51. I expected to share my first college dorm room with another student, but I sent in my registration form too late and was put in a single on the hall of misfit frosh.
52. I wore a sterling silver crucifix around my neck the day my parents dropped me off in Virginia. I’ve been told I struck my hallmates as quiet and demure, but that was mostly because my mother did all the talking.
53. I secured a date with a cadet from the Virginia Military Institute on my second day at school.
54. There was a Lost Boys poster on my wall and a bottle of Jim Beam on my dresser.
55. My closest friends that year were from southwest Virginia, upstate New York, and Maine. Only one remains in touch.
56. I met my future husband via the Member Directory search function of America On-Line during the fall of my sophomore year. I was supposed to be studying for mid-terms. Sending random Instant Messages to remote frat boys proved more productive.
57. We met in person the following spring. Up until that point, I hadn’t even seen a photo of him, though he’d seen mine. It didn’t matter. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
58. I wasn’t.
59. We dated casually for the next two years.
60. My next batch of close college friends were keepers. We’re the same way—each of us as crazy as the other, each as crazy as we ever were—to this day.
61. My college summers revolved around the 3-11 p.m. shift at the snack shack where I’d been employed since high school.
62. After work, I'd go home to my parent's place and put on jogging clothes to run four dark miles.
63. Each jogging session was accompanied by the mixed tape made by my one remaining freshman friend. I remember the songs to this day: Shelter From the Storm by Dylan, Wannabe by the Spice Girls, Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac.
64. Then I'd come home, eat a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, and chat online with The Partner-to-be until 4 in the morning.
65. While maintaining one casual, long distance relationship, I started dating a VMI cadet back at college.
66. At the end of our junior year, we traveled cross country to his home in Washington. His truck had a manual transmission which I learned to operate respectably, if not well.
67. His mother drank a nightly Manhattan on the patio beneath a sun that set so slowly it seemed to brighten midnight.
68. When the cadet finally decided I needed to choose between him and The Partner, it was a no-brainer.
69. I think I miss his mother the most.
70. It wasn’t until the morning of graduation that I learned I had not earned the concentration in creative writing I anticipated in conjunction with my English Literature major. I was one class short. Luckily, my second degree in Communication Studies remained unscathed.
71. My graduation gift from The Partner was a smaller, personalized version of the monogrammed ID bracelet he wore every day.
72. When my first job as a certified professional landed me near The Partner’s hometown, I told everyone that I wasn’t following him. It was partly true, inasmuch as he wasn’t living there at the time--he was finishing up college in New York. Still, I had reason to hope he’d move back.
73. He didn’t.
74. He first told me loved me in a drunken stupor on his 22nd birthday, right before he pulled down my pants in a forced moon on the overtime cop working the bar across the street.
75. I arrived early at work one remarkably blue-skied morning. It was the last time I’d have no context for the statement I overheard on the other side of my cube: “A plane flew into the World Trade Center.” What? My eyebrows crunched in confusion; my fingers tapped CNN.com into existence on the screen of my Mac. What?