It doesn't seem like that long of a time when you count it out in days. 1,461 days of feeling like a new person. Of feeling like shouting and screaming...in a good way. Of being able to smile with ease, sleep in comfort, and dream happy dreams. Four years ago was our first date. Not everyone pinpoints this moment. Probably some people stop celebrating the small anniversaries of first dates, first kisses, first other special times, when they get married and have a "legal" anniversary. But I will never, ever forget these dates and times and experiences. That first date was the moment everything changed. Yes, the marriage changed things, too, but he was already in my life, already sharing a home, already loving me. It is corny, trite, and possibly unbelievable, but it really was our first date when I first thought, "I could spend my life with this man." I am sure he wasn't quite as confident as me (since I'm easily the crazy one), but we clicked from the get-go. You've all heard the story, but let's revisit for reminiscence sake:
Having known each other through friends for years, we never spoke more than a "hey" to each other before the summer of weddings (2004 was a little insane). Being newly single myself, every potentially single, dateable man was on my radar. At Anne and Josh's wedding (July), I considered Patrick, but he was dancing with another girl all night, so that was that. At Heather and Trav's wedding (August) however, we were both in the wedding party, and we were both the only singles. Sweet. Happenstance put us together at the reception for the formal wedding party dance, and then we ended up dancing all night. Some of us went out afterwards, and I invited him to join us. He said no. Again, that was that. In September, a random dinner gathering in the cities brought us together once more. I remember saying to Anne, "I plan on flirting with your friend Pat tonight; I hope you don't mind." But mostly, it was because I was coming off a really bad string of dates, was sorely depressed, and was planning on getting drunk. Indeed, I did get drunk. I remember awkwardly being forced to sit next to Pat at the restaurant (people moved very obviously and it was embarrassing), but I don't remember how the night ended. Up to this point, we'd never really had a real conversation. It wasn't until Thanksgiving at Heather and Trav's party (we would have seen each other in October at a Halloween party, too, completing the once a month thing, but he decided randomly to fly to Texas to visit family) did we actually, really, genuinely talk. A lot. I scarcely remember who else was at that party. And he ate two pieces of the apple pie I baked. I am an old-fashioned woman who likes nothing more than a man enjoying her cooking. My heart was all a-flutter. We were the last to leave. But, no request for a phone number even, let alone a date. Sigh. Heather took things into her own hands and told her husband how much I liked him. Travas told Pat, gave him my number. The next day he called. (It should be noted, I actually remember every detail of that first phone call, too, but I'll spare you.)
Fast forward two weeks later, the first time he could get down to Mankato (the first 6 months of relationship were long distance in nature). Stereotypically, we met for drinks after a hockey game. The bar we were meeting at was packed, so we walked about 5 blocks in the freezing cold to find a place with chairs available. Great way to start a first date. But when we got there, it became the perfect first date. Drinks and talking...for hours. We closed the place down without even realizing it. I thought our waitress was being pushy, coming back so many times, but it turns out she had only stopped over three times in three hours. We just had no concept of time. We talked about so many things. There was never a lull. Sigh. It was perfect. Over the next month, we followed this very movie-like, stereotype of a dating progression. Second date: dinner and a move. Third date: a dinner of convenience (I was in his neck of the woods). Fourth date: movie on the couch, out with friends for drinks and karaoke, sleepover. Fifth date: a friend's party, together, for the first time (we even potlucked it together, stopping at the grocery store on the way). It was New Year's Eve and he kissed me at midnight in front of our friends. Heaven.
The rest, as they say, is history. More or less. We've gone through a lot together in the past four years, but some things we've never done include: break up (not once, not even for a day), fought (like really fight, like say things you can't take back, walk out on each other, etc.), doubt. It is silly to think I was ever in love before Patrick. I just never knew what true, real, unconditional love felt like. It's the best kind. Some people think we moved too fast (moved in together after a year, got engaged after a year and a half, married after two and a half), but those people are crazy. I would've have married Pat after four dates. When you know, you feel it. And it was fabulous. Still is.
Next week, we fly to Jamaica to celebrate. A second honeymoon before your second wedding anniversary sounds extravagant, but we are just enjoying every minute we have together, and we love to travel almost as much as we love each other :-).
Happy first-date, day my life changed, anniversary, honey. I love you.