One of my favorite bloggers (thepioneerwoman.com) has been recounting in lengthy and wonderful detail the story of how she and her husband (an actual cattle rancher she calls (at least in her blog) "Marlboro Man") met, fell in love, got married.
I only wish I had the kind of detailed recall she delivers so effortlessly. For all I know, she's making the whole thing up to some extent. But, as I know someday my kids1 might like it ... and, because I think secretly Joe2 will, too ... I think I'm going to attempt some semblance of the same. (I should mention here, my asbsolute love and adoration for asides in the form of footnotes. If this bugs you, just skip 'em, they won't really propel the plot, such as it is. But, I really do kind of talk like this, full of dependent clauses and parentheticals and, well, footnotes.
And so to begin ...
The Professor and I met in college. That seems a pretty basic way many couples meet, but somehow for us it felt fated, destined, meant to be.3 Some background would probably help here.
The Professor grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, in a small suburban development about an hour from Philadelphia. He grew up (and still is) a complete math genius. So, naturally, he scored a perfect 800 on his math SATs. This got him an awful lot of attention from a bunch of colleges and universities all over the country. He even had full scholarships at several.
Throughout The Professor's junior year at St. Pius X, he and his mom took the obligatory College Tour roadtrips. He'd expressed absolutely zero interest in weeding through the mountain of brochures and letters, and basically asked her to pick out a few to go see. He spent most of his free time at this point playing soccer, bussing tables and singing at the Trolley Stop restaurant, and running D&D games with anyone he could find.
So they headed across the iconic PA Turnpike to Pittsburgh. The Professor had interviews set up at Pitt and CMU, who were both quite interested in his math geniosity. They showed up as scheduled at Pitt, first. From what I've been told the interview went pretty well. But, the campus tour was a complete disaster.
The Professor's not fond of cities. He'll visit DC, New York, sure. We've even lived in Philly and Pittsburgh, right in the city, all young and urban and professional (only without money). But, he's really not happy with the noise and bustle and traffic and smells and noise. Really he can't stand anything city-like, except the museums and cultural sites, or the odd historic landmark. Buses, subways and taxis, fuhgeddaboudit.
And Pitt is in a city. A big one. Sure, Pittsburgh is nothing compared to "real" inner cities like New York, LA, or even Philly. But, it's a noisy, busy, smelly city. With buses and everything. Pitt's dorms are high-rises. Academic buildings are separated by some of Pittsburgh's main thoroughfares, accessed by crosswalks and dodging lunatic city drivers. There's some greenspace, of course. But, it's not a rural or even suburban campus, by any means.
Right then and there, without even finishing the tour, The Professor just said No. So my patient Mom-in-Law suggested they head over to Carnegie Mellon for his interview and tour there.
"Is it in the city?" he asked.
"Yes, it's not far, just up the street4," she replied. (wrong answer, by the way)
"No, I'm not going," The Professor asserted. "I'm not going to college in a city."
"But, it's not like Pitt. It's gorgeous! And a great school!" She was really trying at this point, but he was the immoveable object.
So, she called and cancelled the interview with the Admissions office and the one with the Chair of the Math Department. And they turned around and drove home.
(I should mention here that The Professor would eventually attend Carnegie Mellon for grad school. In fact he not only went there, he dreamed, longed, ached3 to get in and get funding at this prestigious institution he wouldn't even deign to visit at the wise old age of 17.)
He eventually toured a few other schools, but didn't "feel the love" for any of them in particular. Based on his now firm and increasingly picky criteria, my patient Mom-in-Law came up with Allegheny College5. So, they went up for one of the Open House weekends in the early spring of '88 (early spring is decidedly not Meadville's most attractive season). As soon as he arrived, he announced he'd found his college. He didn't want to tour anywhere else. He didn't care that he had scholarships awaiting elsewhere. He didn't care that Allegheny was offering him exactly $0 in scholarships and/or grants.
Which means that, in late August 1989, the young 18-year old freshman version of The Professor arrived on campus in charming6 and historic Meadville, PA, little knowing how much his life, mind, heart and soul would change over the next four years....
1 I don't know if it represents a lack of creativity, or what, but I don't have cute blogsphere names for my hubby and kids, like Ree, Josette, and Adrienne do. I should work on that. But, then, they also have their own domain names and I don't, so maybe those issues go hand-in-hand.
2 I kind of mentally think of him as "the Professor," so I'm going to go with that for now, anyway.
3 Yes, I know that's three things that mean the same thing. In the process of re-watching the first very excellent season of The West Wing, and that's a thing they do.
4 Seriously, they're a mile apart along Forbes Avenue.
5 I really believe it says something (not sure what exactly) that just typing those words "Allegheny College" makes me fell all sort of warm and fuzzy and proud inside. I don't think it's that I met the love of my life there. I really think it's Allegheny, itself. I've met plenty of people who fell in love at college who don't seem to get the same feeling about their own alma maters. And I've also met plenty of Allegheny alums who totally get the same feeling, themselves. It's an amazing and wonderful place.
6 Hey, it's my reminiscence, just go with it.