The Timeline of Their Relationship
Major Notes, Milestones, and Minutia
This is a rough description of a) general events that led to us dating and b) our time together. Some of the entries below are added to be cute, but most are in some odd way relevant. This will be the longest page on the website, and might take a few minutes to read through.
There are three types of time statements. The first is specific dates, in which the date is verifiable. The second is "by month", which will just be when I know about the right month, and should actually be given as a +/- a few days (as in, maybe a few days into the next month or a actually a few days back in the previous one). The final type will be a much relative sort of thing ("in the fall of 2002" being a good example).
Some events will have more editorial commentary than others. There is nothing I can do about that, I just feel like talking about some things more than others. Oh, and there is some tense confusion. Ooops.
Getting them Both to UAH in Huntsville
May 30, 1977: Doug is born in/around Evergreen, AL to Charles and Barbara Bolden. He is the fourth of four children, and is a decade younger than his next youngest sibling.
February 24, 1984: Sarah is born to Carl and Donna Ridout in Seattle, WA. She is the first child.
Circa 1986: Carl and Donna move back to Alabama, where they were raised, and Donna starts migrating to a job in Huntsville, AL over the next couple of years. Her and Carl eventually move out to Grant, AL and Donna commutes in to Huntsville.
1995: Doug's initial plans to attend a college around Chicago, IL fall through at the last minute. Doug is forced to scramble for schools, eventually, next spring (1996) going for Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton, AL. This is where he meets a fellow named Jason Tindol.
1997: This is where Jason comes into the picture, because he suggests that Doug goes to UAH along with him. Doug readily agrees.
1998: Doug moves to Huntsville to start attending classes. About this time, Sarah becomes increasingly interested in the space program (after seeing the movie Contact, amongst other influences). She begins to drawn to astrophysics (and, later, chemistry). She wants to be an astronaut, which her family readily embraces.
2000-2001: After a shaky semester in school, compounded by stress from being an R.A and a question of paying for the remainder of his undergraduate career, Doug withdraws from several classes and actually takes a year or so off to get things back in order.
Summer 2002: Doug returns to UAH, fixes many of his grades through an extremely packed summer term, and changes over his focus to a Philosphy degree with a Physics minor. Though he has taken some classes unrequired for the minor, he still has to go and take a class called Frontiers of Science which is for freshman interested in Physics.
Fall Semester, 2002: Sarah begins attending UAH, dual majored in Astrophysics and Chemistry. She signs up for Frontiers in Science being the expected time for her to take this class. Her and Doug end up taking the class at the same time. She sat in front of him and never really talked to him besides occasional group style projects.
Prior to Dating:
The Summer of Hell
Spring Semester, 2003: Doug and Sarah start hanging out together in the Honor's Lounge (which is a room for Honor's students to sit around, talk, study, etc) and sometimes during lunch. They mostly see each other in short, quarter hour bursts, but form a fairly quick binding friendship. Doug actually thinks about asking her out, since a friendly, relaxed date is just what he needs. He finds out she has a boyfriend and so doesn't bother with it.
April 2003: A fight breaks out in Doug's house and two of the roommates (out of 5) are kicked out. Tension is kind of high between one of the roommates (we'll call him D) and Doug, thought most of it is left unspoken. Doug refuses to back D, for which Doug is never quite forgiven. Around this time, Doug and Sarah are actually spending more time together where, in retrospect, there were heavy indications of their compatibility. Sarah mentions that she wants to move out from her parents, citing some increasing issues between her and them and her schoolwork. Doug almost joking asks "Hey, want to fill a roommate spot with us?"
(April 2003 - July 2003) Stage One of the Summer of Hell: The initially joking idea becomes a reality. Sarah makes plans to move in with Doug, D, and Jimmy (the three remaining roommates). This sets off a series of minor and major explosions between Doug and D, Sarah and her parents and Sarah and her current boyfriend. Some of these explosions were completely expected and justified, other aspects were seemingly over the top (up to and including Sarah's parents suggesting she keep a knife under her pillow to fight off the boys (i.e. Doug, D, and Jimmy) if they got too amorous. The fight with her boyfriend makes a lot of sense, and but was too often centered around his claim that she could not stay loyal away from Grant and her parents (her boyfriend later would describe Huntsville as sinful). The fight between Doug and D is partially because he is afraid his pastor father will find out that he has a girl living with him, and partially because D's insistence on banning some of Doug's friends from the house because of sometimes relatively minor incidents with them.
Around this time, Doug meets Sarah's parents and generally gets along with both of them. He meets her sister (at the time, Alicia is 12).
July 2003: A couple of really toxic relationships show up in Doug's life, leading to immense amounts of complication, causing various stages of fights and hurt feelings and weird, almost unintentional conspiracies. This builds up to a peak when one of the relationships (we'll call her A) has a birthday party over at Doug's house that ends up with confused and hurt feelings amongst the roommates and some friends. Sarah moves in a week or so later, stressed out over a lot of her own personal complications. Her stress levels are getting high enough to create a fairly bad emotional backlash, and she starts growing physically sick and tired over it.
By the end of the month, Doug and Sarah are spending a large portion of time together. Their natural friendship, mutual attraction, and shared experiences help to bond them together. They have no intention of dating at this time, though the good amount of time they spend alone lead several to speculate that they were already deeper into a relationship.
August 2003: Doug goes away on a trip to help build a playground for some kids up in Tennessee, and the time away from the house situation helps him a lot. Sarah comes to some terms in her own relationships and things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Early in the month, there are some notable fights between Doug and A that more or less end their relationship for all time. The two of them will talk some more, but never really as friends, again. This is arguably the best thing for Doug.
The events take a turn for the ultimate best but presently worse when Doug and Sarah finally realize the immense amount of attraction they feel for each other. Most of their friends felt that it was bound to happen, and were generally glad for them, while certain people's actions (like A and D and Sarah's parents and boyfriend) were technically exonerated.
The Rocky Beginnings
August 8, 2003 -: The Summer of Hell reaches its second climax (assuming the party back in July was the first) when Sarah breaks up with her boyfriend, and her and Doug start contemplating making a relationship work. The next week, they go out of town and she gets to meet Doug's parents. Things seem calm enough...
- Late September, 2003: ...until a lot of personal dams broke loose. D confronted Doug passive aggressively through his Livejournal, making personal threats and insults and attacking Doug. Sarah's now ex-boyfriend went to her parents and exposed her stress and depression in an attempt to get them to intercede and bring her home. Her parents reacted loudly at first, but kind of dropped down to a quiet dissatisfaction. Absolutely no one believed Doug and Sarah when they said they had no planned it, and so even the supporters seemed to take a stance of "We're behind you, but this was expected".
When Sarah took the innocuous step of getting her hair cut and dyed (hell, she was a college student who wanted a slight image change), many felt the need to step in. A couple of her friends stepped back and stopped talking to her around here.
Increased stress and depression caused Doug to take something of a drastic step. He and Sarah (and Jimmy) decided to move out from the house where D lived. They searched for apartments, found one, confronted D with their decision, and was moved. The whole process took about a week.
Early On In the New Home: To bring the most dramatic Summer of Hell to a close, things started looking up. Doug was finishing up his degree, Sarah was still doing rather well in her classes. Perhaps most importantly, this is the time they found and adopted Cinderella. They started hanging out with people again.
UAH 2003-2004 School Year
+ the Following Summer:
A Series of Life Changes
Over the next school year, Doug starts to question his 1.5 Majors. Sarah starts to get more stressed out over Physics (while excelling in Chemistry). The end result was Doug graduating from UAH with a philosophy degree with notable physics influence but deciding not to pursue it. Sarah drops the Physics and goes straight to Chemistry. This is also a declaration, by her, to stop focusing on her dream of being an astronaut. This decision would be taken poorly by her parents for years, following.
After going through a series of hair shapes and sizes and hair color changes, Sarah migrates back around to her original blond hair. She starts the process of getting a large tattoo of angel wings on her back. She talks to a couple of therapists and a support group about some of her continued problems with her family and her personal feelings about school and the like, and makes great strides towards getting better.
Doug proposes to Sarah one night. He had been thinking about it for some time, but in true Doug fasion just asks the question (sans ring) while they were in bed. This is possibly the most unromantic proposal ever, outside of arranged marriages, and has definitely been downplayed, but in all reality, when Doug looked over at her, he couldn't put it off any longer. He still is working on making this "slight" up to her.
After graduation, Doug's first job is as a glass-ware cleaner and general stock-care with a UAH biological lab. This last only for a few weeks after issues with paying him develop. He moves on to West, working as a customer service representative for Pacificare. This only lasts for about a month. During this time, Doug is increasingly aware of the fact that he wants to work with books. While his dream is to be a librarian, he knows that requires a specialty degree that he is not in a position to try for at that time. He instead tries for bookstores.
Sarah goes with Doug that summer (2004) to Tennessee in a follow-up volunteer trip. While on this trip, many of Doug's fellow church goers get into petty fights over minor issues. Doug severs many ties with his church after this, and has not returned.
The summer ends with him getting a job at Waldenbooks. He will eventually become third in charge, and work as a keyholder, for the next nine months.
Doug and Sarah start looking forward to the possibility of married life. There are still tensions between them and her family. Doug's family, however, is a lot happier for the two of them. As Sarah's parents put stipulations on what she must do before they will pay for the two of them to get married, Doug's parents start suggesting a church wedding in Lower Alabama.
October 2004: Realizing that some issues are going to crop up between Sarah and her parents no matter when the wedding is to take place, Doug starts setting aside money to pay for an elopement. The plan begins as a back-up plan, but quickly escalates to reality.
October 26, 2004: Doug and Sarah sneak off to the court house to be married. Their friend Becca, and Doug's nephew Jonathan (living with them at the time) go along as witnesses. They are married without much fanfare, and spend the day together.
October 27, 2004 - February 2005: In what would be the last hurdle of trying to fight back judgement and other people geting into their relationhip, there was one more big fight between Sarah and her family. Issues brought up ranged from "robbing them of their right to give their daugther away" to changing her tax status at the end of the school year. The three of them fought it out, with the the parents trying to keep me largely out of the confrontation. Sarah ended up going along with some of their demands, but with something of a stipulation that it would be for the last time ever. Since then, their economic ties have been quite limited, though their relationship has smoothed out considerably.
March 2005: Doug's job at Walden dries up after the Christmas season. Rarely working more than 16 hours a week, he begins having some difficulty paying the bills. He starts looking for a new job.
April 2005: Doug starts working for Book Gallery, starting as a part-time worker. He eventually quits his job at Waldens due to the BG owner not wanting him to work both (out of fear of sharing of company secrets). He goes over to BG right at full time.
Summer 2005: Sarah starts working part time at Petsmart. The summer is generally a relaxing time, with Doug enjoying his job and his moderately quirky co-workers. Doug and Sarah make a trip down to see Doug's parents that is filled with minor mishaps (including a hole in their car's tire and their windshield wiper being damaged). This would turn out to be the last time Doug sees his dad alive.
The Book Gallery Years
May 2005 - May 2007
Doug worked at Book Gallery for two years. After a couple of months, he was promoted to Manager. Then, next year, he also took over Webmaster duties for the whole chain. With some rare bits here or there, his life settled down into the long term and just coming to grips with keeping a store running and open.
Sarah went through a few job changes around here. She left Petsmart for Target (briefly) and then moved over to working for the UAH Stockroom, a job that gave her ample time to study and helped to improve her condition notably.She continued to do well in school, and did some research work with computational chemistry.
There is little else than can be summed up with the Book Gallery Years besides that most of the time was fair, but after about twenty months, around Doug's third consecutive Christmas season in retail, Doug started to get tired of the position. He wanted to move on, and to start working towards his dream of being a librarian. The webmaster side of the job started to pale after repeated false starts with getting the other store managers to submit enough content to make the site more viable. There were a couple of run-ins with the owners over a few issues, and it eventually ended in the middle of the store move with Doug pulling out. He had already made some movement towards starting grad school (which would end up being overal ineffective.
October 26, 2006: Doug starts the first version of this website. It was planned to be a scrapbook style affair, though it never quite develops as it should.
The Current State of Affairs
There have been several developments after Doug's times at Book Gallery. He has pushed right to the cusp of actually starting grad school work. Sarah has found a new job. A few of the more interesting moments are summed up, below.
May 2007: Sarah graduates UAH with Honors with a Chemistry degree. There is much fanfare and delight. She is gifted a 1990s Volvo from her parents as a graduation gift.
June 2007: Doug's father dies. Sarah and Doug had planned to visit his family as soon as possible now that a good chunk of his time was freed up by the loss of the manager position. A couple of weeks before arrangements could be set up, Charles Bolden died at age 71 while on the way to the doctor. Doug and Sarah go down to attend the funeral, and then return a week or two later for a more extended stay.
Dealing with his father's death, Doug develops a few issues and slightly withdraws. His insomnia, that he has suffered from off and on for years, returns (and as of April 2008, is still largely present). In an entry posted later that year (September 20, 2007) to the original Doug Love Sarah (available here), Doug writes: "And I know it is heartless and a dark thing to say but I just have to say, the idea of her suffering because I am gone is probably the only real thought that has ever made me wonder if I made a mistake getting married."
It isn't until about six months later than a lot of his issues over the death go away.
Late Summer, 2007: The job Sarah had waited on for some time looks like it is not going to make it (it didn't, until too late). Trying to expand her horizons, Sarah applies for a job down in Birmingham and is almost immediately linked to a expanding company dow there. Doug and Sarah start making plans for the move, with all signs pointing out that they would be leaving Hunstville over the next couple of months...
Early Fall, 2007: ...however, Sarah gets a last minute offer from a company in Huntsville that is even more promising. She takes it and starts working under contract with ERC, meaning that Sarah and Doug are able to stay in their apartment and near their friends for at least the time being.
Late Fall, 2007: Aware that they both need to be healthier, Doug and Sarah start working out more. They play tennis together, Sarah starts jogging, they start planning hikes, and just generally get out and aim for a healthier lifestyle. They succeed with fair colors, if not flying, and both eventually start showing positive signs.
January - March 2008: Doug takes his MAT and passes with flying colors. He submits a round of paperwork to UA (in Tuscaloosa). Doug and Sarah participate in Scale Back Alabama, which promotes the healthy loss of ten pounds over ten weeks. Neither of them manages to lose the weight, but they both end up healthy in numerous other ways.
April 2008: Doug restarts this website, with new graphics, a new layout and a new format and purpose. Sarah still works with ERC and Doug is still waiting to hear about Grad School.