by Kent Sterling
10,000 days ago Julie and I dancing frenetically and repeatedly to side one of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” album at aq party in her Walnut Knolls apartment at Indiana University. 9,990 days ago, I asked her to marry me. She said yes, defying logic, prudence, and reason.
Today seems like as good a day to look back as any at a marriage as strange and silly as it is solid and productive.
Julie Purcell was simply the best person I had met when we danced, and she remains that. Each of the 10,000 days seemed to improve her somehow.
The first night was ridiculous. Not many people dance to “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”, and our performance on that first night is Exhibit A as to why. Fifteen minutes into the marathon, a friend named Freddy pulled me aside. He said, “She’s the one. Don’t fuck this one up.” Freddy was the same guy who three months later maxed out his new JC Penney’s card by buying a VCR that for days that turned into nights played an almost endless run of porn selections from Full-o-Pep Rental. He was prescient in his wisdom that night though.
Out of every 100 couples who meet as we did, certainly 99 fail to remain together. Our ability to overcome those stiff odds is almost entirely due to Julie’s incredible appetite for mayhem and belief that at some point I would wake up and assume the behavior of a functional adult. I get marginal credit for seeing through the haze of immaturity to see Julie as a beacon that can always make me embrace my own humanity.
Where there is love, there is hope. Julie kept telling me that I would find the thing that made me happy, and as I searched for that thing, Julie worked, earned, and paid. Eventually, I stopped looking for my own happiness, and started trying to find it in Julie and our son Ryan. Then, life became easier.
I’ve always listened to people talk about giving their lives over to God, and then enjoying some harmony. To focus making family happy makes more sense. Julie taught me that roughly one-third of the way through these 10,000 days. You’re thinking, people become brain surgeons in less time. You are right, and I’m not a brain surgeon. For some lessons, being a slow learner is good enough if the instructor is willing to wait.
Each and every morning, Julie put me on the short bus to adulthood hoping that when I returned, the all grown up Kent would get off, and they would settle into a normal quiet life. But I wasn’t quiet, and I’m sure as hell not normal.
Julie is a master at humanity. She consistently sees the world as a place that can be more fair for the people she meets. She laughs loudly. She gives generously. And she loves deeply. Her only flaw is a lack of tolerance for my trying to deliver her more quickly by car than she finds necessary.
For 10,000 days, I have had the brains (sometimes barely enough) to understand how lucky I am to have had my belief confirmed by Freddy that Julie is indeed the one.
Through odd nicknames, persistent laughter, and arguments about Julie’s preoccupation with cooking shows, we have shared challenges, nights of madness, and days of dreams. We raised a son who has done nothing but make us proud, and reaffirmed Julie’s wisdom.
Through thick and thin, Julie has always believed that she did the right thing by dancing to Bob Seger for hours with an oddly dressed boob in a black hat. And now we hopefully have another 10,000 days that will be as filled with love as the first 10,000.
No one could have predicted that on January 16, 2012, Julie and I would celebrate a seldom recognized milestone like this. My greatest contribution is in providing a consistently vexing series of challenges for a girl who has always loved them.