how i found you


How I Found: David
February 13, 2009, 2:54 am
Filed under: my husband

In my senior year of high school, I joined a drum line, despite the fact that I didn’t play drums.

I was a saxophonist; my friend, Jolene, played the French horn. No matter. We had rhythm, and that’s all we needed to pick up a pair of cymbals.

Jolene’s rationale behind joining: The availability of cute guys in this particular drum line. The director, Mike (who happened to be her crush of the moment). Jeremy and Joel, cuties from our school. But, more importantly, this drum line drew men from outside of our small town. Even better than local cute guys would be new cute guys from neighboring towns. Who knew what might be out there?

“C’mon, it’ll be fun,” she said to me. Many an adventure has been launched with that statement. So I joined, even though I’d been Jolene’s sidekick in the dating game for many years. Jolene was prettier than I, much more vivacious and flirtatious. I could just see how this summer might turn out: Jolene flirting and getting all the guys, me the “plain Jane” watching with a smidge of jealousy.

Around thirty people showed up for our first practice in March. Jolene and I eyed the guys in the room, barely listening to Mike’s welcoming spiel. Who was cute? Who had potential? We were scoping, taking mental notes. Our eyes landed upon one slight, tanned cute guy by a bass drum across the room: David. Jolene wasted no time putting the moves on him. I tried, too, but her presence was overpowering. I was relegated to sidekick once again.

But Jolene had something that I did not: attention-deficit disorder.

Jolene flitted from guy to guy like a butterfly. She quickly assessed a situation: If it was moving too slowly for her taste, she needed to move on. She needed to get into a relationship immediately, needed constant male attention at all times. Good thing for me, David moved at a glacial pace. Our relationship developed over the summer; we shared tents on campouts and talked by campfires. I watched this sensitive boy play guitar, the fire casting a warm glow upon his face.

I could tell he was good. Just good. My experience with men had been thin. A band camp fling. A much older man for a few weeks. A beautiful pot-smoker who was banging a grocery-story clerk on the side. They had all been flawed. Based on these experiences, I expected all men to be troubled jerks. I was 18 and already cynical.

I went to David’s home later that fall. I saw the way he picked up his cat, cuddled him on his shoulder. I saw the way he treated his mom and his sisters. Kind, caring, considerate. This was a complete family with a closeness that I had not yet witnessed. A complete family I was craving. My dad had died three years before, unmooring my family. By now, Mom was working and dating. I spent nights and weekends, alone, in our drafty, small house. David and his family filled a void.

You could say I rushed into marriage. By January, David and I were engaged, not even a year after we first met. We married in September. I was 19. But even with my limited experience with men, my gut told me I wouldn’t find a much better guy no matter how long I searched. I didn’t think it would be fair if I asked him to wait while I played the field, just to make sure.

Any search would have led back to him. I believe that yet today, more than fourteen years after we married. The guy I have is still, simply, very good.

Rachael Hanel is a writer and college instructor in Madison Lake, Minnesota. She’s written more than twenty nonfiction children’s books and teaches journalism, history, and composition. She’s working on a memoir about growing up as a gravedigger’s daughter in southern Minnesota.

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