Some couples say that they found love at first sight, describe each other as “soul mates,” tell and re-tell their engagement story, or see their relationship as a fairy tale.
Today is my wife’s birthday, so I thought I would honor the day by telling the story of how we met. (I have been striving for years to build a romantic mythology around this event, but I have not received as much cooperation as I would like.)
You can judge for yourself if we have the stuff of legend.
In the beginning of September 1992, Connie and I were both starting a graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We bumped into each other in the fairly sterile and institutional fourth floor hallway of Building E-53 on registration day. We were looking for the meeting room where departmental orientation was to take place. I was the first entering graduate student that Connie ran into and she later told me she felt relief on seeing me that there were “normal looking” people in her class. She also says that I somehow registered as “danger,” and “do not get involved with this man.”
I have learned to see through Connie’s recollection of her first impression to the underlying truth. By “normal looking,” dangerous, someone to avoid, she means she found me exceedingly attractive but very likely mentally ill.
In any case, I am certain that we both pretended that we were not interested, in the way that you do when you are interested. I have subsequently been more honest and admitted that I found Connie to be quite beautiful, a conclusion that I have held consistently to this day.
Now I happened to keep a journal of my first week at MIT, which was fairly improbable because I kept a diary only very occasionally, perhaps ten random entries a year on average. But I am pleased that I have a record of my contemporaneous judgment, unclouded by years of dating, marriage, and now cooperative child rearing.
My journal of that day says that I had met someone very pretty and “she flirts with me or I take it as such.” So there you have it, love at first sight.
It was not until a year and a half later, in March of 1994, that we started going out and I bought her a single red rose. Our time together has not been a fairy tale, because in fairy tales the prince does not track mud in from the back yard after gardening. We are not soul mates, because soul mates do not get cranky with each other after a long day of work because there is laundry on the floor. We are rather two strong-minded and imperfect individuals that have found a real thing, a never-ending conversation, a relationship of equals, and we have done well together. We get better each year, we still have a long way to go, and we are working at it. To me that is real romance.Connie and I were married on January 15th, 2000, and Ella was born on July 17th, 2002. Happy birthday, Connie.