The first time we met we had already met. We were at the same parties in college and never spoke. We stood together in our best friends' weddings and took no notice of each other. We attended grown-up birthday parties with married couples and babies and said nothing more than hello. And then one night, seemingly like any other, our eyes were opened for the first time. And it was as if the universe unleashed an immediate and mighty force. Gravity was suspended and we were no longer drawn back down to the earth but to each other.
That evening I sensed something was coming. I didn't know what, and I didn't trust my instincts because I'd been wrong about these things in the past. I just had a strange premonition. It was like when Tony sings "Something's Coming" in West Side Story. Only without the subsequent knife fights. I even stopped at Walgreens and purchased some kind of hair straightener-blow dryer combo. My ineptitude at styling my hair knows no bounds, and cognizant of my shortcomings in cosmetology, I almost never exert the effort to turn these curls and waves into something orderly. But for sme reason that evening I wanted to try. I knew he was coming, but that wasn't unusual. We shared best friends---a dear married couple we had been close to since college. But oddly enough, I sensed something would be different with him this evening.
Recalling the years in which I had not only avoided men but almost run screaming from them, I realized I was leaving myself open to whatever might come. I allowed for the possibility of a door opening up if God was so willing. I had no reason to believe there was potential for any of this. I had seen him numerous times over the years and neither of us had been interested in each other or even given each other a second glance.
The night of the National Championship game the city of New Orleans sparked like an electrical charge. Even people wholly unconnected to the game were tightly wound, on edge, expectant. We of course had quite a significant vested interest in the game. We are LSU alums, continue to be rabid Tiger fans, and shared some of our best memories together in the midst of a sea of purple and gold bodies in Tiger Stadium. We watched the game at one of the biggest and most well known sports bars in the area and IT.WAS.PACKED. Arriving over an hour before kickoff, there were no chairs available. My best friend, sister, and I made a trip back to my car where we collected a milk crate and ice chest I just happened to have in the trunk. These would be our oh-so-glamorous seats for the evening.
We like to say it all began with a milk crate.
From the moment we sat down and I saw his face---that deep grin, his whole body radiating enthusiasm---I wanted to say something to him. In the old days, I would never have said anything to him unless he spoke to me first. And if I had been daring enough to speak to him, I would have waited so long that my nervousness would have soaked through my skin, my hands cold, and my voice stammering. And whatever I might have said would have been lost in my own anxiety.
But not this time. It was so casual I don't even remember what it was. Yet it was enough.
My sister spotted the connection immediately. She told me she thought this was someone I could be interested in. I told her I'm sure if that was the case, our friends would have mentioned it to us by now.
But something strange happened that evening. As our beloved Tigers grew worse and worse, somehow he grew closer and closer. Eventually, inexplicably, he arrived on the milk crate. And though we are two of the craziest LSU fans you'll ever find, suddenly the game mattered far less than the person sitting beside us. A loss that would ordinarily have devastated us was taken in stride, indeed, hardly blinked at. For the first time in years and the only time with this kind of pressing need, I wanted so badly for him to put his arms around me and kiss me.
The game ended. With his car only feet away from the bar's entrance and in the opposite direction of ours, he insisted upon carrying the empty milk crate, a container I could have carried with ease, back to the car for me. He would later tell me he just wanted a few more moments with me.
We both knew that night. Instinctively. It was as clear to us as the starts out that January night.
Later he would suggest that we should get together some time when there was less football related tragedy. And then, unprompted and without a touch of fear, I gave him my phone number. I NEVER give guys my number. In fact, I'd spent a good part of the last 10 years trying to prevent men from obtaining valid means of contacting me. But this was different, and I knew it.
He waited five days to call. I had almost written him off. He was scared of what I would say. I never knew a guy to feel that way about me, and I had certainly never met a man so forthright that he would confess that to me. I could be honest with him. He was honest with me. We could admit to each other that sometimes were were both ecstatic and afraid simultaneously. It was the beginning of being able to share it all with him.
This account is basically of little value to anyone but me. The details I cherish will be mundane to most people. But there are certain elements of all this that go back to the "I do" mentality. From the beginning, I sensed possibility. That doesn't mean there are boundless opportunities around every corner. But it doesn't mean there are NONE, either. Be aware that this world holds good things, and they can happen to you at any moment.
I opened myself up, never an easy task, but one that is necessary if an emotional connection is to be made. Saying "I do" to vulnerability doesn't have to mean leaving yourself defenseless, but it does mean you are willing to feel some insecurity and discomfort, stepping out of your comfort zone can be crucial to "I do." Speaking first can mean the difference between an open door or a closed one.
Finding joy in the midst of loss---a humiliating loss at that---and coming together in a shared experience. Taking a chance and ultimately overcoming fear. Saying "I do" to letting a person into your life instead of letting fear control it.
Turns out our dear friends brought us together for a reason. We had been blissfully unaware of their machinations. We thought it had all been us. Really it had the markings of God's hands all over it, inspiring them to bring us together, opening our hearts and minds. They could never have dreamt at the time that just two and a half months later, he would ask me to be his wife.
For other 31 day series, go to The Nester.