15 Years

DJ and I met in 1997. We’d known each other only a few weeks when he pinpointed me as a prospect worth pursuing.

We both remember the moment. He was a legal assistant and I was an intern. My sister had mailed me a Trivial Pursuit card with all the answers on the back whited-out. I took the card up to his office and said, “Here, I thought you’d enjoy this.” I put the card on his desk, turned on my heel, and left the office — my skirt (it was during my holy years when I wore only skirts) swirling around my ankles.

A girl who flashed her dimples and gave him trivia cards? DJ was smitten.

He emailed me all the answers, correct, without the aid of Google (which didn’t yet exist). I got his email and thought, “He’s too smart for me.”

Over the next two and a half years, that seed of a relationship blossomed into an easy friendship… and stopped right there. We adhered to a very formal philosophy of romance, which dictated that if we were interested in moving beyond friendship, we had to “court” one another with the intention of marriage.

So DJ never told me he kept in touch with me because he wanted to court me once he finished law school. Which was just as well, because we were never ever ever going to get together.

I was dead set against the idea of marrying him. I told my mother so. I told my friends so. I wrote it in my journal. I was annoyed that so many people seemed to assume that DJ and I had something going, when we absolutely did not. We were friends, that’s all.

Really good friends. In fact, when I got his letter in November of 1999 asking to court me, I was mad at him for ruining a perfectly good friendship.

Of course I wasn’t going to accept his offer. But he’d liked me for two and a half years. Every night, he’d prayed for God to keep me for him. I couldn’t just dash off a note saying I felt the honor of his declaration but must decline, etc. etc. I had to give him a chance.

After a few weeks of emails, I flew from Mississippi to Nova Scotia to visit DJ and his parents for a week while he studied for the bar exam. He met me at the airport with a friendly handshake and chocolate covered cherries. We talked the entire two hours from Halifax to his parents’ home. We spent the whole week talking and laughing until one and two in the morning. We drove around Prince Edward Island — which was deserted in January — pointing out the sights, talking some more, and sometimes just riding in comfortable silence. We went on a date to an indoor amusement park. He beat me at miniature golf and I redeemed some tickets for a little plastic caterpillar that I named Andromeda.

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DJ’s mother took dozens of pictures during my visit. She remarked, “If this doesn’t work out, it’s going to be the best-documented non-courtship ever.”

Before I left, he bought me a necklace. At the airport, he held out his hand for a goodbye handshake. I hugged him instead.

When he got home, he discovered a little plastic caterpillar named Andromeda sitting on his bar exam books, left by a woman who flashed her dimples and wrote flirty notes.

He came to visit me in Mississippi a month later, where he fit into my family seamlessly. At the airport this time, he hugged me. After I saw him on the plane and walked away, I had to sit down because my knees were weak. It was the real thing and we knew it.

We made the courtship official in February, were engaged in June, and married on this day in September 2000.

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SJ: “I am so utterly thrilled to be married!” DJ: “Well, it’s better than studying for the bar, I’ll give it that.” He was actually as thrilled as I was; his smiles have definitely improved with the years.

Today we’re celebrating fifteen years, four kids, minivans, a few rough patches, and a lot of jokes, sex, and love. Not too shabby considering that I wasn’t going to marry him ever. In trivia, miniature golf, and romance… DJ wins.

And he still has that plastic caterpillar, Andromeda, on his desk at work.

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We actually prefer to operate as a team, which we’re pretty good at. We don’t always wear fedoras.

My first impression of him was right on. He is prodigiously smart. After all… he married me, right?

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Well, I mean, he’s not a grinning fool, but definitely more chill 15 years later. And don’t be mislead by that dignity — he had been putting bunny ears on me before the picture snapped.

Happy 15th anniversary, DJ. Here’s to more of the same for many more years.

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