Even today, seven and a half years later, it's almost unbelievable to think that I married Aaron Gardner. It's crazy really. Let me give you some history.
My father was in the Navy so we moved every three years from military base to military base. The last place we ended up was a small town in California when I was in 2nd grade. We attended a Baptist Church every Sunday and usually sat behind the Gardner family. We called them the "Gardner Wall" because we could never see anything in front of us besides them. Papa Gardner is 6'8" and Aaron is 6'6". There is also Chris and Aaron's twin sister, Anji. They're all tall.
But I didn't mind. I loved sitting behind the Gardner Wall. It meant that I might actually get a chance to talk to Aaron. Tall, dark and handsome. I was 12. He was 17.
I went home after church one day and wrote in my diary that I would marry Aaron Gardner. Of course he didn't feel the same way about me. I was "little Amanda" who liked to wear Nike shirts and play volleyball. But Aaron was always so sweet to me. I'm pretty sure he knew I was in love with him.
When Aaron left for college, I was abandoned in the small town with a bunch of boys who would never live up to my expectations. None of them looked like Aaron, smelled like Aaron, smiled like Aaron, loved God like Aaron. This is where I wish the present me could write a letter to the teenage me saying, "Just wait, Amanda. Just wait." I would have.
I dated some losers in high school but never forgot about Aaron, in fact I talked about him often to my friends and teammates. There was a time when Aaron came to my volleyball practice to help out (because volleyball was just another one of his super awesome skills) and my friends made me pay big time. "Amanda! AARON is here!" ::giggle:: He totally knew I was in love with him.
My mom knew too. She asked him to take me out to a movie when I was a Sophomore. It was Christmas break 1998, Aaron was home visiting his family. He took me to see You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. My favorite movie to this day. We laughed and swayed in our seats to the great music in the film. It was one of the best days of my life.
Aaron and I had a few more encounters. When I was a senior he took me with him on a shopping trip. That evening we went on a "dollar date" at Walmart. He bought me a year 2000 gold keychain. I can't remember what I bought him.
Another time, I drove down to San Luis Obispo to visit him. I was taking a photography class and needed to fill my portfolio. He offered to take me to all of his favorite spots. But first we toured the Madonna Inn and I dared him to buy a cowboy hat. That was in 2003.
(I took a picture of him in his new hat on our way to the beach. It hangs in our bedroom)
In 2004 I ran into my "future in-laws" (which is what I called them) at the mall. I wrote my number down and told them to tell Aaron to call me if he was ever in town. He called a few months later. We met at Red Robin. Then we sang karaoke at a bar. Then danced in the parking lot at Denny's. A stranger called us soul mates.
In March 2005, I married him. My childhood crush. My best friend. My soul mate.
Now the father of my children.
Sometimes I look at him and see the 17 year old boy I fell in love with all those years ago (ahem...19 years ago!).
::snicker::Happy Birthday, my love.