21 years! (And yes, we were children when we got married…we’re really not old. Not yet.)
When people ask how we met, I like to tell them we were computer dates back before there was computer dating. It’s true…sort of. Back when we were in high school, all the schools in Minnesota were connected via some network called MECC. This was before the Internet…this was before most people even had computers at home — though I had one at home…my dad bought a computer when I was in 10th grade. But we didn’t have a modem. So if I wanted to talk to people on the computer (which I did!) I had to stay after school (which I did). I thought it was so cool to talk to other kids around the state. I remember talking to “Jarb” (i.e. my husband), but he doesn’t remember talking to me.
My friend J. thought it was fun to talk to people on the computer, too. In fact, she even had a “boyfriend” on the computer. I thought this was a little weird (but sweet)…how can you have a boyfriend you’ve never met? Well, eventually, she broke up with that boyfriend and found another. Also on the computer. But this time the two of them got to meet when she went to some church event in the Twin Cities. And they really hit it off. But neither one of them had a car, and they lived three hours apart. So they tried to set their friends up with each other. “Jarb” was a friend of J.’s boyfriend, T. (in fact, T. was living with Jarb’s family for the summer to take classes at the university). Jarb had his own car. So J. and her boyfriend went to work on us (and on two other friends).
Jarb and I exchanged a couple of letters and we talked on the phone…he seemed really nice on the phone. We talked for hours that first night and we just really seemed to connect. But my boyfriend (in real time, not computer time) and I had just broken up…it was the summer before my senior year…I liked Jarb just fine, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to get involved with him. And Jarb was heading to college in northern Minnesota (which was six hours from where I lived) in the fall…he wasn’t sure he wanted to get involved with ME.
But we humored J. and T. and agreed to meet (so did another friend of J.’s and another friend of T.’s). My parents were the only ones of the three who were willing to let three strange guys sleep in their basement (well, they’d met T….they liked him), so T., Jarb and P. came down for the weekend and stayed in my basement. That was a great weekend…and Jarb and I fell in love. Even after J. and D. went home each night, Jarb and I stayed up talking (okay…and kissing…but that’s ALL, I swear!). He was so much more mature than the idiot boys I went to school with. So much smarter…so much more sensitive. He really seemed to understand me…and I understood him. I believe the word “soulmate” was thrown around that weekend.
Then the following weekend, D. and I went up to Minneapolis to see the guys (J. wasn’t allowed to go…in fact, when her parents found out she was actually seeing T., they forbade her to see him…she saw him behind their backs for the next two years).
Jarb still went away to college in northern Minnesota a couple weeks later (which about broke my heart…I was really hoping he’d transfer to the University of MN at the last minute because then he’d only be three hours away). But it was better for him to go to Bemidji State, so he did. I even went with his mom when she drove him there a couple weeks later…and for the next year we maintained a long distance relationship. We got together every third weekend (usually at his mom’s house because that was right in the middle). And then the following year, I went to Bemidji State, too, and we could finally be together all the time.
We got married three years after that (during spring break of my junior year…he had just graduated). And we’re still together. We’re even still happy (aren’t we, dear?)! The other couples in the story broke up…D. and P. broke up after just a couple of months, and as I said, J. and T. continued to see each other behind her parents’ backs for another couple of years…then they broke up. Actually, we haven’t even seen J., D., T. or P. in YEARS! I think we stayed in touch with P. the longest…he kind of drifted away when I got pregnant. And I talked to D. on the phone a couple years ago. But I wonder where J. and T. are now? Jarb and I would never have gotten together if not for them.