Dear Ana and Emma,
So, when we left the story last time, I was smooching your Papi. A lot.
Now that we had established that we were together… well, life continued on as it had been. Still studying together, still staying up late talking to one another on the phone, still going out, and still spending every spare moment we could find together. He cooked for me, I took him to some of my favorite places in Fort Worth, he helped me do research, I helped him write papers, we met up after long days of work at our separate churches, and we got to know each other better. Some of my sweetest memories are from that week in early February, when I felt like I was living out the script of a romance novel… except it was REAL! All the sweet things he did, all the wonderful things he said, all the smiles exchanged… sigh.
The last eight months had been tough. I had come home from Namibia in June and gone straight back to my childhood home, expecting that it would feel like home. But I had been in college for four years then halfway around the world for two more, and it was an adjustment harder than expected, simply because I had changed. I remember feeling very disconnected from everything around me, everything familiar and yet totally foreign, and I cried many, many tears because I never felt “at home” anywhere or with anyone.
But with your Papi? I felt at home. And as cheesy as it sounds (and trust me, it still sounds cheesy to me, nine years later), he became home to me. That no matter where we were, if we were there together, we were home. And that? Was more than extraordinary for both of us.
I’m not sure why February 17th was the most horrific night of studying ever known to man. Maybe it was because I had three tests coming up. Maybe it was because I had two long papers due at the end of the week. Maybe it was because I had spent the entire week beforehand smooching my cute new boyfriend instead of reading for class. Maybe it was because I spent my time in class doodling the name “Mrs. Jennifer Faulk” in all of my notes instead of actually paying attention to the lectures.
Whatever the reason (ahem), that night was particularly stressful. Papi suggested we go somewhere different to study for a change of pace since I was sorely in need of it. We went over to the LDC, the conference center on campus, and found a secluded, quiet area with couches. As we dove into our books and notes, I started feeling better about actually passing my tests and finishing my papers. And as the stress levels diminished, we started talking about the rest of the semester, the summer… and whether or not we’d make plans to be in the same place, especially with opportunities for overseas work, summer school, and work looming ahead as possibilities that we needed to make arrangements for soon. As we talked about the future, he asked, a bit nervously, where I saw things going with us. I asked him where HE saw things going with us. And he said, very bravely I might add, that he could only see this relationship continuing on to marriage… and asked what I thought that timeline might look like. I told him, while inwardly jumping up and down and shrieking gleefully, that I could see an engagement by Christmas, a wedding by the next summer. He looked disappointed and said, “Oh. I thought we’d get married THIS summer.”
Clearly, he was insane. But whatever, y’all. I just went with it.
I’m not kidding you when I say that as we were surrounded by books and notes and all the trappings of seminary studying, we took the two extremes we’d both presented — my vision of a summer 2005 wedding and his vision of a summer 2004 wedding — and split the difference at a Christmas 2004 wedding.
Clearly, WE were insane. But whatever, y’all. We just went with it!
Within the week, he had bought my dream engagement ring, but per my request, he held onto it for a few more weeks so as not to give both of our families coronary failure. And, so as to give me a chance to actually MEET his parents. (Yeah, still hadn’t met them. And I had already told their son that he was as good as married to me already, as I had no intention of letting him get away. And I still don’t!)
All this said, marriage is not to be entered into lightly. Obviously. But it’s not to be entered into when you’re perfect… which you never will be. And while we entered into this all before others would have said it was wise or advisable, we’ve certainly grown together in marriage, and nine years later, after embarking on this whirlwind relationship? We’re happier together now than we were even during those days of too much smooching and not enough studying.
And as you’re reading this now, future Ana and Emma, I hope you can look at us and say that it’s still true, even today.