*By now, those of you who have been my blog friends since Camels & Chocolate has been up and running are probably sick and tired of the tale of Scott + Kristin: Through the Ages. Well, then, you should probably divert thine eyes, as today is our fourth anniversary—or “Happy four years since I ignored you and tried to pretend you weren’t cute!” as SVV awoke me at 6am this morning with a hug and wet willy; we don’t really have an official anniversary, so this is as good as it gets—and I’ll be regaling you yet again…second verse, same as the first. For those who are new, well, this is the saga that is SVV, my fiance, and me. If nothing else, it’s proof that, as everyone’s favorite Bachelor contestant Wes might say, “you know love, it don’t come eaaaaaasy.” Enjoy!
It’s been four years since I first saw those brown curly locks and piercing blue eyes. He was sitting behind me in the auditorium at the Hogeschool van Utrecht during our international student orientation. My first thoughts were that He was cute, but didn’t talk much. I was more interested in the personable Finnish girls to his left.
We tried to ignore each other. He pegged me as one-dimensional and high-maintenance; I found Him exhaustingly boring. First appearances often deceive. Luckily, we didn’t allow these wrongful impressions stand in the way too long; just two weeks later we ventured up to the concentration camp Bergen Belsen, where I found myself alone with Him in a cemetery—not the most romantic of places to get acquainted—and we talked for hours. I learned He had quite an interesting background, having been stationed in Sicily while in the Navy and raised by a pair of scientist parents. He learned that I forewent the typical sorority route of a Southern belle to be my college’s newspaper editor, and that I studied mathematics and journalism, before heading to Manhattan for a stint as a researcher at Newsweek.
Once we got beyond our egos, we had the makings to become close friends—maybe even more. Halfway into our time in Holland, we signed on to live together during the Denmark portion of our program—platonically, that is. Two days after making that commitment, we drunkenly made out in Brussels for the first time while attending a conference at the European Parliament. Two days after that, it happened again. I’d heard that expression “don’t shit where you eat” many a time and wasn’t quite sure what we were doing. Then we took our Christmas break to travel around Eastern Europe, and there was no turning back: I was smitten.
At the end of our 12 months abroad, we had no plans to stay together. I offered to move to San Francisco, hoping He’d give our increasing bond a real shot; He declined my proposal, politely but firmly. I assumed I would never see Him again, the tears streaming down my face as I watched his backpack disappear in the distance at the Copenhagen train station. And I didn’t…for such a very long time upon returning.
But after I moved back to the East Coast, and He to the West, He initiated contact, much to my surprise. We started talking—first, over e-mail a couple times a week, then more gradually on the phone, until we were texting multiple times a day, every day. Each message had hardly subtle romantic undertones, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up, again. After all, we lived 3,000 miles away in very different worlds from our shared sphere in Europe. I tried to go on dates with other guys in New York—I even tried to sleep with one or two of them, before kicking them out of my apartment mid-attempt—but it just didn’t work. He had stolen my heart long ago and buried the key.
Without warning, He asked me to his cousin’s wedding in Hawaii as his date. I was excited. Scared. Confused. I didn’t want to go into the vacation thinking we were going to end up an item. I’d been down that road once before, and it had only ended in heartache—pain from which I still hadn’t recovered. For months, I cried every single night after returning to the States, sad that something that could have been so good had so easily slipped away, out of my grasp and control. I spent much time debating over whether I should even go to the wedding or if that was issuing my death sentence then and there.
But I went—of course I did—and our time in Hawaii was ethereal (then again how can two weeks of romance in paradise be anything but perfect?). The final night, He gave me what I’d wanted all along: a glimmer of hope. “I can’t promise this is going to work out long term, and honestly, I’m terrified, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I think we owe it to ourselves to at least try,” He managed to spit out. Exactly what I’d been trying to tell Him that last year and a half. But the thing with men is, you have to at least make them think it’s all their own idea.
For the remainder of my time in New York, we saw each other at least every six weeks, usually by me taking a Thursday night transcontinental flight out West and coming back Monday morning on a red eye before heading straight from the airport to work. Just three months after our Hawaiian getaway, He visited me in New York and asked me to move out to San Francisco. Not so quickly, Buddy; I already tried to go there once and You rejected me. I wasn’t going to be one of those girls, the type who drops everything at the slightest sign of interest from a guy; I told Him I’d give this relationship a year, and if things were still peachy, I’d relocate. Long distance, after all, never works out. I figured we’d run our course, and I’d still be in Manhattan.
But lo, we lasted, and He finally came with me to Tennessee to meet my family that summer. We almost broke up that weekend and then on our return trip for Christmas later that year. I think it was fear of things not working out more than anything, and neither one of us wanting to be responsible for me uprooting my seamless existence in Manhattan only for things going bust. Besides, meeting each other’s families just made everything that much more tangible.
But we worked through it, and I kept my word: I moved out of my shoebox apartment in Hell’s Kitchen and in with him in an actual house with a backyard and a lemon tree in South San Francisco. We had lived together before—in Denmark—but this was totally different: new city where I didn’t know anyone, new job, new circumstances, new cat (I (used to) loathe felines). Again, it was never going to work.
There were also our complete clashes in lifestyle to consider. He comes from a very liberal, agnostic family where the word “Rush” (as in Limbaugh) is considered the most severe offense in four-letter expletives; me from a hardcore, Southern Baptist Republican household in the heart of the Bible Belt where FoxNews is the source of daily entertainment. He’s a politics geek; I’m ignorant to such. I love pop culture; he doesn’t know who Lindsay Lohan is. He prefers to lay low at home when the work day’s over; I’m a social butterfly most in my element while out at an event immersed in a group of my peers. Those kind of stifling differences rarely make for a lasting love.
Yes, we were ill-fated from the start.
And yet, we work. Somehow, someway, we’ve managed to get beyond all those obstacles.
I never thought I’d get married. Not me, not at the youthful age of 27. Prior to Him, I’d only ever been in a string of casual three- to six-month flings, nothing serious. If you had told me four years ago I’d be marrying those curly brown locks and piercing blue eyes, I probably would have laughed in your face. And yet, here I am. Here we are. And I couldn’t be happier for the way things turned out.