I first saw Shaun in September of 1988, our freshman year in high school. My good friend, who had biology with him, pointed him out one day as her new crush. Within a few weeks they started dating and within a month or so after that, in true high school relationship style, they broke up. She said, and I quote “Just promise me you’ll never date him!” I looked at her like she was insane and said yes- I barely knew him.
The next year we had Chemistry together and he sat between myself and one of my best friends. Inevitably our notes got passed through him and we got to know each other. In April of 1990, he finally worked up the nerve to ask me out at my friend’s Sweet 16. I said NO. I had never had a boyfriend and I was nervous and still a bit hung up and a silly crush I had at the time.
We continued to be friends and we talked on the phone almost every night. One evening, at the same friend’s house, he told me it was our destiny to be together. I laughed. He told me that he just felt it and that he knew we were going to be together. On November 30, 1990, he asked me to dance at my Sweet 16 and then asked me to go out with him. This time I said yes. I was over the moon. To a silly 16 year old girl it felt like the most important day of my life. Almost 13 years later, I still feel that way.
Now for the part where my life became a soap opera (much better than the current GH stuff). Shaun is black. My father is Puerto Rican. My mother is white. I brought Shaun home immediately to introduce him to my parents. My mother called him adorable. My father decided that anyone I dated must be evil and frightened away. At first, my father was worried about what people would think and how we would be treated. I realize that he was trying to protect me, but I was (and remain to be) very stubborn and refuse to back down from what I believe to be right (particularly for myself). Within a few months, my father got to know Shaun and really started to like him. He became and extension of our family.
Then we graduated high school. This was one of the hardest times of my life. My grandmother, whom I adored, passed away 2 days before graduation and my mother had to fly to Vancouver to take care of the arrangements and be there for my grandfather. I was bitter that I missed the funeral and bitter that she was gone. And then, a week later, Shaun left to start college. I felt completely alone in the world.
I started college that fall and, even though we were only 30 miles apart, with no transportation it felt like 3000. Things got really rough and by January, we (meaning he) decided it just wasn’t working and he wanted to date other people. I was devastated. My eating disorder (that started in high school) got significantly worse and even though my closest friends had no clue what I was going through I felt like my life was out of control.
Over the next four years, Shaun and I continued to see each other, as well as other people. And while he still refuses to believe me, all I wanted was to be with him and only him. But, pride being what it is, I dated other guys and tried to act like it was my decision (I fooled almost no one). As time went on I got stronger and realized my worth as an individual and I decided that no matter what, I was going to get better and with time, I did.
I eventually graduated in 1992 and stayed on to get my Masters in Nutrition. Shaun was in his last year at school, but by then I at least had a car and I could see him when I wanted. In the summer of 1997 we both applied for a bunch of different jobs and, wouldn’t you know it, got hired by the same hospital on the same day. Neither of us had told the other we were even applying there! We both accepted the positions, started the same day, and started spending more and more time together. Within a few months we ‘officially’ got back together. That’s not to say things weren’t hard, they were almost impossible. Dealing with your significant others’ past is difficult enough when you only have to hear about it- we lived through it. He knew about everything I did and vice versa.
Things were rocky, but I think we were both determined to find our way back to each other. On our 1 year anniversary of reconciling, we spent the day in New Hope, PA. -an adorable little town with antiques and arts and stuff. It was an amazing day and I think we really both decided at that time that this was going to be a forever kind of thing.
Then I went home… My mom was crying, my dad was sleeping in the basement. This wasn’t like them and it wasn’t good. The next morning, my mother tells me that my father had been having an affair. Devastated doesn’t even begin to cover what I felt. My family was the one all of my friends called ‘annoyingly perfect.’ My parents were the cool ones. Everyone wished their parents were like mine.
I immediately called Shaun and he picked me up and for the next 6 months listened to me cry and rant. And he took it when I yelled at him and he held me tight when I tried to pull away. He had decided the grass was greener once, now my father had. And, every time I felt like I had had absolutely no sense of security, Shaun held me closer and assured me he loved me and that he was in for the long haul.
A few months later, I decided I needed to get away from the family stress and applied to go back to school for my PhD. This meant leaving NJ and moving away from Shaun. He was completely supportive- he was actually my biggest cheerleader. He visited me almost every weekend and we spoke multiple times a day. He was amazing. Then, last November, after our 10-year high school reunion and on our 12-year anniversary (we count the college years because we never stopped loving each other), he drove me to the place where he first kissed me – and he proposed. We’ll be getting married in 2 weeks and I can’t wait to continue on our path together. He was right- it is destiny.