Saturday, May 7, 2011
How I Met Her
She had heard about me before she met me. I knew one of her friends. He’s a cool guy, Holly’s friend had told her.
We didn’t say much to each other the first few months we knew each other. Hello. How are you. Going out later? Holly and I didn’t have the same friends. We didn’t accidentally run into each other. We worked together. One night, I bummed a cigarette from her on our break. We sat outside, on the steps of the building at the University of Florida where we worked, and we smoked long past our regular break time. Later that night, I asked if she wanted to meet for ice cream. She did.
Our courtship was quick. We went out dancing on the Fourth of July. We started spending the night together a few weeks later. When her lease ended at the end of the summer, she moved into an empty apartment in the complex where I lived. We were on opposite sides of the building. We each had a cat. When she and I wanted to be alone, we’d lock the cats in one apartment and spend the night together in the other apartment.
I was a year ahead of her. I asked her to marry me less than three weeks before my college graduation. The soonest she’d be done was the next August. I had to buy her engagement ring with a credit card. I needed 12 months to pay for it. She said yes. Of course she said yes. I waited for her to graduate. The next day, we started driving an 18-foot moving truck (with my car hitched behind it) to Seattle. The trip took 60 hours. We took turns driving. We didn’t stop. Even then, we were in a hurry for the next phase of our conjoined life.
Holly and I had a son, Avery. Even before he was born, she became his mother. Focusing on Avery meant she wasn’t focusing on herself, or on me, or on herself with me. She stopped seeing me, or maybe we stopped seeing each other.
Marriages, and the people inside of them, sometimes fade. You don’t think it can happen until it does. And one day you wake up and you wonder how the person next to you got there. You don’t want to be there beside that person. You think there is someone better suited out there for you. You think you got married too young, or maybe that you don’t have to be afraid anymore.
Three years after our son’s birth, Holly and I had a daughter, Aurora.
By then, we were no longer living together, and we had talked about getting divorced. Small problems became big problems became even bigger problems that become insurmountable problems.
Somehow, without knowing it, my relationship with Holly had become very much like a Sarah McLachlan song. Heartbreak. Sorrow. A catchy chorus. Possible redemption. Hope.
Emily Dickinson once said that hope is a thing with feathers.
With Holly, I always felt like I could fly, mostly because she’d look at me as if I could fly.
Our journey remains conjoined, albeit differently than we had envisioned during that 60-hour drive to Seattle. Families don’t break; they simply untangle and rearrange. Red hair. Green eyes. An uneasy laugh. Two children. Two cross-country moves. Seven homes (counting our two apartments in college). Wedding rings we no longer wear. And love.
William Henderson has written for local and national newspapers and magazines, including the Advocate, the Boston Globe, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, Euonia Review (forthcoming in June 2011), and the New England Blade (formerly In Newsweekly), where he served as editor. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism & Communications from the University of Florida, and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Emerson College, where he studied creative non-fiction. He earned a Hearst Award in profile writing in 1998. Currently, he works as a freelance writer, editor, and copyeditor, and is a full-time father to his children, Avery and Aurora. “How we met …” is part of an in-progress memoir, House of Cards. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @Avesdad.