Dear Ana and Emma,
So, you probably already know that Papi and I met when we were seminary students. We were on a team heading to Vietnam over winter break, and we knew next to nothing about one another before we got to Ho Chi Minh City. While touring the country, we spent most of our time together, and by the end of the trip, I was fairly certain he was interested in me. Sure enough, he called me up right after we returned, and because I was jet lagged, he was able to trick me into a date. A date which ended up being pretty great, surprisingly enough, even though he didn’t recognize me when he came to pick me up. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read this.)
You should know first of all that as he was dropping me off after that first date, your Papi did the unthinkable — he didn’t walk me to the front door of my dorm. That’s right, he just pulled his Jeep up to the sidewalk and let me out. Much, much later on in our relationship he’d explain that he wanted to avoid the whole “do I hug her? do I kiss her? do I shake her hand?” quandary that he was already stressing out over. So, by letting me out and driving away, he figured he’d avoid all awkwardness. That plan pretty much backfired on him as it was the most awkward ending to any date I’d ever been on.
He called a few days later to ask me out for the next weekend. He had picked up on the fact that I was excited about the rodeo coming to Fort Worth, and even though he was struggling financially, as are most seminary students, he bought tickets that were certainly not cheap so that I would be more inclined to say yes. Which I did, of course, because I enjoyed hanging out with him.
When he picked me up that weekend, he took me over to the rental house he was living in so that I could meet his dachshund, Buttercup. Yes, really. It was then that I decided I would marry him. No, not really. But I was certainly smitten with that sweet, tiny puppy from the first moment I met her. On the drive over to the rodeo, I commented on how nice it would be to have a house to live in at seminary, instead of the crummy dorm I was in. He told me that he’d love it if I’d come by his house to hang out with him whenever I got sick of the dorm. And, wanting to reciprocate the gesture, I told him he was welcome to come back home with me to Alvarado to get away from the city whenever he got sick of seminary.
And here? Is where I said ONE thing and he heard ANOTHER. I was saying we could hang out in Alvarado, getting a break from seminary at no cost. He heard that I wanted him to MEET MY PARENTS. Two very different things, y’all. And you would think that a guy who thought he was getting ready to go home and meet the folks of the girl he’s dating would feel free to actually clarify that they were DATING. But you’d be wrong. We went on to the rodeo then out for dessert that night, staying out for a few hours chatting and spending time together. At no point did he say anything even remotely connected to how he felt or make anything clear about what in the world we were doing. He did ask me, on the drive back to campus, if I had plans for Valentine’s Day. Ah-ha!, I thought. Here’s where we’re going to get somewhere!
But then, he told me he was asking because they were having a youth fundraising event that night at the church where he was interning. “It would really help the youth, the more people we have there,” he concluded. Romantic date invitation? Not so much. An invitation to up the numbers for church? You betcha. And I was in ministry myself, hosting some of those very same kind of events at the church I worked for, so I understood this was a request from one friend to another. So, when he dropped me off at the dorm and AGAIN, didn’t walk me to the door, I concluded that he wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship. I brushed off any disappointment surrounding this because if nothing else? I was having fun hanging out with him. I even concluded in my journal that, “It’s just nice to have a friend here at seminary.”
One week into our relationship, and I was ready to call it friendship… how in the world did we go from this to a wedding date in two weeks? To be continued…