As I wrote last time, Wife and I got engaged on Valentine's Day -- 25 years ago tomorrow. I wrote her that poem, she said yes and we got married six months later.
Ours was a tumultuous courtship. Like so many males, I was deathly afraid of commitment. We started dating in 1982. We broke up. We started again and stopped again. I told her a week before I took the Bar Exam in the summer of 1983 that I could not cope with preparing for that test and maintain our relationship and you know, I had spent three years in law school so I might want to follow through on taking the test.
Oh brother. I hope I have matured maybe one iota since then.
Even during our breakups, though, we would always somehow be drawn back together. We had a lot of the same friends so, inevitably, we would see each other and we would always end up talking.
Still, I thought I should move on, so I went out with a couple of other girls.
On one infamous date, a new aquaintance and I went to one of those "cook your own steak" places. We had a pleasant enough time and I even thought I might call her again after I left her apartment.
At 3 a.m. I awoke heaving. I will spare you the details but suffice it to say it was one of those lie-down-on-the-floor-of-the-bathroom-and-hope-you-die types of nights. I never called that girl again and I have never liked steak since then, nor any type of place where you have a hand in cooking your own food. It was all, no doubt, a sign. (Wife still loves this story and says I got what I deserved).
I saw Wife at a wedding not long afterward. She was a bridesmaid and as I watched her walked down the aisle there was that little voice saying to me, "You are such a dope."
"No, Little Voice," I said. "That is a closed chapter." Little Voice repeated his previous statement. I ignored him.
On a Saturday in November a number of friends were scheduled to take a little day trip to see the fall foliage. Everyone backed out except -- you guessed it -- Wife and me. She called the night before and graciously suggested we avoid the awkwardness and agree to cancel the trip. I said no, surely we can be mature enough to enjoy each other's friendship, put the past behind, enjoy the day, blah, blah, blah.
It was, possibly, the most perfect day of my life. We talked non-stop and when we got back to town that night we had dinner together. After that night I knew beyond a doubt that, if she would have me, I would marry that woman. This time I would not let her go.
I went ring shopping shortly after Christmas but decided a Valentine's Day proposal would be cool. The rest is history and I have never looked back, other than to still ask myself why I was so afraid and what it was I was so afraid of. I hate to stereotype but I do wonder: why are men so, so terrified of commitment?
I will let the psychologists take that one. Thankfully, I overcame those fears, whatever they were, and 25 years later I am a thankful man.