by Robyn Bird
A light flickers above; dry leaves rustle through the winding wing that is long like a banana. A trip to the end reveals a tiny office stacked to the ceiling with volumes of history. In this office resides a man that is local to West Virginia, Professor Aaron Crites.
When Crites first received his license, his parents asked him to go to the market for an errand, “I never stopped driving since,” Crites tells his West Virginia history class. Like most West Virginian teens, he just wanted to see the world.
Professor Aaron Crites grew up in Mineral Wells. After graduating in 1992, Crites attended Alderson-Broaddus College where he managed to take a class overseas in Salzburg, Austria.
While in Austria, Crites stayed in an apartment where he was able to come and go as he pleased. His hunger for the outside was slowly being filled.
He studied political science, sociology and European history, three prestigious majors that barely filled his cravings for knowledge. He received his teaching certification at Ohio Valley University and immediately started substitute teaching.
Then, one snowy day in January, the phone rang. Recovering from surgery and taking a hard dose of video games for cure, Crites was home to answer.
“Are you seeing anybody?” a woman asks him, with that devious under-tone that every single person recognizes when they hear that question.
“Well, no,” he answered unsure of himself, but he allowed the date to be made.
The first date, a double date with his life-long friend at a bowling alley, and Crites knew his life would never be the same.
Despite their brief courtship, Crites and his new partner were married at the Trinity Episcopal Church just nine months after beginning their courtship. “I knew it was love because I was able to write love poetry for the first time,” Crites commented, “Everything just kinda worked out the way it was supposed to.”
After marriage, his first teaching job was for behavioral disability and special education as a substitute. When in charge of children, he uses a stern demeanor to keep them in line. “Most kids that are labeled ‘bad’ just have a bad situation that they come from,” Crites comments. Teaching these kids just requires extreme patience and alpha male status. Today, he uses that same demeanor teaching at WVU Parkersburg in the Social Sciences Division.
While her husband is teaching, Cheryl spends her time working as an administrative assistant. Crites has an understanding of her work and often they solve problems together. This partnership has strengthened over the years and they operate as a team.
They do have their differences, which serve as reminders of their individuality. For example, Aaron is always up late at night, but Cheryl gets up early in the morning. Aaron has a loud, outgoing personality, while Cheryl tends to be more withdrawn and shy.
They both share a love, and really it's an addiction, to coffee. They spend a lot of time in the car listening to music. Crites always has a plan for where he is going, and every year the couple book a trip to Las Vegas.
On one such occasion, Crites had been secretly saving money to buy Cheryl a purse, but when they managed to make it to the Louis Vuitton store, the clerk snubbed them. He spends his time trying to not look out of place while she inspects the purses. Much to the surprise of his wife, and the man behind the counter he threw the $1200, in cash, down on the counter. A West Virginia wins for us all.
Similarly, Aaron shows his love in unique ways and is always keeping Cheryl on her toes. The kitchen is dark, and in the doorway stands Aaron holding a frosted cake with flickering candles on it. He clears his throat, in common fashion, before beginning the song he has promised Cheryl to sing for this special day. He begins singing a cappella, but instead of the familiar “Happy Birthday to you,” he begins with an, “The old gray mare…” His practical jokes serve as tokens of love for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and sometimes-even Mondays.
The couple shares the Alstroemeria as a flower. When they were married they chose the Alstroemeria because it would be of little cost to the church that offered to provide them. Also known as the ‘Lily of the Incas,’ the Alstroemeria is a cheap flower that has a twisting stem said to represent the twisting and turning of human relationships. Although once selected based on cost, the Alstroemeria is now Crites’ first choice because the flower has special meaning.
The secret to making a relationship work seems to be teamwork. If one can find a teammate, not just a husband or wife, then life will be easier and more fulfilling.