My mom had come to visit from Germany, and since square dancing is her life, I decided for both our sanities' sake to take her to the local square dance club. We got to the golf course clubhouse where the dance was supposed to be, but could not see anything even vaguely related to country, western, or dancing. What I did, in fact, see was a large guy with fuzzy baby blue and green hair, a black beard and the loudest clothes I had ever seen in combination sitting on the front step, smoking a clove. Turns out HIS mom had dragged him there, too. My kids were really excited, because as it turned out he worked on the radio morning show we listen to. They swarmed over him like little monkeys, chattering and tugging on him. He seemed like a fairly nice guy, and I felt sorry for him. We danced a few times, but mostly he stayed outside, smoking and reading, trying to escape my little monsters. My mom enjoyed the evening, so she decided she wanted to go every week. He was usually there, and being the two youngest people (by about 20 years) we wound up dancing together. In between times, he read and smoked or we talked and tried to fend off the monkeys. We discovered that we liked the same authors and had the same twisted sense of humor. He had dyed his hair back to black and was turning out to be as nice a guy as he had seemed to begin with, a good friend.

Then one week, he said something completely non-sequitur. I gave him a blank look and said "I see, said the blind man.." and he FINISHED it ".. as he picked up his hammer and saw." I felt like someone had whacked me in the head with a sledgehammer. It had been years since someone had gotten that one. That was the first time I really, truly looked at him and saw him. You know how you can be around someone for a long time, and see them and talk to them without ever truly SEEING them? Well, that is what had been going on. That day, I saw him for the first time.

Somehow, when we were dancing, we started holding hands longer than strictly necessary. When we had to swing he held me a little tighter than strictly necessary. Eventually we started hugging more than absolutely required, too. No problem, right? Right. Except for the part where I'm married, and have been for 7 1/2 years, to a guy who has been in Washington State for the past 2 years. Big problem. Not even a little diminished, for me, by the fact that my husband is a serious asshole who has been verbally abusing me since before we were married (ok, I never claimed to be smart..). The fact remains that of my own free will I promised to love him and forsake all others. To some, maybe no problem, for me yes.

Anyway, one evening we were hugging goodnight, and I looked at him and said "This would be great, except for one big problem." He asked "What problem?" I held up my left ring finger with my wedding ring and he said "Ah.. I wondered when that was going to come up." I told him that I wished it wasn't a problem, but that it is, for me. He told me he understood, wished me a good night and drove off. I collected the kids (my mom had flown back to Germany), drove home and cried. That night, I e-mailed him, explaining how I felt and offering a relationship at the level we had reached, but not going any farther. I did not get an answer.

That weekend was Mother's Day, and to celebrate the kids and I went out to the movies to see Spiderman. The kids wanted me to see if he could come along, so I called and left a message on his voicemail, telling him what we were doing and where we were going. We didn't reach him before the movie, so we went ahead and watched it without him. As we were leaving the mall, we ran into him and his brother coming in - turns out they had planned to see Spiderman that evening too! I let the kids talk me into going and seeing it again (it didn't take too much persuading). We sat next to each other in the theater and held hands. When the movie ended and we were watching the credits, we looked at each other. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, and he turned towards me and our lips found each other. We walked to the car, put the kids in their car seats and stood in the parking lot, enfolded in each other's arms.

I was happy, scared, sad, excited... very, very confused. I knew I wanted to be with him, but I couldn't let go of the fact that I had promised to "keep myself only unto him". I didn't want to be another stereotypical Army wife who messes around while her poor husband is gone - an immoral slut sponging off a stalwart defender of his country. I sent Tony a list of reasons he should drop me like a hot potato. I got a very sweet and funny e-mail back going over my points one by one and countering all my arguments. Apparently, I was not going to be allowed to talk my way out of this one. Not that I really wanted to... but low self-esteem makes you sure that you'll be a Bad ThingTM for anyone you're with.

Anyway, one thing led to another, with both of us agreeing that we needed to slow down, but completely incapable of doing so. May 25, 2002 is when we consider our actual anniversary date. We found out that we clicked on almost everything - movies, attitudes, books, sense of humor, my children (ok, that one occasioned some disagreements, but we hashed it out ok)...

Then my husband announced that he was coming to visit... August 9, 2002...

We recovered from that with our relationship intact, even stronger than before. Our relationship deepened and grew; his mom actually started to like me *yay!* and forgive me for taking her son away... she quasi-adopted my kids as grandkids.

Then, in April, my husband came to visitApril 11, 2003 on his way to Korea - his report date was to be April 20, 2003. He found out about Tony, decided to call Social Services and claim that I was neglecting my kids in order to take them away, transport them to Maryland to his sister and then go to Korea. Fortunately, Social Services decided that that wasn't a good plan, and my kids stayed with me.

Although I was terribly upset and hurt at first, this incident gave me the much-needed boot to the rear to get my divorce going - April 21, 2003...

Anyway, here's to another great year, honey... I love you.