Here is my husband. His name is Sam.
I met him just days after I turned eighteen years old. I was a freshman at that college in the frozen north, but it wasn't frozen yet, because it was only October. Instead, it was brisk and beautiful. The leaves were all shades of red, orange, and gold, and some of them were on the ground, making a delicious crunchy sound as I walked back to my dorm from my freshman seminar. I was with a classmate named David.
My college is a very old one in New England, and like many schools of its vintage and location, its buildings are roughly organized around a large lawn called a "Green." (I am not sure why it's capitalized, but I think it's because the school color is green, and because of the great reverence accorded to that color in those parts of the world.)
In the spring and summer, people sunbathe, study, and play Frisbee on the Green. In the winter, they cross-country ski, or just hurry around, head down, through the paths carved in the deep snow. In the fall, though, they congregate on the Green and socialize. In October, the freshman class builds a huge bonfire in the center of the Green, to be lit on Homecoming Night. On that October day when David and I were walking across the Green, our hero was at the top of the bonfire structure, working on bringing railroad ties up from the surface to stack them. He was wearing his orange high school swim-team shirt, and he was covered with creosote.
"Who's that?" I asked David.
"That's Sam. He lives in South Mass."
"Will you introduce us?"
"Nope. He's a party guy. You guys will never get along."
I tossed my backpack on the ground and climbed up the side of the bonfire. "Hey Sam," I said. "I'm Jennie."
Now, it is true that I was a nerd and that Sam was a party guy, and for the next seven years or so, we spent a lot of time not getting along. We are enormously different. I was raised in a religious Christian household in the suburbs; he was raised in Manhattan by a pair of pretty ardent atheists. He's a night person, and I am a morning person. When we met, he was athletic, and I was bookish. I ate mainly to keep hunger at bay; he is a gourmand who seizes every opportunity to have a fabulous meal.
But we found out that night, as I ate the double chicken cheeseburger he bought me on our first date, that we both have sisters named Amy and we both have brothers named John. We both went to New York City private schools. We both knew what it was like to be picked on by the cool kids. We both loved dogs and little children. That spring, Sam, who in addition to being a ski patroller was also a water safety instructor, had a job teaching toddlers - mostly the children of professors - to swim in the college pool. I would sit in the bleachers next to the pool with a book open on my lap, waiting for him to be finished, but I spent the whole time watching him toss the giggling babies up on his shoulders, holding them as they paddled in the water, encouraging them as they sat nervously on the edge.
We will be married twenty years this summer.
Our children are outdoorsy like their dad.
They have inherited his good-natured personality and his team spirit.
The best thing about Sam is that he is a tremendous amount of fun to be around. When bad things happen (as they inevitably will from time to time over the course of a twenty-year marriage), you want to have on your team someone who laughs about the tree limb that has crushed the new car, who literally jumps for joy at the news of the third pregnancy in three years, who sleeps in the hospital chair next to the sick child so that you can go home and get some rest, who storms into the school to give the mean teacher what's coming to her, and who holds your hand when you cry because it seems like the world is coming to an end.
I'd say I've been pretty lucky, don't you think?