In June of 2002, I went to visit my sister in Boston. She had been living there for about a year as a missionary, and I was very excited to see her. I had never been to Boston, and there were so many things I wanted to see. I have always been somewhat of a Red Sox and Celtics fan, and given the fact that the Patriots had won the Super Bowl earlier that year, it was kind of the cool city to be in. Katie and I spent about a week hanging out and seeing many of the sites around Boston. We hung around the downtown area for a day and had lunch at Cheers. We went to a Red Sox game (that was worth the trip alone), and we even drove to Maine for a day to see a friend of mine from grad. school. It was a great trip that I will always remember. But the thing I remember most about that trip was the e-mail I had waiting for me when I got home. Yes, I went the whole week without checking my e-mail and I lived to tell about it. I had about 100 e-mails, but the message I remember most was from Gina, and she was wanting to catch up with me. I found this very strange because the last I'd heard she was very serious with her boyfriend, the one who moved to North Carolina to be closer to her. She explained to me that they were no longer together and that she was half-way done with her graduate program at UNC-Chapel Hill.
I think I wrote her back later that day or the next day, and she almost immediately sent a reply. Things went on like this for about a month or so, when Gina finally asked if I had any interest in talking on the phone. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to talk to Gina on the phone. I mean, when you are sending e-mails back and forth, you have some time to think about what you are saying and how you say it. You can manage your identity in just about any way you want. Want to be funny? You can carefully craft your wit. Need to be serious, or intellectual, or spiritual? You have time and space to think about what you want to say. When you enter the world of real time conversation, you have to be on your toes. And this is a problem for me, because I have a tendency to say really stupid stuff when I'm talking to people. Really stupid stuff. So, I had this gnawing feeling that this might be the beginning of the end of our correspondence.
We eventually exchanged numbers, and I finally got the courage to give Gina a call. Looking back, things went really well, but as is customary for me, the conversation took some very awkward turns. I have this really bad habit of taking conversations into really bad directions. I think we ended up talking about how people in Utah get married really young, and that when I was in college there I was usually the only single person in any of my classes. Who talks about that with a girl during your first real conversation? I can't even recall what led me down that rabbit trail, but I remember thinking to myself when we hung up, What was THAT all about?
That first phone call should have sent up all kinds of red flags, and it may have, but it didn't scare Gina off. We spent the rest of the summer e-mailing and calling each other. She sent me some pictures of her trip to Texas and Louisiana that summer, and I sent her this picture of myself (kidding!). I was starting to really like this girl, and I kept wondering when I would screw it up. I wanted to see if she was feeling the same way, so I decided to put some bait out there. At the end of one my e-mails, I dropped a little hint that I liked her. I won't tell you the line I used, but it wasn't as bad as, "Hey baby, do you like honey? 'Cause I bee thinking about you all day."
Had I known then what I know now about Gina, I would have known that my little hint became a major deal for her and she pretty much thought for a whole weekend how she was going to respond. At the time, though, I thought she just blew me off and she only wanted to be friends. So, besides feeling kind of silly for writing something so corny, I just moved on and thought I would still write and call her as long as she replied.
The next time we talked on the phone, she actually mentioned my little hint and we talked about it. That is another thing I now know about Gina. She would rather just talk about something instead of dancing around it. I'm the dancer in the relationship. By the end of the night, we both admitted that we liked each other and wanted to see where this relationship was heading. I was feeling pretty good about this.
Every story has a moment of truth. I remember in 7th grade when a kid I was kind of friends with came to my house and tried to roll a joint in my room. I physically picked him up and shoved him out of my house. I believe that moment influenced the course of my life. Well, this story had a moment of truth, too. The circumstances that led to this moment were, well, strange, but it was a moment of truth nonetheless.
That summer I was teaching a couple of classes for Casper College, Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication. Most of my students were non-traditional students who were coming back to college after working and raising kids for several years. It was not uncommon for my students to be my age or older. Well, I must have made quite an impression on one student because about a week after the class was over, she called me and asked me out. I was in total shock. Speechless. I said the first thing that came to my mind, which was, "I am very flattered, but I have a girlfriend." The funny thing was, I didn't feel like I was making an excuse. I actually felt like I had a girlfriend.
And from that day on, I did. I still do, except I married her so now she is my wife. But she is still my girlfriend. Actually my best friend would be more like it.
There are many more details in this story, but this seems like a good place to stop because from that point on a new story started. Like the story of our engagement. Or the story of our wedding. Then there was the Virginia story. Oh, and twins. We have twins. So, that's another story. Isn't is amazing? God has written us into an epic story, and if you stop to write about it you realize how amazing it is. All of these fantastic stories that weave together, and when you step back and look at the big picture, you see a life.