Our first picture taken together
Over the years, I have loved reading the love stories of various bloggers via Danielle Burkleo's blog. I love the idea of writing these details down, for Chris and me to enjoy, but especially for our boys, who LOVE to hear the story of how Mommy and Daddy fell in love.
So here we go! Let's start out by backing up a decade and a half.
One of my New Year's resolutions (back when I used to make them) for 1999 was to dress more like a girl. I know, it's deep of me to have such high aspirations. But my whole life I prided myself in the fact that I didn't care about my appearance, or any of the other "superficial" things of this world. I was bound for missionary work and would not be distracted. While that point of view has some merits, it did, for me, carry with it a certain amount of spiritual arrogance. And in the meantime, I was getting a little older and getting a bit wiser. I had just turned 24 and there was not a romantic prospect in sight. My friends were getting married, one by one. I was the forever bridesmaid. After college, I went to nursing school (all women) and then worked at a hospital (also all women). Kids, this was before the day of internet dating services like eharmony. We were left to our very own selves to meet our mates. In my great 24 year old wisdom, I decided looking somewhat feminine might help. So I kissed my baggy flannels and sweat pants good-bye (that look was not in fashion at the time). I also decided to get serious about fitness. I started training for a half marathon. I'd never run more than a mile in my whole life. But I was in a new city with nothing but time in my hands. Running would prove to be good therapy for my loneliness.
Let me back up a little. In the fall of 1998, I had just graduated from nursing school, and was dying to start a new life away from the ever-familiar Minneapolis. My friend from college, Erin, lived in Indianapolis, and wanted to get an apartment with me. I secured my first real job, with a real paycheck, at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. I leased a brand new silver Corolla, with all the bells and whistles, including a moon roof, and I drove out of my parent's driveway listening to Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks with that moon roof open. I was off on my great adventure.
I distinctly remember getting there and walking in my empty apartment. It was not as nice as I remembered. It was closer to the highway than the one they had showed us and the traffic seemed deafening. I sat down, put my hands to my head and wondered what in world was I thinking. I had nothing there. But I'm a pick yourself up by your bootstraps girl. I was determined to make it work.
My new job had it's ups and downs. It was wonderful experience for a new graduate. I was thrown into lots of things... trachs, dressing changes in private parts I had never even seen before, IV's, patients who were dying, sadness of the sick. I worked night shift. I loved my co-workers... they soon became my closest friends in Indianapolis. These women were in all different ages and places in their life, but when you stay up all night together, a certain bond is created.
Despite my determination, I soon realized I wasn't as independent as I thought I was. Everything was hard when you have no connections. My good friend from college, Holly, and her husband, Scott, were starting a Christian youth camp in Vermont. They asked me to be the nurse there for the summer. Perfect! This was right up my alley. God had provided the perfect out, without having to go home with my tail between my legs. I just had to make it until May. Well, sometime late winter, Scott and Holly realized that camp was probably not going to happen that summer. They were having unexpected delays with permits and such. So I decided to finish my year in Indy. I had just met a new group of friends that were promising, and surely I could make it until September. And it would look better on my resume if I stayed in my job a full year. So that summer, I worked, played, ran, and met Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) at the grocery store. That last fact doesn't really have anything to do with our story, but I just had to throw it in.
This picture is for all of you Star Wars fans out there. And just for clarification, when you hear that Mark Hamill is at your local grocery store signing autographs, you hop in the car and go meet him. It doesn't matter if you're in the middle of highlighting your hair.
During that year, my closest friend from college, Niki, was living in Branson where she and her husband were working at a ministry called Doulos, a home for troubled teens. She had her first baby that year and was staying home with him. She was my "go to" person when I had a stretch of time off at work. I would drive 8 hours to Branson. We would hang out, watch movies, eat junk food, hold cute baby Cole... actually I don't remember what we did. But it was fun.
Notice the plaid, and the hamburger pajama pants...
… and more plaid.
So at the end of August in 1999 (soon after my New Year's resolution), I get a call from Niki. She asked me to come down to Branson one last time before I left Indianapolis. She wanted to set me up with Chris. Do I remember meeting Chris? Well, he had come over to her house the day before, and was open to a blind date, but he was leaving Branson to return to Dallas in a week, so I had to come quickly. I remembered meeting him, but I didn't give him much of a thought. He seemed to be exactly the kind of guy who would not be interested in me. He was from Texas. He was in a super cool fraternity in college. He drove a little red sports car. He was a lawyer. He was handsome. He was winsome. I know when someone is out of my league.
But now it seemed he was interested in being set up on a blind date with me? So I did what any girl would do. I packed all my cutest clothes (leaving my hamburger pants and flannels behind) and hopped in the car to meet him.
More to come… :)
More to come… :)