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OK and without further Ado here's Sara...
The instances that led us to each other are so peculiar it makes my heart skip in appreciation whenever I remind myself of how serendipitous it was. Born and raised on a single stretch of land in the frigid outskirts of Minnesota, I had great intentions to leave home and face the world when I graduated. Although I had been awarded a full ride scholarship to the University of Minnesota, I knew that wasn’t where my heart wanted to be. Everything inside me wanted to be elsewhere. (In retrospect, knowing the price of my education I sometimes wish my heart would have been a little more fiscally responsible, but I digress.) I applied, and was accepted into, numerous colleges all over the country. I finally-mostly-kind of-maybe settled on a school in Washington State. Then shortly before graduation, I got cold feet. I couldn’t commit to it. At one of our many kitchen table conversations, my mom brought up Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. Secretly I knew that she mostly wanted the relief of knowing I had an Aunt nearby in Rapid City, but I took the bait and was intrigued. At the last minute I applied, was accepted, and got my stuff packed to head to BHSU.
Tim’s journey to BHSU is very different, but just as improbable. Spending most of his life moving from one place to another, he doesn’t consider anywhere “home”. In middle school he had the terrible misfortune of losing almost everything in a tragic fire. With nowhere to be, he and his mother and sister piled in the car and drove East with no intention or objective but to find a place to live. They made it from Wyoming to South Dakota and decided to stay. By the time he was graduating from high school he was bound and determined to become either a police officer via community college or join the Army and become an Airborne Ranger. His grandparents weren’t very appreciative of those goals and offered him a new car if he would go to a four year college. Any 17 year old would find that offer hard to refuse and he decided to go to BHSU because it was the closest four-year he could find. Ironically, his first day of college he signed up for the Army ROTC program, a year after that he signed an 8 year military contract, and five minutes after that he met me.
I wish I could say I remember the exact date, but I don’t. To be honest I can hardly remember the year sometimes, I don’t remember the building, or what I was wearing, and I definitely don’t remember what I learned that day. But, I will always always always remember the first time I saw him. It was the first day of classes and I walked into my favorite course, Spanish. He was dressed in all black, he had his black notebook in front of him, and he was staring at it so intently that you would think it had just done a trick for him. He was the first one there. I was the second. I sat next to him with a chair between us. The room slowly filled beyond what was comfortable. He still never looked up from his notebook. Finally, the
last girl came filing in. She looked at the only seat available, the one in between us, then she looked at Tim (yes, still staring intently at his notebook), then she looked at me. She then proceeded to pick the chair up and move it to the other side of the room. I found this comical so I looked at Tim and said “Oh, I guess she didn’t want to sit by you.” I thought I was funny, he still thought his notebook was more interesting. I was beginning to think there was something about this notebook I should know. While trying to figure it out he happened to glance up from the ‘magic” notebook and I saw his face. He was beautiful. I will never forget how green his eyes looked.
After class I went back to my dorm and told my roommate about this guy I met with these amazing green eyes. I truly was that astonished with his eyes. She was like, “Oh, I know that guy.” I didn’t believe her. All she knew was that he had pretty green eyes. She swore she knew him. Turns out she did, they were a grade apart at the same high school.
The next class we had together was two days later… I was pretty much crazy about him at that point. We were doing conversations in class, and the first words he spoke to me were “Hola, me llamo Teem, y tu?” After the required, “Hola, Me llamo Sara” I coyly tried to steer the conversation onto anything but Spanish. Tim was not amused and said, “The teacher said we’re supposed to speak in Spanish.” That’s right. Shut. Down. I still laugh out loud when I think about it.
The next couple months of our “relationship” consisted mostly of me doing everything I knew of to get him to talk to me or hang out with me and always failing miserably. He later told me that he was just as crazy about me, but unlike me, he was terrifyingly shy. Knowing him now, I believe him, but he sure made a strong case against liking me in the beginning. Then on one blessed day, I ran into him at the cafeteria, I once again grit my teeth, put myself out there and asked him if he wanted to sit by me and my friends since he was already at the end of our table alone. (Probably staring at his notebook…I don’t know) I almost didn’t wait for his response expecting the usual quiet-not-audible-by-human-ears negative response. But! Shock and Awe! He said yes! He ate lunch with us and it was beautiful.
The next day he met us for lunch again with his roommate, Nick. From then on, all of us hung out together almost always. Tim and I were almost instant best friends. One night we went out to eat with our usual group of friends and we were so into each other we didn’t notice or care that all of our friends had left us and it was 4am and we had to walk the four miles back to our dorms. We would play
midnight games of volleyball when I couldn’t sleep. (I’ve never been able to sleep well or often) He tried every day to get me over my massive fear of heights on this little staircase behind my dorm. He taught me how to play Halo, while I taught him there were more things to life than Halo. We would sneak each other into our dorms (mine was an all girls dorm) just to hang out. I would surprise him with water and snacks in his car when I knew he had a vigorous day of physical training. One time he was gone for a week of Army training and while he was away I got some friends to help me literally STUFF his car with balloons. At one point I worked a night job at the front desk of a shady hotel, he would come bring me juice and sleep in the lobby so I wouldn’t have to be alone. It was truly one of the best parts of my life. Still, we remained only friends and I didn’t mind because I was so happy to have his wonderfulness in my life at all.
Pershing Rifles is this fraternity-like-thing for the ROTC program Tim was in. It was two weeks of pure hell for him. I don’t know what he went through, but I do know he didn’t sleep for the full two weeks. He was only allowed out for class and I remember watching him sit in class, in his uniform, disgustingly covered in mud and entirely exhausted doing everything he could do to keep his eyes open. It took everything I had to not grab him and hold him and try to make him feel better. What I wouldn’t give to make that poor guy a sandwich and let him have a nap. After that was finally over (just to shout out to his awesomeness, Tim was one of only two that passed) I was going to his dorm to hang out with him as he was cleaning his equipment. He emptied out his rucksack and with it’s contents a huge white rock spilled out onto the floor. Onto the front of it was painted in bright blue letters, Sara. I was a little surprised and asked him why my name was painted on a big white rock that just fell out of his backpack. (Back then I wasn’t aware of how much it bothered him to call a rucksack a backpack) He replied completely nonchalantly that at one point they were required to paint their girlfriends names on rocks and keep them in their rucksacks. I must have shown shock in my face because he immediately recoiled and the room filled with palpable awkwardness. Wonderful awkwardness. It was official.
We decided to transfer schools the next year and we moved together to Minnesota. We supported each other throughout college in every way, because in a lot of ways we were all each other had. We both worked multiple jobs, carried full loads in schools, and spent every minute we could together. (Which were a very few precious moments) We were engaged in March of 2007 and were married in a court house that October. For the past four years we have experienced so much change, sacrifice, challenge, and excitement that I couldn’t begin to explain it all. Through everything though we are comforted in
knowing that no matter how things come out on the other side we will always have each other. He is my rock and I am his and this crazy awkward imbalance of personality works so well together that I can’t foresee any event too catastrophic for us to handle together. The term “together” itself has another meaning entirely for us, being a couple thrust around at the Army’s whim. We have learned that the physical act of being together means far less than that ever-present comforting understanding that no matter where I am in the world and no matter where he is we can lean back on the support of knowing there’s another person in the world that truly loves us and always will. Nothing else matters.