I've been asked to put up the story of how I met my husband and while that's more of a personal blog "thing", I'm putting it up for two reasons: one, I've been asked specifically and I don't want to disappoint our three readers, and two, what gal doesn't love a good 'how we met' story? So I went to write it the other day meaning to get half of it down, and ended up writing the whole thing in one sitting - it was so much fun. And then there were all the pictures!
You know, looking back I remember how many people told us at different times during our courtship and engagement things like, “It only gets worse from here on in” - it didn’t matter if we were dating, engaged or even married, they said the same thing. Life sucks and so do relationships. We called them the “Doom and Gloomers”. I'm telling you now, from almost nine years in, that this didn’t turn out to be our experience. Sure there are difficult spots along the road in every phase, but in our experience, life only gets better and better together. It’s work. It’s hard work. But it’s excellent. Marriage has never been a ball and chain or indentured slavery for us, but rather, loving service. I choose to put myself in the hands of my husband, and he chooses to put himself in mine. Nothing compares to that kind of mutual vulnerability.
Alright, time to get to it.
I was 24 when I met Jason. It was a Saturday in early June 2002. I was living in North Carolina and visiting home to attend a wedding in Northern Ontario with the parentals and my best friend. It was a beautiful wedding, they were (and still are) a beautiful couple, and there were some seriously good-looking, single guys. My friend and I watched one in particular work the room – asking ladies to dance – as we ate delicious food and were eaten by the June black flies. That one guy eventually made his way over to us (by this time the wedding was just ending), introducing himself and asking for our numbers, you know, for “networking purposes”, which we eagerly gave him. He then wandered off to “network” a bit more. I remember him disappearing and reappearing in a pair of shorts and thinking, “man, those are THE whitest legs this side of the Mississippi” (I had been living in the Carolina’s remember. Everyone there is tan. All year round.) I also remember returning to Raleigh and telling my friends about an interesting guy I’d met – but it was probably nothing.
|World Youth Day Choir at WYD 2002 in Toronto|
Fast forward to September of that same year. I’d made the decision to move home. I missed Ontario and my family a great deal. It was time. I packed up my little green Toyota Corolla (I loved that car) and headed for the border. About 17 hours later, I was home. I had no concrete plans, but I was thrilled to be home.
No sooner did I get home, than my best friend and I started making plans to get into the Catholic social scene. There wasn’t a whole lot around me, but Toronto (a mere hour away from me) held a lot of promise. There were concerts and parties and single people galore. So I began to look into and apply to some college programs in TO, to further my degree and perhaps find an entry-level job somewhere, and hook up with friends already living and working there. One of the first concerts we went to, put on by the World Youth Day Choir, was a free one at a Church in Mississauga (outskirts of Toronto). My friend and I were walking in, and there, walking in at the same time with a sweet, young Polish pop-star on his arm was “networking guy” we’d met at the wedding a few months previous. He’d never called, but we recognized each other and said, “Hi – I know you, don’t I?” and chatted a bit more and exchanged email addresses.
|The chaplaincy team|
It was a great concert. By the end of it I had learned that the choir was accepting new singers and rehearsed in downtown Toronto every week. By that time I had been accepted to a college program and would be starting in January. I vaguely remember networking guy saying he worked at a university chaplaincy, and I figured a quick email to him might be in order. I needed to get the scoop on living in Toronto and going to school there – and wouldn’t he be a good resource? He definitely “networks” a whole lot.
Several emails and a few weeks later I was on my way to scope out my new college campus. As it turned out, networking chaplaincy guy worked at a university that shared its campus with the college I was attending. We’d be seeing quite a bit of each other, as his chaplaincy was the only Catholic presence on campus. What a coincidence, I thought.
Weeks passed. I’d joined the World Youth Day Choir (which chaplaincy guy had been singing in for years already) and was getting into my courses when I found out that a dear friend was also attending this particular university, and she lived just off the campus. I had one early morning course (I was living at home, an hour + away) which was difficult to get to on time. She and I made a deal. I would cook dinner for her and her roommates every Tuesday night, if she would let me stay overnight for my early morning class Wednesdays. It worked out even better because the choir practiced Tuesday nights and I wouldn’t have to make a separate trip. She said, “oh won’t chaplaincy guy be so excited about that!” I was a little surprised and said, “What does he have to do with anything?” As it turns out, he would give her a ride to the choir (my friend also sang in the choir) in exchange for dinner on Tuesday nights. So for the next several months, once a week we all had dinner together, and then piled into the car to sing glory to God though Handel and Mozart.
|Neither of these gorgeous beauties are me (Obviously)|
I was beginning to like chaplaincy guy and it seemed as if he was beginning to like me. We were spending a good amount of time together and getting to know one another. The more I found out about him, the more he measured up to my ideal man. There was only one little snag. Shortly before we “re-met” each other, he had become a serial dater – dating different women every weekend – in an attempt to find a woman serious about the Lord and serious about settling down. And while these were good women coming into his life, he realized his dating habits were becoming a problem. So he came clean with the Lord, and made a promise to stop the serial dating for about 9 months. We started to really get to know each other about a month later. It wasn’t the best timing it seemed, but he wanted to keep his promise.
And honestly it was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I am a bit of a Nervous Nellie – and guys who were overwhelmingly into me frightened me. So while I was going to school, I was getting to know chaplaincy guy without any strings attached or weirdness. We found that we could really communicate – frankly and honestly – about many different matters, and solidified a good friendship during that time. Every once in a while we’d find ourselves alone, eating dinner at his house (even though he had several roommates) or watching a movie, and while we didn’t call it a “date” – for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what it was. It wasn’t planned like that – sometimes it just happened.
The end of his promise to God was Easter 2003. So on Holy Thursday, he walked me to my car after class, and asked me to go out for dinner with him on Easter Monday – our first official date. As he remembers it, I wept with joy and fell to the ground in a swoon. As I remember it, I smiled and said yes.
I spent the next days planning out my outfit, my hair, calling all my friends to get their opinions and being nervous. Jesus rose from the dead, and Easter Monday arrived – and so did Jason, armed with chocolates for my siblings, flowers for my mom and grandma and flowers for me too. He took me to a lovely restaurant where we chatted for hours. For me, it was the first date I’d been on that I felt at home, not nervous at all, only anxious to get to know him better. He wasn’t perfect – good gracious neither was I – but he was perfect for me. We seemed to gel really well, and after a few months of dating, we were both fairly certain - we started talking about an engagement. We were careful to delay physical affection in those first few months and careful not to throw around the “L” word flippantly. We’d read Josh Harris’ books, “I kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl” and shared what we thought was good and what we thought wouldn’t work for us. We were on the same page about so many issues – even though there were some issues of a more serious nature that we had to work through. We worked and prayed through them, seeking spiritual help and direction when necessary and heeding the advice of those around us.
So it happened that in September of 2003 Jason had applied for and been the successful applicant for a new job. He asked me the next day if I wanted to go to the early morning mass at the Carmelite Monastery a few towns over on the feast of the Birth of Our Lady, September 8th. Their mass was EARLY – like 6:30am or something like that – so I had to get up at 4:30am to get ready because it took some time to get there. But I remember looking at my closet wondering what outfit I’d like to get engaged in…I just knew what was coming. Mass was beautiful. Afterwards, after everyone eventually left and he led me out to the statue of St. Joseph outside the cloister walls, he knelt down in the gravel, said some lovely words and asked me to marry him. I could only vigorously nod my head up and down – and after a smooch and a hug, I ran back into Carmel to tell the extern nun, Sister Marguerite, what had just happened. Those nuns were the first to know our news! (To this day, most of them don’t know our faces, but they know our names – often saying “OH you’re the ones who got engaged here!!!”) The rest of the day we spent telling family and friends, but we ended it by ourselves, watching the sun set at one of the scenic rest stops near my parents place.
We were married on May 1st surrounded by a ton of family and friends, with the World Youth Day choir singing for our wedding mass. It was almost like a concert! The day flew by in a fuzzy blur of cake and dancing and exhaustion, and then we were off to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon in the sun. The wedding day really is only one day out of your life, albeit a special one.
|Honeymoon in the Dominican|
And there are a hundred other little bits and bobs that could be told about our story – like the time I was driving down one of the major 8 lane highways on my way home from Toronto, and I looked over and Jason was in the car next to me (and he wasn't stalking me!) – but that would probably fill pages and pages of the most boring book known to man. This is the gist of our love story, the important parts at least. There are things about it I would recommend doing and things about it that I wouldn’t. However, I did learn that every love story is different (duh!). Yes, there are all sorts of resources out there to help you discern your way through the dating/engagement/wedding phases of your life and they’re helpful and interesting, but you are writing your own book. People can tell you what their experiences were like, but it doesn’t mean you must follow their example. You have your own story…God is saying something unique with your life.