I was sixteen. This was to be my first real date ever, after he called me at home and kindly asked if I’d be willing or allowed. Yes, I was allowed. Yes, I will go. He was two years older than me, a senior to my sophomore status. He was homecoming king popular, a football captain, olive skinned, and I said yes. I waited for him to pull up in his small, two door jeep, my stomach filled with nerves and anticipation, as I looked out the bay window, wondering what kind of date I would be …
The evening was pleasant and he was nice enough, and it gave me a taste of what mature conversation was like. I politely thanked him but concluded in my heart I wouldn’t go out with him again. Even at the tender age of sweet sixteen, I knew what kind of boy I wasn’t interested in.
Fast forward to my first year of college. I meet my next door neighbor on the second floor of the dorm. We quickly become great friends, and one day she asks me to go back to her hometown for a wedding dance. That late April, we make the drive back and pull into her family’s home. For a while there it’s a swirl of eye shadow, curling irons, hairspray and lip gloss. Her cell phone buzzes, telling us her friends are waiting outside by the door, ready to head to the small community building.
As we take gravel roads to the next town, my stomach again begins to flutter with uncertainty … What will they think of me? Will they like me? We walk into the building, and it’s overflowing with young people, drinking and dancing and mingling. The bride and groom are somewhere, I’m sure, but I don’t recall seeing them. I follow my friend and the others, watching as they begin to drink and chatter. Someone offers me a beer, and I say no. The boy gives me a strange look, but knowing this may be the only time I visit this town gives me confidence to shrug my shoulders and continue looking around the building.
And then I saw him. I was immediately drawn to him, but not in a love-at-first-sight manner. A spark was ignited, that I do know. He exuded this type of wild country confidence, the type of confidence that drew me to movies like Legends of the Fall and the like. I wanted to meet him. I could tell by his large, rough hands he worked hard, even at nineteen years-old. He was not at all fashionably dressed in his Levis and long-sleeved shirt, and had no interest in spending his money on clothes, which will never change about him. He had long, untamed hair, that curled slightly under his hat. No other guy I knew had long hair, and I liked that unconventional trait about him.
Our eyes met and he walked over to me and introduced himself. He asked me to dance, and I said ok. I could tell he was well-liked, but a few people told me to stay away from him. According to some, he had a mean-streak and liked to fight.
I was enamored. And the rest is history.
Of course, our story that began this time years ago does not end there. But the “how we met” tale for us is a treasured one, fairytale or not. Really, I don’t consider ours a fairytale, but those in the story rarely do.
I reflect on that time with fondness.
Fondness for a unassuming girl who had no idea she was meeting her future husband.
Fondness for a girl who knew underneath that tough exterior was a gentle soul with a smile I love, and he has yet to prove me wrong.
Fondness for a girl who didn’t give her heart easily, not until she met the one she was willing to take a chance on.
And fondness for couple that may seem small to the world, but to us, is a simple, everyday kind of beautiful love.