Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nine Years

Nine years ago, David and I went on our first date.

It was 1-11-02.

I had hoped Eliza would be born on 1-11-11.  Because of all the ones, obvs, but mostly because of the first date anniversary.  It seemed real romantical and all that...

Nine years ago, I was home from college and I substitute-taught at the elementary school for some extra cash.  I had recently gotten out of a drama-filled but never-really-official relationship and I had been on a couple of dates with two different guys (not at the same time).  I liked both of them, although not really seriously.  I was looking forward to getting back to school after break and seeing where things went.  Mostly I just wanted to enjoy my last semester of college and start graduate school single and ready for adventure.

Even before I'd gone home for break, I'd heard tales of "Coach Duck," the most eligible bachelor in town.  He was the PE teacher at the elementary school and one of the baseball coaches.  He'd ended up in Nevada because he'd played college baseball with a guy who had grown up there and returned to teach and coach.  When another job came open, that guy encouraged David to apply.  In the short time David had been in town, he'd already dated three girls I'd gone to high school with (and those were just the ones I knew about).

We had lunch at the same time the first day that I subbed and I have to admit I thought he was pretty cute.  He had floppy boy-band hair and a pretty irresistible smile.  Still, I knew we would have nothing in common and I really wasn't the sort of girl who dated guys who wore Adidas pants to work.  As far as I was concerned, PhD students and PE teachers were not a good fit.

So when David picked up my second grade class for PE and dropped off his phone number I rolled my eyes and then immediately called my friend Jamie when I got home that night.  She asked if I was going to call him.  No, I was not going to call him.  First of all, he was obviously totally cocky, AND he was a PE teacher, AND I was going back to school in a week and I already had my hands full with Ryan and John.

Then David called.

He had asked the secretary at his school about me, and since my mom worked at another school, David looked up her name in the school directory and called me at my parents' house.

I called Jamie back the next night.

"Guess what I'm doing?"


"Getting ready to go on a date with Coach Duck."

I mean, I figured if he'd gone to all that work to get a hold of me, and it was kind of boring at home over Christmas break, I mean, it couldn't hurt to go on one date... 

I had no idea where we were going to go to dinner.  Our options were pretty limited in Nevada and I knew that wherever we went, people would talk (Of course they would--hadn't I already heard about the last three girls who'd dated Coach Duck?  I lived three hours away and the gossip reached me.).  But surely he wouldn't take me out of town for dinner...  what would we talk about in the car for an hour?

David picked me up in his sporty new car (he's still driving it nine years later--getting married totally cramped his playboy style) and sure enough--he suggested we drive out of town for dinner.

And the rest is history...  we found something to talk about for an hour there, an hour back, and however much time we spent at dinner.  I broke up with Ryan and John, David got a better hair cut, and then we took turns driving across the state every weekend to be together during the awful long distance dating period.  Finally he moved to St. Louis and proposed on a trip to Hawaii (that proposal is another tale for another post).  So the PhD student and the PE teacher got married, and we've been together ever since.

Nine years is a long time to have dated someone.  It means that David has been around for almost 1/3 of my entire life.  And it's been pretty freaking good life.  Until now.

I never, ever thought for one second that my life would turn out like this.

David suggested last night we could still go to our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner.  He took me to the Olive Garden on that first date and since then we go out for Italian every year.  Of course, we're way too snobby for the Olive Garden these days, given that we live about three blocks from The Hill with its vast selection of delicious family-owned Italian restaurants (Zia's is the best).

I know that we are lucky to have each other.  I still want to celebrate that.  But this year I just don't have the heart.  I'm going to force myself to make pasta for dinner so David doesn't have to come home from work and then cook.  But I can't face the idea of going to a restaurant like we are normal people whose lives haven't been ripped apart.

This morning I told David that nine years ago I would have never dreamed that we'd be here.  He hugged me tight said that nine years from now, we'll still miss Eliza, but we'll also be able to look back and have other things to celebrate and to smile about.

I'm not ready to be so optimistic.  But I cautiously hope he's right.


  1. Congrats on 9 years!
    I hope he's right, too.

  2. I think he's right too. I loved reading the story of how you guys met!

  3. Happy Anniversary, although it's difficult to be in the zone of celebrating anything right now at least you have a partner you love deeply by your side and one that you have survived the unthinkable with...that is worth so much and is far more than a lot of married couples have. Hoping that David is right and the next nine years are filled with many good memories shared ((hugs))

  4. I'm very confident he's right, but only speaking from experience. It will get better--it will.

  5. I'm glad you are hoping his is right...also speaking from experience...when you can start to believe that another future is possible it is a step. He is absolutely right. You will always miss Eliza. Take care of yourself and your husband and the rest will come.

  6. I'm so glad you decided to go out with David! I can't imagine a better cousin-in-law! I don't know if that's the right definition, well let's just be crazy and say I can't imagine a better cousin! Love you guys!


  7. I hope you guys had a good anniversary.

    I just wanted to send you a little reminder that tonight is the Heartprints group in case you wanted to go. If you do go, I hope you find it helpful.

  8. Brooke and David,

    I will never forget the two of you sitting on our couch "together". I was so happy!! Not as happy as little Em but I was giddy for you both. Happy Anniversary to you both and I was so touched to read about your first date again. Get out those beautiful wedding photos and share a smile. We love you.

  9. I remember in the early days people would say to me that "at least you have each other..." and it made me sadder, somehow (and I began to loathe any sentence that began with "at least"...). There should be three and I'm so sorry there's not. Thinking of you & Eliza.

  10. We found out Carter had died on the 9 year anniversary of when we met (August 28, 2009). I was torn on that day because I didn't want to "ruin" our anniversary by finding out our son had died. But after calling the doctor and hearing that horrible news and then spending the rest of our "anniversary" laboring, I wouldn't have changed it. If I hadn't met my David, I would not have been in that spot on that day - preparing to meet our son. And if I hadn't met my David, I wouldn't have the support of the greatest friend I have had in all of my life. He was there with me at my worst and he's been with me every day since then too! Happy anniversary to you and your David (A little late I know. Sorry!)

  11. nine years is quite an achievement.

    i hope he's right too.