*This is a REALLY long post! It is more for my own personal record than anything else. I won't be offended if you skip this one...*
|Summer of 2006...the quote is what how he described me to his parents when we first started dating.|
I just found the sweetest post that my friend Yvonne's husband wrote detailing the entire beginning of their relationship from the day he met her until he proposed. I've been friends with them both for a long time and was around to hear those stories as they were happening, but there is just something about seeing it all written out like that...it made my heart flutter. I decided to try to do the same thing, although I know mine won't be quite as detailed since I'll be going five and a half years back to bring up these memories. The dates may be approximate and the timeline may be a little jumbled, but I want to try to capture the love and excitement and newness while I can still feel it...that part I remember like it was yesterday.
This sounds cheesy, but Chris is honestly the only person in the entire world that I can remember the exact first moment I saw him. It was either late 2004 or early 2005 (I remember it was cold outside because I was wearing a sweater and crocheted hat) and I went to TG (a college ministry that met on campus every Tuesday night for worship and a lesson.) I remember walking in and scanning the dim room looking for people I knew to say hello to before things got started. I saw my friend Nikolai and started towards him until I saw that he was sitting with some other guy and they were playing the guitar together. The other guy was Chris. Was it love at first sight? No. I was actually really annoyed and felt a little threatened by this musician who I assumed was coming in to try to steal the band's thunder (not that there was thunder to be stolen, but you know what I mean.)
I didn't talk to him that night. I actually don't think I officially "met" him for quite a while after that. We hung out with the same group of friends from TG, but he had a girlfriend that occupied a lot of his time and I was involved in quite a few activities, so we never really spent any time together. Now, I'm pretty sure it was Valentine's Day of 2006 that I got my tattoo. That night is the first time I remember actually talking to Chris. I had it all wrapped up in plastic and tape when I went to TG that night and he came up and asked to see it. All I really remember was him calling me "Smiles" like everyone did and I wondered if he thought that was really my name (a lot of people still do.)
Fast forward to the Spring of 2006. A group of friends invited me to see whatever X-Men movie was in theaters at the time. I'm not big on movies like that, but for some reason I decided to go. I don't even remember one other person that was there besides Chris, but I know there were probably seven or eight of us. We sat in smaller groups in two rows instead of stretching out over the entire theater. I (unintentionally on my part, he still had his girlfriend) ended up sitting next to him and he was on the end of our row so I was really the only person he had to talk to. He brought up my tattoo again and told me that he liked my hair that I had recently colored. I thought it was sweet that he'd noticed (I had just put some red under my blond so it peaked out the bottom, nothing drastic), but I still didn't think much of it.
Then we got to the end of the movie...cue the romantic and unrealistic love scene that makes everyone in the theater burst out in smiles and silent cheers. Chris and I looked at each other with the same confused and disgusted looks on our faces and started cracking up. We were the only two in the entire room that laughed. That was the exact moment that it clicked for me. I distinctly remember thinking "Uh-oh. I need to stay away from him." So I did.
Until about a month later when we started doing music together for TG. We had a pretty exhausting band practice one night and I took a break when it was over to lay outside and look up at the stars. Chris came and got on the ground next to me and looked up. He pointed at a group of blinking lights that was moving slowly across the sky and said "Look, Smiles! Do you see that satellite?" I laughed and replied "Are you talking about that airplane?" We both cracked up and decided it was time to head home. I was giving my friend Holly a ride when she got a text from Chris that said "Will you give Smiles my number?" We exchanged a few texts that night about shooting stars and airplanes and satellites and that was that.
Probably a week later, I got a mass text message from Chris asking if anyone wanted to go hiking that afternoon. I jumped on the opportunity, figuring it would be a big group of people and it'd be nice to get out and enjoy the gorgeous day. We arranged for everyone to meet in a church parking lot by the mountains so we could carpool. I showed up and found out that it would be just myself, Chris, and our friend Santi on the hike. We ended up having the best time. Everything from the ride to the trail (Chris couldn't find the turn) to the hike itself was a blast. When we got back to the church, Santi had to leave but Chris and I stayed in our cars parked next to each other with our doors open talking to each other for hours. We talked about everything (we even found out we lived in the same area of Minot, North Dakota when we were toddlers) and I didn't want it to end. There was obvious chemistry and I was starting to notice it more and more with each passing second. Then I was brought back to reality when he brought up his girlfriend. For some reason, I thought she was no longer in the picture. How could I feel so strongly for someone that couldn't feel the same way? I have been on the losing end of a cheating boyfriend and I would never do anything to mess up a relationship or hurt another woman like I'd been hurt before. Never. So I called it a day and decided I'd pull back hard on wherever what we had was headed.
What I couldn't do was stop being his friend. I was drawn to him. The weekend after the hike, a group of people decided to go to the drive-in. I went, not knowing that Chris was going to be there with his girlfriend watching a different movie. A few of our friends send him texts asking him to bring her over and come meet up with us, but he never did. I honestly didn't care, I figured he was having fun and I was having fun and that was all that mattered.
I think the weekend after (June 24, 2006-I remember this date because I had it engraved on a ring he has) was the 80's party. A friend threw it at a gathering house and we all came in the tackiest 80's outfits we could find, ate junk food, and watched movies like "Pretty in Pink." I spent the morning going from thrift shop to thrift shop to find the most ridiculous outfit I could. I settled on a hot pink tank top, a denim cutoff vest, a white mini skirt, and black lace leggings. I added tons of costume jewelry, a teased sky-high hair style complete with puffy hairspray covered bangs, a roll of Bubble Tape, and hot pink lipstick. Not exactly the outfit you plan on falling in love in.
I went walking up to the house and my friend who was throwing the party came running out to see my costume. We both stood on the front lawn laughing at how crazy the other one looked and Chris appeared on the front porch followed by his girlfriend. I'd never met her before, so I introduced myself and went in to hang out and get some food. I noticed them leaving a few hours later because he had to work, but he said he might be back when he was done. He did end up coming back and we sat in the living room having bubble blowing competitions with my Bubble Tape and laughing with each other until early the next morning when the party began to die down and people headed home.
Sunday we had TG band practice in the basement of the same house we'd been at the night before. Chris walked in and said he had a surprise for me. He opened up his bag and handed me a brand new package of Bubble Tape! I was done for. I kept my distance and we both remained respectful to God's timing, but I knew from that point forward that it was just a matter of time before he was with me.
Monday, Chris asked if he could get a ride to EC in Sugar House (where a huge group of people get together for ice cream and coffee to play music and talk and get to know each other) and I told him sure. It is about an hour drive each way and we spent the whole time talking. There was a story on the radio about a man who died because he followed a butterfly off a cliff. He was distracted by the butterfly's beauty. Chris smiled at me and told me "That is totally something you would do!" It was such a defining moment for us and I can't even explain why. It was like he knew me on a deeper level than most people. I will never forget those minutes in time or how I felt. I was excited to be near him, but devastated that he couldn't be mine yet.
Tuesday, I saw him at the coffee shop before TG (it was a very common hangout for our group at the time.) He had a new glow to him and I could tell he was excited to see me. He came up and explained that his girlfriend had broken up with him the night before when he got home and they both knew it was the right thing. It had been over for a while and now it was official. He didn't go further into why it made him so happy, but we both knew. God's plan for us could officially start.
We call the day of the 80's party "Day 1" because for a couple hundred days after that, we saw each other every single day. Our first real date was probably a week or so after the party. He told me he was taking his dog swimming at Pine View and asked if I'd like to join them. I wore cuffed jean capris, a blue and green bikini top, a white tank top, and flip flops. I've always been terrified to swim in lakes so I planned on at the very most getting my feet wet. I don't remember where we met up...probably the church parking lot. He had his giant golden lab, Jake, in the back seat. We stopped at a pet store on the way to the lake to get some toys for Jake to play with in the water. We got to the lake and found a spot to park. We had to climb down this insanely steep and muddy hill (I slid down most of the way on my butt) just to get to the water. I gave up on looking cute about .02 seconds into the day and decided to just go for it. I still wasn't getting in the water though. No way.
Well...probably 15 minutes later I was up to my chin in water. I'll never know how he coaxed me in, but he did. There I was...swimming in my jeans, soaking wet hair, running mascara, covered in mud, and I could not have been more happy or felt more beautiful. The way he was looking at me made me feel how God meant for a woman to feel. Like I was it. I captivated him. I remember the sun started to set and he just stared at me from across the water. I'm sure I looked like a total mess but I didn't feel that way at all. It started to cool off so we made the hike back up the hill (which was even more fun in wet jeans!) He gave me a hoodie that he had in his trunk since I was in my bathing suit top and a now see-through tank. We stopped at the ice cream shop just outside of the canyon and got ice cream cones to eat as the sun finished setting. If I could pick a day to go back and live again, it would probably be that one. It was perfect and innocent and romantic and young and fearless and reckless and muddy and beautiful. We didn't even end the night with a hug. We didn't have to...God was making things happen on His time and we weren't there to rush it. We were just blissfully enjoying the beginning of the ride.
I remember running into a mutual friend that neither of us had seen in a few years. He asked us if we were "together." We had not officially said what we were to each other and after a quick glance at me, Chris gave the most beautiful answer: "We are His." We weren't doing this on our own. We refused to take our relationship into our own hands from the very beginning. On July 19, 2006 we decided in one of our late night text message sessions that we were going to officially go from being "His" to our new status: "We are His and each other's in Him." I remember getting that text message and feeling like I was going to explode. I woke up the next morning, crawled in bed with my mom, and told her "I think I have a boyfriend."
We did end up talking in person about our feelings for each other (Chris called it a "DTR" because he'd just read the book, haha!) but we've always celebrated the day those texts were exchanged as our dating anniversary. Things moved slow...it was at least a week before we even held hands. We had gone for a drive through the canyon and had made it back in town. I had the windows down and the sunroof open. I had both of my hands up resting on the roof or the car so I could feel the wind and Chris told me he loved that I didn't worry about messing my hair up by having the windows down. He reached up, grabbed my hand, and held it for a second in the wind before he pulled it back inside the sunroof and we locked fingers over the center console of his car.
It took close to a month for him to kiss me. We were talking in the church parking lot late one night and it was time for me to go home. I knew he wanted to, so I kept stalling. My mom called me and told me I had ten minutes to be home. I literally counted down the time out loud hoping he would make his move. "I have to leave in 8 minutes..." "I have to leave in 4 minutes..." Finally, I couldn't stall anymore and I had to go. I got in my car, he got in his, and I headed home. I was so upset and thought there must be something wrong with me. I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn't notice right away that someone was following me. It was dark out and I couldn't tell what sort of car it was, so I just kept driving thinking if I could just get to my house I'd be safe (stupid, I know.) I pulled into my driveway and the car pulled up to the curb in front of my house. I realized it was Chris' car and my stomach jumped. I got out and walked up to him and asked him what he was doing. He said "I chickened out back there, but I didn't want to let tonight go by without giving you a kiss."
I changed my mind...if I could go back and relive any day in my life it would be that one instead. Sigh.
Like every relationship, we've had our ups and downs, but I don't believe there is anyone in this world that I would fit with like I do with Chris. He proposed for my birthday on May 23, 2008 by taking me back to the exact swimming spot we went on our first date and making me hike down that same muddy hill. He told me that he wanted to take me back to the first place that I dove in and faced my fears with him to ask me to continue to do so for the rest of my life. We got married on April 25, 2009 (we used butterflies as our theme and put the story of our drive to EC in our wedding programs) and I still plan on facing everything that comes our way-good or bad-head on with him by my side until I die. We've been through so much in the last five and a half years and I can honestly say there is nobody I would rather be on this crazy ride with. Neither of us are perfect, but we're perfect for each other.
Here we are at the end of 2011 and we're just a couple of months away from meeting our son...a brand new life created from the love that started between us so many years ago. As I sit here typing, Nolan is kicking away and I'm in tears remembering where this journey started with my best friend in the entire world and thinking of what amazing things are to come. I am so blessed to have found this love...everyone should experience this but I know not nearly enough people do. Thank you, God.