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Twelve has always been an auspicious number for me. I don’t know why, but it became my favorite number early in childhood. Anytime I’ve worn a uniform number of my choice it has always been twelve. For whatever reason, the number twelve keeps popping up into my life.

This Sunday, February 28th, Doreen and I will celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary. It will be an oddly low-key affair – for us. Normally, we have a tendency to celebrate our anniversaries extravagantly but because of our upcoming trip to China we have chosen to keep it a little quieter.

For those who don’t know the story, Doreen and I were both members of an online trivia group on America Online called Triviana. It had grown out of the Mercury Center Trivia Group, run by my good friend John “Doctor Gone” Orr, a writer at the Merc. I was working in the circulation department then as a supervisor and one of my charges was the Mercury Center customer service group. In order to understand it better, I had to familiarize myself with the content and found myself involved with the people in the group, a wonderful, crazy bunch of people many of whom are still close friends today.

I had even dated another member of the group for awhile, and when I first met Doreen I was actually involved with someone else, as was she. Our first contact came when she was planning a Triviana Bash in Las Vegas. As I had planned and executed the previous Las Vegas bash, she contacted me via instant message to find out what had worked, what hadn’t and get some advice and suggestions. Doreen is a meticulous planner, and although I was unable to attend the gathering, I tried to give her as much information as I could.

Before the Las Vegas event could take place, Doreen was throwing a party on Valentine’s Day 1997 at her apartment (which she shared with her boyfriend at the time and her son Jacob) for another Triviana couple, Jodi and Aaron who had become romantically involved online but hadn’t met in person yet. My own relationship had ended badly and I was terribly depressed. I have to admit I was a bit of a downer at the party and although some of my Trivian friends were supportive, I left the party really thinking not much of it.

Doreen was planning to go see one of the re-released “Special Edition” Star Wars movies (I think it was The Empire Strikes Back) in the theater with her son, a huge Star Wars fan, and her boyfriend and she invited me along. I went, planning to see the movie anyway and while I felt a connection to her, I wasn’t really looking for anything romantic. She already had a boyfriend at the time.

Except she didn’t. They had a falling out and feeling depressed and upset, she called me and asked me out to dinner. This was on the 27th of February and we went to Chili’s. I had thought it was meant to be a date date and was disappointed to see that she had brought Jacob along. We mostly talked about her previous relationships and when I went home, I was abjectly miserable. I had completely misread the situation and realized this woman wasn’t interested in me. I gave up pretty much, confessing to a close friend online that whatever special genetic thing that was needed to make a relationship work I just didn’t have. I honestly believed it.

But the truth was that I hadn’t misread the situation. Doreen had gone home, kicking herself that she hadn’t kissed me and realizing, even before I did, that we had a very deep connection. She called me the next day and invited me over to dinner at her apartment. That day was February 28th and while we had gone out before, the two of us consider that day to be our first real date. When I got there, Doreen had baked fresh bread and made one of her special chicken dinners (Doreen is a terrific cook, and she makes a bunch of different chicken dishes quite well), Jacob, Doreen and I played Star Wars Monopoly (I told you he was a Star Wars fan) and I felt this odd feeling that I had come home, as in fact I had.

To further make the evening memorable, when I left that evening I found my car had been towed, so I had to march back to her door and ask her to drive me to the impound lot so I could get my car back. That was how it all started.

Initially, even though we both knew it, we were reluctant to use what we called “The L Word” (and I don’t mean the cable series word) in regards to how we were feeling about each other. We were both getting over particularly nasty relationship break-ups and we were both a little wary, but we were seeing each other nearly every day and if we couldn’t meet in person, we were talking on the phone for hours (this was pre-texting, folks). One night as we were saying good night after a long phone call, I accidentally blurted out “I love you” and she responded “I love you too.” We’ve been saying it ever since.

We knew almost from the beginning that we were going to get married and we chose February 28th as the date because of its significance in our relationship. Our wedding was one year to the day of our first real date, and as with most things in our lives, things didn’t go perfectly smoothly. A blue canvas bag, which had our cruise tickets and airline tickets for our honeymoon as well as all of our travel documents was accidentally left in the limousine and by the time we had realized it, it was gone for the night. We were leaving the next morning and were somewhat frantic on our wedding night, but thankfully the limo company delivered it to the hotel we were staying at about two hours before we were supposed to leave for the airport, so all was well.

The first year of our marriage wasn’t easy. Not the relationship part – that went incredibly well. We lived in one of the most expensive places in the country, the San Francisco Bay Area and we were living hand to mouth. I had been laid off from the Mercury News some time before and had spent my time trying to learn how to do technical writing, a skill much more prized in Silicon Valley and one which I never really mastered. I was looking for a job, any sort of job and was developing a bad pain in my gut which I thought initially was stress-related.

It turned out to be acute appendicitis and one night after my shaking in the bed had startled Doreen into wakefulness from a sound sleep (she thought it was an earthquake initially, so badly was I trembling in my fever-induced chill) and led to a frantic trip to the emergency room, one in which I was barely lucid. I had emergency surgery later that day and was later told that if I had waited even a few hours the appendix would have burst.

Doreen had been working as a temp worker for a Menlo Park company that specialized in mass transit proposals for city governments. One of their consultants was based in Orlando, and so impressed was he by Doreen that he offered her a job in his firm and to pay for her move to Orlando. Doreen and I discussed the matter. Initially, I really didn’t want to leave California. I loved it there, had lived in the state since I was six and was very reluctant to make the change. However, the property values and cost of living were so much lower in Orlando and we realized that we were getting nowhere fast in the Bay Area and it would be eight to ten years before we could even think about getting a house of our own, and even then it wouldn’t be in a great neighborhood if we did. We knew that the best move would be coming to Orlando and so we decided to pull the trigger. As it turned out, we would buy our house after just three years in Florida, the house we currently live in. It’s a small house, only about 1400 square feet, but the back yard looks out on to a wooded area which, as it turns out, is one of the few habitats of an endangered species of tortoise so it will never ever be developed. The neighborhood is mostly quiet except for a few rowdy teenagers, but there are those everywhere.

We have always faced uphill odds in our marriage. Again, not so much the relationship – Doreen and I are best friends, we enjoy much of the same things (although not, sadly, “American Idol” – sorry bunny) and we rarely argue about anything. We’ve had to overcome financial issues and my own health problems, including my recent vertigo issues. Despite all the obstacles thrown our way, we have persevered and overcome every last one of them. We have done it as equal partners and side-by-side in every regard.

They say nothing in life is perfect and I guess it’s fair to say that anything that has to do with our very imperfect species can’t be, but my marriage has come close. I have grown tremendously as a human being because of it. The self-confidence I’ve always lacked has improved because I know that there is a woman who is as crazy about me as I am about her. Whatever maturity I have, I owe to Doreen; she has taught me so much about love and the world that I couldn’t even begin to list it all here.

Relationships have to be worked on and ours is no exception, but it doesn’t really seem like work. There are compromises; Doreen likes to fall asleep with the television on, while the TV keeps me awake for the most part, so I let her fall asleep before turning off the TV and going to bed myself. I’m usually up writing anyway, as my close friends already know.

She puts up with my mood swings and I with her occasional bouts of self-doubt. We go on dates at least once a week, something we have done throughout our marriage, even when we could barely afford it. We support each other, comfort each other and make each other laugh. We say “I love you” to each other as often as we possibly can, and every time we say it we mean it. They aren’t just three words to us, they are life to us.

Twelve is an auspicious number and I can’t help but think that this is going to be an auspicious year. We have plans to travel to China this May, and we are also planning on attending the Toronto Film Festival in September for Doreen’s sabbatical. Our current plan is to drive to Toronto from Orlando, then across Ontario to Winnipeg to visit family, and then back home to Orlando. I will turn 50 on this trip, and if all goes according to plan, we will visit several of our friends in places like Madison, Wisconsin, upstate New York and northern Indiana along the route. We will also be seeing several of our friends in Los Angeles and Las Vegas prior to our China trip.

It’s going to be great, but I couldn’t imagine sharing these experiences with anyone else but her. She’s my very best friend and one of the best, most generous, most compassionate and brightest people I know. She has an awesome sense of humor and a great singing voice. She knows how to have a good time, and she knows how to be a good friend when someone needs one. I am the luckiest guy alive because she had the questionable taste to say yes when I asked her to marry me.

Happy Anniversary, Honey Bunny. I can’t wait to see what comes next.


One Response

  1. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

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