“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with. Marry the only individual you can’t live without.”
I was 12 years old when I met the boy across the street. I saw him but didn’t notice him. Everyone at school talked about him. He was a little shorter than me. I was not impressed with the boy across the street but he was always nice to me.
There were many boys that lived in our neighborhood, I’m sure there were other girls I just never saw them. We would all meet in the middle of the street for touch football. The boy across the street was there, I could run faster and catch better but he was always nice to me.
We all made it through our junior high years, some better than others. The boy across the street had a lot of friends and fit in easily. I seemed to be hanging on the fringe, but he was always nice to me.
High school started and we were friends. My schedule opened up considerably while his became full. He was cute, popular, funny and easy to hang out with. I was quiet and introverted, but he was always nice to me.
They say your sophomore year is your make you or break you year. You will either find your niche and flourish or withdraw and lose yourself. The boy across the street flourished, I withdrew a little more every day, but he was always nice to me.
Too young to drive, we had to ride the bus to and from school every day. My list of friends was short and my schedule was open, it was not unusual for me to be the first one on the bus in the afternoon. I sat in the third seat behind the driver. The boy across the street hung out as long as he could, laughing with friends, some guys, most of them girls. He would get to the bus right as the doors closed. I saved a seat for him. We would talk and laugh on the ride home, we shared the same stop and he would stand in the aisle to make everyone else wait to let me out first. That year I noticed he was a little taller than me and was always nice to me.
During the summer, he would work and hang out with friends and I would work and stay home. Junior year started and he got his driver’s license and a truck. I still rode the bus. I would see him at school and noticed that he was a few more inches taller than me. I noticed how blue his eyes were and how thick his hair was. He had a lot more friends, but he was always nice to me.
The summer before senior year he left to work at a camp. He rode horses and fished and camped, I stayed home and worked and tanned. When I saw him after he came home, something in me changed. Something changed in me because a lot about him changed. He was now 7 inches taller than me, his hair was full and the perfect color of coffee, he was slim and his eyes were the color of the sky. Even after all those years he was still nice to me.
I couldn’t wait to get out of school and it seemed he was made for it. People were drawn to him because of his simple charisma, friendly manner and good looks. He was popular and friendly, but he was still nice to me.
I was busy as the school year started to wind down; I had an afternoon job and an evening job. I didn’t see much of the boy across the street, except in economics class. He sat behind me and periodically leaned forward to sing me some funny country song. He always made me laugh and he was always nice to me.
We graduated in the spring of 1983. I went to work full time and he joined the US Navy. We didn’t see each other for a long time. But he sent me postcards and letters from around the world. He continued to be nice to me.
At home, on leave, the boy across the street would always call me and asked me for a date and I always said no. Even though I turned him down he was still nice to me.
Without fail, on every leave, he would call me and every time I turned him down. The boy across the street was much too good for me. He needed someone else. But he was nice to me.
The Navy took him around the world and I stayed home. He would send me postcards and ask me on dates and every time I told him no. But he was still nice to me.
It was April of 1985 when I finally said yes to the boy across the street, we went to a movie. We also spent one day at the lake and then another movie. It wasn’t time for me to be committed to anyone, not even the boy across the street. He left that summer with a broken heart, he kissed me and said goodbye and was still nice to me.
The months passed and I never heard from him. No more postcards from around the world and no more dates. I missed the boy across the street and realized that I had made a mistake. Even though he was gone from my life. I knew if he had a chance he would still be nice to me.
I wrote a letter, to the boy across the street, and told him that I didn’t want to live without him any longer. He didn’t write back. I knew he had come home on leave, I waited by the phone and he didn’t call. I wasn’t mad, I was sad because I knew that he had been as nice as he could to me, for as long as he could. It was me who had made the mistake.
The boy across the street was gone.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor 13:4-8
One day I took a chance and knocked on his front door. He smiled and hugged me, I knew he would be nice, but I still had broken his heart and in the process broken mine too. We shared a root beer float and decided to go on one date, to a movie. He bought me peanut M&M’s and we shared a Diet Pepsi. For the next two weeks, we spent every day together. He left again, this time our hearts were broken but for a very different reason. In those two weeks, he had been very nice to me.
We spoke every day on the phone, but he was about to be deployed and we wouldn’t be able to speak for two months. So he asked me to marry him, over the phone, with no flowers, no ring, just one question, I said yes. I had to. I had to because the boy across the street had been a part of my life for more than half of it already; I knew I wanted him to be my whole life for the rest of it.
We were married 29 years ago this week, April 1986. We have made good decisions and bad. We have bought and sold homes. We have made friends and lost friends. We have moved across the country and back again. We have laughed together and cried together. We have raised our children and worked hard to make sure that they know we love them and support them but also that they know we love each other.
The boy across the street has been my friend for almost 38 years. He knows me better than I know myself and through all these years he has held me and loved me. He has helped me and given me hope. Sometimes he has not understood me and once or twice he has even been mad at me but he has always been nice to me If I could change only one thing I would go back in time and say yes to the boy across the street much, much sooner.
I have found the one whom my soul loves – Song of Solomon 3:4