There is a true and sincere friendship between you both – Fortune Cookie
The title of this post is one of those “No Duh” titles, but it is so true. When I got the fortune quote above in my fortune cookie, my two children giggled and my daughter said, “You love mommy, she isn’t your friend”. My wife and I smiled and reminded her that we are friends first and partners second. We all say that, but it is true.
People always ask how we met. I was at our son’s basketball game this weekend when I ran into the husband of one of the other wive’s in our class who is suffering from breast cancer. They are more private about their cancer and while he is a physician and more pragmatic about their situation, I could tell he was suffering a bit. He told me that we looked happy and that we seemed to have gotten through everything okay. I told him we were doing better. It hadn’t been easy and we’re still prepared for any setbacks, but we are in this for the long haul. He shook his head and asked how we met.
It is simple to say we met in college, but one for the drama and long stories, I always tell them about how I met her at the old Pittsburgh airport while saying goodbye to a girlfriend with whom I had recently broken ties. My ex was traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday along with one of my best friends, Joanne, and this cute little brunette with an infectious giggle. I myself was on my way to Cornell to visit my cousin for a monstrous feast as he and his friends in the Hotel Restaurant school at Cornell were cooking.
My ex and I had broken up not because we weren’t right for each other, but more because her parents wanted a nice East Coast boy for her, and not some Asian kid from California. It was my first real taste of racism and I think it hurt my ex to hear her parent’s feelings about this subject more than it reminded me of the reality of our country at the time. It had been two weeks since we decided to call it off and I wanted to make sure she was okay since it would be the first time she’d seen her parents face to face since they gave her the ultimatum. I had tried to make the situation light but she was sick. I don’t remember what I said, but this little brunette teenager laughed at my joke and we smiled and introduced ourselves. Every day I hear my wife’s giggle it reminds me of that Thanksgiving eve.
Ironically my friend Joanne had been debating back in August about whether to introduce me to my future wife or her good friend from high school for a beginning of the year formal. She chose the latter thinking that she’d be better for me. She might have been right at the time and we still do exchange a friendly email from time to time to update each other on our lives. My future wife would hear stories about me from the other two girls and roll her eyes. She did say she was intrigued to be privy to how I treated a girlfriend and was curious to say the least.
That Christamas I got a card from her and when we returned from the holiday break we started studying together and having an occasional meal in the cafeteria. She was pretty studious and (so she said) was not interested in dating. At least she wasn’t interested in dating me. That said, she dated a few guys and I dated a few girls and she’d critique my girlfriends and I’d critique her boyfriends. I remember when I was dating the 6’2″ star of the women’s volleyball team (I am 5’9″) she would tell me how silly we looked and I loked her straight in the eye and told her maybe I should date a short brunette a foot shorter? She smiled and looked away.
We became good friends, best friends. I really had wanted to date her but I had pretty much decided to focus on school as we got closer to graduation and full time recruiting for jobs. I even took some time out from school to work for a law firm just to make sure that Wall St. was more for me than the Court Room. They say absence makes a heart grow fonder and I think that time away made her realize (it took 2 years) that maybe we could be more than just friends and shared that first kiss and first date.
Focused on our careers it still wasn’t until 9 years after that fateful night at the old Pittsburgh airport that we got married. Our friendship enforced by memories, hardship, and our own group of friends and family made our marriage a “no-brainer”. Those nine years of waiting were the foundation for a great friendship. We realized how much we shared in common and how any differences enlightened ourselves to a world we did not know but were willing to learn about. By the time we got married we had already been making decisions that assumed we would be together. It was only natural.
It was love at first sight, but it was a friendship that formed first. People say we are an old married couple as we often finish each other’s sentences, but what makes it work is that we often surprise ourselves and each other when we don’t really know the answer. We are testing our love, not our friendship. I know chances are that someday my wife will have to help me the same way I had to help her with her battle. fate bought us together for a reason.