One of my favorite sitcoms of all time is a little show that shares its title with the title of this blog. If you are unfamiliar, go log onto your Netflix account and watch an episode. I will wait.
Now that you are back, I want to discuss just how fascinating it is to me that it takes eight seasons to even introduce us to the mother character, and that she doesn’t even get a name until the final episode. There are twists and turns through the episodes as the point of view character recounts his numerous romantic exploits to his children through a more or less chronological retelling of his mid-twenties to early thirties. His revolving door approach to love and relationships is baffling, as it is made clear repeatedly to the audience that the woman that he is supposed to end up with is the one he met in the first episode. Maybe this is only mind boggling to me because I didn’t have to go through anything nearly this trying in my search for true love.
My own story, if I were to tell it, would be much different, would have way fewer one episode casting opportunities, and would probably not make it out of pilot season. I met the love of my life in preschool. Jack-and-Jill preschool in Idaho Falls to be exact. I don’t remember it, but I am told we were great friends, and that must be true because there are pictures of the cute little girl who would grow up to be my wife eating cake at my fifth birthday party. I recognize most of the other kids in the picture as the children of my parents’ friends, and, as my future spouse’s parents had no relationship to my parents, I must assume that this young lady was there because I wanted her there, not because my parents needed an excuse to get together with their friends.
It all seems very cute, very cut and dried; we met in preschool, grew up as close friends, dated in high school and got married after graduation. Fate, however, went a different way. Soon after that birthday, my parents moved across town, effectively ensuring that, after preschool, I would be attending not only a different elementary school than my future wife, but also a different junior high and high school. As I pointed out before, my parents and hers were only passing acquaintances, so it would be eleven years before our paths crossed again.
I was in my early teens when my parents got divorced, and the summer between junior high and high school, my mom remarried. Her new husband lived on the other side of town, so I had to leave my friends behind and attend a high school where I knew nobody. It was hard. I was a giant nerd, and it was hard for me to make friends. I didn’t play sports; I wasn’t particularly academic; and I didn’t apply myself to any activity aside from reading fantasy novels and playing D&D. I think my mom was worried when, after a full year at my new high school, I had made exactly zero friends, so, when fall rolled around again, she signed me up for cross country.
I wasn’t any more committed to cross country than I was to anything else having to do with school, but it forced me to interact with a new group of people who, much to my surprise, I kind of liked. One of those people invited me to join him and a bunch of other friends playing ultimate Frisbee one Saturday in the park. Since it didn’t interfere with my standing Friday night D&D game, I told him I would try to stop by. After that first game of ultimate Frisbee, I knew I had found my people. I quit eating my lunch in the library (pouring over D&D manuals and planning quests) and started eating my lunch in the seminary building with my new crew and working on Frisbee skills in the field next door. I still hosted a weekly D&D game on Friday nights, but I started dragging those guys out after too little sleep and too much mountain dew to play ultimate Frisbee with me every Saturday.
It was after I had found my new calling that I first laid eyes on the teenage girl that would grow up to be the woman that I married. I was in a US history class, and the teacher told us we were going to have a special presentation. We shuffled our desks around so there was a larger space at the front of the room, and I managed to snag a seat next to one of my new friends. I remember seeing her, remember vividly the curl of her hair, her smile and her laugh. I have no idea why we were there, I have no idea what we talked about, but I remember her.
After that, I started to see her around with more and more frequency. I would catch a glimpse of her in the hall between classes, or after school while I waited for the bus. Then one day I saw her with one of my buddies. We were playing Frisbee in the field and then she was there, on the bridge that led to the seminary building. My buddy wandered over and started talking to her, holding hands and laughing. She started coming to the seminary building and having lunch with us. I learned that her name was Beth, and I would bring extra jerky with my lunch to share with her. She started coming to our Frisbee games and she played as hard as any of the guys. As high school came to a close, she asked me if I would take one of her friends to prom. How could I say no?
I had never been to a high school dance before, let alone a prom. I had no job, and thus no money, but my parents were so excited that I was participating in something that resembled dating that they footed the bill for the evening. Tux rented and corsage purchased, I proceeded to prom with a girl that I had never actually met before. She was pleasant enough, but I was not a good date. I am awkward and quiet more than half the time around people I know; I am positive I was even worse on this date. The only two things I remember about the evening was the dance I shared with my future bride, and the fact that my date fell asleep on the car ride home.
I think it was after that that my mom figured out that Beth and I had gone to preschool together. As soon as she figured it out, she went straight to the photo albums and found a picture of her at my fifth birthday. My mom knew I had a crush on her before I had even figured it out and pestered me relentlessly about asking her out. I couldn’t, of course, because she was going out with my friend, but she was never far from my thoughts.
After graduation, she broke up with my friend and went off for the summer to wrangle horses. I wrote her a letter, I don’t remember what it said, but something about being glad that we had become such good friends in high school and that I was sad that it had to end. I didn’t think anything of it, and spent my summer planning for college in the fall.
Ten days before I was supposed to leave for college, I woke up and went to my car to find a note from Beth stuck to the windshield. Again, the specifics are lost to time, but the gist of it was that she was thinking about me, and that she had gone out of her way to drive by my house and leave me a note. I then did what any creepy, awkward teenager would do, I called up my best friend, and we staked out her house.
When we got there, it was dark, and we could tell by the cars out front that she had a couple of friends over. When one of the friends left, we were afraid we were going to be spotted lurking in the parked car across the street. We were just getting ready to leave when Beth and her friend came out of the house and got into her friend’s car. We figured we had nothing to lose, so we followed them to the gas station where we just happened to run into them. We struck up a conversation, she introduced us to her friend, and then we consolidated to one vehicle and took off for the foothills of Idaho Falls.
I will spare the details of the rest of that first date, but after that first night I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Beth. My journey was short. I didn’t have to go on dozens of anecdote‑inducing first dates. We didn’t have to date, break up, and date again to know what we had found with each other. I met the love of my life when I was in preschool. We got engaged when we were eighteen. We got married when we were twenty-one. Almost sixteen years into our marriage, I still wake up every morning with a smile on my face, eternally grateful and constantly amazed that I got so lucky.
by: Tim Kiester with extensive grammatical edits provided by Laura Nelson (check out her blog; she is hilarious).