Friday, March 1, 2013

What a decade it's been!

Today marks the ten year anniversary of the day Levi and I met. Aww! I think we have a pretty good story, so I decided to write it down and share it.

Ten years ago I was 17, a senior in high school,  and Levi was 21, on hiatus from college and working and playing in a punk rock band. I'd made a new group of friends that year and one thing we loved to do was go to these punk rock shows that bands from all around NY would come to play at. My friends and I were running late and missed Levi's band, Perfect Salesman, playing that night. I had gotten a new, pretty bra that day, so being a 17 year old girl, I wanted to show it to my girlfriends. We went into an empty stairwell (I repeat - empty!) and I lifted my shirt to show them. While this was going on, the door bursts open and in walks this really cute guy carrying band equipment outside. Ahhh! I was horrified!

Later in the evening I saw the guy again, standing on the side of the room. Tall, skinny, mop of disheveled long dark hair... just my type. And oh man, he was hot! My friend Jenn needed to use the bathroom, or maybe that was just a ruse to walk by him, but I commented to her that there was the cute guy who'd seen me with my shirt up and we headed off in that direction. When we got next to him, Jenn, out of her mind but with great intentions, pushed me into him so hard we stumbled. She then happily announced, "This is Nani. She thinks you're cute so you two talk," and ran off to leave me there. If I'd been horrified before, I was bordering on mortification. Somehow, this tall, cute guy saw fit to laugh it off and talk to me. That night I wrote my email address on his arm, never expecting to hear from him again. He lived about 2.5 hours away and was this awesomely adorable bass player in a popular band. I was just... me. I figured all I'd get out of it would be a funny story to tell my other friends for a few days, and that would be that. Low and behold, the very next day I had an email from this Levi guy.

Seeing that I was still in high school and he lived 2.5 hours away, we had something of a whirlwind, sporadic romance. He got his band to play every local show he could so he could see me. I spent the night at his parents' house once, with my friend Jenn along as somewhat of a supervision. That trip was an eye opener for me. Even at the age of 17 I knew that whoever I ended up with needed to have a family I felt good with and could get along with. Sitting on the couch at Levi's parents' house, it occurred to me out of the blue, "I could marry someone with a family like this." I still remember that moment to this day; it was very a very clear and profound moment. Once when I was having a really hard day he left his family dinner, drove 2.5 hours out to spend about 2 hours with me at my house, and then drove 2.5 hours home. That was when I knew he was a little more serious about me than I was about him. I honestly think Levi had known he wanted to be with me from the first day we met. I was young and pretty, with the attention of a lot of guys, and I took advantage of that to be a flirt. I wasn't always very nice or fair to Levi, and I feel so awful about that now. He always put up with me, and was always there when I wanted him, because he knew there was something real with us.

When I wound up pregnant with N in college, my boyfriend was something of trouble. Trouble with the law, trouble with drugs, trouble with another girl. We split up while I was pregnant, and Levi was there immediately. He drove the 5+ hours to visit me for a weekend at college and was prepared to take me home, marry me right then, and raise my child as his own. We had a wonderful weekend together, and I was fully prepared to take him up on his offers. Then, I happened to speak to N's biological father for his birthday, and we decided to give things another chance. Levi left that weekend, hurt and angry. I didn't know if he would ever speak to me again. He joined the Marine Corps a month later and I figured it was probably over for us forever.

Obviously, things didn't work out with N's biological father. Over the next two years Levi and I stayed in brief contact. Every few months or so we'd catch each other on instant messenger and chat for a few minutes. Levi commented once that we were super friends, because I was the only person he'd ever dated that he'd stayed in contact with. "Super friends." I was long regretting my decisions in letting him go, and those words seemed like the final nail in the coffin.

One night in February 2006, Levi posted online that he was looking for a place to download a particular song, if anyone knew where to find it. I replied to him, because he made it sound like he'd recently discovered this song and wanted it, but it was a song I'd listened to all the time in high school so I knew he'd heard it with me. He responded that he had the song as his ringtone on his phone and wanted the whole version. He said the song always made him think of me. I replied that having it as his ringtone must make him think of me a lot, and he replied back that he never stopped thinking of me. Ding, ding, ding! That was it! The rest, as they say, is history.

Within days Levi was asking me when we could get married. Keep in mind, we hadn't seen each other in over two years at this point! But still, we decided that yes, we were going to get married. My parents were skeptical, to say the least. Levi was stationed in North Carolina at the time, but he had to be in Maine for a week or so, so in May I drove to Maine and spent a weekend with him. His parents also drove out and we had a meal all together. I was worried his parents were going to hate me for all I'd put him through in our past, but they were the wonderful, loving people they've always been and even brought a present for me to take home to N. Levi confessed after the weekend was over and I'd gone home that he was really worried it would be a repeat of past events and I would decide I didn't want to be with him again. Not this time!

He was able to come home to NY on leave in July, when he met N in person for the first time. They immediately took to each other. N also met Levi's family; from the first second they laid eyes on him he was theirs. During that trip, Levi's parents gave him his mother's engagement ring to give to me, and my parents put an engagement announcement in the newspaper. It meant so much to me when my dad suggested an announcement. That was the moment I knew he and my mom loved Levi and truly accepted him as my future husband. Everyone knew that as fast as it was happening, with as little time together as we'd had, we were really headed for marriage.

The plan was to be married in NY a few days after Christmas, because it was really the only time Levi's brother would be able to be there to be his best man. N and I were going to immediately move to NC after that, but the wait list for base housing was looking like it could take up to two months to get a house. Levi and I decided the best thing to do was for me to fly down in October and have a Justice of the Peace marry us, so we could get on the housing list in time for the move after the big wedding. Isn't military life romantic?

Long story short, we were married, we had our big wedding, we moved to NC and life has been wonderful ever since. N's biological father and I had decided when we split that he wasn't fit to be a father, and when Levi and I were married we started the process to have him adopt Nikko. Because it was uncontested we never had to go to court, and everything was done through paperwork. Bringing our family full circle, the paperwork was finalized and the adoption made official on the same day S was born. I have been unbelievably lucky to have Levi in my life. I think the word soulmate is a bit cheesy and cliche, but he truly is my other. My completion. There aren't words to describe all he is to me. Happy ten years, my love!