In addition to being Halloween, and much more important to me than Halloween, today is the twentieth anniversary of the day Jennifer and I became best friends, back in high school (Grapevine High School, the classes of 1988 and 1989, respectively). We had met a couple of years before that, and we wouldn’t become a couple for a further eight, but today’s a very special day to us. We also just attended Jennifer’s fifteen-year college reunion (University of Dallas, class of 1992), where I had the opportunity to hear a great many wonderful things about Jennifer — all of which (and more) I already knew, of course.
So, what does all this add up to? I thought it was high time I introduced my better half. Actually, she’s more like my better two-thirds. ;)
We first met in French class — once again, French opens a romantic door for me! (But that’s another story for another post.) Jennifer was a sophomore in French II, and I was a freshman in French III, having already taken two years in junior high school. Jennifer was going to be participating in a French spelling bee (which I had done — and won — a year before, in my old school district in Houston), so our French teacher sent Jennifer my way. (I’m tempted to leer at you and suavely say, “Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly”, except those who knew me then will tell you just how unsuave I was. And am. :) I made a pronunciation tape for her (the geeky equivalent to a mix tape?), and we had a couple of practice sessions, too, I believe.
Fast forward two years. Jennifer’s now a senior in high school, and I’m a junior. We met again in Physics class, which Jennifer took in a desperate attempt to convince her genius high school boyfriend (who attended a different school) that she was “intellectual” enough for him. Don’t get me started on that! (Maybe Jennifer herself will explain in a comment.) Anyway, Jennifer was struggling with the class, so I tutored her — a process which culminated in her outscoring me on the final exam. I’d say it was because I was a good tutor, but the real reason is that I was too smitten to concentrate! We became best friends that year and have never looked back!
We didn’t go the same universities, but we called and wrote the entire time. Hearing from Jennifer was something I looked forward to just about every week. She even called me on Valentine’s Day, 1990 — from Rome, an event I memorialized in a poem. (Yes, I really am “that guy.” :)
After several flirtations and close calls, and a lamentable (but fairly short) period when we were on the outs, it was in the fall of 1995 that we finally both fell for one another in the same place at the same time. How appropriate, falling in love in the fall. (Cue the treacly music. ;) We fell instantly and completely, too. No need for a coy courtship when we’d been best friends for eight years already! Very When Harry Met Sally. We considered that day our marriage proposal, engagement, ceremony, and reception, and have celebrated it on the same day every year since (September 10). The years that followed haven’t all been a honeymoon, of course; we’ve had more than our share of hardship, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it, since I’ve had Jennifer to share it (or endure it) with.
What can I tell you about Jennifer herself? First, that she’s absolutely perfect for me. She complements my every fault, and she supports me in every possible way — even to her own detriment, which I really have to learn how to stop taking advantage of. She’s the single most generous and thoughtful person (let alone woman) I’ve ever known. She’s also gorgeous, flirty, funny, and the sexiest dancer I’ve ever had the pleasure (and sometimes discomfiture) to try to keep up with. Where she’s a fluid and sensual dancer, I galumph around like a blur of three left feet and half a dozen elbows, and always threatening to dust off the old breakdancing moves — look out for the white guy! But I’m getting better under her tireless terpsichorean tutelage. (As I understand it, I have to learn to loosen the hips. Good advice for any man, no?)
But more than any of this, she gets all the credit for my being who I am today. Without her — first as a high school crush, then as my best friend, and now as my wife (and all three at once) — I would be little more than an introverted and unaccomplished puddle of neuroses. I get credit for my own unbounded enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkien, languages, and literature, sure, but everything else is Jennifer. I’m a lucky, lucky man. :)