Rick Asher – The Story of Perfect Imperfection
Couple’s Love Song: If It’s Love – performed by Train
“Hi,” she said.
“Uh…hi,” I answered.
“I’m Stephanie. This is my friend Kristen,” she said, sliding a picture across the table to me, “She likes you. You should talk to her.”
Sure, I recognized the girl in the picture. We had said a few words here and there, but nothing that amounted to any real conversation. I looked up at Stephanie’s stunning blue eyes and immeasurably beautiful smile, stumbling over what to say. It was typical me.
“Uh…Okay,” I said. (Dork)
“Great,” she said, “See ya.” Then she got up and walked out.
A harmless meeting, mostly…15-year old me sitting there in the school library doing who knows what. 14-year old her, coming in all straight forward, instructing me to go talk to her friend. I did, of course. I was uber shy back then and had a tough time when meeting new people, so knowing there was someone that actually wanted to talk to me was a welcome invitation.
Kristen and I ended up seeing each other, but not for a couple more years. By that time, Kristen had gone out with a friend of mine, Scott, off and on, Stephanie had been going out with another of mine, Dan, off and on, and I was still shy as hell. There were others in the group of friends, about eight or so, and it seemed like many of them took turns going out with each other.
As is always the case, life took us in different directions, and though some of us stayed in contact, most of the friends lost touch. Stephanie and I would run into each other from time to time, catching up when we could. Most of those run-ins were through Scott, and her sister Carrie, who began seeing each other a few years after we all left high school.
Early in 2001, Stephanie and I met up for a movie night while she was house-sitting across the cul-de-sac from her house. After the movie, Armageddon (with Bruce Willis), we spent the rest of the night being silly and getting to know each other again. No, nothing sexual that night. Just two old friends that hadn’t seen much of each other becoming reacquainted. The next morning, things finally seemed to take a turn for us, but after a couple of discussions it seemed things were better left as they were at the time, with us just staying as friends.
After several years, Scott finally proposed to Carrie, and at the wedding, Steph and I were paired together. It wasn’t a huge deal for anyone else, because it was done mainly to avoid any awkwardness between she and Dan, but knowing I was going to be walking with her made me feel like I won something. I never told her, though.
We moved on, of course, from one relationship to another, having kids and struggling to find our ‘person’. Around 2004, we both got married and had sons – born one week apart. She had a daughter about a year and a half later and they all moved to Austin, Texas. Her marriage ended shortly after. Having roots in Austin by that time, she stayed.
I started working 13-hour overnight shifts in April of 2011. It was not an easy thing to do. Sleep and focus were sacrificed in the process, but it afforded me a chance to do other things during the time. One of those was catching up with friends online I had not seen in a while, such as old school friends and Navy buddies.
Eventually, things with my son’s mother deteriorated and we split up. I was frustrated, disenchanted, and so over the whole idea of marriage then, that I was sure I’d be on my own from then on. My dad found this out and tried to convince me to ‘keep that door open’, but I already knew. I had no interest in it, and even if I did, it was going to take something extraordinary to ever make me go down that road again.
Things were pretty quiet until one night I ran into Stephanie online, and we became regular late-nighters, chatting to all hours. She came out to visit a couple of times and we kept missing each other, until New Year’s Day 2013.
While at Scott and Carrie’s for their New Year’s Day party, we managed to spend a couple hours together. Unfortunately, I had to work that night, so I couldn’t stay too long, and she was going back to her mom’s, anyway.
We said goodbye, gave each other a nice hug, and then…something happened.
She told me later she couldn’t really explain what it was…just a FEELING that went through her, almost like the universe was speaking to her in some weird way. She went home to her mom’s for the rest of her visit and was kind of ‘out of it’, trying to reconcile what was going on with her.
We went back to our routine, me working overnight and chatting with her during my down time, and we decided to try and meet up again sometime when she was back in town during the summer. When she got to town, however, things didn’t work out the way we planned, and we missed each other. Again.
A few more months went by and we decided to try to meet up again, between Christmas and New Year’s. This time nothing got in the way. Schedules didn’t screw us up, parents didn’t have us ‘set-up’ with anybody…finally the universe came together and said “YES”.
Almost like it was supposed to be.
It’s tough being in a long-distance relationship, and for many people, they’d never survive it. Of course, it’s not ideal, and there are many logistical challenges we struggle with, but when something matters enough, you endure those. Having a sense of humor and not taking things too seriously helps. Whether going to a MST3000 production of Sharknado at the theater, duet-ing on road trips, face-planting into the ocean, displaying oneself in fashion shows, or dressing ‘appropriately’ for family gatherings, we’re able to have fun in nearly any situation.
With our two boys, both 13, and a girl, 11, we have our own ‘Mini Brady Bunch’. We hope that being silly with each other shows our kids it’s okay to do that sometimes. Though we’ve joked a bit about it, there are no plans for expansion, so when the line in ‘our song’ comes up, she’s quick to reiterate – “NO TEN KIDS!”
Being friends for decades, we eventually realized what had been hanging around us all along, and one night in Austin last October, I called her ‘bluff’.
“Sure,” she said.
“Okay,” I said, as I got up and grabbed a small pouch from my suitcase. I handed it to her and said, “Open it.”
Because like everything else, we’d joked about that for a while, she first thought it was plastic. Nope, it was real. And just like her, it’s one of a kind.
Never disappointing, always inspiring, my partner in ‘crime’ is, in a word – extraordinary.
And there you have it.
To people that know us, the fact we ended up together I guess is not all that surprising.
It just took 25+ years.