If you're looking for love in Portland, you might meet someone in a bar while watching the 2001 World Series, like Tina and Aaron Wermerskirchen, or while responding to your first online personal ad, like Kirstin and Tom Pinit.
In your search for a partner, you might hurt your friends, ex-lovers, and even each otheras happened with Kristie and Joe Oligschlaeger, who had to break up before they could get together again. You might, like Melissa and Joe Synan, find yourselves involved in a new relationship before an old one was completely finished. You might keep looking for your newest love for a long time, well past your 80th birthday, just like Bill Lohrie.
Or like me, you might be dumped--twice by the same person--before jump-starting your romance.
Way back in January 2003, when we first launched the Hitched column, we wanted to celebrate all kinds of love stories, not just the paid ads accepted by The Oregonian's Celebrations page.
Nearly every week since, this paper has printed the story of one couple's courtship. We pestered happy brides with annoying questions about grooming habits (and heard about farting contests) and their ex-boyfriends (just the ones who attended the wedding).
When Multnomah County Commissioners decided to start issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on March 3, we were there with pen and paper, helping to record history. We talked to couples like Don Horn and Jeff Heine, together 19 years, and also Kara Bertsch and Christine Pearson, together less than three.
And one week we wrote an an unhitching story, the tale of Jay Horton and Janet Baker, who knew their marriage was over just a month after it began.
Over the past year, after interviewing more than 60 couples--gay and straight--this is what we've learned: There are no traditional couples, only more or less honest ones.
Some couples have no trouble talking about how soon they had sex, or what triggered their biggest fights. Others preferred to gloss over the bad stuff, and stick with the basics of the good stuff: the flawless first date, the smoothest wedding in the history of weddings, the happily-ever-after version of events.
Sometimes we just had to say it: Yeah, right.
After writing more than 60 stories about true love, this is the final Hitched column. We're ending the column, not because all the stories are starting to sound the same (although some certainly are), but the time seems right to move on.
Besides, like everybody else, I've got my own story.
On a fishing trip to Hagg Lake this spring, my boyfriend proposed. If someone were interviewing me, I could relate the details of our story: six years, two dumpings, and a move from an old state, California, to a new state, Oregon, without housing or employment.
The platinum ring came in a little blue box from Tiffany's, and I said, "Yes," and then, "of course."
We celebrated our engagement with turkey jerky and Girl Scout cookies, toasting the day with cheap beer. Maybe that wouldn't sound like a romantic proposal to someone else, but this was, after all, the same red-haired boy who was wearing a fake moustache the first time we met, back in 1997.
The story of our relationship is unique only in the details, the ways in which we've learned to come together as a couple, like the way we make dinner by combining ingredients we both like--beets stirred with macaroni and cheese--into something new. Something that works for us.
If I were telling the story to someone else, I wonder what details might seem important. All I know is in the everydayness of my relationship, our story isn't so much the bold truth, but it is ours. We're stepping forward--the wedding is planned for next summer--without quite knowing what's coming next.
Just another everyday story about getting hitched.