I didn't know it at the time. I thought I was taking a chance on higher education, making a first bold attempt at doing things for me, but something even greater was at work.
I was so terrified when I walked into that room, truly, I was. I'd never been somewhere like that before. I was a liar, a fake, a cheat - I didn't belong - and shaken to my core I found one lone seat in a sea of strangeness, and claimed it for my own. Next to me, a boy, angsty and with eyes cloudy with sleeplessness, shielded under a hood.
I thought surely I wouldn't make it to the end of the day.
But looking back, so many people that shared that room with me, went on to become so dear to me. And that boy... oh that boy... well, he was something else entirely.
By noon we'd realized our schedules were identical, and not long after we shared a plate of cafeteria lunch bought with our pooled pocket change. We were inseparable by the end of the semester.
That boy, that best friend, was there for me through it all. My struggles with college, a failing marriage, raising a young daughter on my own, being a small business woman, and a myriad of art shows and art failures; he was always by my side.
One evening I turned to a friend and said "I think I love him"
Not long after, he said to that same friend and I, "I think I'm in love" while he told us of the girl he'd met. I was there for him while he learned to love, and learned what a broken heart is. I helped him try and win her back. I helped him try and forget. I did everything I could... I stood by him in the failing sunlight of a studio room and daydreamed about what it would be like to touch him, and August morning, when the time was finally right, we fell into each others arms and never let go. How can I ever thank him for that? For eight years of friendship, a year of happy marriage, and a lifetime of love crammed into a few short years. I could never begin to thank him.
The gift of a first anniversary is a piece of paper.
A simple thing... but that is what I will give you.
Upon this blank page we will write our story. We will illustrate our lives. Upon this page we will dream, and wish, and hope, and write a history of love.
Upon this page I will write my love letters to you.
Vandal, I can give you - who have given me so much - so little. But I give you this page, with all the promise that it holds as a symbol of the future we will build together.
Happy anniversary love.