Monday, April 20, 2015

How We Met (In Honor of our Ten Year Anniversary)

Do people actually read these "How We Met" stories?  I confess I've only read a few here and there, and I only sometimes enjoy them.  Our story is suuuuper not exciting and it's only worth writing about because it's ours.  I've avoided writing one until now, but it seemed like the thing to this month to celebrate our ten year anniversary.  (Also, I promised some friends that I was going to work at putting my husband "first" this week, and they're going to be holding me accountable.  So I'm calling this part of my promise... reflecting on our "beginnings" and appreciating how far we've come!)  

So here you have it -- my version of how we met.  And I gave Russ the opportunity to preview it and comment... His comments are in blue. (He's so sweet!)

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How We Met... an Uncomplicated, Fairly Ordinary Love Story

It was my senior year at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  I was a Resident Assistant on campus and was about to graduate with my Bachelor's degree in history and French.  I wanted to continue studying history, and I was pretty good at the Residence Life gig, so I managed to get a job as a Residence Director at Franciscan and a fabulous scholarship to Duquesne University, 45 minutes away in Pittsburgh, PA.     

I worked at one university and commuted to study at another for a year.  May, 2001 rolled around and it was time to hire new RDs to replace those that were leaving.  Since I was a current member of the Residence Life staff I was on the panel that interviewed the potential candidates. - this is where it gets good -  I was sitting in my supervisors' office minutes before an interview.  She mentioned the candidate's name and I thought the man's name sounded familiar.  

"Wasn't there an article about him in a recent Franciscan Way magazine?"  I asked.  We dug it out and there he was on the cover - Russ Blackstone (if only I could find it to show you...). - You just want confirmation from others that my hair was too long! (it truly was)  - He needed a hair cut (in my humble opinion, but I hear some ladies like the long and wavy locks look...) and was wearing a sweater that he had probably borrowed from Dr. Huxtable back in 1983 and had forgotten to give back... - really, was that necessary? -

I have since come to know (and mostly appreciate) that Russ wears clothes until they fall to pieces, so a surprising percentage of his wardrobe is still from the Huxtable era ;)

I honestly couldn't tell you what it was, but the interview with Russ left me totally underwhelmed.  - She still doesn't understand me :( - He wasn't wearing the sweater, but nonetheless, he didn't impress me.  He just didn't seem right for the job.  After the interview was over and my supervisor asked for our thoughts on the candidate, I was fairly vocal about how I felt.  "Don't hire him."  

She hired him.

And she put me in charge of training and mentoring him through his first year on the job.  - Lucky gal! -


I wouldn't say I warmed up to Russ immediately, but at least after spending some time with him, I let go of my negativity toward him, and became more... indifferent.  - goodness, where is the love? -

I can recall a shopping trip we made to WalMart together to stock up on things for our dorms before the school year began.   On our way back out to his car, Russ "rode" the shopping cart down the hill of the parking lot to his car.  It clearly wasn't to be foolish or get weird attention; it was just because it was fun and he wanted to do it and have fun.  That's the kind of person Russ is.  I remember thinking, that's sort of fun and cute, but I would never do that.  And I don't. - We are talking one serious chick here (emphasis on serious)... -  I recall that cart ride as one of the first times I got a glimpse of who Russ truly was :)  

We worked well together and only clashed occasionally - like when I thought one of his residents should have received a severe penalty for something he did in my hall and Russ disagreed and took care of the situation in his own, less severe way.  I was angry. (Wow!  That about sums up our parenting differences when it comes to discipline around here.  Hmm... I never saw that correlation before...) - I'm telling you, our kids are lucky to have me :) -  But we mostly got along.  

And we started hanging out more with mutual friends.  Trips to the movies, games of ultimate frisbee (back when I used to run.) - yeah, and me.  Darn, I miss those running, frisbee days! -  Russ was an RD for two years and during his last summer there, renovations began on my hall, so I was forced to move over to a temporary apartment in his hall.  We hung out more - watched movies, had dinner, played ping pong.  (I should insert here that Russ is annoyingly good at every sport, and the fact that he "put up with me" and my very poor abilities playing any sport at all, was very charitable on his part :)  - Not charity, my love.  I had ulterior motives, ha, ha... -

Early in the summer, I had tickets for a Great Big Sea show in Buffalo.  (That was before they were playing big stages in the States, and this show was in a little Irish bar.)  I had no one to go with me, and I was looking for an excuse to spend more time with Russ, so I invited him to drive home with me - we'd get to go the show and check out Niagara Falls, which he had never seen.  He said yes :)  - I love adventures, but I was also very interested in meeting Theresa's family.  I was not disappointed.  They were close and loving and fun. -

I honestly don't remember too much about that trip, except that it was enjoyable.  And that Russ fell asleep in the Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory cafeteria.  I thought that was weird as I was just sitting there across from him, not sleeping. - wow, don't remember that.  Sounds kind of rude.  Sorry, babe! - I think we also may have gone horseback riding...

I was really falling for Russ, but was confused about whether to pursue it or not because he had recently accepted a job in Nicaragua.  I wasn't very experienced in the ways of love, but even my inexperience told me that it probably wasn't the best idea to start a relationship with someone who'd be moving to a third world country in a month.  In Confession, I admitted an "overwhelming distraction" even during prayer.  The object of my distraction?  A guy I'll never be with.  The priest encouraged me to pray that the Holy Spirit take the distraction from me so that I could refocus on prayer and let Russ go.  I prayed.  And I really believed I let him go.  And then... - I love this part... -

We had already been on a few hiking and camping trips with friends that summer.  On one particular trip to Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills State Park, OH, there were five or six of us.  We had pitched our tents in a walk-in site, which meant that we had to walk quite a ways out to our cars if we needed anything.  On the first night, Russ offered to walk with me out to my car to get something I had forgotten. - once again, ulterior motives. Wait a minute.  Theresa did you really forget something or were you setting me up? -  We stayed out for a while, laying back on the hood of the car looking at stars and searching for satellites.  In a perfectly awkward moment, Russ said something that confessed his interest in me, and I said something equally clumsy that admitted it was reciprocated.  I don't remember much more of the conversation except the end when I started to think he was going to kiss me and I used evasive maneuvers to make sure that didn't happen.  Too much too soon :) - no need to explain, my love.  I was willing to let you play hard to get.. for a little while :) -

Later in the summer we did kiss, and we went out on our first date - P.F. Changs.  We didn't really go on "dates" a lot because we had known each other for two years already and already hung out so much that there was hardly the need for dates to "get to know each other."  If we happened to go out to dinner together, it didn't feel very different than when we had gone out to dinner together before we were dating.  (Does that sound weird?   We're not very romantic people.  At all.)  

Despite the kiss and the growing affection, I was still very hesitant.  Nicaragua still loomed.  One day, while relaxing on a park bench, Russ told me was going to back out of the job he had accepted to make our relationship a priority.  I freaked out. - she hid it well.  I remember discussing the pros and cons with her but never realized the red flags I had caused. -  I was excited that he wasn't leaving, but I was angry that he was backing out of an important commitment.   The words "warning," "not reliable," "not responsible," kept flashing in big red lights in my head.   But we stayed together and kept "dating."

The rest of the romance was pretty typical.  I think.  Russ left his RD job and took a position in Wheeling, WV in counseling.  He lived nearby while I stayed at the University for another year.  We had one significant break up where we didn't see or talk to each other for two months or so.  - we proved the adage absence makes the heart grow fonder! - The first time we saw each other again (dinner at a Chinese buffet) even though we still weren't officially back together, I knew he was the person I was going to marry.  (cheesy,  but true :) - we were both so comfortable with each other, conversation was so easy.  After that dinner I think I knew engagement was the next step too! -

Once we were back together, that was that.  We both knew we were heading toward marriage.  I felt like it was time to convince my family that Russ was wonderful.  I think my parents were a little wary at first, especially since he is so much older than me, and honestly because he's not the type of guy I/they ever thought I'd end up with :) - let's all be grateful she found a man who rides shopping carts in parking lots.  But I need her serious as much as she needs my fun. -  I could be wrong, but I think a turning point for my parents might have been a day when I called them and during the phone conversation I had Russ and his best friend sing a completely ridiculous song to them over the phone.  Russ is an avid barbershop quartet singer, and that is my family's kind of weird.  Good weird.  (If you don't know about good weird guys, look into it.  They make the best husbands. Everyone will tell you so :) )  

So that's that.  Or at least, that was the beginning of it all.  I can't tell you how it ends, but I can tell you the middle of the story involves a bunch of kids, a dented minivan, another near-relocation to Nicaragua, and a two story house in the city with a swing set, a tiny garden, and a bathtub faucet that's dripped for years.  Russ contributes the fun and spontaneity and I temper it with my serious, plan-ahead self.  It works.  It's been ten years, and I can happily stay we're still living a life full of love.  There's lots of that here too.  :) - And lots more to come.  I guarantee it! -  


  1. Oh, that wasn't ordinary at all. Thank you for sharing it. I like reading posts like these, since I don't get to sit on a couch with the people whose blogs I read, talking all night about all the details of our lives before blogging. :) Hilarious that you were so anti-Russ when you first met. And yes, good weird makes for a great husband.

  2. What a sweet story. I quite enjoyed it. :)

  3. I'm crying! Russ is the perfect amount of wacky to your serious:)

  4. I'm crying! Russ is the perfect amount of wacky to your serious:)

  5. So fun! I never knew about the Nicaragua thing! Love getting this glimpse into you guys :)

  6. I love it! This is very similar to my husband and I. We joke that we have still been on more non-dates than dates. Non-dates being all the hanging out we did for SIX years before we started dating. And yes, weird do make the best husbands.

    1. I liked that we knew each other before we started "going out," also! It made for a smooth and natural transition :)

  7. How interesting:) Didn't realise you were serious,wonderful to balance one another. Now I'm intrigued as to your age difference...?;)

    1. Hehe! You were the only one to ask! Russ is 12 years older than me. It sounds like a lot to me, but it rarely makes a difference in the day-to-day. He's young at heart, and I'm more of an old soul, so we meet in the middle :)
      He turns 50 in a few years though... I expect that will shake me a little when it happens!

    2. Never would of guessed, he's not only young at heart but young of face.
      an old soul, I'm the same, though I think I've finally connected my age and soul a few years back


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