Patricia Alban of Centereach recalls when her friendship with her future husband, Manny, turned into a true romance.
Some people fall in love quickly; we fell in love a little at a time.
Manny and I met in 1981 at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens. We were in the same English class, where students were seated in alphabetical order. My maiden name was Aranguren. However, the teacher made a mistake and sat me in the desk in front of Manny. I knew this bothered him a bit and I teased him about my being placed ahead of him. We were both 15. He lived in Maspeth, and I lived in Elmhurst.
We had some other classes together, including a pre-med science lab where we were partners over the next two years. He was thoughtful and paid a lot of attention to me. We once had to prick each other's finger in the lab to practice drawing blood. I remember Manny being so gentle with me. I, on the other hand, just stabbed him in the finger.
We spent a lot of time together at school and became good friends. I could be myself with him. He knew how I was feeling even when I tried not to let it show. He always knew how to make me laugh.
During this time we dated other people, but when Manny did begin asking me out on dates, I'd turn him down because I was afraid it would affect our friendship. He was persistent, though, and would tease me that one day we would get married and have four children, so I might as well agree to go out with him. I'd reply, "In your dreams!"
When we were 17, Manny invited me to his house for his youngest brother's Communion party. There, on May 14, 1983, we kissed for the first time.
We started dating and I began falling in love with him. After graduating from high school, we both attended Hunter College in Manhattan.
On Aug. 5, 1989, almost 6½ years after that first kiss, we were married. And, just as Manny predicted, we have been blessed with four amazing children who make us proud every day. He is chief auditor with the Suffolk County comptroller's office in Hauppauge. I am a registered nurse working in the emergency room at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.
Our families and friends have always been by our side to support us. We recently renewed our vows at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Selden, followed by a family dinner, in celebration of our 25th anniversary.
Throughout this time we have always been true to each other and remain each other's best friend. He still makes me laugh, and we are each other's soul mate. Life has been good to us and we are truly blessed to be living our happily ever after together.