Today is me and Jerry’s 10th Wedding Anniversary. I can’t even believe it’s been ten years. I don’t feel old enough to have been married for ten years!! Yet, against the odds here we are.
I was an eighteen year old college student when we met. Fresh out of a serious relationship and break-up, I was not looking to date anybody for a very long time. And yet, along came Jerry.
He was working as a clerk at the gas station I stopped at frequently. The first time we met, I’d gone in to pay for my gas and he made conversation by trying to sell me some skate t-shirts. He was an avid skateboarder, and was working hard at raising money to build a skatepark in town for the local kids to enjoy. His motivation and passion intrigued me. He asked me my name, and said I seemed like an interesting person to get to know, and wondered if we could hang out, just as friends, some time?
I rejected him in a heartbeat.
I know. Poor guy.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think he seemed cool too, I was just not interested in getting into another relationship yet! He was sweet about it though, and I went on my way, secretly flattered by his flirting.
A few days later I was back again paying for my gas. And there he was. We talked a little more, he was easy to like. It took me a while to notice that he wore glasses… all I saw was that he had really kind eyes. Over the next couple of weeks I found myself going to buy gas, whether I needed it or not, just to see if he was working. And when he was there, I always ended up staying and talking longer than I should have.
Once I got to know him I could tell that behind the tattoos and tongue ring, was a nice guy with a really good heart. One day while I was there a stray dog wandered into the store. I watched as Jerry greeted it gently and offered it some water. A mentor once told me that it is important to watch how a man treats animals, as this is a sign of his character. I smiled as I looked on.
He asked me again if I’d go out with him some time, not a “date” but just to get to know each other. How could I resist twice? I gave him my phone number and a couple days later he picked me up to take me out to eat.
That evening, Jerry did everything right. He showed up on time. He opened the car door for me, and closed it after me. He took me to a really nice, but not too fancy, place. He opened the restaurant door for me. He pulled out my chair at the table. He told me to order whatever I wanted. And he dripped his Fettuccine Alfredo down the front of his shirt with grace.
As we ate he asked a lot of questions about me, and I did the same of him. He listened intently, focusing on what I said like it really mattered to him. His eyes never wandered toward a passing girl. He was truly a gentlemen.
He jokes now that he knew I was “the one” on that first date when I ordered chicken fingers and fries instead of a steak and potato. Guess he appreciated my frugal nature from the get-go!
When we had finished our meal he asked me what I’d like to do next. We were really enjoying each others company, and weren’t ready for the night to end. I thought for a moment and then said, “Let’s go shoot some pool!” He was shocked, in a good way, that I would suggest such a thing. “I didn’t think you were a pool playing kinda girl!” he said. I smiled mischievously. Now, I don’t like bars, or smoking lounges, but I LOVE to play pool. It just so happened that he was a member of a local pool hall, so we went and had a really great time.
When he took me home that night and walked me to the door, he thanked me for going out with him and said goodnight. But instead of hoping for a kiss, or even a hug (which I totally would have rejected), he awkwardly gave me a high-five. I laughed, and told him goodnight as I went inside. He was the first guy that I’d ever dated (and I’ve dated a lot of guys) who didn’t try to kiss me on our first date.
I liked that. A lot. For once, I was shown respect.
When I met him, Jerry wasn’t a Christian. He’d gone to church growing up, and had even made a profession of faith as a young teen, but he definitely wasn’t living it. So, I was surprised when the next time I saw him he asked me if he could come to church with me. That Sunday we went. The preacher gave a really good message, and there in his seat, Jerry gave his heart to the Lord. And this time, he meant it.
We continued seeing each other a lot over the next few months, “just as friends”. It was so refreshing to be able to go places and hang out, just enjoying each others company and conversation without any expectations. We spent all of our free time together. After about three months of this, he finally asked me if I would officially be his “girlfriend”. I smiled, and agreed.
Four months later, on December 16, 2000, we were married! I had just turned 19, he was 20. My dad was not pleased. He refused to give me away… but my grandmother warned him not to be stubborn and do something he’d regret later. We were young and in love though, and I didn’t care what anybody thought.
Since we were pretty much on our own, our wedding was a humble one. We were to be married on the beach, but it rained, so we ended up exchanging vows in my grandparent’s beach house living room. I borrowed a white dress from a friend, Jerry’s sister made a cake for us, and a family member snapped photos. I don’t think we paid over $150 for the entire wedding!
Coming from a broken home (and then broken again, and again), I was always afraid I’d make a mistake when it came to the man I chose to marry. But when I met Jerry I just knew. I’d finally found somebody who I could trust, really trust, to be faithful to me no matter what. And although we were told it wouldn’t last, here we are ten years later, going strong.
Happy Anniversary, cutie! I look forward to a hundred more years together!