I met my husband, Thomas Gregg, at UMBC in December 2002, when I was a graduate student and he was an undergrad. He had recently re-located to Maryland and UMBC from Illinois after finishing his military service with the US Army. I had come to UMBC after having finished my Peace Corps service in Lithuania, to join the UMBC Shriver Center Peaceworker Program. We met in front of the Math/Psychology building one afternoon, when we were introduced by our mutual friend and UMBC student, Sean Mullin. Thomas and I stood outside in the December cold and flurries for 2 hours talking, and hugged goodbye. We hit it off, based on a shared love of science fiction, comic books and travelling, and the fact that we were both from Illinois. I found out that he had a final exam a few days later, and made sure that I happened to be walking by his exam room, where we met again and planned a date. With the end of the semester approaching, we went our separate ways, he to visit family in New York, and me to visit family in Illinois. Thomas received a 500 minute phone card from him parents for a holiday gift, so he could stay in touch with them, but we spent all his minutes talking on the phone during the January break. He picked me up from the airport upon my return, and I jumped into his arms!
We dated for a year, moved in together in Baltimore, and come the anniversary of our meeting in front of Math/Psychology, Thomas lured me outside for a walk, knelt down in the cold December rain and took off his jacket and shirt to reveal the tattoo he had gotten representing his love for me, and asked me to marry him. I thought about it for a minute (he says it took a lot longer!) and said yes! We celebrated with friends in the Commons, including Sean Mullin and Tessa Baumgardner (Yeah, Ancient Studies!).
Our celebration was cut short, however, when Thomas' National Guard unit was called up to fight in the Iraq war one month later. While we had planned for a wedding in the next fall, Thomas came to the Public Policy Building where I was working as a graduate assistant to the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program, and told me that he was going to be gone for 2 years, and did I want to get married now. Of course, I said yes! We planned to get married at the courthouse quickly, but when our Shriver Center Peace Worker community of friends heard what was going on, they quickly found a friend to officiate and arranged a reception. Surrounded by UMBC friends, we got married, and 2 days later Thomas left.
It was a very difficult separation, but I was supported by my UMBC family. When Thomas came home 2 years later, he began finishing his bachelors degree in Ancient Studies, History and Education, and I worked full time with the Sondheim Scholars Program. We were able to have the big wedding and celebration upon Thomas' return, and many of our UMBC faculty and friends attended. About a year later, we added two more people to our family, when our twins, Athena and Freya were born. Thomas took care of them during the day while I worked at UMBC, and we switched off at 4pm so he could go to classes at night. Thomas graduated in 2008, and Athena sat on his lap during his Phi Beta Kappa ceremony. Thomas was hired at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, where he was a UMBC student teacher, as a World History Teacher, and I now work at UMBC's Honors College, and one day, we plan for Athena and Freya to join us as Retrievers, the perfect end to our UMBC love story.