As my eighth wedding anniversary approaches, I can’t help but think about what my life would be like had I not married my husband Matt. We have a long history that stretches back over two decades, and I often forget the journey that brought us together. I’m almost positive that he was set up to be the “one that got away,” and man, would I have missed out.
Based on our similar pasts, it would appear that our lives were always meant to intertwine. We grew up with almost identical childhoods that likely involved me skating past him at Skate City or sitting behind him at the movies in elementary school. We even went to the same high school, but for the life of us, we can each only remember one time that we actually noticed each other. He overheard me talking to someone and thought I was funny. I recall walking behind him in the hallway and thinking “nice butt.”
We had various other interactions the first few years of college. Matt says he was at Fred’s the time I fell down the stairs on the patio. (I didn’t spill my drink, though!) And I often ran into him at LSU football games and Superior Grill because we had mutual friends. It all came to a head when my sister invited me to a party at Matt and his sister’s house. I didn’t think anything of it until he asked me to dance. Imagine a 22 year old guy playing a Sinatra song and asking you to dance at a house party. It definitely caught my attention.
Our first date wasn’t anything special, a dinner and a movie. He made a comment later that he was so nervous that he didn’t eat much. I, on the other hand, ate my entire salad and most of the appetizer. I was so comfortable with him that I hadn’t noticed eating more than him. That’s been the tone of our entire relationship. I have always felt comfortable with him, but that comfort is what inevitably caused me to end things after only a few months.
I had decided that I wanted to go to grad school in Washington, DC before I started dating Matt. The application process was quickly passing by while I immersed myself in a cozy little relationship. I remember the day that I told him I couldn’t be with him because it was holding me back. We were at the end of an awesome day of Mardi Gras festivities, and it just popped out of my mouth. He was so understanding and tried to console me while I cried my eyes out. At the time, I thought I was crying because I hated hurting him. I realized later that it was also because I knew I would regret it.
Years passed, and our paths continued to cross while we both changed and grew into “real” adults. Neither of us ever got into a serious relationship during that time. No one made me feel safe enough to be myself, and I often found myself thinking that I hoped to find someone like Matt. Finally, after a phone conversation where he accidentally invited me to go with him to Las Vegas for a wedding and I actually said yes, it all fell into place. We dated for three years and then got married.
I’ve been told by friends that our relationship seems easy. I can honestly say that it usually is, but not because it was never hard. We just went through our early adult growing pains together, but from afar. I was able to make mistakes and try new things without worrying about taking someone down with me. He was free to explore careers and take his time finishing college without stressing over supporting a family. In between, we were able to support each other or silently feel thankful we weren’t in the middle of it.
When Matt and I finally committed to each other, it was so seamless and yes, “easy.” After taking the long way around, I knew he was the one for me. There were no doubts, no freak outs, and no more regrets. I’m sure I could have loved Matt during all the stages of my life, but I don’t think I would have appreciated him the way he deserved. I’m just grateful that I had the chance to get to that point before he became “the one that got away.”