’t be so obvious as to get up and leave, so I buckled down and pretended I didn’t notice he was there. But I listened to him bantering with the girls on the other side of him. He was clever, and sweet. No macho baloney, just fun. I thought he’d be the kind of guy who knew he was cute and used it to his advantage, but he seemed completely genuine and unaware of his good looks.
After the beach, the party moved to my house (we were just out of high school and my parents were out of town… remember those parties?). Everyone was having a grand old time, and by and by things started to wind down. Suddenly there were just a few people left, and HE was one of them. His sense of humor delighted me, but I still was making sure he didn’t see that I was paying any particular attention to him. Then a few of the others left and I found, to my horror, that I was alone with HIM. His ride and my best friend where somewhere else, having their own private little party… I took a deep breath and determined to be calm, cool, not show any of my school-girl star-struck jitters. Then he sat down at the piano and began to play.
I will never forget the feeling of calm and warmth that washed over me when he began to play. It was all his own composition… just went on and on with no beginning and no end. I gave up entirely trying to do or be anything other than just wrapped up in the music. When he did stop playing, we began talking. I told him all about my fiancée and how wonderful he was, and then we talked some more. It went something like “You mean you wonder about that all the time too? I’ve never met anyone who admitted to thinking that way before. You mean you did that when you were 10? So did I! You mean that’s a dream of yours? That’s what I’ve always dreamed of!!” It was amazing. We were so much alike. Both artists, both adventurers, both a little different from everybody else, but so much like each other! We grew up with so many of the same esoteric child-hood experiences; our parents both non-conformist intellectuals, our mothers both into fabrics and making their own clothes, our fathers both successful, honest self-made men, our siblings talented and challenging us to be more. We even discovered that we had both fallen into the same memorable fountain at the tender age of 3, an indelible trauma in both our childhoods. It was so much like meeting my other half…
We talked and talked, and suddenly the birds were singing in the dawn. I knew in that moment that I had to reconsider my engagement. It was hard on my fiancée, but from that moment on Max and I were together every day. We didn’t know what we would end up doing or being, but we were willing to be in it, whatever we were into, 100% all the time. No fear of how big our love seemed to be growing, no holding back or shying away from what the future might hold. We delighted in doing things together we’d never done before, and found new aspects of familiar things to delight in. We became inseparable and were known to our friends as SarahandMax or MaxandSarah.
Last Fourth of July we celebrated our 20th anniversary. We did something new we’d never done before… a road trip to Washington State without our teenage boys. We’ve had so many amazing adventures over the years, Max always right there by my side. Of course real life together hasn’t been all sweetness and light. We don’t always think alike and we’ve threatened to almost separate several times over the years. He doesn’t always take care of things I think he should, and I’m not always as nice as he thinks I ought to be. But when I look at him, I know there’s no one like him in the world. He can still take my breath away. When I was in labor with our first one, it was looking up at his smile that took the pain away. I’ll gladly forgive any perceived trespass I may hold against him just to be able to lean up against him as we stand in line at the grocery store, or see those eyes shining at me as we explore some new frontiers. He’s clever, and warm, adventurous, unconventional, really truly sweet, and plays the most beautiful music that touches my soul. No macho bravado, no proving he’s man enough or trying to be more than he is–just Max–like no one else can be. Did I mention he’s got straight brown hair and the most amazing blue-green, sparkly eyes?