Once upon a time...
Adam's Commentary is in green Italics.
After my divorce two and a half years ago, the kids and I moved to Utah. It was a difficult decision to move away from my children's dad, but there wasn't much of a choice. Matt and I knew going into the divorce that our co-parenting was going to be a long-distance situation. As a career military man, it just wasn't practical for me to follow him wherever the government decided to send him. Following an epic nor'easter, the seven of us packed into the Yukon and ventured out into the unknown.
Once we settled into our new home and routines, I did my best to start navigating my new life as a single mom (just in case you were wondering, it's a million times harder than you think it is). Two months later, I had been on a few dates, but dating really only caused me anxiety (apparently that hadn't changed much since I was 20). One fateful night was particularly difficult. I was anticipating Matt's first visit for Jack's baptism and needed to get out of the house. I popped into a local Facebook group for single people my age. I asked if anyone was interested in going to see Solo with me. One dude responded, saying a group of his friends were going, and I was welcome to tag along.
Meeting Prince Charming
I showed up at the theater at the specified time, paid the guy who bought our tickets for us (the first time I'd used Venmo) and sat awkwardly next to a bunch of strangers while watching the movie. As we filed out of the theater a couple hours later, one of the women turned to me and asked, "So, Courtney, how do you know John?"
"Oh, I don't. I just decided to crash your party." A two of the girls in the party were delighted at my audaciousness, and the dude with the glasses and the beard looked at me and said, "what's your last name? I'll look you up on Facebook."
I am so smooth. This stuff just comes to me naturally. What I have... it can't be taught.
I met up with them again a few days later, while the kids spent some quality time with their dad and grandparents. They mentioned going dancing, and I, in an attempt to distract myself from my anxiety, tagged along. Again. I expected something akin to the kitchen dance parties I throw for myself when just my kids are watching, but no. It was social dancing-specifically, West Coast Swing. Way out of my element, I stumbled my way through the music as the dude with the glasses tried to teach me the basics (I wasn't good and couldn't figure the footwork out).
Though that was blamed on me soon after.
Well, yeah ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, a few weeks later, we drove up to dance in Heber City together. During the drive, I finally solidified his name in my head.
Deciding I Didn't Want to Date Prince Charming
During the drive I learned he was a trauma therapist with a magnificent red beard. And he learned I was an overbearing control freak that he "knew he could never marry" (my first impression was right, his was... well... so wrong it's funny).
Ah, um... yeah LOL!
We met up with the rest of the group once we were there (still couldn't West Coast Swing yet), and I casually wondered if he could be a future love interest.
Nope. He didn't seem like my type. Besides, he was a social butterfly compared to me, and all I could focus on was how out of place I felt. I really just wanted to go home.
As the weeks went on, I continued to be invited to do stuff with these new friends. Hikes, BBQs and pool parties with our combined 15-20 children, movies after kids were in bed, and dancing every few weeks. My boys became friends with their boys, and my girls tagged along because there was nothing else to do, and they couldn't drive yet.
Adam and I quickly settled into our routine of mostly ignoring each other except for when he'd walk up to me and say, "let's work on your West Coast." And I was getting better. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but better. And he was fun to watch when he danced with someone better than me. He just looked like he was having so much fun.
One evening, while I was watching him dance with someone who clearly knew what she was doing, one of my girlfriend's leaned over to say, "See that girl Adam is dancing with? She's the one that got away. They dated for like, a year. Just look at their chemistry."
I wasn't sure exactly what "chemistry" was supposed to look like, but I was more distracted by the unexpected pang of jealousy invading my otherwise enjoyable evening.
Um, no. Not this dude. He's cute and all, and fun, but skinny. And clearly not into me. I make it a point not flirt with guys who aren't interested. I didn't like this seed that had just been planted and did what I could to root it out. And for the most part it worked.
Getting to Know Him
As my first summer away from the kids approached, I started to panic. Matt's house wasn't ready yet (he had just moved from NJ), so I let him stay at my house with the kids while I crashed with friends. I'd pop in and say hi to the kids every day, complain about the house being trashed, and Matt got to be the primary parent for a while.
Adam, being the only friend who had never been married nor had any children, was the only one of who attended a singles ward, so I'd go to church with him each Sunday that Matt was in town. Finally, feeling like I was ready to start dating again, I'd sit next to him and whisper things like, "what's his name? He's cute, can you get me his number?"
Adam was less than responsive to these requests, but he was turning into a fun friend, and I enjoyed being around him. But still not my type.
The Romance Begins?
Well, looking back, yeah... it did.
In July of 2018, I went to Iceland for a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu camp. We texted a bit, and gave each other a play by play on what we were doing. I told him all about Guns and Roses concerts and rolling with my BJJ friends, and he told me about the Tuacahn shows he got to see with the rest of the group.
The day after I got back, we met up to carpool up to Salt Lake. He seemed delighted at my exuberant, "I missed your face!!" and gave me a big hug. Later that evening, we sat at his place and just talked.
And eventually talking turned into... very close talking.
True Love's Kiss
After a while, he said, "let's agree that us kissing tonight would be a bad idea." I agreed. But we did anyway. Very close-talking tends to do that.
We just mashed our food holes together!
It wasn't my first kiss since the divorce, but I had a difficult time enjoying any of them. More than one man surprised me with an unwelcome kiss at the end of a first date (after which I usually went home crying and swore off men for a month or two). Another was consensual but was completely different from the kisses I'd had for the previous 17 years. I figured it was just because it was a new person, and I could expect I wouldn't enjoy anyone until I got used to him.
Kissing Adam was different. There weren't any fireworks, per se, (though they did frequent many of our subsequent kisses), but there were also no feelings of distaste or awkwardness. It was almost as if we'd had years and years of practice. It was the most natural thing. Like breathing.
Everything about our relationship became just as easy and just as natural. The hardest part was keeping our new and fragile relationship under the radar until we knew what was going on. And we would steal away in hidden corners when none of our mutual friends were watching.
One time we skipped out on our friends to go to Red Robin and compare Audible Libraries.
For our first legitimate date, we walked around downtown Provo, taking pictures of pretty things.
That was a great date.
THE FIRST BREAK UP
Apparently we did an ok job at keeping things under wraps, my future maid of honor wouldn’t realize we had gotten together until after we broke up (the first time).
Even after breaking up we continued to see each other and talk nearly every day. He invited me to join him and another friend as they hiked Mount Timpanogos (which doesn’t look like it’s spelled right, but it is).
We really enjoyed each other’s company, and we really enjoyed each other’s lips (yes we did). It was inevitable that we pick up where we left off. The more time we spent together, the more we realized just how well our personalities fit. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had to explain something to him. If I say something, he just knows what I mean.
You know that dream man that can read your mind just by the expression on your face? Yeah… I found him. And he’s taken, ladies! So hand’s off.
My kids quickly began to look forward to his daily visits, and each vied for his undivided attention (which he willingly gave).
We weren’t able to keep our relationship secret for long. Many a man and woman were disappointed when we took ourselves off the mid-single meat market.
But, as you can imagine, a woman healing from the abrupt ending of a 17-year long relationship, and 40-year-old perpetual bachelor are bound to have some hiccups in their relationship. I would freak out and try to break up with him. He would say “no” (which is what I secretly wanted). He’d freak out, but wasn’t interested in dating anyone else. He once told me he was on his way over to end it, but as soon as he saw me, he’d sigh and think, “oh yeah. I forgot… she’s the best.”
That actually happened a number of times.
He’d get a “stupor of thought”, if you will.
“Besides,” he’d say, “I’m not about to give up the woman I’ll be comparing everyone else to for the rest of my life.” Oh snap, y’all! He REALLY said that!
Yes I did.
But one day, we both freaked out at the same time and decided not to see each other anymore.
No. That was all you.
But he didn’t stop me this time, so it’s basically the same thing.
It was surreal. We’d never really fought. We were so well-matched, and the people who knew us best would look at us and think, “yeah, they go together like lamb and tuna fish.”
Ok, I decided to break up because “It’s going to happen anyway, so let’s get it over with and get on with our lives.”
The next month was painful. Like, missing my right arm kind of painful. He likened it to going through a divorce, and given that it brought up all sorts of previous baggage for me, yeah… I can see that.
But I’d been through worse and did my best to soldier on. I got another tattoo, played with my kids, dove into my school work, and started ripping up the floor in my house. Most of all, I tried to not see or talk to him. It wasn’t easy since we had the same social circle, but I made it work. I spent a lot of time with a one particular friend.
Who was that? Kelly?
No. Brent. The platonic bestie.
He got me out and socializing again and was my obligatory arm candy when I did go out. After not too long, I started dating again. And things were looking up.
Then I went to a Valentine’s Day dance (serving as Platonic Man’s wingman). Adam was there.
I THOUGHT I WAS GETTING OVER HIM.
Good thing I wore a dress that made his eyes bleed. I didn’t want to be the only one suffering.
He started texting me again the next day. And the day after that, he came over to help me rip up the rest of my floor. We talked, we laughed, we worked. I got pissed when he told me about some upcoming plans. He vowed to cancel them.
“Why?” I said, “because your ex-girlfriend wants you to? No dice dude. I’m not the boss of you. Do whatever you want.”
You’d think that exchange would bring the evening to an abrupt end. But, as is almost always the case, when Adam and I argue, we end up laughing more than anything else. Again we agreed that kissing was a bad idea. And again, we did it anyway.
The reality is we were too good together to stop just because we were scared of a possible future break up.
THE EVERY DAY
You know it’s meant to be when you have no problem letting your boyfriend pluck your wild lady whiskers and wax your nose hairs together.
I remember that we couldn't ever finish a show that we sat down to watch. We kept pausing it to ask each other questions and talk about ideas. And that never stopped. That was a big deal for me. And I never felt like I needed space from your company.
We always had something interesting to talk about. And even our disagreements were easygoing. And we always just wanted to hang out with each other.
One of the ways I used to describe our relationship is "we're basically the same person." Month after month, that didn't ever change.
We spent the next year settling into our relationship, talking about our future, and decidedly NOT breaking up again. He’d walk in the door, and Henry would say, “CARRY SPIN!” Adam would pick him up and spin him around. He’d wrestle with Spencer and Jack. And talk to Lucy and Emma about anime and art. He’d sing Alice and Henry bedtime songs, and snuggle Jack on the couch while watching Marvel movies.
I’d accidentally step on his foot while we’re dancing, and he’d laugh, then I’d give him a hard time for giving me a “lesson” and not just dancing with me for fun. I’d pick him up if he locked himself out of the car. He’d come over at the end of the day, roll up his sleeves and do the dishes. I’d help him with his
I remember reading a blog post with the premise that "no, marriage shouldn't be hard work". The woman described her first marriage and how everything about their relationship was hard. Then she compared it to her second marriage, in which nothing was ever hard.
I was kind of offended by the idea. Of COURSE marriage was hard! All relationships are. No one ever gets along so well, all the time. Problems come up and you work hard to fix them! Given that I was trying to save a crumbling marriage at the time, it's little wonder why I was so angry at the article's thesis.
When Adam and I started dating I finally began to understand what she was talking about. Over time, the tiniest things make or break you. Like, scratching an itchy mosquito bite once might not be a big deal. But that same, seemingly harmless scratch, over and over again, eventually you'll start to bleed. And the itching takes over your consciousness and soon it's all you can think about. Or you could treat it with the right ointment right away. Or put on bug spray, and avoid the bite all together.
I've always told my children that there is no such thing as a neutral interaction between two people. You are either harming or helping. Adam is healing ointment.
I’ve always loved how completely natural it is to be with him. Everything was just so easy. He always seems to know what I’m thinking and what I need. The only hard thing was knowing if and when we would get married. Sometimes it was a given, sometimes it was up in the air. But overall, when we were together, I was willing to wait as long as it took. He was worth it.
We ironed out just about everything you could before we decided to get married, finances, kids, step-parent boundaries, careers, retirement, our church activity… and million more things that I can’t remember at the moment.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops… I had baggage. You don’t loose someone after 17 years and not have baggage. Even as we talked about the future, I still made sure Adam knew he had an out if ever he wanted it. Under no circumstances was I going to make him feel like he didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Insecure doesn’t exactly embody the feeling. I know I’m a great catch. But the idea of loving someone more than he loves me, or having a man stay in a relationship with me simply because he doesn’t want me to hurt my feelings was terrifying. I was obsessed with wanting Adam to know that it was ok if he didn’t think we were a good fit.
“It’s not too late. We can still break up. I’d be sad, but I’d be fine. We both would.”
You saying that never meant that much to me. I knew you were all in.
He’d say, “will you stop saying that. I’ve been through a break up with you and I don’t ever want to do it again. And if I don’t marry you, I’m going to end up marrying someone who is completely insane and not nearly as fun. Besides, I need that face with those dimples.”
I don’t remember saying exactly that, but that’s so me. So yeah.
Poor guy had to have that conversation with me at least twice a week.
And still does sometimes…
This bit by John Mulaney, while not a perfect comparison, was still uncomfortably hilarious. We kept looking at each other nervously out of the corner of our eyes.
I’m a pretty chill woman. And as such, my dream proposal and wedding would have little fanfare. I once told my daughter that the perfect proposal would be when the two of us were doing what we usually do, and he’d just spontaneously turn to me and ask. No ring. No-fuss. I just wanted it to be about us. Not the ring, not the perfect story to tell other people, not a romantic setting. Just us.
Shortly after the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, he walked into my bedroom on a Friday evening, grinned, and said, “so, will you marry me?” It wasn’t really a question. He knew what I’d say. I said, “Hellz yeah!”
She basically said, I could either move in or not come over anymore. So I moved in.
I would describe it in a slightly more romantic fashion. I’m not a simpering little schoolgirl, begging someone to stay. No. My approach can be summed up with:
Quarantine is hard, what do you want from me???
Besides, we had already gotten a marriage license and a wedding dress “just in case”, and the license was going to expire very soon.
The kids were thrilled. I was scared out of my mind.
PLANNING THE WEDDING
We spent the next two days making masks for the guests and a hairpiece for me (Adam and I had Matching Avengers masks).
His mom called me the next morning to ask how she could help. My wedding plans were a mix between “so very particular” about just a few things and ” I really couldn’t care less” about everything else.
“Do you want to line up chairs to make an isle?”
“Eew! No isle. I don’t want everyone looking at me. Let’s just stand around. It’s less work and the ceremony will only be like, five minutes”
“Can I make your wedding bouquet?”
“That would be wonderful! Thank you! I was just planning to go without.”
“What kind of flowers?”
“Meh, I don’t care much. I like most flowers.”
“What colors do you like?”
“I don’t know”
“What time is the wedding?”
“I don’t care.”
“Do you have a dress.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know if I’ll wear it or one of my other dresses.”
Sorry, Mom! I know I’m no help at all.
THE BIG DAY
Three days later, home-made masks and toilet paper cake in hand, we were married in his parent’s backyard. The guest list was limited and the ceremony was small enough to comply with social distancing requirements with family members and a few close friends acting as the wedding support party. One brother-in-law played the viola (beautiful) his brother and my best friend/maid-of-honor were acting as photographers (side note, his brother is a professional wedding photographer and I enlisted my maid-of-honor’s help because I didn’t want to presume Aaron would take care of it, as it turned out, we got great pictures from both of them )
We streamed it on Instagram and Facebook so the rest of our friends and family could participate (my bosses told me everyone in the office gathered around the same computer to watch).
I was terrified the whole time, far more than I thought I would be. And my handsome groom was as steady and confident as could be.
That’s what I was going for.
In one day, he had gone from being a bachelor with no children to a step-father of six kids (who often call him D’Adam) and a dog (who calls him “Daddy”).
The next day we moved most of his 40-years worth of belongings into the castle I shared with the kiddos. We went on a legitimate honeymoon a few weeks later (remind me to tell you THAT story!)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Since the wedding day, things have continued to be easy between us. The only serious source of strain in our relationship (how long we would be together) has disappeared. He still does the dishes almost every night, snuggles me whenever I’m within arms reach, dances with me in the kitchen, sings the kids to sleep, and happily plays with the dog he didn’t want.
These days we’re still debating the things we couldn’t agree on beforehand (like me changing my last name and how serious a crime leaving milk in the cereal bowl is).
It’s serious. It’s a big freaking deal.
But they are all very minor, and we know those things aren’t more important than each other or our kids.
And we all continue to live the Ahroon-Thompson-Wilson signature ordinary, every day, happily ever after.
Blended family names are hard.
New sister and brother taking care of business.
Embracing our Covid-19 Wedding
We had a very limited number of guests. My kids, his siblings, and very few mutual friends. Everyone had homemade masks, and Elisa gifted us our epic toilet paper wedding cake :). All other family, friends, and anyone else who wanted to, saw it streamed online.
The Pre-Game Show
Before it started, we all just kind of mingled around. I fiddled with my camera, Adam took pictures and played with the kids. After a bit we were like, “Everyone here? Cool, let’s get started.”
Short and sweet. Just the way I like it.
As soon as the ceremony ended, Henry came up and gave Adam and me the biggest hug. It was so sweet. We dug right into our toilet paper cake, and tried to take our first official family picture… it turn out about as well as you could have expected. But I love it