Sixteen years ago, I was the nerdy, awkward thirteen-year-old walking into the junior high dance with her friends. I was wearing a red tank-top from Deb, my favorite store, and some tan shorts. I teetered in my wedge sandals that made me feel so cool, and I think I was sporting some glitter eye makeup. It was the end of the school year, and our band trip to Kennywood was the next day. I had no idea that the dance I was going to would become a full-circle moment, years later.
You were the thirteen-year-old free spirit with more detentions racked up than I could count. You were reckless when it came to school and the class clown. But there was something about you that intrigued me, that made me think we could be good for each other. You made me laugh. You got me. Even then, you were always in my corner.
That night, though, sixteen years ago, everything changed. The slow songs came on, the ones that in seventh grade, we still didn’t want to admit we were waiting for. We tried to pretend we liked standing in the corners or dancing with our friends. We tried to pretend boys still had cooties, and you tried to pretend you were too cool to dance with girls.
At the dance that evening, you broke the rules. You crossed the waxy gymnasium floor and asked me to dance. You carefully put your hands on my waist and tried not to stand too close. It was humid in that dance, and I can still remember worrying my bangs were sweaty and gross.
But with Faith Hill’s song about magic floating in the air swirling around us, something clicked. I knew something about us dancing there in the middle of all the crazy junior high kids laughing and carrying on, was just right. There were so many people around us, but we didn’t notice. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like the awkward girl trying to find her place. I felt like everything was just right. I felt like we were just right.
I had no way of knowing that years down the road, glittery eye makeup would no longer be cool. I didn’t know I’d laugh someday about my obsession with butterfly clips or that Deb would close in our mall.
Most of all, sixteen years ago, I had no way of knowing that we’d have this life together we do now. I had no way of knowing that I’d marry the boy who asked me to dance and that I’d be thinking about that red tank top and wedge sandals sitting on our sofa, surrounded by a beautiful life we’ve built together.
I had no way of knowing that over a decade later, we’d dance to Faith Hill’s “Breathe” for another first dance…our first dance as husband and wife. What a full-circle moment that was, with everything fading away just like it did that seventh-grade night.
Then again, maybe I did know. Because even then, even at thirteen, we both recognized that whatever it was between us wasn’t something everyone had. We knew there was something once-in-a-lifetime about the way we just got each other, the way we made it work. We knew that even though we were so different in so many ways, we were the same, too.
Looking back, I think even then, we both knew the life we could build together could be something magical.
And it is. It truly is.
They say love comes along when you least expect it. They say that when it does, you’ll just know. Sometimes, though, even if you do know what you’ve found is special, you don’t quite understand the true magic of it until years later. It is often only in hindsight that we can appreciate that spark, that once-in-a-lifetime kind of moment that changes everything. Sometimes, it takes the passage of time to recognize how love changes our entire path.
Every love story is beautiful in its own right and, for each of us, the story is often a winding journey to our own full-circle moments. We are not unique in this fact. We simply are at a point to recognize how love changed our path. We are at a point in our lives that we can appreciate how one dance, one moment changed absolutely everything for us.
To the boy who asked me to dance sixteen years ago and is now my husband, I loved you even then. What a beautiful gift it is to find the one for you at such a young age…even if I was wearing glittery eye makeup and butterfly clips.