Eight years ago today, my husband and I went out on our first official date. It was on a Thursday in the Steel City that he picked me up and took me out for lunch at Eat'n Park. When we finished we drove up to Mt. Washington where we stood on one of the observations decks that overlooks the Monongahela River and took in the beautiful skyline.
Mutual friends had previously set us up on a blind date, but the earlier encounter had been in a group and it wasn’t until May 11, 2000, that we got to hang out by ourselves. The date wasn’t mind blowing, and it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. He was kind and polite, modest and humble. I remember great conversation, but also feeling hesitant about getting involved with someone. In three months I’d be moving to the Big Apple for grad school. I did though get a strange spidey sense that this one was different. As much as I thought I wanted the stereotypical formally educated, talk dark and handsome man in a suit, something about this 6-foot grasshopper-legged redhead who delivered pizza for a living grabbed a hold of me. And he’s never let go. My redhead and I were married this past summer on a storybook afternoon that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. It was, without a doubt, the most perfect day of my life. We are now just two months shy of our first anniversary and if our past as a couple is indicative of our future together, then we stand to live a long and happy life. I imagine we’ll celebrate the wedding anniversaries to come with sushi dinners (our favorite) or perhaps with maybe even a trip or two. No doubt celebrating will get complicating as our family of two expands, should we be blessed with offspring (uh, don’t get excited-that’s not for several years). It will certainly be the day that our friends and family acknowledge and remember.

But we also don’t want to forget the day that we’ve been celebrating for so many years. I want to give credit to the little seed that bore all the possibilities of a grand Oak. May 11, will continue to bear a mark—usually a star or heart—on our calendar. It may not receive the same kind of attention, like the family dog replaced in rank by a newborn, but it will still be loved dearly. You can’t know where you’re headed, unless you acknowledge where you’ve come from.

The following is a poem that I wrote for my husband, who at the time this was penned, was still my boyfriend. It appeared in my chapbook, Blue Threads (Speed & Briscoe Books, 2001):

Jesse’s Orchard

We lay on the silver
hood rib to rib—
a slow night of fire
flies dancing across
our summer of laundry,
ice cream from Dairy Queen,
cigarette smoking at the window.

He called me his apple,
lips tugging at lips—
tight knot of ruby
in his palm,
my heart in his teeth.

I had engraved on the inside of his wedding band, “mo cara, mo gra.” It is Gaelic for, “my friend, my love.” My husband is not the perfect man, nor am I the perfect woman. But we are perfect for each other.

Happy 8th to us.

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