I don't know, exactly. It was like a million small things suddenly adding up to something big.
I met him at a James Taylor concert, and found an ally in him the next morning as he and I were the only ones (out of the tens sprawled across the various beds, couches, and floors of my house) that had to get up and go to jobs.
When I saw him a week later in Salina at Carrie and Joe's wedding I thought he was handsome, and kind. The kids followed him like a piper, he drank like a sailor, and laughed like a clown. That was enough alone to make me pause. But Carrie and Jamie were desperately throwing him and another of our friends together, so I let it alone.
Weeks later he showed up at Sarah and I's first ever S&M Birthday Bash. We drank way too much, danced just the right amount and stayed out in the parking lot talking until I almost didn't have time to catch my 6am flight to LA.
So initially he made good impressions. I was attracted to him for sure. He was funny, he loved to travel and actually DID . . he had a "real" job, he had plans . . . . Really I fought so long against being with him because he was so intensely intertwined with all my friends from home. I mean, he was FAMILY to Joe and Carrie.
And that, well, that was the major strike. I didn't want a relationship that was meddling and gossip fodder. I didn't want a relationship that wasn't just me and him. And I wasn't sure that would be possible. It freaked me out more than a little. So whenever there was an opportunity to keep him at arm's length, I did. Even after we started flying thousands of miles back and forth to see each other.
I wish I could point to the moment everything changed, but the thing is, I think I always knew he was it. There was a moment at Carrie and Joe's wedding where I looked through my camera lens and saw him dancing - having a wonderful, fantastic time - and I shot it. This pic of him strutting toward me, arms outstretched, ornery look on his face . . . I remember seeing that photo later and not being able to get him out of my head.
There was just something about him.
I knew. I just knew he was going to be something important in my life. I just wasn't sure what.
But that's different than knowing we'd get married. I hoped for it. Not even that long after he first came to visit me in New York, Memorial Day weekend 2002.
But we took a trip to Pennsylvania in December of that year, and that - that is when I knew I wanted to marry him. For sure, no doubts. We went to a wedding where we knew no one but the bride and groom, out of the five hundred people there - and had a blast. He carried me up three flights of stairs to our hotel room cause my feet hurt so much from all the dancing . . . we drove into Pittsburgh and ate at Denny's and watched football games and did totally normal stuff and I realized then that that's what I wanted: totally normal stuff. With him.
And we decided that weekend he would move to New York. He never made me feel bad about wanting to stay here. About never entertaining even the THOUGHT of going to Chicago. We talked about what neighborhood might be nice, what furniture we would have, we acted the fools in a photo booth, we went and saw "Big Fish."
I remember sitting in the theatre holding his hand knowing we were about to start creating our own strange and wonderful stories. And it felt good. Really good.
It felt like home. And has ever since.