A girl I haven’t seen in 12 years has invited me to a wedding where Bruno Mars will be singing.
That’s the second-most-interesting part of this story.
In June 2001, I was interning at the daily newspaper where my father lives and preparing for my final year of college—my fifth year.
I like to tell people it took me five years to graduate college because I switched majors my sophomore year AND because I worked so hard at the college newspaper of which I was editor in chief during the 2000-2001 school year.
But the truth is I smoked a ridiculous amount of pot and went to keg parties all the time.
I also spent that summer taking a Spanish class at a local community college in Illinois to help fulfill my foreign language requirement.
That’s where I met Stephanie.
She and I hit it off right away because we’re both kind of awesome and hilarious. No sparks or anything. Just a lot of laughs. We made the class fun. She was dating a rugby player. I was weeks away from heading back to Ohio for my final year of school.
The Phone Call That Changed My Life
It was just a typical summer night at dad’s. I was standing behind the basement bar doing something on the computer when the house phone rang—back when hardly anyone had a mobile phone.
My dad answered.
“It’s for you,” he said, handing me the phone.
They say father knows best, but he never told me to hang it up. He never told me to be careful. That these next 20 minutes on the phone would change my life forever.
It was my wife calling.
Only I hadn’t spoken to her in six months. I had never met her parents. We didn’t even really know each other very well.
Why is she calling?
I only knew I liked her. That we’d made out once or twice after parties. And that she was one of the most-beautiful things I had ever seen.
She told me she was getting ready to move to Orlando with three of her girlfriends.
But she had reservations. Thoughts of me had been gnawing at her. She and I had unfinished business, she said.
“I need to see you,” she said.
I ended the conversation and had a talk with dad. He had concerns about inviting a girl he’d never met into his home for an entire week, but ultimately I talked him into it. I sold one of the best salesmen I know on one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. I have never considered that until this very moment.
A couple weeks later, she flew out to see me.
Stephanie remembers me talking about her before and after that week. She remembers feeling jealous.
The first night my future ex wife was in town, she accompanied me to Stephanie’s parents’ house for our Spanish study group. She sat patiently on a couch in the basement watching something on TV while me, Stephanie and another girl I don’t remember worked through our Spanish lesson.
Stephanie didn’t know if this visiting girl was right for me, she said. She also secretly had a crush on me, but waited 12 years to tell me that part.
It didn’t matter. I was absolutely smitten with my future ex wife. By the end of her week-long stay with me at my dad’s, she had cancelled her plans to move to Florida. She was going to stay in Ohio, be my girlfriend, and wait for me to graduate.
I meant that much to her.
Two years later, we were engaged.
Three years later, we were married.
Seven years later, we were parents.
Twelve years later, we were a memory.
Same bed. But it feels just a little bit bigger now.
The Facebook Status Update
I had to attend a mandatory parenting class last weekend.
Something funny on the whiteboard prompted me to make a Facebook post. When I did that, a handful of people who didn’t know I was getting divorced finally found out.
One of those people was Stephanie. She lives in Tampa now. She has a five-year-old son just like me. She’s recovering from the end of a marriage just like me.
And she still likes me. Maybe too much. Maybe just the right amount. I don’t know yet.
We have plans to reunite in a few weeks. I’ll know more after that.
Stephanie has always said I remind her of an old celebrity crush—Jon Favreau’s character in one of her all-time favorite movies, Love & Sex.
Stephanie has been invited to a September wedding in Illinois where Bruno Mars will be singing.
She invited me to come with her.
It seems like a good opportunity to go see my family in Illinois and experience once-in-a-lifetime nuptials with a super-cool chick.
Bruno won’t sing “When I Was Your Man,” right?
Surely not at a wedding, right? Would God allow such a thing?
Because I don’t want to be at an amazing wedding with an amazing person and think about—her.
Stephanie doesn’t deserve that.
I might deserve it. I don’t know.
But my future ex wife? I’m quite certain she doesn’t deserve it.
And let’s just be honest: “Gorilla” is a much better song anyway.