Tony and I met at Camp Yamhill during the Senior Teen camp in the summer of 2000. We spent time with the same ornery group of friends but, at the time, both had our eyes on different people. Didn't really pay much attention to each other, though I remember enjoying a skit he was in during campfire. I just remembered him as the main character's lackey. It was not love at first sight. In fact, we were just acquaintances. I feel, in retrospect, that God meant it that way. We were close to some of the same people, but were not prepared for one another. Those who distracted us at the time unknowingly did God's work. We both had obstacles to overcome and grow from and personal and spiritual changes to make. Besides, we were kids. He was going into his freshman year of high school and I was going into my second year. Babies.
Fast forward (or skip, to you younger folks) to 2004. I was in my second year at a small, ,Christian liberal arts college, Cascade, and finding my place among friends who had the same love of God as I had. I had recently written up a long, exhaustive list of what I required in someone I would spend my life with. I even categorized this list as "non-negotiable", "prefer to have", and "I'll probably settle for less." I prayed over it, and made the decision to focus on my spiritual life and my relationship with God, and let go of the desire for romantic love. That would come when He willed it. I enjoyed being at school and singing with the choir, but my academics were lacking. I'd always struggled with this due to retention and brain fog issues which are a frustrating part of Fibromyalgia. I had become somewhat of a quitter when I started struggling to understand or couldn't figure out what the instructor expected of me. I'd just stop showing up or I'd take notes, retain as much information as I could, but give up on getting the assignments in and passing.
I also was, and have been most of my life, struggling with depression and anxiety, as well as insomnia. Again, these are common with Fibromyalgia. I often fell into despair for no apparent reason and would journal, or sleep. I was just coming out of one of the worst dark times after having lost my beloved uncle just months before. I started spending more time with other people and hanging out in the common areas of campus instead of hiding out in my dorm.
A lot of my friends from Camp Yamhill ended up going to Cascade as well, including Lynn, a friend whose dad went to school with my parents. I noticed a kind of familiar guy spent a lot of time with her. Figured it was her boyfriend. He was kind of cute, though, in a scruffy, frowny sort of way. One day, I happened to ask her who the cute guy was, to which she replied, "Cute? Gross. You don't mean my cousin, Tony, do you?" Ha! Good, I could begin developing a crush.
Tony and I had a couple of classes together, APE (American Political Economics? I don't remember. It was a class that I unconsciously black-listed and mentally blocked) and choir. I sat in front of him. Mmm... Baritone. I love me some baritone, and he was a good one (still is.) I don't remember how it began, but he was soon incorporated into my group of friends. My best guy friend, John (or Mougli, to some), hit it off with him, too. We all played pool together, while listening to music, usually Cake, often Pink Floyd. We'd also play Apples to Apples, which is totally a riot with a bunch of smart alecks with ridiculous senses of humor.
I learned in a communications class that the best time to get to know a guy is while playing a game or sport. Guys need something to do or look at to be able to get into "share" mode. I, of course, took full advantage of this knowledge and got Tony talking. We came from similar backgrounds and shared religious and political beliefs, and he loves his mama. These were on my list. Non-negotiable. (Eventually, I'd find he had every. single. quality. Every one that I had listed and prayed over. Even the ones I thought I'd end up settling on.
The more I learned about him, the more I liked him and the cuter he got, but I was determined that I would focus on God. I had been sleeping better at night for a while, though never amazingly. One night, I realized I couldn't sleep (even medicated) because I was so excited to see, talk to, and spend time with Tony. I couldn't stop thinking about him long enough even to sleep. This became a pattern. I'd struggle to sleep at night, but not with unhappy thoughts and despairing, but with renewed vigor and zeal for life! I had really come to actually like who I was and felt that God liked who I was, but I was also wondering constantly how Tony saw me. It occurred to me that he never called me "dude" or anything like most of my guy friends did. He didn't see me as "one of the guys!" I was pretty sure of it.
I tried to broach the subject with Mougli without revealing anything, but he saw. He knew. "Ah know you like him," he drawled. No, no. I wasn't crazy about this guy. Just curious. He's different, that's all. Obviously, my friend is crazy about his new girlfriend, Rachelle, and wants everyone to be happy and twitterpated, too. One night, Mougli and I were on the phone ALL NIGHT. He was trying to convince me to reveal my feelings to Tony. He understood my apprehensions, as I had a history of falling for my guy friends, only to be let down. But he thought I really should let it out. Get it off my chest so I could learn Tony's feelings.
I had this (still have, actually) Arby's oven mitt toy from a kids' meal. A friend had given it to me. If you pull the thumb down, it reveals different answers like a Magic 8 Ball- "no,""ask again later,""maybe,""yes, yes, yes!"
I kept getting "Yes, yes, yes!" every time I'd ask whether I should tell Tony how I felt. I know, lamest thing you've ever heard. This kept coming up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The whole time John and I were talking. So, I told him fine. I'd tell Tony that I was really starting to feel something for him. At lunch the next day. John let out a "Whoop!" and promptly told me to go to sleep. I didn't, but I tried. Even took my sleeping pill. Couldn't sleep anyway.
On the way to Chapel the next day, I asked Tony if we could have lunch together, just the two of us. He said yes. We went to Chapel, then choir.
Lunch came and I sat at a table with my "food" and waited. A couple friends tried to sit with me as I waited and I shooed them gently away, saying I had to talk to someone. I may have hurt a feeling or two (sorry!), but soon I was at a table alone with Tony. I couldn't breathe. Yes, cliche. I know. Get over it, though; it's true. Seemed we were alone in the world. I don't know how long I sat there before saying anything, but I finally decided to go for it.
"I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking about you, and wondering if you think of me. Basically, you are wasting my Ambien. I'm taking my pill at night, butIcan'tsleepbecauseI'mthinkingofyouandIcan'tstop," I paused. Tried to get a breath. "I'm finding myself more and more attracted to you."
[Insert crickets here]
Tony was eating. Lucky. I was too nervous. He finally glanced up. "I thought you seemed... attached."
Oh crap. I'm going to be shot down.
"You can eat, Misty," Tony looked nervous. Uncomfortable. Good! At least I wasn't the only one! I ate a little. Tony told me he wanted to "take some time to think about what I'd said."
I actually don't remember the rest of the day after we went our separate ways. I just remember another sleepless night. This time, I had a tiny spark of hope, since he didn't screw up his face and go "Dude! You're one of the guys!" which is the usual reaction. Maybe, he was thinking of how to let me down gently, but at least he knew I was a girl! Maybe there's a chance.
The next morning, on the way to chapel, he revealed to me that he was attracted to me too. We held hands during the prayer in chapel, then kept holding on.
After that, things moved faster. We had already spent most of our non-class time together, but now we were together almost every waking hour. The next evening we were watching a movie in the common area, and suddenly he was kissing me (sorry, friends, for all the PDAs, but I didn't see anyone else. It was just my love and me. Yes, love. That happened almost immediately.)
I felt... complete. At home. Relieved. That missing piece to the puzzle was there. The last time I remember attending APE, Tony looked over at me in class and told me he loved me. I told him the same. This was only four days after we were officially dating, but it felt like we'd known each other forever. We lived in the same building, goofed off with the same friends, even went to the same church once I began joining him at the church he'd attended all his life.
The rest has gone so fast. We were married a year and two days after we began dating. 10/21/05. We've been through the ups and downs of our first years of marriage, first time parenthood, second and third children, the stresses of unemployment and financial struggles, preeclampsia, surprise babies... Throughout everything, he's been my anchor in the storm. Candle on the water. [Insert your favorite cliche] He's my best friend, the best dad I've ever witnessed, adoring our daughters, and my very favorite person in the world.
Thank You, God, for this man. He is infinitely patient with my health problems, limitations, disabilities, and dramas. He is smart, he is funny, he listens to me, he's interesting (even on topice in which I'd never been interested before), and Tony loves our three little girls. a lot. Tony loves me. He LOVES ME! Even knowing every single thing about me, and living with me for six and a half years.
In fact, we love each other more and more. Our relationship has had its rough times, but our hold to our faith in God and one another, and our love for our children, have, and always will, clear the obstacles. Put them behind us. We are forever.
This picture was taken this past summer, by our five year old, Rachelle, a couple of weeks after our third daughter, Judy was born. That's my I-look-like-crap disclaimer.
"Our" song, Love You Madly, by Cake
“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
― Dr. Seuss
― Dr. Seuss