Amanda and I worked at the same shoe store when I was seventeen. We had the same goofy sense of humor. And I knew I loved her right away. But she was so beautiful, and I was on the bigger side. So I didn’t think I’d interest her in that way. But we ended up becoming great friends.
We’d go on nice dates. I’d show her my favorite spots in the city. It was almost like having a girlfriend except that we never kissed. I certainly had my chances. There would be these times when we were close together, and things would get really quiet– but I’d always freeze up. And the longer we remained friends, the harder it became to make a move.
Eventually both of us started dating other people and we began to drift apart. I think there was a jealousy thing involved. Our banter became more targeted. We’d make fun of each other’s partners. And eventually we stopped speaking all together. I ended up marrying my girlfriend and we had a beautiful daughter named Scout.
But things didn’t work out, and two years later we got divorced. Not long afterward I got a random call from Amanda. We talked about our friendship, and what had happened. And I ended up writing this long-winded email about how much I loved her.
We agreed to go to my friend’s wedding together. But this time It was unquestionably a date. We had our first kiss the moment I stepped off the plane. Scout had come with me, and of course I was worried about how they’d get along. But it felt like they’d known each other forever.
The first time we crossed a street, Scout reached for Amanda’s hand instead of mine. It was magical. And a few months later we all moved in together. There wasn’t a ton of money, but things were going well. Amanda was ‘all in’ as a stepmother. And since I was sharing custody, we also had some space to be a new couple.
But then one day I got a call from Scout’s mom. She told me: ‘I’m not coming to pick her up. I can’t do this. I’ll sign the paperwork.’ I walked downstairs like I’d seen a ghost. I was so scared for Scout.
And I was terrified it would be too much for Amanda. But when I gave her the news, she didn’t hesitate for a second. She just gave me a hug, and said: ‘We’re gonna do this.’
When Amanda came back into my life, I tried not to let myself get too excited. Because I knew things were different now. Being in a relationship is hard enough. But being parents is a whole new level of stress—especially for a new couple.
Scout was going through a lot of emotions when her mother left, so it was a lot of work. There were some late nights. And she developed attachment issues, so dropping her off at school was heartbreaking. We had lots of doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments.
On top of everything else we were paying a mortgage, and trying to send Scout to the best preschool we could afford. Then the pandemic hit and I lost my job. I was afraid it would all be too much.
I just kept hoping that the strength of our friendship would carry us through, and the stress of raising Scout wouldn’t divide us. But the opposite happened. It was our love of Scout that brought us together. She’s our glue. Her and Amanda are best friends.
To be honest—it’s a very ‘girls vs boys’ situation in our house. They have all kinds of secrets, including a twenty-minute bedtime routine that I have nothing to do with. They sing a Spanish song. And then they do this ‘dream transfer’ thing where they press their foreheads together.
Sometimes I feel like they both love each other more than me. And I wouldn’t even say it’s bittersweet. It’s just sweet—for my daughter to have found this person who makes her feel so safe, and so complete. I’ve always known I wanted to marry Amanda.
I never had the money for a ring, but we talked about it openly from the very beginning. Her only condition was this: ‘Scout has to be there when you propose.’ Two weeks ago I finally did it. I’d saved up enough for a ring, and I arranged for us to go on a picnic.
That morning we dropped Scout off at my parents’ house—just to throw Amanda off the scent. All our friends and family gathered at the park. I even hired some photographers to capture the moment.
But it wasn’t quite the surprise that I’d hoped for. Because as soon as she saw us coming, Scout came running over with flowers in her hand. She handed them to Amanda, gave her a big hug, and said: ‘Today’s the day, Mom!’
About the author:
This story first appeared on Humans of New York Facebook page and is published here with permission. Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010. Somewhere along the way, the writer/photographer began to interview subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, he includes quotes and short stories from their lives. For more amazing stories and photography buy the book HUMANS by Brandon Stanton.
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