My husband and I met by complete accident, as many love stories often go. I was fresh out of undergrad, and working my way through grad school in order to pursue my dream of teaching in an inner-city school system. Beyond my very clear career path, I was generally disenchanted with life. My outlook on relationships was simple: men were pigs. I had been in several relationships within the past two years that were toxic—damaging to my self-esteem and to my understanding of love. I was beginning to see love as a cruel joke, or a pathetic attempt to make sense of the human instinct to control and manipulate each other.
I took a temp job sticking stickers on literature. It’s not a joke. I waltzed my idealistic self, complete with a Bachelor’s degree and a soon-to-be-completed Master’s degree, into a temp service and took the first job they offered. It was something—anything to pay the bills and distract myself in the process. The stickers were to be placed over brochures that had already been printed, in order to cover words that shouldn’t have been included in the print. To this day, I can’t figure how it was cheaper for the company to hire temps to do this, rather than reprint the brochures, but that was the job.
The good thing was that I was able to “work” while listening to music on my headphones. I was seated with a group of other temps behind a large carousel in a warehouse, and as long as we were quiet and sticking those stickers, they didn’t care what else was happening. The warehouse employees walked on the other side, going about their daily activities, and I kept my head down, sticking stickers to the best of my over-qualified ability.
And then Jason walked by—the beautiful man with the amazing green eyes. He was so shy that he actually sent someone else over to request my phone number, but as soon as she clarified “the guy with the cute eyes,” I began scribbling digits. He called that night, and asked me out on a date. He said that it was the headphones that drew him to me, the way that I was lost in music. I would later find out that he was a musician (as was I). One date became two, then three, then we began to realize something serious was happening.
He was different than anyone I had ever met, much less dated. He was both magical and familiar, conservative and freethinking, and I proceeded to do what I always did: use as much blunt-force honesty as possible to see if he would be frightened away easily. He was used to a different type of woman, someone who was a bit more sheltered than I was, and someone who was far less opinionated. I made him smoke a lot of cigarettes those first few months of dating, as he sat in his car on his driveway, debating whether or not to go on another date with me, trying to figure out if this was a good thing that was happening in his life.
I knew he was a good thing for my life. I didn’t realize how much I knew it until, after running into someone I once dated, I saw how strikingly different Jason was from anyone I had ever known. He encouraged me to take care of myself rather than destroy myself, and didn’t accept my feeble attempts to hide behind masks. I think I fell in love the moment he heard my story, discovered my emotional scars, and didn’t flinch. I later referred to him as the one who saved me, because he pulled me out of the depths of cynicism and self-destructive habits, and made me look at myself in the mirror with the same honesty I pushed so harshly onto everyone around me.
From the day we met, it was barely a year later when he asked me to be his wife. Our relationship and marriage has had the expected ups and downs (as any relationship should), but it is a dance—we may grow apart for awhile, fight, be immature and selfish, but we always find ourselves back together, embracing, and moving as one. I have come to understand the meaning of love as it was meant to be. It is grace, a necessary redemption, and a beautiful transcendence from the ugliness we all have inside of us.
Someone once told me that you find the most happiness in life in the small, seemingly insignificant things. There is wisdom in that statement, because I found my happiness from sticking stickers onto brochures.