“And I took the path less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” -Robert Frost Some people are constantly searching for the fairy tale story, something that directed two people into unstoppable inertia towards each other of which no force could intercept them. This is not that story, nothing that ordinary would feel right about how Charlie and Amanda met and are where they are today. As full-time athletes and students (Charlie was more a full-time athlete and occasional student) at THE Portland State University, they met as anyone does: in running attire waist-deep in a 45-degree ice bath. Amanda had been tricked by Charlie and decided that he was “cool”, while Charlie was freezing and was saying anything he could to come across as “witty” or “intelligent”. From here on, the two of them would spend more time together as teammates and friends. After laughter, late nights, and so many conversations that more are lost than remembered, a bond was formed that became special and important to them both. Charlie spared Amanda’s son Ezek from an early death in a near-track spike accident, which made saving Amanda’s life in a swift river years later seem like he saved an entire family; he still pats himself on the back to this day. Amanda, after demolishing her undergraduate studies while young Ezek hung on her like a monkey, decided to become the indentured servant Graduate Assistant for the Portland State Track and Field teams. This provided two things: Amanda cutting school costs down by doing essentially nothing; and Charlie getting out of study hall to work chat in her office. These were some of the best of times for the both of them. But as they say, all good things come to an end, and they both left PSU. Amanda moved back to her native Tacoma with her son, and Charlie stayed in Portland. Their paths crossed in the ways two good friends who don’t live close do… camping trips, parties, weddings, and the like. In a plot twist to this story, Amanda insisted Charlie date someone they both went on a camping trip with (He did). Most important to the both of them is, spoiler alert, they share the same birthday. Many years spent in each other's company on their birthdays, has been and is a source of connection…albeit strange. Amanda got married (Charlie even gave a toast at her wedding… you just can’t make this stuff up); Charlie started a brewery…things got a little cold for a while, but they still kept in touch when possible. Birthdays still being an annual tradition, one fateful year Charlie and Amanda drifted towards becoming partners without knowing it yet. Charlie was in a relationship that Amanda describes as “showing her how much he can love”, and Charlie initiated a candid conversation with Amanda about the status of marriage and well-being. The two continued on their respective paths from there, both with less due to the pressures of their lives, but all the while, their paths were secretly beginning a course toward collision.
Their relationships ended, and both walked about a little worse for the wear. Because life isn’t strange enough, in a crazy game of Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon they were reconnected again by Charlie’s brother Bob, who had dated and married Amanda's best friend Kelly (Kelly was also a friend of Charlie’s in college via another close friend of Amanda, but you get the picture). So now enter the Bob portion of the story, where he became close with Amanda via Kelly and was there for Amanda while she was going through a difficult time... and years later has the audacity to have a birthday party… Bowling… they went bowling…Neither bowled well, nor did they exactly expect to, but they started to talk (which, remind you, isn’t particularly unusual) but with a new dimension of connection. The night came and went, they spent hours talking and a spark formed. They talked more, visited each other on weekends, and started what is now our budding relationship and soon-to-be marriage. Their paths have come together and have become one. We end as we began, which is to say with someone else saying it better than we ever could. Thank you, Rober Frost, take us home: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.