I first saw her on the bus. Heading to the dorm downtown, I sat in the front section of the bus, that part that faces the other riders across the aisle. She was wearing a fuzzy white American Eagle sweatshirt with a pink logo. She smiled a lot and talked excitedly to her friend. I was in love, unquestionably.
That night I called my friends. "I just saw the love of my life." I hadn't spoken to her, had been too shy. But I knew somehow that this was love.
Six months later, over spring break, I couldn't sleep. I stayed up late checking my Facebook messages. Someone I didn't know had invited me to join their group (this was in the olden days when Facebook groups were still new and novel). The group's name? Ellen Degeneres Rocks My Socks Off. While I wasn't sure the point of this group or why I had been invited to join it, Ellen Degeneres did, in fact, rock my socks off with her good-natured humor. I joined.
Browsing through the short list of other group members, my breath caught momentarily. There she was again, staring back at me from a thumbnail photo on the screen. Those same engaging eyes, the confident poise.
I had missed one chance, and I wasn't about to miss the second. I messaged her. Over Facebook. I messaged my love-at-first-sight over Facebook. I tried to sound witty. And not crazy. Less like a stalker than I felt. I tried to make it funny. If she was the person her eyes told me she was, she would understand.
I got a message back the next day. She remembered me. Six months later, having simply sat across from me on a bus, she remembered me. She was amused by my attempts at witticism. She returned with funny quips of her own. I read her words, and I jumped up and down. In my dorm room, by myself, having just returned from a run across the Brooklyn Bridge, I sweatily jumped up and down in pure, unbridled joy.
I invited her to eat hummus with me on MacDougal street. Later, I found out that she had no idea what hummus was. We were both too nervous to eat much anyway. We walked around the East Village, falling deeper.
Over the next five years, we helped each other with papers. We cooked first meals for one another, and we introduced each other to friends and family. She moved me in and out of dorms. We flew back and forth across the country visiting each other. I took her on her first trip outside the U.S., and she took me to loads of Long Island weddings. We played pick-up sticks at first, then had Cranium parties. Finally, she introduced me to the speed Monopoly her family plays, and taught me chess. We bickered and laughed. Oh, goodness, did we laugh. More than I had laughed in all my life.
And then, last Saturday, with the Christmas tree up and carols playing in the background, she asked me to get hitched. To celebrate with her and invite the people we love to share our joy. I said yes. Unequivocally yes. Yes from here to infinity and back.
And so we'll celebrate. We'll keep on living our lives, laughing all the while, and we'll celebrate it all in a couple of years. At some point, we'll go to Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or wherever it's still legal, and get a government certificate. There's no rush. We have our lifetimes to keep on laughing, living joyfully and with abandon.
*So many thanks to Adriana, and all the other friends and family who have supported us and shared our excitement these past few days. It means more to me (and to Mary) than you know.