I didn’t think it would last.
We were both young. I was 18 and she was 17. I was a senior in high school and she was a junior. Although we went to different high schools, fate would eventually bring us together. You see my twin brother was going to the senior prom with a girl from different high school. Given the fact that he didn’t know anybody other than his date, he asked her if she would set me up with somebody. You know, THE WING MAN. I met Melissa just a few times before the prom; one time to pick out a tux, and another time just a few hours with a group of friends. She struck me as a pretty girl with a gorgeous smile, but REALLY shy. I remember my brother and I drove to her house, pulled up in our 1995 Mitsubishi Diamante, and picked up both Melissa and my brother’s date. I think we scored extra points with her parents because we sat in the front seat while the girls sat in the back!
Since we both didn’t dance (and we still don’t, don’t try to get me up on the dance floor!), we took the obligatory photos, chatted a bit, and didn’t know what we were going to do next. Once dancing started, Melissa and I walked outside, and just talked. We talked, and talked, and talked. We literally talked the entire night. I remember not wanting to leave because we had so much fun just being around each other. After prom was over, we kept in touch for about a year. I started architecture school, and she was still a senior in high school. Although we kept in touch for the entire year, I didn’t think we were going to get together. But there was something about her that kept me interested. Although she was shy, she really opened up to me with her personal life, school, and just other things going on in her life. The more we hung out, the more I felt like there was something more than just a platonic friendship. Fast forward about 8 months, it was early February, 1997. We both weren’t dating anybody and to this day I still don’t know what motivated me. But I asked her on a ‘lunch date’ on Valentine’s Day.
We met up at her favorite Mexican restaurant in Covina called Ray’s Tepeyac. We sat at the corner booth, right next to the kitchen. The green leather on the chair slightly torn. And the stained glass lamp still hangs from the ceiling to this date. We talked, again. But this time it was different. We still talked about the same things like we had been the last year, but something about that day was different. I told her about my big plans of moving to Seattle to attend Architecture school, and pursue my dream of becoming an Architect. With a smile on her face, she made me promise to never forget about her even after I move. At the end of our lunch date, we exchanged valentine’s day cards. I don’t remember anymore what I got her, but I do remember what she got me. It was a card that said she loved me as a friend. I remember thinking to myself, “just a friend?” I wanted more!
A month later, on 3/2/1997, I called her and nervously asked her to be my girlfriend. To my delight, she said YES. We had a normal relationship like everybody else. We traveled to New York, San Francisco, and other places. But I was going through architecture school, and she was going through nursing school. If you know anything about these two majors, they are tough, and they require a lot of time. We had less time to spend together and drifted apart a bit. But through it all, we always knew we would be together. Although it seemed like FOREVER, We eventually finished school and found good jobs in the Inland Empire area. We got married in March of 2004 and started living our lives together. Looking back now, I think we both agreed we were really too young and immature to be married and make such a big commitment. And our immaturity would almost end our marriage just a few short years later.
In October of 2005, we welcomed our first daughter, Ally. And things got tough. I mean REALLY tough. The financial strains of having a child, coupled with my wife working less to stay home with our daughter, combined it put a huge toll on our relationship. We were so busy just to get through the day, we forgot the one thing we enjoyed the most. We simply stopped talking to each other. Not in the literal sense, but we stopped communicating with each other. We stopped sharing our days, our dreams, and what made us…well, US. Things didn’t get better until our 2nd daughter, Lauren. came along in 2007. We both knew we had to reconnect with each other and things had to change. We started having date nights again, we made a point of spending time with each other. We made nights where computer/work is off limit. Slowly but surely, we reconnected. It was almost as if we had somehow gotten through our first 5 years of marriage in a haze, and finally came out at the other end of the tunnel. We realized what made us great with each other. We laugh, we share our lives, we each found a new passion that allowed us to be individuals, yet still operate as a family. Slowly but surely, we returned back to the carefree 18 & 17 year olds when we first started dating. On selective nights with trusted babysitters of course. We are having fun again. We go on date nights just to reconnect.
So now, 8 years into our mariage. I can honestly say I have never loved my wife more than the way I love her right now. Not because she’s my wife, and I simply HAVE to love her. I love her because I want to. I love her because I need to. And I love her, because our love completes me. I honestly believe this is why I love wedding photography so much. Not only do I get to see the beginnings of other couples’ life long journeys together; I also have the honor of documenting it for their children. Hey who knows, maybe one day their children will be reading their parents’ blog posts with MY photos in it. 🙂
It is not quite our anniversary yet, but I wanted to share the vow I wrote when we got married. A little sappy, but here it goes. 🙂
My dearest Melissa,
Today I join my life to yours.
I stand before you as a man, making a promise to the woman he loves. With all the courage and strength that I know, I shall vow with my love to fulfill them all.
I will not ask you to satisfy all my dreams. But I ask you to share your dreams with me and allow me to share my dreams with you.
I will never take you for granted and will always treat you with respect.
I will not ask you to accept all of my flaws, but accept them as who I am.
I promise to cherish and to love you for always and I promise to fulfill my duty as a husband and a man, to be the foundation of our marriage.
A wiseman once said love is not finding someone to live with, it’s finding someone you can’t live without. And in you, I have found that someone I can’t live without for the rest of my life.
From this day forward,
I will not be afraid of darkness because you will be my guiding light.
From this day forward, I will have no trepidation because you will be my wisdom.
From this day forward, I will walk with you side-by-side as husband and wife for all the days of our lives.
Love always, hubby.
awesome photo by Erich Chen Photography