We emailed back and forth a lot that summer. I was living with my sister-in-law, who was expecting her third kid and had a lot of baby stories :) The most memorable emails, though, were those we sent while I was on a retreat at a convent :) Oh, the dreams we shared that weekend. It was uplifting to meet a guy so excited about religious life.
I first met my husband's family while I was dating someone else. My then-boyfriend was gone for the weekend so Taylor and a few of his friends invited me over to Seattle to get away from campus. A timely invitation, just as fall semester (2003) was taking off! We dropped T off at his house first. Their kitchen was being remodeled at the time, so "operations" were held in the basement.
Sebastian (now 9) was still a toddler, binky and all, and I think T's mum was just pregnant with Lydia. I remember going down to the basement with everyone and simply being quiet, in the background, listening to T's friends chat with "Mrs. Black." T was cuddling Sebastian, who had run to him when T walked in the door, climbed into his arms, and stayed their the entire conversation. Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the weekend with the girl Taylor liked. I remember she and I talked about how she might marry Taylor someday.. if things panned out.
That was T's freshman year. We both maintained our other romantic interests, never guessing that in just one year, we'd be dating and on our way to marriage. How funny to look back and see how things developed. We lived in the same building on campus and would talk together about our relationships and friends. I remember visiting T in his room one cold night toward the end of fall semester. He had his heater on all the way and the window wide open. I thought it was strange--what a waste of electricity, right?--but that it was also oddly refreshing to have the blazing warmth of the heater and the cold blasts of crisp air from outside swirling together all around me.
That summer, I broke up with my boyfriend, realizing the relationship had no future, and I made big plans to have a "single senior year" at college [I skipped a year, in case you were wondering where my junior year went]. I was going on to graduate school after I graduated, possibly all the way across the country, and I just didn't have time for any more silly relationships clouding up God's plans for me. I had to be on track, and I had everything figured out.
Or so I thought.
I got back to GU, fall 2004 classes started, and I began to see Taylor more often around campus. We'd serendipitously eat together and sometimes walk to class together (his new dorm was on my way to campus).We went on the Pilgrimage retreat together--a long hike to the first Jesuit mission in ID. I guess that's when we really started getting to know each other.
Then Taylor proposed! Wait--you want to know if I missed something? No. He did propose, but not like a real proposal. We were chatting together, talking about all my sweet nieces and nephews, and T's wonderful younger siblings, and he said,
"Anne, why can't we just get married, start having babies, and have fun?"Naturally, I said,
"Ok! but you'd have to get me a ring."Without missing a beat, T pulled a rosary ring off his desk and handed it to me. And there ya go :) for a whole week, we were "engaged." Who says you can't make-believe as a grown-up?
But he went home to visit his family that weekend and, apparently, realized he really liked me enough to want to date me for real. So when he came back to campus, he asked me,
"Anne, can I date you with the intention of discerning what God wants from our relationship?"Seriously! What more could I ask for!?
Two weeks later, he told me he was in love with me. Three months after that, he told my father he wanted to marry me. Five months after that, he asked to spend the rest of my life with me. And 10 months after that, we were married. Talk about whirlwind :)
The other day we were chatting with two of our dear friends about their pilgrimage/honeymoon. Michaela was telling us about a slope they were laboring to climb. At a certain point, they stopped for a breath and a drink of water and looked down the mountain. And she told us,
"You can't see it, when you're walking, what it means to be where you are."And that really struck me. In fact, I wrote it down right there (I don't think they noticed) ;) and kept it.
I never knew, when I sat down in front of that "lonely little boy" at that party, that I was saying hello to the man who would come to know me better than anyone. Looking back, I am in awe of the landscape of my past, the paths that led Taylor and me together, and the ways we've walked together.
I am so glad for memory. It is true that we only have the present to live in, but to be able to look back and see how far we've come is a blessing. A tremendous blessing. Because to see your past with the perspective of the present is revelatory and enlightening. Michaela's right, you can't see it, when you're walking now, what it means to be where you are. But that's a blessing too, really.