In the spring of 1950, Richard Christensen umpired baseball games for fun. At one such game, Swany Staurland sat in the stands watching her brother, Harold, play. She “looked pretty nice” according to Richard, so after some light digging, he found out her name and where she lived. See, back in the ‘50s you could do that sort of thing without it being strange. It was so normal, in fact, that when he showed up to her door unannounced, both she and her parents agreed that this date was a good idea.
Richard and Swany are my grandparents. The story of this first date and what happened in the 67 years after was shared with me recently.
I interviewed my grandparents on August 27, 2017 to learn more about how they met each other, the story of how they started dating, and how they decided they should get married. Below is the transcript of this interview.
Here is the audio of the interview, too (please excuse my ditzy moments)
My best friend is a wife and a mother of three beautiful children. She lives in a giant, beautiful, old home in the historic district of Oak Park. They have a full-time nanny, a backyard, and loads of friends who also have nannies and backyards.
I love her children as if they were my niece and nephews. We play trains together, put together puzzles, and read books. We discuss their school days and I show them on the map where I’m traveling next.
While being auntie is great and I enjoy being able to “give them back” when they’re crying, snotting, or have a dirty nappy, I want more than just being AA (their nickname for Aunt Ashley). I, too, want to be a wife, mother, and owner of a home with a backyard. And while I love being an auntie who can do whatever I want when I want, including multiple vacations a year, date nights by myself to the movies, and trying out new dance classes that start at obscenely late hours (8:30?!), I fear this isn’t going to be enough for the rest of my life.
The literal female human heart weighs only 8 ounces, a mere .3% of the average female’s body weight. The figurative heart, though, makes up a much larger percentage of a female.
When I think about my life and the things I love most, my figurative heart is nearly full of contentment, happiness, and pride. I’d say my happiness level is at a steady 90%. With work, hobbies, volunteering, teaching yoga, and seeing family + friends, my general daily life is pretty darn great. And while I’d love to focus on these positives – hell, 90% is fantastic – I regularly lament that 10%.
Until only recently did I think that void could be filled solely with a loving partner and a family. Actually, it wasn’t until I started to formulate my ideas for this blog post that I fully realized I’ve previously filled that 10% and even brimmed over it on many, many occasions. Sometimes these moments are fleeting, including my “I love Hong Kong moments” and my “I love Chicago moments“, and sometimes they’re longer: when I’ve been in love and when I’m traveling. Also, now that I’m back from Hong Kong, whenever I see my friends from there, watch videos, or read articles about it, I am teeming with an overflowing love and gratitude for my years there.
On July 2, 2016, my cousin, Caitlyn, married her best friend, Mike. I had the honor of being the maid of honor; below is the speech I wrote. It’s also the first in a series of love stories I’d like to transcribe.
I have known Caitlyn her entire life. I remember seeing her open her eyes in her first days of life. We’ve taken vacations together, sobbed in each other’s arms after our grandmother passed away last year, drank too much cheap beer at each other’s colleges, made hundreds of dozens of Christmas cookies in my mom’s kitchen, and played fake instruments with my brother for a made-up band on multiple occasions.
Quite a while ago, I had this idea to write couples’ love stories – their stories of meeting and falling in love. I wanted to write stories about couples who had a strong bond, a solid relationship, and were still truly in love. When my cousin Caitlyn asked me to be her maid of honor, I knew that their love story would be my first. I emailed each of them separately and secretly, asking them a multitude of questions about their relationship. Today, I present to you, the love story of Caitlyn and Mike:
On my first-ever 15-hour plane ride to Asia, I met my first soulmate. Like a slow motion scene in a movie, I turned around in my tiny seat and saw him, my heart beating fast. “Who is THAT?” I sputtered to my seat mate. It sounds crazy, but when I saw him it was like time stood still. I knew that I was meant to be with him. There was this spark with a man I had never met before. I’d only just found out his name 10 seconds after gazing upon his face. He was my soulmate.
At the time, I thought he was my one and only soulmate. We dated for two years before it came crashing down in true we-just-got-out-of-college-and-don’t-know-how-to-date-in-the-real-world fashion. But that first feeling was real.
Soulmate: a person with whom one has a strong affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond. (dictionary.com)