Amy and Randy

September 27th, 2010

I am watching them talk.

They’re across the table from me, in their cozy little backyard, having a conversation about coffee. I don’t really know what they’re saying, but I like the way they interact.

Randy has a soft tone to his voice, and speaks to Amy like she’s a friend. Like he cares about the way his words impact her.

Amy smiles all the time. She has a smile in her voice, even. Just sitting next to her makes you feel more cheery.

We’re sipping iced tea, and they’re telling me about the name of their unborn child. Jackson, they think. It was the name of one of the mountains Amy climbed in Montana.

I watch them together and I think they could probably talk to each other for hours and not get bored of each other’s company. Often, I watch couples interact in public, and no one seems to talk. It’s almost painful to watch. Sometimes, I’ve seen couples spend an entire meal without saying even one word to each other.

But Amy and Randy have a lot to say. That’s really important.

Communication in a relationship is key. So are shared interests and belief structures.

They are vegetarians – and were before they even knew each other, Amy makes sure to point out. It’s just one of the many things they share in common.

They’ve been together 10 years. Right before Amy turned 21. They’ve been married for six of those years.

It’s funny the way things turns out. How someone is placed in your life (like in your neighborhood AND your middle school), directly in front of your face, and you don’t ever really notice them. But then, years later, you happen to be walking across your college campus, and you see that person. And this time, you notice a little bit. And during the next few years, you start to notice a lot more. And they do, too. And the next thing you know, you’re staring at your future.

That’s exactly how it happened.

They both grew up in Gig Harbor, Washington. Their houses were less than a mile apart. They went to the same middle school and, though they knew each other, they were never friends.

Their siblings knew each other, but Amy’s and Randy’s paths never really crossed.

Then came college. Freshman year, Randy was rooming with a friend from high school who kept talking about these two girls, Amy and Adrian. Later in the quarter, as he was walking across campus, and his roommate pointed them out, Randy quickly realized that the Amy in this story was none other than his Gig Harbor classmate.

Turns out, the pair had similar friends and, soon, the circles in which they traveled would converge.

“We’d run into each other at potlucks,” Amy recalls, “but Randy was always quiet. His best friend had a huge ego and wanted to talk all the time, so I lumped Randy in the same category. During Junior year, Adrian and I took a Scottish country dancing class, and we started dancing at an outdoor concert. Randy was there.”

Randy was dating someone at the time (though it was coming to end), and noted that it took a lot of pressure off trying to impress anyone, so he could be as silly as he wanted to be.

“Sure, I’ll jump into this highland reel and make a fool of myself,” he laughs.

After that, the two started hanging out on a regular basis.

A unique twist, however: Amy was on a dating sabbatical.

“I always had boyfriends, all through high school,” she admits. “After I broke up with my last boyfriend, I decided not to date for at least a year. I want to know that all the things I think about myself — that I’m smart, funny and worth being around — are true because I know they are, not because some guy is telling me those things. After the first year, I wanted to do another year because it felt so awesome.”

So Amy and Randy became friends. They had potlucks together. They walked places together. They even became sailing buddies.

“When I couldn’t get into a sailing class I wanted, I asked Randy to promise to go sailing with me once a week,” Amy says. “He was already starting to like me by that point. It was such a funny time. We were sailing every week and took another class together, but it was very platonic on my side. I wasn’t at all open to a relationship.”

Then came the true test: stormy weather.

One particular day, the pair decided to have lunch before they went sailing. And then one of Amy’s male friends from Seattle decided to come for a visit. All this while Amy was already hosting another male friend from out of town. They were all there at once, and they invited themselves to lunch with Amy and Randy.

“I remember trying to cook,” Randy says. “I didn’t have enough food. Suddenly there are these guys all trying to add this special dash to the food to impress Amy. At one point I realize I’m making the meal and they’re chatting up Amy. I planned on sailing with her, but now I wasn’t sure. I said, ‘Well, Amy, do what you want to do. I’m still going sailing.’”

Amy had an a-ha moment while her two male visitors pulled her in different directions, and knew then and there she would be going sailing with Randy. And maybe he’d be the only person she wanted to keep sailing with – forever.

She remembers thinking, “That’s what it is. When you find someone who lets you do what you want to do and doesn’t pull on you or pressure you or make you feel guilty. That’s the feeling you should have.”

After that, everything changed.

“It was like this veil had been pulled away, and I was seeing him for who he was and what that could mean to me,” Amy says. “It really scared me. I didn’t see any end with him. It was really hard for me to meet the person I was going to marry when I was 20. I was always the last in my group of friends who wanted to get married. I really didn’t think it was possible to meet that person so young. It was a big leap of faith.”

Not for Randy.

“I had girlfriends, but it always tended to be more long-term,” he admits. “Dating is not a casual thing to me. Maybe I didn’t have marriage in mind that early, but I knew that we were right for each other.”

Amy felt the same.

“My parents are still married, and my mom’s siblings are all still married to their original partners,” she says. “I also had a very protective brother who was always honest with me about how guys viewed girls, and why it was better to be the girlfriend. I didn’t have any interest in being ‘that girl’ to someone.”

What Amy and Randy Have Learned About Love

Amy: Randy and I had rich, fulfilling personal relationships, so we weren’t seeking out someone to fulfill that part of us. Someone else was just an enhancement of who we already were.

Love is so much more selfless than I ever knew. It really is about choosing what’s best for that other person. Not putting your needs aside, but really honing in on your partner and discovering what they need. We do these camping trips. When we first got together, I wanted us to carry equal weight. But look at our size difference. Randy would nonchalantly start setting up camp and make dinner while I just sat there. He knew how to take care of me and still make me feel like it was a partnership.

It’s so much more fun than I ever thought it would be. Every single day I have fun with Randy. And I laugh. I have so much respect for him and who he is as a person. He comes to life with such integrity and honesty, and it really encourages me to bring those same qualities to my life.

Randy: I get fulfillment out of having that person in my life to care for. It’s not anything I wouldn’t want to be doing. It’s my chance to give something back, and give more to the relationship.

Amy: We can be honest with one another, and talk through situations. We’ve always had an easy relationship. In ten years, I can honestly say we’ve never yelled at each other. Neither of us like drama. We don’t feel like to have a passion-filled relationship we need to be fighting. But we’ve had a lot of different challenges and had to figure out how to navigate them together. Parents who were ill, changes in jobs, all those life situations.

We try to cultivate a spirit of gratitude for what we have. I feel more fortunate today than I did yesterday, or a year before, to have the gift of each other in our lives. It helps me not to take it for granted. When you start to do that, then you lose. Relationships are work, but they can be so much fun if you put the right amount of work into it.

Randy: It doesn’t feel like work. I’m happy being a part of this with Amy.