I tell my children the story of how I met their father frequently. They love hearing about our "love at first sight" romance. I have an entire photo album from when my husband and I met and started "dating" and my kids love to look through it and see us when we were "young".
I met my husband on Fort Bliss in El Paso TX. We were both in Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for the Army. AIT comes right after Basic Training - the Drill Sergeants are a little mellower but you're still living in the barracks, attending classes and not allowed off-post without a Pass.
I had no clue that he even existed. I went to class during the day and he was part of the night class. His job was different than mine so he had been there for several months already, yet I was newly arrived. He tells the story of the first time he saw me as: He was supposed to be asleep during the day but happened to look out the window right as my bus was pulling up, dropping us off from the airport. I was completely terrified by this new step, not sure what to expect, focused solely on not drawing the Drill Sergeant’s ire as he yelled and screamed the rules of AIT to us. I never glanced towards the windows to see my future husband checking me out.
Steven says that from that first moment he was always looking for me - often delaying going to bed after class until he had a chance to see me going off to my own day classes. Meanwhile I was oblivious. Finally one day he asked one of his friend's girlfriends to approach me and introduce us. We females lived up on the third floor of the barracks while the males had the first and second floors. We were not allowed onto the opposite sex's floor, but we all had a common security desk area on the first floor. So this girl who I had never talked to before came to me and said that someone wanted to meet me. We went downstairs to the security desk and had him called forward on the pretext of returning a book. When he got to the desk we shook hands as his friend's girlfriend introduced us, but he barley had two words to say to me. I shrugged it off and figured he hadn’t really been all that interested in me after all.
That weekend I got my first Pass to go off-post. Back then the big thing to do on Pass was to get a room at the Howard Johnson, then find a party to go to. I had begun making my plans when that same girl came up to me and said that my future-husband wanted to take me to dinner at some Italian restaurant. I agreed, and turned down another guy who asked me to a country bar. I checked into the Howard Johnson, went and bought a new outfit from Old Navy (if you ask my husband he can tell you the exact color) and waited for him to call my room.
Long story short, he did call my room, we went to an Italian restaurant called Como's there in El Paso and we had a great time. We ended up spending the whole night together - swimming in the hotel pool, hanging out in one of the rooms watching bizarre late night TV and eating an early morning breakfast at Denny's. From then on we were joined at the hip every moment that we could. Since he mentioned that he didn't get much mail from his family I took to writing him letters - the first one I wrote I had the return address as H. Johnson because we weren't supposed to correspond with other with each other. Eventually we started passing each other love notes when ever we passed at breakfast or before he went to bed and I went off to class. He would often wake up at lunch time and come out to share lunch with me, even though it meant only getting a few hours of sleep.
After about two weeks, his class was close to graduating and he got his assignment orders saying he was to stay at Fort Sill. A few days later I got my orders assigning me to Korea. At that point he proposed. He said he didn't want me going that far away without a commitment to stay together. I hemmed and hawed until he snuck off base and bought me a ring one afternoon while he was supposed to be sleeping. We decided to get married the following weekend since it was Labor Day and we both had Passes. Only six of our friends could attend as the rest didn't get Passes. All of the Drill Sergeants laughed when we told them we were getting married, they had seen many AIT romances fail once the soldiers got out into the real world. We had a quiet ceremony at a local non-denominational church and then a two day honeymoon at the local Marriott.
Once we got back after our wedding, he graduated and moved into his new unit's barracks. We were only able to see each other at night and on weekends. He must have looked pretty mopey, because his new Sergeant asked him what had him so depressed. My husband explained that he was missing me and that I would be leaving soon for Korea and we had been married less than a week. His new Sergeant then took it upon himself to call some people and pull some strings and get my orders changed so that I would go to the same unit as my husband! They both got yelled at for it, but it was a done deal by that point and my husband's Sergeant said it was worth it :)
That was 13 1/2 years ago and we are still married. We have four children now and although I got out of the Army when I got pregnant with our second child my husband is still serving and plans to stay in until retirement. We've moved around the world, had tons of ups and downs, but I wouldn't change it for anything.
People are often astonished when I tell them we only dated for three weeks before my husband proposed, and only knew each other for four weeks when we got married. They asked how I knew and I can't explain it to them. I knew he was the one for me, even though I was 25 and he was only 19. He was from L.A. and I'm from Chicago and our upbringings were radically different although we were both children of divorce. Maybe that's why we've fought to make it work. We work through our differences because we want to prove to everyone that sometimes love is enough and everyone who laughed at us back then was wrong.
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