I remember seeing Kurt for the very first time. I was standing at the customer service desk at Best Buy in Davenport, Iowa. Kurt was walking toward our group, we were all trainees. It was August of 2003.
When I saw him, I knew. I didn’t get hit with love, lust, or stardust, but something in me knew that this man would change my life. I smiled at him. He glanced at me and looked over the group, and smiled at all of us. He continued walking past, a quick pace. He was wearing a light blue shirt. I melted.
It would be another week before I would see him again and another week before our first shift together. I enjoyed working with him. He was an amazing boss! I was busy with school, and I had the job solely to pay for makeup (even at 19 I only used Lancome) and magazines, but even while I was busy dating and socializing I kept my eye on Kurt.
I knew Kurt had a girlfriend. I also knew he never really talked about her. A few months passed and rumors circulated that he and the woman had parted and he was single! WOOHOO! No, I didn’t plan on making a move on him- in my mind he was pretty far out of my league. A local celebrity – he had been “Kurt Michaels” from the radio station B100, and he was soon dating one of the Fox nightly news anchorwomen. Oh well, I could still gaze!
Around this time I dated a lot myself. I was even proposed to a time or two… or three. I forget. Time seemed to stand still back then.
Kurt will tell you he doesn’t remember flirting with me. He may not remember it, but he did! To this day he has an aged piece of red paper with his messy handwriting asking, “Wanna make-out with me?” along with “yes” and “no” boxes below. Upon examination you would find my small X mark inside the “yes” box, followed by the comment, “meet me at the flagpole.”
It was with innocent flirtation and fun conversation that we really started to get to know one another. The girls at work all knew I liked Kurt, and I am pretty sure he knew too. I remember one of the HP reps coming to me and asking if Kurt was single… I lied and told her he was in a VERY serious relationship. Once I answered the phones at work to find a woman on the line asking for Kurt. I cheerfully asked if it was a business or personal call. She responded, “Personal,” in a seductive tone. Kurt walked past me at exactly that moment, and I smiled and told the woman he wasn’t in the store.
We would have many other encounters, ranging from me annoying him by grabbing for objects in 3D movies (his pet peeve, try it sometime!), him saving me Pirates of the Caribbean posters, and him even buying me celebratory drinks one night, but there was never anything deep about our encounters… then… I decided to move.
My parents had sold their home and were moving away. I was sick of school and wanted to transfer. I cashed out and took a promotion and transfer to Salt Lake City.
On the night of my going away party, one of my friends invited Kurt. Kurt came, but complained about wearing his work clothes. I was sad and I figured it was a ploy to leave. He handed me a one hundred dollar bill as collateral for his return, lol! He came back =). That night we flirted, talked, and spent time together. That night changed everything.
The next day was my moving day and I was going to meet my friend, Erin, for lunch. I was on my way to see her when I was sandwiched in a hit-and-run accident. My moving was delayed. Kurt called me that evening and asked me to come over, he offered me “some TLC.” I drove my brother’s car to his house (thanks, Bri!) and we stayed up and talked the entire night. I didn’t want to leave.
We had children.
And somewhere along the line everything changed. Everything got ugly, and horrible. He hated me and I couldn’t stand him. It was a nightmare.
For years we tolerated one another only so I could stay home. We knew that having me home with the kids was the best thing for them, but our anger with one another was so thick that Kurt ended up moving into his office. When Kurt’s position was eliminated, I left him and went back to school. I was done.
A funny thing happens when the world crashes down… there is nowhere to go but up.
For years Kurt had criticized me. He belittled my job as a homemaker and mother. He nit-picked every meal I made. He ignored me, he disregarded me, and he was so cruel. It hurt. It hurt a lot.
I worked hard. I worked harder back then than I EVER do now- and as a full-time premed student, lab assistant, advisory committee chairman, club president, African traveler, Sunday School teacher, guild master (WOOT), TA, hospice volunteer, and mother of 2 I can honestly say that my WORST day as a student doesn’t even compare with the work I did as a full time mother… by FAR. So yes, it was very difficult to have my husband – the love of my life- come waltzing in our clean house, hours later than he said he would be home (he was busy at a Jazz game…) to tell me my dinner was too salty (I don’t add salt!) and to throw his tie on the ground (of course, I would pick it up) and tell me there wouldn’t be a point to telling me about his day, because I couldn’t possibly understand it (apparently full time mothers lose large parts of their brains when they have children…) and he didn’t feel like hearing me talk because he didn’t want me to complain about my day (he actually told me, “You don’t work!”)
Yeah… so I left. I left and I didn’t even THINK about going back. Why would I? What sane woman would WANT to live like that? Yeah, when he had his job I could afford to try and buy fun things and I got to stay home with my kids- but when that was all gone… why stay? … so I left.
When I started school Kurt was freaked. He was REALLY freaked. He knew I could do it, but I don’t think he thought I would. And when I did… it was bad. Our relationship got worse and worse. I was surrounded by people who WANTED to talk to me, who WANTED to learn things that I was interested in, and who actually cared about what I thought about things. It was like being high. Grades were amazing- I did hard work and I got a shiny little A! YAY! I never got a good grade for keeping a clean house, or for spending 4 hours sitting on a bathroom floor potty training a kid, or even for the hundreds of hours of ironing I did for my husband- but NOW I GOT As! I loved it. I felt validated as a person! I felt alive!
Kurt hated it. He got madder. He found that keeping up with 2 kids (under 4 years old) was not as easy as he thought. He found that laundry didn’t magically do itself. He found that bathrooms get REALLY gross if they aren’t cleaned often. He found that magical fairies were not the ones that did the grocery shopping and the menu planning… or even *gasp* the cooking.
Kurt realized what he had done. He was sorry.
A friend of ours, Jennifer, suggested we watch a film called Fireproof. She is a wonderful friend, so I Netflixed the movie just because she asked me to- I really didn’t want to see it. Kurt watched it… a few times. He tried to get me to watch it. I didn’t want to, and when I did finally see it, I didn’t pay very close attention. I was too busy with my shiny new life of As, curled hair, and clothes that weren’t covered in boogies and cookie dough. Kurt worked hard. He worked harder than ever- not at work, but at home. I ignored him. I was awful. He would ask me on dates, send me cute texts, write me love notes, bring me gifts and I ignored him. I was HORRIBLE!
Our relationship went on like this. It was a struggle. It was terrible. But… it was improving… little by little… bit by bit. We went from being harsh and cruel to being civil. From civil to friendly. From friendly to caring.
When the opportunity arose for me to go to East Africa Kurt insisted I take it. It had been a lifelong dream of mine and we couldn’t say no. Everything fell into place for that trip- my parents took the kids, I got a scholarship which paid for the program, and everything worked out.
When I got to Africa, everything changed. I missed Kurt terribly. I could hear him everywhere. I kept a journal, but it ended up being one gigantically long book written to Kurt. The time I spent there made me rethink about my life.
We had both screwed up. We had both really hurt one another. We had both learned. We both knew we had changed. So what happens now? Can you really forgive someone for ripping your heart from your chest, covering it with paper cuts, and throwing it into the Great Salt Lake? (That’s how it felt at times). Can you really forgive hours and hours and hours of tears? Can you forgive hurtful and horrible words? Can you forgive agony caused by your eternal companion? … we did.
Are things amazing? Yes. Are they consistent? Yes. Are we in love? Yes.
Right now my brother and his wife are intending to end their marriage. Right now a very dear friend of mine and her husband just separated. These things remind Kurt and me of what it was like when we were there. It was years….Y E A R S that we struggled to be together… but we did it…. And now… now it is like we are on the top of a mountain, looking down at the epic long and steep hike we just accomplished, and we feel good.
I write this because I want to give hope. Hope that things will get better. Our circumstance, like everyone’s, was unique- but the sad feelings of loss, betrayal, and hopelessness were very real and like a nightmare, and those seem universal to couples in our past situation. We first started having very serious relationship problems over 4 years ago… it took that long for us to cut through the smoke and reach the fire, deal with it, and put it out. I am so grateful that we did! I am so thankful for my husband, and for his determination to keep our family together. I am so grateful for my children for giving me a wonderful reason to stay when things weren’t as wonderful as I would have liked. I am so thankful for the Church, and all the resources, support, and guidance it provides. I am SO THANKFUL that for the past FOUR YEARS there was always one of us who was willing to work like crazy to keep us together!
In March of 2004 I took Kurt to visit the Salt Lake Temple. We sat on the bench outside, looking at that magnificent building, and it was there that Kurt knew he wanted me to be his wife. It was in a temple that we made covenants that would make us a family forever, and it is in our hearts that we knew we could never really be apart.
Yes… the world often offers shiny alternatives. But in the end, nothing feels as good as home.
I love you, Kurt.
*Taken from Mellissa's Facebook Notes July 29, 2010