When I met my husband Johnathan my home had dial-up Internet; no one had cell phones; my last paper had been researched using the dewey decimal system. My sister dragged me to church camp less than 24 hours after I’d returned from a trip to visit my host family in Australia. I was exhausted and only knew, like, one other person on the bus. I didn’t want to go. I was 17.
My first memory of Johnathan is a few days later. Breakfast. The group we’d eaten with cleared their plates and I was last in line, so by the time I finished, everyone had gone. I walked outside alone, but there was Johnathan, waiting by the door. “I didn’t want to leave you behind,” he said.
On the bus ride back from camp I ended up sitting by him. I planned to sleep. As we jostled down the road, the Stillwater River winding us home, he was talking to a friend in the seat ahead of us when I heard him mention he had three older brothers. “Really?” I said. “I have four younger siblings.” We started talking and it would be easy to say that from that point forward we’ve never really stopped. As we pulled into the church parking lot he asked for my number so we could get together with friends to play pinochle. I remember thinking, “Wow, he has a nice smile.”
A couple months later Johnathan left for his first year of college at the University of Oregon and I started my senior year of high school. We called each other “superfriends” which meant we wrote letters, emailed, and talked via appointment using those phone cards where you punched in a long string of numbers, then a code, to get a reasonable long-distance rate. By the next summer we were dating, and we returned to camp as counselors.
It wasn’t all fun, though it was a lot of fun. I was at the University of Montana and kept trying to break us up because I felt too young for a serious relationship. I would be like, “I don’t think we should be doing this,” and Johnathan would say, “Why?” And I would say, “You know, like a feeling.” So we tried all kinds of things—emailing only twice a week. He went on exchange to Japan; I went to France.
It was sometime during the months when I was living in a French dormitory, reading Harry Potter in translation, the only Internet via the computers across campus in the library, that it became clear that three years of long-distance—even at age 20—it meant something. We were poor college kids but we scraped together cash for him to visit me twice that semester in France, and that summer we got engaged.
We’ve been married 14 years today.
We’ve had two kids, moved many, many times, I got a masters’ degree and Johnathan started a thriving computer programming business. We are still the exact same people from these pictures, and we’re simultaneously other people entirely. We came back to Montana ostensibly to raise our family here, but I think there’s also a particular draw back to a place where you first fell in love. Grass in the air, allergies high, the sky a bright, bare bulb. Camp, weddings: July.
Fourteen years ago I made what has easily been the best decision of my life by marrying my superfriend. Here’s to the next 14. ♥️