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Mark Marianelli

In 2008, I was in a bit of a low. My job was going poorly, I was lonely and I was surrounded by people finding happiness with the ones they loved. Which I imagine is typical of someone my age trying to make the transition from college life to real life.

By the end of the summer, I had made a few attempts to make something happen with a girl who quite frankly wasn't interested, having been shot down pretty hard. Shortly after, I got reprimanded at my job for a number of things which can be chalked up to both corporate BS and my own inexperience. One of the evenings following these two occurrences, I was on my way out to "deal with my problems" when I ran into my best friend (whom I was living with at the time), he walked in with his girlfriend and announced they had just gotten engaged. While I was happy for the two of them, my heart sunk. I gave them hugs and congrats and proceeded to go out, not able to stand to be around another human's joy.

It's all a little emo, and I apologize, even now as I read this I just want to slap myself in the face for the woe is me attitude.

That autumn I caved and made an eHarmony account. My brother had found his wife that way, so I figured hey, why not browse a little. At the time, online dating wasn't as common a means of finding love as it is now and I was embarrassed to be using it. In my mind it was like giving up; I played the game, I got my butt kicked, time to find someone online.
But if there's one lesson life has taught me up to this point, it's that sometimes giving up is the only way to move on. I came across a beautiful woman named Rachael on eHarmony, we briefly communicated through the site until one day I managed to sneak my email into a photo and she wrote me. This was her email:

am i skipping ahead? wanna just chat here?

From there we wrote paragraphs upon paragraphs of emails back and forth to each other. The end result was our first date in Portland, ME. We had an awkward lunch together, mainly me asking the same question over and over and her not hearing me because I was too shy to talk loud enough. I'd nervously take sips of my drink until I was taking sips out of an empty glass to distract myself from being too neurotic and thankfully she never called me out on it. Finally we left the formalities of lunch small talk and took a walk by the water where the conversations got much more interesting and laid back. We talked about which celebrities we'd like to see dead and I managed to break the ice by muttering the word "penis" into our conversation (totally wasn't my plan, but it seemed to do the trick and murder whatever first date etiquette we were expected to follow, which in turn lightened the mood tremendously). Soon after we sat on a bench and continued to talk about ourselves and our backgrounds. I mentioned my Dad was Italian and she got the impression he was straight off the boat Italian and proceeded to imitate what he probably sounds like, which cracked me up for a solid two minutes... Right up until she finished her coffee and, not thinking, threw the cup on the ground like she hated nature... Which only resulted in more laughter. I had pretty much made up my mind that I was crazy about this girl.

Soon our first date ended and we went our separate ways. She said she'd text me later about a movie she was seeing with her friend. I remember coming home that night and sitting anxiously in my chair looking at my phone while my roommates watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. The combination of waiting to hear from her and being forced to endure that travesty of a film made my skin crawl. I was in Purgatory.

She eventually texted and the movie eventually ended. There's really not a whole lot to that part of the story.

Rather than bore you with the next 4 1/2 years of our relationship I'll just cut to the chase. I married that girl on April 9th, 2011, two years ago this day. She's at home right now taking care of our first child, a 3 1/2 month old boy named Milo who is my pride, joy and everything in between. I don't sit around being miserable anymore, I don't snarl at other people's happiness and I was confident enough to land a job that not only appreciates me, but gave me the opportunity I needed to stop being an amateur fresh-out-of-college screw up. I'm sure I'm leaving out a lot of details about how I got from then to now, but I'll sum it up with this: I've got a good woman.

This anniversary isn't about, "Yay another year of successful marriage!", it's about celebrating the next 50+ years with the woman who changed everything. A woman who gave me my confidence, who killed my lonely depression, who stayed by my side through unemployment, bad days, family disputes, neurotic behavior and God knows how many problems my bizarre personality has brought about.

Rach, I owe you everything. This anniversary is a celebration of YOU. You've been the glue to our relationship and you're the backbone of our family. You're the one constant in our son's life and it's no wonder he glows whenever you walk in the room... You define a real woman and I am so grateful to be celebrating another year of life with you.

I love you, Rach. Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.
~ M.