I don't know if I've ever put this story here or not, but I was thinking about how long we've been together (14 years, married for 11 as of this Halloween) and was amazed at it because the two of us have very different personalities. He's a very outgoing, outspoken person while I tend to be more reserved and withdrawn. It makes for some interesting situations, that's for sure. And some interesting arguments and discussions.
But back to the reason for this post: how I met Himself.
In 1999 I had hit what I thought was rock bottom. My two year relationship had ended badly at the end of '98 and I was still feeling a little depressed because of it. I'd failed out of college and then lost the job I'd held for two years due to a lot of issues. I was working temp jobs and living at home, not even able to support myself.
Then my older sister had an idea. Why not go to Job Corps and get some more training on being an office admin? For those that don't know, Job Corps is an organization that takes low income students from 16-24 and teaches them real life job skills. There are several different trades, among them dental assistant, clerical, culinary arts, carpentry, masonry, and painting. (These are the ones I can remember from my time in Job Corps. There may be others.) You live on their campus in dorms and your entire eight hour day is spent submerged in learning how to do the trade you've selected. You get paid a monthly stipend, and when I was enrolled you got a clothing allowance when you first arrived and then every six months after that to update your professional wardrobe.
There were also recreational activities that you could participate in and you were encouraged to socialize with the people around you. Trips to the mall or to the movie theater were common occurrences and arts and crafts and video games were also very prevalent.
I was 22 and in dire need of a better education. I'd flunked out of college due to health reasons and I couldn't get back in. I couldn't get more student loans because of my previous grades and the fact that I hadn't been able to make more than a few token payments on my student loans before that. I was a mess and I needed a change of scenery.
So I enrolled in Job Corps. While there is a campus in Idaho, I wanted out of the state for a while. So I asked to be sent out of state. I was sent to Cascades Job Corps in Sedro-Woolley, WA. I took the Greyhound to Mount Vernon, WA where me and several other hopefuls were picked up by the security officers for the center and taken to our new home away from home.
I was there for a few days when I fell into the gamer crowd. I was rolling up a D&D character, but I couldn't remember how as it had been almost ten years since I'd played the game. A young man with slicked back hair and a perpetual attitude came up and helped me. I thought his arrogance was off putting and after he'd helped me I thanked him but didn't want anything more to do with him. As you may have guessed, this was Himself.
Well, the first two weeks at Job Corps were spent in Orientation. At the end of those two weeks, the culinary arts students hosted a banquet for the new graduates before we all headed off either into our trade or into the high school program so those enrolled could get their G.E.D.s or an actual high school diploma, whichever they decided they wanted to do. Guess who was in charge of the banquet? That's right. It was Himself. Himself came into our class several times over the final week to make sure he knew our dietary restrictions (we had one girl who wouldn't eat pork, a vegetarian, and me on medication who couldn't have caffeine.) He was very courteous to us and the arrogance I'd seen when he was helping me with my D&D character wasn't apparent.
The banquet went off without a problem. We all talked and laughed and had a good time. Himself and the other two culinary arts students who were helping him serve were all very attentive and took good care of us. Now here's where it gets a little odd for me. After the banquet, myself and the vegetarian were the last two to leave. Himself and his helpers came in to clear up. For no apparent reason that I can fathom or understand, I walked up to him and gave him a hug. Remember, I'm painfully shy and awkward around people and I didn't really like him. But I gave him a hug and thanked him for the nice banquet. He was as shocked as I was and I quickly made my escape.
Later, we were wandering around the center grounds because it was the normal lunch hour. (OEP banquet was held before lunch because everyone else had to eat their lunch too.) I saw him in a gazebo smoking. I walked up to him and again, randomly and not normally for me, I gave him another hug. He looked me up and down and asked me if I was seeing anyone. I told him no. Then he asked me if I'd like to go out with him. I said a rather hyper sounding yes. And that was that. The two of us started dating.
Barring four months of painful separation due to a fight brought on by a rather touchy situation with his family, we've been together ever since. A random hug, something I still don't understand why I did to this very day, led me to 14 years with a man that I love and who I'm sure loves me back. Job Corps was an interesting experience, though not one I'd care to repeat. I learned a lot and gained a relationship that has lasted through some of the toughest times of my life.