My childhood home is located in a neighborhood nestled between the borders of two junior high school boundaries, and consequently we had the choice to pick between the two schools. All five of my older siblings went to Union Middle, but I chose the road less traveled and went to Midvale Middle with another friend in the neighborhood.
After the first quarter of school, I was transferred into the honors program. I had originally registered for the regular courses as part of a desire to feel “regular”, a feeling I didn’t have often as a child. But, my teachers and parents decided that I needed to be moved and therefore, the first day of the second quarter of seventh grade I walked into a classroom full of unfamiliar faces and a teacher who didn’t seem too thrilled to be adding another student.
I was placed alphabetically in the seating arrangement, right behind a boy with light brown hair and a perfect late 80s wave in the front. I recognized him as being the friend of the boy my friend had a monumental crush on.
I’m not sure who spoke first. Probably him. I was nervous about my new surroundings and overwhelmed with the fact that my new schedule didn’t seem to feature any of the people I had known just a week before.
We chattered so much that day, the teacher moved me to the other side of the room and out of alphabetical order. I’d give anything to have a transcript of that first conversation in English class. While I don’t remember what was said, I still remember what I felt—that for the first time, I was really, truly understood. He got me. And I got him. Anne of Green Gables describes it as “kindred spirits”, and that works for me.
A week or so later, Ryan was taking roll at the front of the classroom and did a double take when he came to the line with my name, student number, and birthday. Afterward, he came to my desk and said, “We have the same birthday.” I thought he was kidding. I had to see for myself. It was true—we were in the birth canal at the same time, giving our mothers excruciating pain and if that doesn’t bond you to someone, I don’t know what does.
So, that’s where it began. It wasn’t romantic to begin with, not for years and years. He told me about his crushes on others, I told him about mine. We competed with each other in all of our classes, and secretly missed each other if one was absent.
Of course, the whole hullabaloo wasn’t too far down the road. In ninth grade as I began hanging out with a wider crowd of people, he did his friendly best to warn me about certain folk. I was sure I knew better, and for the first time since we’d met, we drifted apart. And I missed him terribly.
All of this happened next, and as much as I regret it being such a significant part of our story, it played an important role in our future because we learned one incredibly important lesson from each other—we can make it through anything.
Even the MTC.
Even his dad’s death.
Even grad school.
Even his mom’s death.
Even home repairs.
I know some people don’t believe in soul mates. I’m kind of surprised that I do. When Jerry McGuire told Dorothy that she completed him, I laughed out loud. And I still can’t believe that ABC’s The Bachelor is not considered a comedy. I’m just not that way I guess. And even though there are occasional days when I imagine an ACME anvil dropping on his head at a precise moment (and he imagines wiping away my stubborn smirk with a belt sander), we were meant for each other. He’s my lobster.