We don't have a typical love story, so I thought it would be fun to share it with you today. I've shared it before, but it still makes me smile, so here it is again, in honor of our 7th Anniversary!
It was August 2005. I was 29. I was teaching Kindergarten at a private church school in Las Vegas, about to begin my 7th year. Another teacher at our small, private school was one of my closest friends.
Wintress and me on a cruise, shortly before this story takes place.
Wintress had been pestering me for several months about her single brother-in-law. I was in Nevada, he was in Iowa, I was sorta dating someone, he was just out of a serious, long-term relationship.
I wasn't interested.
One day she looked at me and said, "You're not happy. You need to do something about it. Make some changes in your life!"
We all need friends like that, don't we?
I finally agreed to let Wintress give my email address to her husband so he could give it to his brother, the single guy. I did it to get her to stop bugging me about him, certain it would never work out. Since then, I've learned I wasn't the only one feeling extremely awkward in the situation!
A day or two later, I got an email from Gary, my friend's single brother-in-law. It was basically, hi-my-name-is-Gary-and-this-is-weird; tell-me-about-yourself. Still feeling the need to fulfill my agreement with Wintress to at least get to know Gary a little bit, I replied. And he replied. And about that time, the angels started singing and everything started looking all sunshiny and rainbow-colored.
The emails continued through the first week, then we started instant-messaging on our computers which lead to a real phone call (for HOURS) which lead to Gary buying a cell phone package with the same provider I had so we could have anytime minutes.
16 days from our first awkward email, he was in his truck driving south to St. Louis and I was in a plane flying east.
An Allegiant airliner with The Strip and Mt. Charleston.
Ok, let me add a couple details that might make you feel a little better. First of all, I had known Wintress for several years and trusted her implicitly. We weren't just work friends. She had been part of Gary's extended family for 15 years and had spent many holidays with him. I had seen the family albums, heard the family drama, read the family Christmas letter. Second, we all belong to the same church. Not a specific building, but an organized Christian denomination with churches around the world. It's a sub-culture. Families have similar goals, individuals have similar morals, people have similar backgrounds, etc. Third, Gary and I had logged countless hours on emails and phone calls. I really felt like I knew him. Fourth, we had separate rooms, thank you. So yeah, it could have the potential to be dangerous, but I guess I was willing to take the risk. All in the name of love. Or glittery rainbows.
Waiting to board that plane to St. Louis was about the scariest thing I've ever done! Right next to walking off the plane and looking for a man I'd only seen in pictures and on Yahoo Instant Messenger. The worst part was the fear of "us" not working out! What if he walked funny and had weird mannerisms? What if he had chronic halitosis? What if we just didn't click?
Well, my wobbly- kneed, sweaty-palmed, thundering-hearted self made it to the main section of the airport. And there was Gary with roses and a huge grin. We fell into each other's arms and walked into the sunset.
That first evening was AWKWARD. We were nervous and ill-at-ease, me far worse than him. I was having the hardest time matching the person with the emailing/phone-calling voice I knew. We started and stopped random topics. We would bring something up and realize that the stranger walking beside you already knew that story! Strange!
The next day was much better. We got out of the hotel and saw some sights. Finally got comfortable enough to talk! We had our first real date that night--dressing up, reservations, linens, candles, fancy courses... It was amazing. Then we went up in the Gateway Arch!
And then we walked into the sunset!
Well, kinda. :) But that's where I'm ending the story for now!