Our Story, and how stories are made

My wife Amy is an author-freelance writer-personal trainer-mother-all around fantastic human. This post was written by her. Enjoy! 

AMY, on writing a love story:

I’ve told our story in many ways, including a handwritten serial version that hung by lighted rope, on clips, at our wedding. But trying to tell our story as I do for couples whose weddings Joe photographs is something different; I can look at Amy the wife through the lens of Amy the writer, and fit the story into a more typical structure. This way is limiting, of course, in the sense that I can only begin to understand a relationship when meeting a couple for the first time, but also because a story like this has to have a certain snap, a climax and a denouement, whereas real life is messy. In this version of our story, I won’t write about the really hard days, because I wouldn’t tell them to an interviewer. Likewise, I won’t tell the best moments, either, but back them down a notch to leave the best in my heart. Also, the piece needs to wrap up before the other stories of life together begin, because this is a “How We Met” piece and we can’t slough through day-to-day worries; this is not the place.

Putting myself through this same process makes me see that our clients probably hold back, too, and necessarily so; even still, as I’ve learned by conducting hundreds of interviews and writing just as many stories, a picture emerges, which is an appropriate metaphor for what we do at average joe and amy.

Disclaimer: I hire an editor to read the stories I write for clients, but she didn’t read this one. Any mistake serves to enhance the spirit of the experiment, I hope.


Each afternoon, when high school let out, Joe and Amy would happen to meet at a particular corner, appear slightly surprised to find each other, and continue in the same direction, together. Amy saved her best stories from the day for the walk home, as making Joe laugh was a pleasure that was easily earned and felt like a gift. She wondered if this quiet, athletic boy could ever like a skinny, awkward girl such as herself, even as Joe watched her intently, memorized her laugh, and marveled that she didn’t fall over (“She walked like a baby deer,” he would say, years later).

Some days Joe would need to stop at the accounting firm where he helped out; although nothing was said, Amy would wait until he appeared again, and they’d continue walking to another corner that marked a midway point on the two blocks between their houses, and go their separate ways.

They’d come to talk about those two blocks thirty years later, usually while staring at the ceiling right before sleep took over. Why, fate? Why did decades have to go by when these two felt what many have known and which many a love song has tried to describe, way back when they were kids?

Joe would go off to college and write Amy letter after letter. Amy went off to college and he’d visit, and they’d go on a date here and there. There were nights spent together but there were also angry phone calls, probably due to the frustration that had been building; to the outsider, they were meant to be together–they were a couple–but each was afraid in their own way of this comfortable intensity, an almost chemical reaction, and this became intolerable.

Joe made a final overture one holiday while he was back home from college; he walked the two blocks and asked after Amy. Her mother answered the door and let him know that she was engaged. He went home and burned all of their letters. Meanwhile, in the time of the early internet, she looked him up and found evidence that someone of his name and age had died. This didn’t feel right or likely, but she accepted that finding and buried her feelings for the boy.

(He was still a boy, please note, and she was very much a girl. Thinking back on this now, with sons around this age, they marvel at what they felt and knew, and encourage these boys to follow their instincts in a way their parents couldn’t.)

Both would marry others and remain apart for twenty some years. Social media had its advent during this time, and Joe and Amy found each other there. Amy noticed that where she’d usually feel sentimental finding random old flames online, an anger swelled when she found Joe. She felt he had never been honest with his feelings. Later, he would agree, but she would also come to see that she wasn’t exactly forthright back in those days, either.

Joe photographed Amy’s sons one summer, and they couldn’t figure out how to talk to each other at their first meeting after twenty years. It ended abruptly.

Meanwhile, their marriages were falling apart. After the break ups, Joe and Amy met again in an Applebee’s. Amy talked and talked. Joe listened and memorized her laugh. They had their second first kiss and, before 24 hours had passed, said those three words that had been long delayed. It was if suddenly, everything they thought should have happened a long time ago was absolutely, perfectly right, right now.

Each morning, each day, they are as surprised to find each other nearby as they were on that corner every day after school. They still write love letters. All of it still feels very much like a gift.

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