By: Lily Patel for Georgia Weekly Post
Sixteen years ago on April 22, I got engaged to my husband, but we started dating in 1997, so we've been together almost 20 years.
That's almost half my life! Sometimes I can't believe it because time really flies. But you know what? It's still an adventure everyday.
How could it not be with our two great kids? And I'm still excited for what the future holds for us. We are blessed and it has been a good life!
I met my husband when I was in college at Penn State University. He was at Penn State working on his Ph.D. Although I had seen him at the gym, we did not meet until one night when my girlfriend dragged me out to this bar where she knew her ex-boyfriend liked to go. I did not feel like going out that night, because I too had an ex-boyfriend that I didn't want to run into, but I was worried she'd end up doing something stupid if I didn't go with her. Similar to her ex-boyfriend, my ex-boyfriend didn't treat me all that well.
When the relationship ended, I had sworn off men and had told myself that the next guy I dated would be the one I marry and I'd know because he'd show up on our first date with a single red rose.
While my girlfriend and I were out, we sat at the end of the bar. All evening, different guys kept coming up to meet
her, after all, she is a very pretty girl. Knowing that I was bored and not all that happy to be out that night, she would try to engage me by introducing me to every guy that hit on her. There was a particular guy who just did not get the message that she was not interested.
This guy happened to be my husband's friend. After several minutes of this guy not doing himself any favors, my husband came over to try to "save" his friend. My girlfriend was so excited that someone had come to talk with us that she immediately let him join the conversation and introduced him to me.
Up until that point, I had no interest in anyone who had come to talk to us until my husband came over. I was immediately interested. I could tell that he was smart and that he was "going places." I hung onto every word that came out of his mouth because I found him to be endlessly fascinating.
I wanted to go out with him and so I wrote my telephone number down on a bar napkin for him. I know. Classy. That was back in May 1997. When my husband came to pick me up for our first date, he opened the passenger door for me, and there on the seat was a single red rose! We officially became a couple on September 1, 1997.
Fast forward three years to April 22, 2000, when I was in law school, and my husband was still working on his Ph.D. We were on two different campuses of Penn State, separated by a 2-hour drive. On this day sixteen years ago, my husband had made a reservation at a fancy restaurant located at the top of a hill in the middle of no where.
He had gotten driving directions from the restaurant and had picked me up to take me there for a nice dinner out. After driving for almost two hours and coming up on the state line, my husband started getting agitated, stating that we couldn't be headed in the right direction.
I told him it was okay, not knowing why he was getting so upset. He called the restaurant and realized that they thought we were coming from north of the restaurant so had told us to travel south. However, we were south of the restaurant to begin with so we had headed in the wrong direction from the get go.
Anyway, we finally made it to the restaurant. After we both enjoyed steaks for dinner, the server asked if we wanted dessert. I had initially said "No, thanks," but my husband said that I did. So I ordered a creme brulee. When my dessert came, the creme brulee was in a ramekin on a doily, and my spoon was face down on a doily on another plate. I was confused at the presentation and figured that maybe I was supposed to spoon the creme brulee out of the ramekin and onto the plate with the spoon.
When I lifted the spoon up, I saw my engagement ring. It was a beautiful eternity band, a family design, designed
by his grandmother. My sister-in-law has the same ring from my husband's mother. I will buy one for my daughter and my son will buy one for his wife, and that is how the family design gets passed down.
The fact that the ring was so special clued me into the fact that my husband was in for the long haul.
The ring has 19 diamonds and cost him a fortune, but he told me he believed that it was important to spend a lot on the engagement ring because it was a reflection on him, and a symbol of his love for me. The design is entirely unique to his family and no one outside of his family owns a ring with this same design. This made me feel special and I knew that he was in for the long haul.
We got married in August 2002, after I graduated from law school, and my husband got his Ph.D. in 2003. Thus, the adventure began. I did not take the bar exam right away because I didn't know which state we would end up in. In November 2002, my husband got a job in Virginia, so we found out that we were moving to Virginia. I immediately signed up to take the Virginia bar.
Up until I moved south to follow my husband when he got a post-doctoral fellowship in Virginia, I had only ever lived in the north, north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Never did I imagine that I would ever live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. That was the first adventure. After living in Virginia for four years, my husband decided to go to law school at Emory School of Law. By that point I had been practicing for 4 years and if I had 5 years of practice, I could waive into the Georgia State Bar without taking the bar exam again. Thus, I waited to move to Georgia, but I did follow him, and moved to Atlanta, another adventure.
We waited 8 years before we decided to finally have children, which is a new adventure in itself. People often say that once you have children, you no longer remember life before children. I disagree. I actually do remember when it was just my husband and me, and it was wonderful then also. I'm so glad that we had so much time together just the two of us.
It has been almost 20 years now that I've been with my husband. There have been ups and downs, mistakes made, hard times, and even times when I didn't think we'd make it through. But what keeps two people together? The desire to be together, because of and despite of everything. It doesn't matter if there were hard times, or mistakes made. If you want to forgive the mistakes and stay together, then you will. You have to keep your mind open and understand that everyone grows and changes and has things about themselves that might not be very pretty. Question is, do you want to stay in the marriage? If yes, they you'll stay married.
And by the way, he still has that bar napkin with my telephone number.