One of the nice things about marrying a person you've known for six hundred bajillion years is that there's a pretty good chance his parents still live in the town where you met. My parents used to live there too, of course, which makes any visit back an exercise in fitful nostalgia. There's your old house, says Sean as we drive past it, and I crane my neck to peer into the kitchen. That's where my brother and sister used to wait for the school bus. There's the store where we bought our bread and our milk. That's where I kept stalling when I was learning to drive stick; I was late for a babysitting job and I had to ask the guy in the car behind me to get out and drive my car over the slope.
I have known Sean for fourteen years this summer; we met at the end of July in 1996. In two years, I will have known him exactly half my life. The story isn't new; I've written about it here and here and here. We met on a beach in Connecticut, and every time we go back to Connecticut, we go to that beach and look around and reminisce, like people on a package tour of their past lives.
The first time I laid eyes on Sean, I was sitting cross-legged in the parking lot of that beach in my JC Penney jeans. He rode up on a bicycle and started playing hackeysack. Look, I totally made him act that part out:
Ah, the nineties: simpler times. Times when a girl could like a boy who played hackeysack and not be ridiculed for it. Times when a boy could play hackeysack and not look like a.....nah, that hasn't changed.
Here's the phone Sean was hogging when I needed to call my parents to ask them to come and pick me up.
I can't believe that phone is still there, fourteen years later. I guess I figured teenagers these days just Skyped their parents on their iPhones when they needed a ride. In fact, Sean may actually be the first person to use this phone since 1996 when he used it the first time.
Here's the bench I was sitting on the first time Sean rode by on his bicycle and said hello to me. Then I sat on it again a few months later, when we found each other again by accident, and at first he didn't remember me but then he did.
Huh. I don't remember those rather uncinematic gasoline cans being there. Then again, I was probably too starry-eyed to notice.
Here are the rocks we used to sit on and look out at the sunset. This part didn't happen until we were actually dating, of course. Before that, I just used to come here by myself and write angsty poetry and listen to Matchbox Twenty. As you can imagine, a lot of people on the rocks were doing the same thing.
Before we left the beach this time, we grabbed a man who was crossing the parking lot and asked him to take our picture. "We met here," we said. "Fourteen years ago. And last year we got married. Would you mind?"
"Aw," said the man. "Not at all." And then he snapped our picture in front of the women's bathroom. I could have photoshopped the sign out but I thought it was kind of funny. Won't our grandkids be so proud.