Eleven years ago today, on Friday the 13th of March, this big handsome, smart, kind guy named Jared who had been kind enough to help me chaperone a group of wild little inner city kids on a field trip a couple months prior called me on the phone. He casually asked me what I'd been up to and told me he was staying in Boston for spring break because he had a ton of school work to catch up on and wanted to plan some fun things to do to mix things up a bit. He said there was this IMAX film at the Boston Science Museum about climbing Mount Everest that he was interested in seeing. Before really waiting for him to finish whatever else he had to say, I volunteered that I was going to see that movie with a group of friends the following night and invited him along. I took on the helpful big sister role that I never seem to be able to shake and told him I'd let him know about any other fun things I was doing with my friends that week in case he wanted to join us. He said that would be great and we hung up.
Once I got off the phone, I felt this little rush of excitement that made me a little confused. Stop it! I told myself - don't even go there. Jared is a great guy - fun, helpful, nice, very, very handsome, younger than me, sought after by pretty much every cute girl he met - but he's just wanting to be your friend and tap into your social circle - he's probably wanting a break from the MIT frat guys he lives with and the younger adoring girls who seem to surround him so often. I've got some really fun friends and I'm sure Jared just wants to get in on that. But hey, he was so extra nice to help with that crazy field trip and when we grabbed a bite to eat together after finishing with those kids that night, he was so attentive to me and so fun to talk to. Then after Christmas he had made that comment about trying to find my phone number so we could get together over the Christmas break when we were both out west with our families. I didn't really think about that comment at the time - but hmmmm. And when I'd had my freshly returned missionary sister who is his age invite him to a little dinner party at my house so they could get to know each other, his face seemed to fall a bit when he walked in and saw me sitting there with the guy I was sort of dating at the time. Hmmmm.
Was Jared just calling to ask me out? Did I mess it up? Maybe he's actually interested in me. What should I do? I was sitting there with my heart thumping and my mind whipping different ideas around. I tried to get other things done and get my mind off of this - but it didn't work. I had to do something - this was driving me crazy! I had to fix it if I'd given him the impression that I wasn't interested. I had to call him back. It was scary but I had this calm feeling that this little thing was more right - and more important - than just about anything else I'd ever done. An idea of something fun we could do together jumped into my head and with what felt like wild abandon, I picked up that phone and called Jared.
After asking him how the studying was going, I worked up to "So, are you needing a little study break?" My mind said he'd say no since all the MIT people I really knew were such die-hard studiers but my heart knew he'd say yes. I held my breath and he said "sure" and it all seemed so natural as I threw out an idea that didn't really make sense since March evenings aren't exactly balmy in Boston. "There's this place out on the coast about 1/2 hour north of here where you can jump from boulder to boulder along the shore - it's kind of a cool place - it's called Nahunt - but it would be a pretty long study break - and it might be sort of cold - but it's warmer than usual - what do you think?" As usual, I explained things too much and started to feel a bit foolish - but he quickly said he'd love to head up there, it sounded perfect, just what he needed, he'd be there in 1/2 hour to pick me up.
Wow. This was for real! He's so cool. He's so handsome. He likes ME! I think he really, actually does!
Just then, my friend Dina stopped by and listened to me explain the whole thing - I was in this agitated, excited state and she built my excitement by going off on visions of how great Jared and I would be together and what gorgeous children we were sure to have. As I reigned her in on her wild speculations, somehow the vision she was painting with words seemed actually plausible and it took root in my heart - somewhere deep down inside, while my conscious mind never would have admitted it, I gave room for a tender hope that Jared really might be the one I'd been searching for for so long.
Jared rang the buzzer from downstairs and Dina let out a squeal and launched into another giggly girly bunch of ideas about the bright future in store for me and Jared while I shushed her and tried to surpress my own excitement that Dina had helped to bring to the surface. Jared came up and said hi to Dina (who tried to be a little more dignified - I just hoped Jared hadn't heard her squeals from downstairs!) and we were off. I can't remember a thing about what we talked about in the car. I can't remember what we talked about as we hopped from rock to rock on that beautiful coast with the bright moon above and the chill in the air giving us extra energy. I do remember the butterflies in my stomach taking off and swirling with glee when he first reached out his hand to help me from rock to rock. Then it kept happening - little opportunities to hold hands for a few seconds as he went ahead and helped me across. And each time his strong hand grabbed mine, it felt so good! He was such a gentleman. He was so strong. He was so attentive. He was so adventurous. Could this be real?
Now, eleven years later, I still get a little thrill when this wonderful man of mine reaches out for my hand or grabs me into those big strong arms of his. And I get to feel that support and help and concern I felt back on those boulders in a much deeper way as I look back on Jared's support and active involvement in everything I do. He's so amazingly supportive and helpful with every crazy thing I take on - from trying to make after school programs better to trying to help orphans on the other side of the world to trying to make the kids' school better to trying to get over my own crazy mood swings so I can find more joy and fulfillment in life to trying to help other mothers find more joy and fulfillment in motherhood. Over the last few weeks, he's worked a long hard day at work and then come home to help me with dinner and bedtime and then put in several hours of work on my new Power of Moms website when there are doubtless a thousand things he'd rather do.
The qualities I saw in Jared on our first date (and even before when he was so willing to help me with that field trip) have proven true and vitally important for me. Jared is always up for anything. He's always willing to put off a "put offable" in favor of a "now or never." He's always willing to support me and help me from rock to rock (but probably wishes I'd stop getting us into so many rocky places!).
Jared, thanks for being my rock. And thanks for being all that you were 11 years ago and for being so much more today. Thanks for calling me and inviting me to that Everest movie even though I'd thrown off some previous attempts you'd made to show interest. Thanks for being so open to my crazy nighttime coastal hiking adventure idea and for being such a gentleman to help me across those rocks and make my heart soar. Thanks for being there for me every day and putting up with all my ongoing crazy ideas and ups and downs. Thanks for being a man I've always known I could count on, a man whose presence always makes everything OK, a man I'm always so proud to have at my side, a man who makes my life so good. And I guy who helped me make such gorgeous children and such a beautiful life - Dina was right - the wild speculations came true. I love you.