Today I was thinking about how I always love to know the story behind an engagement or the path that took people to their wedding day. What brought two people together, how it all started, who they were then and why they started down this journey together. It’s important for me to know all of my couples on a more personal level, so I can really capture the personal, emotional moments of their wedding day or really preserve the essence of who they are together in their engagement shoot. When I ask questions like this, it’s because I’m interested (hello, I’m about as girly as they come!) and because it really gives me perspective on your personal story for a wedding day.
Which led me to think… here I am, asking you all sorts of personal questions, yet I never give YOU the chance to find out about MY love story with Jeff. :) So today, on the three-year anniversary of when we officially became “a couple,” I’ll share some of that with you, complete with random snapshots I found on my computer. :)
We met waaay back in 2001 when we attended Kansas HOBY in high school. We didn’t date then, we were just really good long-distance friends (we lived about 3 hours away). We saw each other maybe twice a year at volunteer training workshops and the four-day HOBY seminar each summer, where we now served on the staff.
We e-mailed each other quite a bit. We talked on the phone (including on Christmas Eve one year which alerted my mom that this was serious!). We even had “National Jeff [or Erica] Loves Mail Week” where we sent each other real mail for a whole week. I think every piece of mail included reasons why one of us should move to the other’s city (at this time, I was in Manhattan, KS, and Jeff was in Springfield, MO). And this whole time (like almost 5 years), neither of us actually told the other how we felt. We hinted at it a few times, but basically I just thought that there’s no way this cool musician/hilarious story-teller could ever like dorky old me! :)
Fast forward to New Year’s Day, 2006. Jeff planned a trip to Wichita (I was home for college break), and I just knew that he was coming to tell me something big. Confess his undying love. Bring his suitcase and transfer to K-State. Whatever. I just felt it. I spent hours getting ready. My whole family knew that I was going to see Jeff. So I showed up at the mall, where we were going to meet, and hurriedly ran inside to buy new shoes that looked much cuter with my outfit. So I did (silly me).
(photos from that day):
(notice the cute but painful shoes):
The days leading up to the “reunion,” Jeff started calling our other HOBY friends, turning it into a big group get-together, which was awesome, but I wondered how he would tell me that he just couldn’t live without me if everyone else was around too… am I right? :)
So we spent the afternoon walking around downtown Wichita. Seriously. On New Year’s Day. It must have been warm. Or my heart was pounding so fast that I didn’t notice the cold… OR the fact that my new cute shoes were seriously ruining my feet. I don’t even want to tell you the details. Let’s just say that by the end of the night, I had permanently damaged the skin on the back of my foot (silly me). As the night went on, Jeff acted all spaced out, I knew that he didn’t like me for sure, and it was time to go home. He hugged me like a million times… still nothing. I walked to my car… no shouts of “Erica — WAIT!” (you know, like the movies?). I got in my car… yet he didn’t create a human roadblock to keep me from leaving (what was the DEAL?!).
Finally, the next day, I realized that he just didn’t feel the same way. So I told all my friends that I was going to have to stop talking to him on the phone, because my little heart just couldn’t take it.
And then, a few days later (during the Rose Bowl, to be exact), Jeff called… small-talked a little bit… and then said, “Erica. I have to tell you something.” (Oh great… I just knew he was dating someone else!). I squeaked out an “Okay…?” and waited in the silence that followed. “I, um… I’ve had a really big crush on you for years…” And just like that — whoosh — a wave of relief, of joy, of shock, of oh-my-gosh-it’s-about-time came over me. “Me, too.” :)
He planned another trip to see me the following weekend, in Manhattan. He came and stayed with our good friend Nick and we spent all sorts of time exploring Manhattan, being all nervously giddy and just reveling in the one-on-one time that we never really had before. It was the 10th time we’d seen each other in person in 5 years. :) And on January 16, 2006, Jeff asked me to be his girlfriend, right before he left to go back home. It was the beginning of our long-distance relationship (and it stayed long-distance until less than four months before our wedding!). I was just joyful.
And today, three years later, I can still feel it. I can remember how wonderful it was to finally — finally! — be able to start a journey with the person I admired and loved so much. Oh boy, if I only knew then how much it would continue to grow. :)
The best part about stories is that they keep evolving. Eight years ago we met. Three years ago started a new path for us. A little over a year later, we got engaged and our path expanded. Six months later, we got married. And here we are right now, looking back and looking forward… together. :)