Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday Memory: Our Love Story

Our love story is very long and complicated. There are many twists and turns along the path that led to me become the other half of SmallWorld. It is much easier to say, “We met in college,” which is entirely true.

But more precisely, I spotted Randy. I was a sophomore, and my friend Brenda and I returned from summer break a few days early, during freshmen weekend. I believe that we came specifically because our boyfriends had to be back early to start basketball practice and we wanted to see them, but we absolutely, in spite of our boyfriends, engaged in much previewing of freshman boys.

And in he walked. Brenda and I were in the cafeteria, facing the doors so that we could see everyone who came in. So in walks Randy, with that bounce in his step. He was wearing black Reboks with paisley shoe strings and striped shorts. He was very tan and had gorgeous long brown hair. And earrings. “Who IS that guy?” I asked. (I don’t know who I asked, but someone.) “That’s Greg Small’s brother,” I was told. (Background information: Randy’s older brother Greg had graduated from this same college a couple of years beforehand but lived nearby in an apartment.)

So, yeah. I kept my eye on him. But I had this boyfriend that I was crazy about, and that was all very complicated. So Randy and I became good friends. We hung out. His best friends were my best friends. But I had this boyfriend…

FAST FORWARD. So over Christmas break that year, this boyfriend quit school and dumped me. That was very sad. But heartaches mend quickly at 19. Back at college in January, Randy and I exclaimed our jubilation that we were both relationship-free. We held hands for the first time at the Italian Village. He sent me flowers for my 20th birthday. We kissed in the lobby of my dorm. For Valentine’s Day, we cooked spaghetti together. And it was all very, very nice.

The first seven months were pure bliss. We were madly in love. I’m pretty sure I’d never been happier in my life, nor felt more completely myself with anyone. And then— kerplunk, kerplooey—it all fell apart. I don't even remember the circumstances, but we broke up and it was devastating. And then, at Perkins late studying one night, we got back together again. We sang, “Reunited” while walking around the swimming pool outside Perkins. (Why was there a swimming pool outside Perkins, anyway?) And then at Christmas, we broke up again. And then…yeah. That happened a lot. A whole, whole lot. We were “on a break” more often than not, and that was horrible beyond description. And since I don’t like to dwell on that year of on-and-off…

FAST FORWARD. So after a year of on-again/off-again, I said, “Enough.” I remember wondering who in the world I was and knowing that I had to release Randy in order to reclaim myself. Oh, that was a very good thing. And it was very hard. Randy started dating my best friend’s roommate. Did I mention that we went to a very small college? That everyone knows everyone’s business? That you can’t help but run into your ex-boyfriend and his silly new girlfriend everywhere? Oh, and that my best friend and her roommate-who-was-now-dating-my-future-husband lived right below me, and that my window looked out on the parking lots, and that every time that roommate and my ex-boyfriend/future husband walked out to his car, I was watching? Yeah, that was stinky.

But I had my own new boyfriend pretty soon, and he was fun. We laughed a lot, and he liked to quiz me every now and then: “Are you still in love with Slim?” (His name for Randy.) “No, no, of course not,” I’d reply.

Yep, he was fun, the boy I would never have married. And my girlfriends! Oh, we had the most amazing times together. We lived in constant angst, but a delightful kind of angst. We painted poetry on my dorm-room walls and made mixed tapes. We went to hear bands and danced the night away as often as possible. We didn’t care about our sort-of boyfriends, because we knew they were temporary. We were so, so free.

What I really gained after breaking up with Randy was myself. I was healing. I was gaining perspective. I remembered who I was. And somewhere in there, I really did let Randy go. I remember understanding that I would never love anyone as completely as I had loved him. But I knew I could move on with my future. I would marry someone who treated me well. I would love him. But the great passion of my life happened by age 21.

There was a poem by Gary Snyder that burned into my heart. Like the poet, I would live; I would endure. But I would live remembering:

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were--
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for;
We left it behind at nineteen.

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.

(Excerpted from “Four Poems for Robin”)

And so I graduated from college in May 1988. Randy was there, and that weekend there was a graduation party at a friend’s house. We all brought white t-shirts to autograph for each other. And what Randy wrote on mine clearly meant to communicate to me that he was missing me. (Did I mention that he and his silly girlfriend had broken up a few months beforehand?)

But still, I had this fun, uncomplicated boyfriend. Who went away on a trip for two weeks after I graduated.

So one evening my girlfriends and I were watching the classic horror flick from my childhood, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. (Hmmm. Perhaps I should write a post someday about all the scary movies I saw when I was a child.) This particular movie scared me just as much at 22 as it did at age seven, so we decided to go check out the local music scene instead. I can’t remember who was playing, but it was warm night in June, and some of us were sitting outside in the parking lot, leaning on cars. And then it was just Randy and me.

And that was it. Nearly three years after we'd first met, and eight months after our final break-up—the big one—there was that sublime moment of realizing that this—this moment—begins our life. There should have been symphonies and fireworks lighting up that June sky. It was a moment I can still see so clearly: the young girl and boy in their t-shirts and shorts, sitting on the hood of an old car on a warm East Tennessee night. He quotes a song to her. They know: this is forever. They kiss. Friends peer at them from inside the building, pointing and whispering: “OH MY GOODNESS! Randy and Sarah are back together!” All is right with the universe. This is the way it was always meant to be, but sometimes we have to do things the hard way.

June 4th we met for breakfast in the park. We had jelly donuts and Five Alive. I wrote my uncomplicated boyfriend a letter and broke up with him. As it turns out, he was always right about Slim.

In September we said, “Hey! We could get married!”

In March, we did.

And we still have spaghetti every Valentine’s Day.


And my picture? I can't seem to find the classic one of the groomsmen kneeling down in a plaintive fashion while I'm standing with arms akimbo, and so I'll have to humiliate Randy instead. One can only wonder why these kinds of photos are taken. Randy and my entourage of bridesmaids and flower girls. How can this possibly be explained?

Post A Comment!.....


Monday, February 11, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by StillHisGirl (

I LOVED reading this! :) And that photo is PRICELESS. He looks like he is about 14 years old in that photo. Are you SURE you didn't break any laws marrying him? You've inspired me. I'll do one this week, too.

And you know I understand that small college thing! :)

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Monday, February 11, 2008 - seriously

Posted by onfire (

if I had had something in my mouth when I saw that picture, it would have covered my compy screen.
but, see ... NOW I can safely say "I feel as if I have known you forever" because I really do.
and randy just gets handsomer and handsomer...

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Monday, February 11, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

I loved your crazy story! That picture is hilarious, but I want to see one of you. :)

Heidi @ Mt Hope

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - Our story

Posted by Lauren (

Well here goes….
I met Joel in my junior year at Milligan College. He had all intentions of staying in Pennsylvania for school, but at the last minute decided to listen to his brother’s sage advice about going further from home. So he chose Milligan. After all, that’s where 3 of his 4 older siblings went and Milligan has a way of becoming family tradition. I myself was the third in my family to attend school there. (And we would soon learn that we weren’t the first McNett/Cosgrove couple, but that’s another story.)
As fate would have it, he moved into the dorm room next to two of my good friends. My friends’ room was on the bottom floor of their dorm and I would often pass by on my way to or from class to chat outside their window. Joel sees/hears this going and opens up his window and joins in our conversation. Ok, it’s all good- he’s kinda cute. (But what’s with the Amish look?? A beard, no mustache? He later explained to me he couldn‘t grow a good mustache and was, in fact, not Amish.)
Soon he is joining us for meals and becoming one of the gang. My roommate and I began discussing this addition to our group and pondering his “date-ability“. We concluded that there was definite potential there. I even thought he might be showing some interest in me (as evidenced by his crushing up crackers and putting them down my pants one afternoon, which sounds way more crude than it actually was).
Around this time the school was putting on a production of “The Music Man” and I volunteered to work on the crew. It turns out Mr. Amish plays the bass and was in the Pit orchestra. Hmmm….Being that I’m not shy when it comes to asking a guy out, after the play one night I invited him to join a few of us that were heading to a local hang-out. He said…….”No”. Ok I’m not sure if he actually used the word “no”, but the sentiment was the same. Apparently I misread his cues.
So that’s that. Time to move on. I’m not sure how much time passed- a week, 2 weeks?- but one day he invited me to go four-wheeling with his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend. I probably could’ve come up with any number of activities I would have enjoyed more- navel gazing, frog-gigging- but of course I said “yes.” And so I guess that was our first date? We’re still not sure if that counts. But from that day on we were a couple. And in the condensed world of college experiences, all this took place before Fall Break.
OK, I said we were a couple, but after a couple months I decided I needed some confirmation on our relationship status. As Joel tells it, I confronted him with this, “Are we dating or what??” His response, “I came from a small town where there were only a few girls cute enough to date, and one of them was my sister. So, I’d really like to be able to date other girls as well.” I was glad to get that straightened out. So I set about dating other guys when the opportunity arose and Joel……nada. No one. Sure there was TWERP week ( a Milligan tradition where the girls ask the guys out) and he accepted a few invitations to dinner or a movie, but he never really dated again. Poor Joel, he was smitten.
I, on the other hand, took longer to see the writing on the wall. My ideal was Steve Guttenberg - ha!- and I wasn’t sure how this red-headed guy with his nerdy sense of style fit in the picture. Of course my true ideal was my grandfather- Ragnar Mathias Bjornstad. He was a generous, humble, selfless man and I wanted to marry someone just like him. It took me awhile to realize just how much Joel fit that description. In fact, the summer before we got married I just about had us both convinced that we weren’t right for each other. I had a list of all the reasons I wasn’t his type. I mean, I wasn’t anything like Mary Lou Retton and I wanted to make sure he was aware of my tall stature and my obvious lack of gymnastic talent. But even with some doubts, we stuck it out for a while longer. That’s when God intervened. Without getting too specific on “how“ ;) , God showed us that we were meant to be together. And so after dating for 3 years, Joel and I were married on September 13th, 1986.
Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by SmallWorld (

You know, Lauren, I could certainly find a plethora of excellent pictures to post for your story....

And I love the flood of images that I get reading your story: Virginia Street, camping, Sutton, the cafeteria....the memories go on and on and on

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - Our Story

Posted by Lauren (

I know, I left a lot out. It's hard to summarize 3 years- the highs, the lows, the places, the emotions. I feel certain I didn't do it justice.
I've been going through my pictures, but I'm having trouble with my scanner. Feel free to post any you feel meet your criteria for hokeyness.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - I love your story!

Posted by lcourtneymom (

I love the story of how you all met! I'll have to post mine, but I'm afraid it is too late to enter your contest because I don't know off hand where our wedding photos are! AHHHH!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by 3rsandahug (

Wow! What a story! I hope married life has been much less complicated. :)

Thanks for hosting this contest. I've enjoyed reading all these stories!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Lauren (

I can't believe I forgot to mention the engagement lamp and apparently posted my story in the wrong place. Pish.

1 comment:

  1. I could easily get sucked into your blog, I have work to do, must get out of bed, lol. I read your "Enjoying Them" in my email this morning and clicked on the link to your blog, such a great one! Although, I don't celebrate Christmas as I am Muslim,the essence of what you were saying touched me and it was important. I have spent much time in East TN, and in California we do long hair on men also, their is a hippie undertone to your writings. Although, on the surface we are very different, at the core there are many similarities and I am drawn in. May you have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for your gift this morning.


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