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Published August 17, 2013, 10:00 PM

Coming Home: Loving the same man for more than half my life

I married a boy I met in band class when I was 11 years old. I came in from country school to play the saxophone with the town kids, and there he was, sitting a few chairs down playing saxophone, too.

By: Jessie Veeder, INFORUM

I married a boy I met in band class when I was 11 years old. I came in from country school to play the saxophone with the town kids, and there he was, sitting a few chairs down playing saxophone, too.

Only he wasn’t faking it.

I was.

I was a terrible saxophone player.

If memory serves me right he got sent to the principal’s office that day, but he’d never admit it. That boy turned into a great man, but he was a handful as a kid.

And I was a dork. A clumsy dork who traded in her saxophone for a guitar, wrote terrible poetry and wore Wrangler jeans with Converse sneakers before Converse sneakers were considered remotely cool.

Four years later, after an unfortunate mishap at my 14th birthday party that landed me on the couch with an ice pack on my ankle and no hope of making the B-squad basketball team, that band troublemaker dialed my number for the first time and then, as young love goes, I was his girlfriend.

I lived 30 miles from town. Neither one of us had a driver’s license, but he would wait for me at my locker to walk me to class, which was helpful, especially during that month or so I was on crutches.

And now that boy’s work shirt is draped over the back of the kitchen chair, and his socks are sitting on our second-hand couch, waiting to be put away in the second-hand dresser in the bedroom where we lie next to each other each at night under the roof of the house we’re building.

Because seven years ago I married that boy after he asked me under an old oak tree standing tall and steady in the cow pasture on the ranch.

With a ring in his hand he stood there all grown up saying something about becoming a family and loving me, and I wondered how that happened. I wondered how it is that two people just stick by each other, making dinner, making plans, buying Christmas and birthday gifts, driving each other places, cleaning up the dishes, and arguing over who gets the remote.

When he asked “Will you marry me?” I said, “I guess so.”

It was a terrible response.

“Yes” is what I meant to say. It’s what I should have said.

But I couldn’t believe it really. Weren’t we just 16 and driving in his Thunderbird way too fast on the back roads surrounding this small town? Weren’t we supposed to break up and find someone else to see if they loved us as much? Wasn’t I just sitting next to him in band class pretending to play the saxophone?

I didn’t know.

He knew better.

So he wasn’t fazed by my response, and we got married under that oak tree. I turned that “I guess so” into an “I do” and made up for it I hope.

It was my best decision.

In a few days I’ll turn 30, which means I’ll have officially loved the same man for over half of my life.

We were saddling the horses the other day, and I noticed a few wisps of silver in the hair escaping from under his hat. I couldn’t help but reach over to touch them, making a joke about how I’m likely responsible.

When I was a teenager writing notes to this boy in school, I asked my father if he thought there was just one person for everyone out there.

My father is a practical man, but his answer still surprised me.

He said, “No.” He said he didn’t believe it. He said, in our lives we’re capable of loving many different people and that, yes, love is a feeling, but it’s also a choice we make to commit to a person who’s good to us, and to be good back.

To be kind.

To take care of one another.

So as much as it’s a miracle that we find each other – in a bar, at a bus stop, in band class in sixth grade – the biggest miracle might be how that love compels us hold on.

Because holding on is the best part.

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.

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