I believe this marks my first 3-post day on my blog. See what happens when I'm not ridiculously busy? I couldn't let the day end without a quick tribute to Eric as he officially leaves his youth behind and starts plummeting down the slope to old age. Today is his 45th birthday. Bless his heart. I thought I would tell a little of our story.
I've known Eric since I was 17, but we never dated. We became good friends when we met at church during my senior year. He had graduated from College in 3 years after joining the church as a freshman and developing a strong desire to go on a mission. He moved here to work because Westinghouse was willing to let him work for a year or so then take an 18-month leave of absence. He was straight up about that in all of his interviews. I was impressed with his focus. His first impression of me was from the congregation in Sacrament meeting. I was leading the music (my calling all through high school) and his roommate thought I was cute, but he told his roommate that I was probably married with 3 kids. Yeah. At the time I was madly in love with a guy named Steve who was in school down at VA Tech. Eric was more like an older brother.
That fall, he left to go on his mission and I went out to the Y. We wrote, but there was still nothing but friendship on my end. He had the chance to extend to a 2-year mission but felt he should come home. I got back from my second year at the Y a few weeks after he got home from his mission. We spent time together in the singles program and did actually go on a few dates, but his attachment was much stronger than mine. I was recovering from a really difficult year at school and mostly needed a friend. Which he was. A good friend.
One Saturday in May after a singles trip to the beach, I was extremely annoyed with him. He had been weird all day-edgy and unpleasant. I was fed up and ready to tell him that I wanted some distance between us. Instead, he asked me to marry him. It was very much a surprise. It was surreal because as he was saying the words, the spirit was telling me that my answer should be yes while my brain was saying "Are you kidding me???? You annoy me more than anyone on the planet!" I really did feel that way, but I also knew what kind of man Eric was-a really good one. Fortunately I listened to the spirit and we were married in July 1986.
The photographer made Eric stand on the curb for this picture because he is shorter than me. This picture makes me laugh for that reason. Here is our first Christmas together:
I love that little 5-foot tall Charlie Brown tree with like, 14 ornaments on it. This was our first apartment over in Ellicott City.
We've had 21 good years since then, with Eric's steadiness and my insanity making for a good balance. He has an awesome sense of humor, is patient with me and completely supportive. He has never done anything more than occasionally roll his eyes at all my hobbies, interests, changes of mood and mind, and he never fusses about any purchase that I've ever made. He thinks I'm amazing, and finally, after all these years, I'm starting to believe him, and that is the greatest gift that a partner can give. We still have that original, underlying friendship, and that has held up as well or better than any crush ever could.
I realized how good I had it in '93 when he started law school and I began 4 years as a single mom. He went to law school not for the prestige or the money, but for very practical reasons. The defense industry had crashed after the end of the cold war and we lived under the threat of layoffs for about 4 or 5 years. He wanted more job security. He has always been a great provider, but he is totally non-materialistic. I have convince him to buy new clothes every few years. Anyway, during his law school years, he worked up by BWI airport during the day then drove down to George Washington University in D.C. at night for class. That is why we bought this house. It is almost exactly halfway between the Baltimore and Washington Beltways. It was grueling. In spite of his heavy load, he never did homework on Sunday, accepted callings when he could and somehow managed to be around for the really important stuff, especially the two babies I had while he was in law school (hello? what WAS I thinking?). I am sure I didn't realize at the time what a sacrifice that was for him. He gave up a lot of study time to be a husband and dad. He did not graduate at the top of his class, but he has been blessed with a very successful career since his graduation in '97. I can hardly believe its been 10 years. Here we are at that moment. I was 30 years old and he was 34 at the time. Evan was 11 months old.
In spite of the fact that he was not what I thought I was looking for, lucky for me Heavenly Father wasn't afraid to use a spiritual 2x4 upside my head to make sure I made the best decision of my life. Our story is not a conventional romance, but it is an enduring one and perhaps a little dearer for its rarity.
Well, this wasn't quick and I told a more than a little of our story, but here's to Eric. Happy birthday to the man who has helped me become the person I am today. He would deny that and say it is the other way around, and I guess that's why it all worked out. He enjoys life, he loves people and he loves to serve. The strongest bond between us is that our priorities were and are exactly the same. A hundred thousand decisions were already made and settled before we even got married because we look at life so similarly. I am glad I was smart enough to realize it.
This is a favorite picture of him-from a camping trip in '99. He is doing his manly, heroic pose. If you look closely, you will see that he is just about to crack up. That is pretty much how he goes through life--right there when he is needed, but never taking himself too seriously.