Friday, August 29, 2008

A Strange Compliment

The next week, my roommate Maria was in an evening class, along with some of my other close friends. Spending the evening alone, I decided to get some work done. Rather than do my homework, I walked over to the student union center to pick up something at an office.

On my way in, I walked past a handful of guys playing a game of pool—and Daniel happened to be one of them. I smiled and said hello, continuing down a hallway towards my destination. I had to turn right back around again, though, on finding that the office was closed. Of course it hadn’t occurred to me that most things did close after business hours, even on a college campus. When I reached the pool table again, Daniel invited me to join them. Although my first instinct was to decline since I had somewhere to be, I realized that this was not actually true. My friends were in class and only homework was waiting for me in my room.

So, I agreed. Unfortunately, I had no skill with a pool stick. Absolutely none, even if I did understand the concept of hitting either stripes or solids into the pockets and avoiding the eight-ball until all of the balls were cleared. Daniel was more than happy to help me out, and he was a very patient teacher. He and I played as a team against two of his roommates, and when it was my turn he would position my hands just right. More than once, he even put his arms around me to show me the best way to move the stick, sending chills up my spine. No longer was I unsure of my attraction to him; there was definitely something there.

At one point during our game, I received my first compliment from Daniel—and you may find it unusual, at least it was to me! It was a hot summer night, and I was dressed for the weather: shorts, a tank top, and one of my pairs of $2.50 Target flip-flops, which I owned in every color available. I was leaning against the wall, the end of my pool stick resting on the floor between my feet. Daniel was standing beside me, apparently looking down at the floor. “You have cute toes,” he said. And he sounded perfectly serious. My eyes dropped to my bright pink polished toenails. I wasn’t sure quite how to respond, so I said, “Thanks,” with a question in my voice. What an odd compliment to blush at! (But of course I did anyway—it couldn’t be helped.)

“I must say, no one’s ever told me that before,” I continued.

“Really?” He was honestly surprised. “Well you do,” he said, and the game went on.

As strange a compliment as that was, I could not stop smiling. Soon after that, I said I should be getting back, so Daniel walked me across campus. I couldn’t wait for Maria to get back from class so that I could fill her in on the story. Daniel and I played pool together every day that week, and hung out in our rooms as well. He even joined Maria and me for a few meals in our cafeteria, and by the end of the week I was beginning to think of him in an exclusive way. That weekend, I went home for my birthday. We had been spending time together for only a little over a week—heck, we had only been at college a little over two weeks! Nothing was official and I had no clue how he felt about it, but when I got to my house I immediately had to tell my sister and my mom.

As casually as I could, I said, “I think I have a boyfriend.”

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our First "Real" Meeting

Now that you know the story of when I first saw Daniel, I’m sure you’re wondering how we got to this point from there. Technically, we did not meet that day at all. We were not introduced; we did not speak to each another or learn each other’s names. Like I said before, Daniel does not even remember this encounter at all! Both of us went home following that orientation weekend to spend our summer vacations in between two worlds: high school and college.

It was another two months before Daniel and I would “meet” again, this time for real. Our college had an optional retreat for incoming freshmen in August, and he and I both chose to attend. I recognized him as the boy from the ice cream-less ice cream social, noting that he was not quite as unhappy. He spent his time with a different group of people than I did that week, and I became interested in another boy.

I have a vague memory of leaving my seat beside this boy to run to the restroom just before a presentation was about to begin. By the time I came back the seat was taken, and I ended up in an empty seat next to Daniel (although I didn’t know his name). We talked briefly, but I have no idea what our conversation was about. After that presentation, we both went back to our different groups of new friends.

For about a week or so after we returned to campus I would see Daniel in passing once in a while, and he would always say hi to me. He was always very friendly, and it was during that first week of school that I began to notice how cute he was. But I still didn’t know his name! I felt terrible. Luckily, my roommate, “Maria,” had a class with him and was able to find out his name. So, the next time I saw him I proudly said, “Hi, Dan,” with a big smile on my face. I would later learn that he prefers to be called “Daniel,” but I didn’t know this at the time and I guess he didn’t mind.

A couple of days later, everyone in our building was required to attend a beginning-of-the-year meeting in a small lecture hall. Before we left, Maria and I decided to stuff our pockets full of tootsie rolls so that we would have something to munch on. We ended up arriving a couple of minutes late, and although the meeting hadn’t started yet, people were already beginning to stand in the back because all the seats were taken. Almost all the seats, anyway. There were a couple of solitary seats left, scattered throughout the room. Maria and I prepared to sit on a step along a side aisle. Just as I did, I heard my name. I looked up and there was Daniel, with one seat available next to him at the end of a row. He was inviting me to sit beside him, so I glanced at Maria. She shrugged her shoulders, so I stepped across the aisle to slide into the empty place.

Meanwhile, my mouth was full of tootsie rolls, so when Daniel said hello I could only smile. “You smell like chocolate,” he said. I suppressed a chocolate-toothed grin and pulled a handful of the candy out of my pocket to show him. We talked there and after the meeting on the way back to our rooms—I on the first floor of our residence hall, he on the fourth.

And so ended our first real conversation—which, as usual, I am unable to remember most of! This story is taking longer than I expected, and I’m running out of time for now. More history stuff to come!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I am the oldest of seven.

That short sentence is always the first thing that comes to mind whenever I am asked to share with a group something interesting or unique about myself. The fact that I am the oldest of so many has always defined me, in so many ways. But that is not the topic of this blog (although it certainly plays a role in what I will share with you over the next ten months). Since I have always been a storyteller, I think it is appropriate that I begin with a story.

I had just graduated high school and was one week into my summer vacation when I was dropped off for a freshman orientation weekend at the small Catholic college I would be attending in a few months. I spent the day meeting new people, registering for classes, and learning more about my school. After dinner there was a planned information session for substance-free “wellness” housing that was advertised as an “Ice Cream Social.” Naturally, being the ice cream lover that I am, I wanted to go. I was already interested in substance-free housing, but I looked forward to the ice cream all day!

When I walked into the cafĂ© that evening where the session was being held, there was no ice cream. I was disappointed, but I sat in a chair and listened to a rising sophomore tell us all about wellness housing—recently named “LOFT” (Lifestyles of Fellowship and Tolerance). Across from me in the small group was a boy who looked much more disappointed than me…or something like that. He must have been having a pretty bad day, because while everyone else was smiling and laughing at the stories being told, he sat slouched in his chair with a frown on his face, keeping his gaze straight ahead. I remember wondering, What the heck is wrong with that guy? I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t hear his name. Little did I know, three years later this same boy would ask me to be his wife and there would be no question in my mind as to what my answer would be. And he would be smiling! Daniel doesn’t remember being in a bad mood that day—he doesn’t even remember seeing me there. And I still can’t remember what they said happened to the ice cream…

Daniel and I are getting married on May 16, 2009 at the chapel on the campus of the school where we met. We are on the young side, I guess—we will both be turning twenty-two this summer. I know we still have so much life ahead of us, God willing. But I also know what person I want to have by my side through all of it. As we prepare for both our wedding day and our life together from that day forward, we would really appreciate your prayers. I hope that you enjoy sharing this journey with us!