Writing the Preface on How We Met

I love hearing the stories of how couples met.  I’m not sure where or when the fascination began, but I’ve had it for a rather long time.  Having heard hundreds of “how we met” stories (this is among my all-time favorites,) I have learned the following:

  • One member of the couple always tells the story better (if not more accurately) than the other.
  • There is neither correlation nor causation between interesting stories and successful relationships.
  • It doesn’t matter how two people have met, no matter how boring or even bleak the circumstance, when a man’s eyes don’t get a little brighter when recalling the meeting of his partner… well, let’s just say that I’m rarely optimistic for their prospects.

A couple of months ago the Washington Post added the “On Love” section to the Sunday Arts & Style.  The stories of meeting and courtship quickly became mandatory reading for me.  I have blogged about being affected by that section, been frustrated by stories that made me think “Why the fuck did they getting married?” and certainly have been alternately challenged and charmed.  (The editor has made it clear in responding to reader complaints to the ombudsmen that the section is, by design, not always a bucket of sunshine and kittens.)

This Sunday the article opened with the shocking (to some) declaration that they “had spent fewer than 30 days in each others company before they got hitched.” As the kinda guy who is thoroughly enamored of The Story,  I was a completely interested in the tale of the Nurse and the Military Officer.  As any good writer wants to happen, I, the reader became invested.

I was invested in their childhood meeting, moving, and eventual reconnection many years later.  I invested in his divorce, her dying father, their friendship.  I invested in their moment when potential became possible. I invested in their engagement and mostly electronic courtship.  I invested in his difficult times when he identified with Tom Hanks & the volleyball on the island.  I invested when she said “you’ll never be a castaway again.”  I invested in their individual and collective steps to deal with his pending deployment to the Afghan Theater.

And then I had to put the article down.  I was about 80% through the piece but I was emotionally petrified and gripped with a fear that this couple, this lovely couple with the bravery to love ambitiously, would be felled by his bravery in service.  In my head, I was stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum at the Washington Post.

“Promise me there’s a happy ending, promise me he makes it back” I actually said aloud, giving voice to my demand but not sure to whom it was directed.  “There’s no way that they would make me care that much only to…” I didn’t finish the thought.

I did finish the article, and then I went shopping for a care package for a friend in Iraq because I didn’t know what else to do.

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9 Responses to Writing the Preface on How We Met

  1. notsojenny says:

    wait, what?
    i’m so confused… what’s the ending?

  2. kitty says:

    wow, thanks. the person who does those articles is a great writer. i also love a good “how we met” story, which i think is part of my distaste for internet dating… it’s just not a good story! “how did you meet?” should be answered with something much more compelling than “match.com” — at least in my opinion.

  3. Red says:

    You had to make me go read that article and now I’m all teary eyed.

    Great story!!! Thanks

  4. magnolia2010 says:

    i have mixed feelings on that series. some of the stories are cute, some are saccharine, and some are nice. (one of them, and i’m not saying which one, featured a guy who used to live with my best friend, and let’s just say that it presented a MUCH different image of that dude than the one i knew…)

    maybe it’s my stage in life, but i look at all these stories brimming with hope and starry-eyed happiness, and i see myself a decade ago. suffice it to say that i approach everything with more pragmatism, more caution, and more… scar tissue, i guess. sigh. so they usually end up just making me kinda sad.

  5. I’m such a sucker for The Story, too. What romantic isn’t?!

    And even though I don’t even live in D.C. anymore and don’t get my Post delivered to the front door, I still go online and read those “On Love” essays from time to time. Because the romantic in me just can’t resist.

  6. I’m not surprised that you read the On Love stories every Sunday. I, too, love the tales of how couples met, and remember how you featured my post about “Buckeyes” Boy in DC Blogs. We know how the story ended, but I don’t regret how we met and that amazing connection we had for a second.

    There’s a couple in the blogging world who fell madly in love and got married after three months of dating. He’s off to the Middle East after basic training, and I feel the same way that you do about the possibilities that lie ahead of them. But, I can’t criticize a couple for following their hearts and living each day like it’s their last. I wonder how many of us would make different choices if we just followed our hearts without thinking of what the future held.

    xoxo

  7. dan-E says:

    great story. thanks for the link.

  8. Oh my heart.

    I love hearing people’s “how we met” stories as well, and used to love telling mine with The Ex. (A terribly modern-day affair in which self-google-stalking, ninja swords and sea lions play pivotal roles.)

    Anyway, thanks for a thoughtful post (as usual) and the excuse to cry at my desk. For the third time today. Not that anyone’s counting.

  9. […] my disclosed fascination with “how we met” stories, I decided that it was about time that I shared the only really good one I’ve ever […]

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