The first time I fell in love—and even now, half a lifetime later, I know it was love—I was 21. It was love at first sight, or, as seems to be more the case with me, love at first conversation. We met at a college Halloween party and although our actual romance was short-lived, we stayed best friends for years. In fact, long after we broke up, subsequent boyfriends complained (possibly with justification) about how close we remained.
The second time was some ten years later, and I met my love online. Not through a dating company—I am not at all sure those existed in 1994—but because we were both working as customer service folks for AOL. We were Mac geeks, had similar political views, etc. But we lived on opposite sides of the country. We eventually met in person at a convention, road tripped, hung out, kept up a long-distance thing for a while, but eventually it just became too difficult to maintain.
I met my husband on a tour bus. He was a road manager for rock bands and one of my old friends had joined a band that my husband, Mike, was managing. I clearly remember the first thing I ever heard him say, and it’s not romantic at all. My friend, Richard, who is a sweet, somewhat naive guy for someone many people consider one of rock’s great guitar players, is a marathon runner. He and I were headed out and he noticed Mike’s sneakers. “Whoa,” he said of Mike’s ratty running shoes. “My sneakers are better than yours.” (This came as a surprise to Richard, apparently.) “Well,” said Mike, absolutely straight and without even a hint of condescension, “you’re a better runner.”
And yet, after that short conversation, I pestered Richard over and over and basically chased my husband around the country until he finally gave in and married me.
So here’s the thing: I believe in love at first sight. But I also believe you get more than one chance. Had I married either of my earlier boyfriends, my life would be very, very different now, but I think we could have made it. “Could have” being the operative words. One thing I’ve learned is that love is just the beginning. Romance is the easy part. Romance novels tend to end with the wedding, but the wedding is really just the first step. No matter what ups and downs we go through in the dating stages of our lives, marriage is harder.
My favorite authors are the ones who, once I put down the book, I can imagine the couple surviving actual marriage. I can picture them arguing (because face it, married couples argue), compromising (or not), figuring out who does what in the relationship over years. That’s what constitutes a “happy ending” for me. What about for you?