Counting years, days, moments in Feb.

The past five days have marked a series of anniversaries for my husband and me dating back 10 years. Our first date anniversary was Feb. 21, our engagement anniversary was Feb. 23 and our wedding anniversary was Feb. 25. Mind you, those dates are spread over a course of four years and not just five days.

Tim and I met in college in November 2002 — but at separate institutions in separate states. We were both involved in residence hall government and met while attending a residence hall conference at the University of Northern Iowa.

After meeting the first night, we spent the next 36 hours together hanging out whenever we could. Sunday morning before my group left to return to Creighton University, Tim slipped an old receipt into my hand with his email address on it.

At the time, I was half asleep because it was early in the morning, and I didn’t think much about it.

A few days later, I came across the slip of paper, put his email into my MSN Instant Messenger — yeah, I’m that old — and started a conversation with him.

For the next month, he and I would talk via the computer most nights about what we had done that day, our interests and about whatever else came to mind.

About a month after we started talking, Tim revealed to me that he liked me — not just as a friend but as something more. I literally fell off my chair, leaving my roommate confused and amused.

Through a series of incidents, Tim and I weren’t able to meet face-to-face again until the weekend of Feb. 21, 2003, when he was finally able to drive from Kansas City, Mo., to Omaha for a visit.

As the relationship blossomed, Tim and I continued to spend our evenings talking through emails, MSN conversations and phone calls, leaving the date nights and make-out sessions to our friends who could see their significant others more than once a month.

By the time our one-year anniversary came around, I was ready for Tim to pop the question. As Tim and I visited some of our favorite Omaha hot spots that weekend, including the Henry Doorly Zoo and Grisanti’s restaurant, I waited for him to get down on one knee. But it never happened.

On Monday morning, I went to class sulking a bit. After class, Tim joined me as we walked to campus for lunch.

It was the middle of February and the fountain in front of St. John’s Church was shut off for the winter, yet my crazy boyfriend wanted to go look at it.

We walked to the fountain and stood close. Then he pulled a black box from his pocket and whispered, “Will you marry me?”

I was in a state of shock and grinning ear to ear as other students bustled by. Once I had that ring on my finger, I remember showing it to anyone and everyone I could; I was so proud to be engaged to such a wonderful man.

That was the second semester of my senior year of college, and I knew I couldn’t finish my college career, find a job and plan a wedding all at the same time.

So Tim and I agreed we would wait until the time was right. We had found each other, so we knew we didn’t have to be in a hurry to get married.

We both wanted a winter wedding, so looking at the calendar, we picked Feb. 25.

And so our crazy anniversary schedule of three anniversaries in the span of five days came to be.

Seven years after our wedding, we don’t celebrate all those anniversaries with the grandeur that we have in the past. It’s been a few years since we visited the zoo, and there aren’t many fancy dinners or exchanges of extravagant gifts every February. But we don’t mind.

While there are no more instant message chats or email swaps, the text messages and phone calls exchanged as we’re passing between our work schedules take me back to the early days of our relationship.

And when we’re together, we appreciate those conversations at supper or murmurs of our dreams as we drift off to sleep.

Those are the moments that mean more to us than anything — even 10 years later.

Shay Burk

Veteran Tribune reporter Shay Burk writes whatever is swirling around her mind each week. Read her columns on Tuesdays for her humorous thoughts on everyday life.

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