Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Engagement Story

Hello all! Sorry for the extended absence. I have been dealing with health issues (just for myself, thankfully) one on top of the other over the past month, and it has been really difficult. I seem to be nearing the end of these dark days, though. I would appreciate any prayers.


To get my mind off my troubles, I've decided to participate in Betty Beguiles' roundup of engagement stories! I would like to add one caveat to mine: This was pre-reversion for me, and of course now I wish certain things would have been very different, but at the time I was delighted. So here we go!

My husband and I met at a Valentine's Day poetry reading in February of 2007. I know, cliche, right? I was interning for our university's literary journal as part of my graduation requirements, and he was one of the staff members and an English Lit grad student. We started talking while we were setting up the room for the reading (we were the first ones there) and I immediately thought he was way too cute and smart to be interested in me. Another girl arrived soon after and started obviously flirting with him. I am not the type to fight over a guy, and am pretty passive in general, so I just ignored them and continued to work. The poetry reading went well, but I don't think we talked much after those initial moments alone.

After the reading, I started to notice that he was arriving earlier and earlier to our weekly literary journal meetings. I always arrived at our meeting space early to study and do coursework. He must have noticed, because he showed up early to talk for a few weeks. My adviser (whose office was very near the meeting space, so she observed all this) teased me about him a few times, but I was still thinking that he was WAY too good for me, and brushed off her comments.

After one of our staff meetings about a month after our initial conversation, he asked me for my number. One of the editors of the journal (now one of my best friends, T) was there and witnessed the whole thing. She told me privately later that he had been cutely gushing about me to her for weeks.

We had our first date on March 2nd, 2007. I was a little slow to warm up to him because I was just beginning to let go of a long-time relationship that had ended, and was still affecting me emotionally. But he wooed me expertly. My favorite plants, illustrated editions of my favorite books, bringing me to my favorite exotic restaurants that no one else was willing to try. Discussing Rilke's Duino Elegies during late night phone calls. Arguing over Chaucer and politics. It was my idea of a dream, and I was afraid to wake up!

I finally admitted I was in love with him when I went on a weeks-long trip with my dad to New Zealand in August of 2007. It was an early graduation present, and it was supposed to be the time of my life. The first FIVE nights I was gone I cried helplessly in the shower. My dad thought something was seriously wrong with me, but I just missed my (then) boyfriend so much!

Soon after I got home, we discussed getting engaged. It seemed like a "someday" thing, but we both knew. That fall, my last semester of college, I was struck with a mysterious illness. I now think it was the beginnings of my chronic problems with pinched nerves, but at the time I had never experienced anything like it, and I was very worried about my health for months at a time. He stood by me through it all. I was so nervous, thinking nothing could kill a new relationship stone dead like a serious illness, but he proved me wrong and made me feel so loved and happy during those depressing months.

After I had graduated with my bachelor's degree and him with his master's (I still remember us both looking up our grades for our final semesters together---all A's for both of us! We felt so clever and in love...nerdy, I know), we took a trip with another couple (T & M) to New Orleans to celebrate our accomplishments. T & M departed after one night to go on a cruise of the Caribbean, and he and I were left alone for a few days in the city.

I think this was the day before we got engaged, in front of the Mississippi River in NOLA. And no--he doesn't still have the beard!

One night after walking the streets of the Big Easy (and touring the Garden District--bliss!), we were taking a bath together in a tub surrounded by candles. He said something like, "I already think of you as my wife, but what do you say about being formally engaged now?" Romantic words have always been difficult for him (he is better with gestures) so this was a big deal for me to hear! Of course I said yes, and our families were thrilled when we came back and told them.

I picked out my own ring, because he already knew I was super-picky about jewelry. I am now pretty sure that he would have done a wonderful job, but at the time we had only been dating for eight months, so I didn't quite trust his taste in jewelry at that point!

We were married a little more than six months later (6/7/8), and the rest, as they say, is history! Our daughter was born on July 25th, 2009. Our marriage was convalidated in the Church on March 16th of this year. Although we've had some major ups and downs and challenges already in our marriage, I am thankful for him every single day. I know he is the man God intended me to spend my life with, and we have both grown so much as people since meeting one another.

A quote from a poem we had read at our first wedding ceremony:

"V. Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange of my love and work for yours, so much for so much of an expendable fund. We don't know what its limits are-- that puts us in the dark. We are more together than we know, how else could we keep on discovering we are more together than we thought? You are the known way leading always to the unknown, and you are the known place to which the unknown is always leading me back. More blessed in you than I know, I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing not belittled by my saying that I possess it. Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light enough to live, and then accepts the dark, passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I have fallen tine and again from the great strength of my desire, helpless, into your arms."

From "The Country of Marriage", by Wendell Berry.

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