We first met in the 4th grade. The following year, we were in the same class. During that year, we worked together on a few projects and generally got to know one other better. Often, Sean would often ride my bus home after school. We took that opportunity to sit together and chat. Although, I must now admit, we were both more than a little shy at the time!
Less than a year later, I discovered that Sean was moving next door. That began the first stitch in the tapestry of our life together. Once Sean moved in, we instantly became inseparable.
Each morning, we raced to the bus stop. It didnít matter that we had to wait in the cold for more than an hour. It was an hour that we were able to spend chatting away. Our chats continued as we hopped on the bus, sitting beside each other Ė constant seatmates. More than a few times the bus driver had to call us down for laughing just a little too loudly.
Each afternoon, it was just the same. Whichever one of us that got to the bus first knew to save the spot for the other. It didnít take long before everyone else on the bus knew it too. Where one was, so the other would be. We became each otherís shadow.
We were the oldest of our neighborhood play group. Often we were called the ringleaders. We spent lots of time exploring the woods, building forts, and collecting mica and shells from around the lake. In the summers, we were frequently found swimming or building bonfires. We were a group of curious kids, intent on discovering the world around us. With our sisters and good friends, the twins, in tow, we spent lots of time riding skateboards and bikes down the curvy, twisty roads and steep hills that surrounded our homes. Most often you would find our gang parked right outside at my parentís door. It was the place to hang out.
During middle school, as so often happens, I developed a major crush on Sean. He was (and still is!) my first serious crush. At the time, he hadnít quite gotten past the ďgirls are ickyĒ stage. So, we were content to remain just friends.
Our relationship may have been slow to grow, but I like to think that it means that our roots are just that much more firmly planted.
In high school, the dynamic of our relationship changed. We spent more time together and the relationship began to deepen. We became true confidantes and best friends. Sean and I were always a bit different in high school so maybe that accounts to why we gravitated towards each other in the way that we did.
I wore combat boots with long flowy skirts, prone to dyeing her hair if inspired. I was just as likely to wear flowers in my hair if it felt like the thing to do. Sean wore religious shirts and spent time on bible quizzing and church activities. From the outside world, we were just so different, but for us it worked perfectly.
We never really dated, per se. Other than a couple of movies and perhaps roller skating, we were always just friends. I even convinced him to escort me and four of my friends to a Winter Ball one year. Looking back, I can safely say that if he didnít love me then he surely would not have dared do that.
During our senior year, Sean transferred to another school to pursue an education in computer science.
Following graduation, we went to separate colleges. He moved away to Seneca to attend Clemson while I stayed at home to attend Anderson University. We missed each other, but we made special effort to see each other most weekends. When I finally got my driverís license, one of the first places I drove was to visit Sean in Seneca as a surprise on his birthday. It didnít matter that I ended up taking my current boyfriend with me at the time to do so.
After the spring semester, Sean moved to Charleston to attend The College of Charleston. Once there, he immediately realized the big hole that was left in his life by leaving me behind. He was in Charleston barely six weeks before he came home to visit.
That was the beginning of us and we have been together ever since.
We weathered nearly two years in a long distance relationship until I plucked up the courage to leave my friends and family to join him. Transferring schools was daunting, but it was worth it in the end. We had fall and spring together, but spent our summers apart.
Sean worked incredibly hard, even working around the clock and sleeping on the office couch, to save the money that would enable me to move to Charleston permanently. We were intensely committed to our relationship and decided that if would be best if we moved in together. I started job and enrolled in summer school before we even had a place to live.
Had it not been for finances, we would have married very early in our relationship. Our level of commitment to our relationship has always been deep and unwavering. Emotionally, I believe we were ready to marry from the very start. Practically, it takes stability and a steady income to make things work. With hard work, and pragmatic savings, it was not long before Sean asked me to marry him. He proposed beneath the glittering lights in the Enchanted Forest during the Holiday Festival of Lights. Nothing sparkled more that night than the stars in my eyes and the ring on my finger.
The years of our friendship culminated with our wedding in May of 2000.