Happy Valentine's Day! In honor of today, I thought I would tell my own love story; the story of how my husband and I went from being best friends to best friends that are madly in love with each other.
I graduated High School in 1996. My best friend, Chris, was on swim team with me and had recently wrecked his car (with our coach's son in the car - can you say "Extra Practice"?). Because all of his meager McDonald's wages were going to fix the car, he didn't have money to buy me a graduation present - He was two grades behind me so he wasn't graduating yet. Instead of getting me a gift, he (committed a felony because he) punched a hole in a quarter and put it on a chain for me :) The note attached to the coin necklace was really sweet and said things like "No matter where you are, you can always call me and I'll be here for you." He wanted me to always keep it to remind myself that he was only a phone call away - at the time, pay phone calls only cost a quarter. That quarter, on the exct same chain, is STILL hanging in my car today.
Fast forward a few years. I'm recently graduated from college and have just broken up with my long time boyfriend. Chris had joined the Navy right after his HS graduation and was stationed in Japan but had finally decided to come home and marry his long time girlfriend. Chris and I remained close with letters and a few long distance phone calls so of course I am invited to the wedding back in our hometown.
The wedding was small and simple yet nice. Afterwards, a big group of us was going to go out together and catch up since we hadn't seen each other in years in many cases. Chris's dad came up to me and put his arm around me.
"You have enough money for tonight hun?" he asked.
Laughing, I reply, "Yeah Dad, I'm good." He was always looking out for everyone (and I had always called him dad).
He squeezed me a little closer into a hug, slipped a $50 bill in my pocket and whispered "It should have been you up there, ya know," and walked off leving me stunned. I had NO idea what to make of it, and I wasn't about to ask Chris. As long as his new wife made him happy I was OK, I wasn't going to get in the middle of anything.
Fast forward a few more years. Chris and I were still close friends even from around the world. More phone calls now than letters, but the phone calls came in the middle of the night (more on THAT later). One night in particular, Chris called me to tell me he and his wife were getting a divorce for reasons I won't get into here and now. I told him I was always here to talk and almost said "I love you." I caught myself before I said it, wondering why I would say something like that to him, even if was just trying to confort him. He was my best friend after all! It wasn't until the next middle of the night phone call when I hung up and still thought "I love you" that I started to catch on that maybe I really did feel this way about him. I couldn't say anything though, what if he didn't feel the same way? Then I would lose my best friend. No matter what the TV shows say, a friendship can't recover from something like that. Best to keep it to myself.
Fast forward a bit again. Chris is coming home! I was SO excited! He was going to drive the hour from our hometown to come see me for the weekend. My friend's band was playing at a local bar/club/restaurant and I was going to take him there to see them then he was going to crash at my house rather than driving back to his parents in the middle of the night. I told all of friends that "my best friend" is coming! A few of them laughed at me and claimed that I insisted all to much that we were "just" friends for us to really be just friends.
My first clue that Chris thought of me as more than just a friend, came as I was out on the dance floor. He walked up to me with a shot of tequila in each hand, handing one to me. I laughed and said, "Oh no, tequila makes me want to rape and plunder!" at which time, he raises an eyebrow and proceeds to hand me BOTH shots! ;) Another clue was when the band started playing "Faithfully" by Journey and I said "Ohhh I love this song!" Chris grabbed my hand, led me out on the dance floor, and danced with me...CLOSE. Much closer than the "just friends" way I was thinking!
At some point later in the night (or was it EARLY the next morning?) we were kissing on my couch and have been together ever since.
A few months later Chris and I went on a month long road trip through the Southwest. Apparently most of my family and friends thought we would come back married or at least engaged, but we hadn't even thought of that yet.
A few more months later I still wasn't thinking about it, but apparently Chris was. My school's Christmas party happened to be the night before my 26th birthday and was being held at the same bar/club/restaurant that Chris and I had gone to on his first night back home and the same friend's band was playing again. Just before midnight, Marcia, my friend and the lead singer of the band, announced to EVERYONE that it was my birthday and drug me (kicking and pouting) up on stage to have everyone sing "Happy Birthday" to me. Chris came up too because he was helping to drag me up.
After the singing, Marcia handed the microphone to Chris. Confused, I looked around to all of my friends smiling excitedly up at me like they knew something I didn't. Chris began talking about how we had been such close friends for so long, then held up the quarter on the chain he had given me back in HS. After explaining to everyone the significance of the quarter and that it had been in my car since the day he gave it to me, he moved his fingers and a diamond engagement ring fell and clinked against the quarter. As I stared to figure out what this was all about, he said, "Since you've held on to this for so long, I thought maybe you would like to hold on to this for even longer." Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
With tears in my eyes I couldn't even speak so I just nodded "YES" as loudly as I could! Everyone cheared and the band immediately began playing "Faithfully," the first song Chris and I ever danced to.
Seven months later we were married, back home, in the church I grew up in, in the town we both grew up in. Of course, our first dance song was "Faithfully" and Marcia was my maid of honor! This June will be our 5th anniversary and I love him more and more every day.
As for the middle of the night phone calls, Chris now admits that he called at that hour only to see if I had anyone over - and if I did have an "overnight visitor," would I still talk to him. Apparently he felt the same way about me the entire time.