Monday, June 21, 2010

Finally! A Love Story--Part 2

If you missed Part 1, go here.
Turns out looking for pictures in the garage became a full scale garage cleaning.
And I didn't even find the pictures I was looking for! Isn't that always the way?
But I did find a few, and they reminded me of a very important story. It is pretty crucial to the whole story. So that's where I'll start. We're going backwards a bit. Bear with me.
_________________________________
When my dad and I were preparing to go to India for our second mission trip, we needed to take along a small team. We would be working with some Indian nationals, but needed a couple more Americans to come with us. My life long friend, almost little sister, Erin, was coming and so we needed a guy.

There were a couple in the running. Oddly enough, one was interested in me and the other was someone a friend wanted me to be interested in. The first one, whose name I cannot even remember, I met while a counselor at camp. We had both been on a Teen Missions trip the previous summer, and whenever you meet a fellow Teen Missions alum, you have an instant connection. Apparently this guy thought it was a bigger connection than I did, and wanted to come on our India mission trip. He even traveled down to Fallbrook to meet my Dad and find out more.
It didn't work out and I was relieved. It would have been kind of an awkward summer.

The next guy was sent to us by someone else. She made it pretty clear she thought he'd be perfect for me. I was a little confused--this was a mission trip, not the dating game, but whatever. He was a lot older than me (or so it seemed at 17) and I wasn't enthralled. Lucky for me, he didn't pan out either.

And then, one fateful night, Aaron called me and asked if I was home. It wasn't too late, around 10, and he said he was coming over.
"Just wait for me," he said.
So I did.
Before long, I heard a tap on my bedroom window. I pulled back my curtain and there stood Aaron, in our dark driveway, his hands full of flowers.
"I brought you these."
Then he began to recite a poem.
I don't really remember the poem, if he wrote it himself, or it was from some well loved poet, because almost as soon as he began, I heard the back gate open.
And I knew.
My Dad was coming.

If I would have thought clearly, it all would have been no big deal. I would have told Aaron to quickly call out to my Dad, or even more quickly come around to the front door. But both of us just froze.
Aaron had the look of a deer about him.
He was terrified.
My dad hadn't been very welcoming toward Aaron, even when Aaron came to lunch to meet him and get permission to "hang out" with me. You could tell Dad was not a fan of this whole thing.

Our driveway was long and dark. Dad was checking the cars to make sure they were locked, like he did every night. He would also sometimes take my dog, Bunny, for a walk. He carried a bat. For coyotes.
When he came around the corner, he could make out the figure of a man standing at my window. The pool of light wasn't bright enough to see that it was Aaron. Just a man.
In in a voice he reserved for the worst of all people, Dad yelled, "who's there!"

Aaron's voice rose back to its re-pubescent level, "it's just me!"
"What are you doing?"
"Oh just sneaking around. Hee hee."

Probably not the best time for jokes. We heard the gate slam, then a door, then another door.
I said, "I better go."
Aaron said he'd leave the flowers for me in the mailbox and he took off.

Oh dumb teenage love. Why didn't he come right in and explain things? Why didn't we admit the truth? I tried to explain it away to my dad. I said, "we're just friends."
My dad didn't buy that for a second.
"You might be just friends with him, but no boy wants to be just friends with a girl. And that boy, especially, doesn't want to be just friends with you."
And then he gave his famous line.
"I know how boys think. I was a boy once."
You just can't reason with that kind of logic.

I waited until everyone was asleep and then snuck out to the mailbox for my flowers. They were roses. Picked from the country club gardens where Aaron worked. There was a letter too. One of the many he had already given me.
Just friends. Who were we kidding?

The next day, Aaron came over to apologize to my dad. And dad asked him to go to India with us.
I never asked him why, but I am pretty sure he wanted to check this guy out who was so interested in his daughter. He thought he'd see if he passed the test.

He did.
Aaron and I weren't the only ones who bonded on that trip. Aaron and my dad did too. They often shared a room, we all had Bible study every day, prayer time and ate 3 meals a day together. We were in each other's company constantly.
Dad got a pretty good idea of who Aaron was and hey got along pretty well.
They even began to dress alike. It was scary.
This is the real proof though of the advances in their relationship. Really scary.
They are of course, just posing. And yes, this is a public urinal, on the street, without any walls. Oh India! (My mom hates this picture. She is probably not going to be happy to see it here. It is pretty gross. And also pretty funny.)

When we got back from India we admitted the truth, and we began to date. It was official.
We were in love.

So you see, without that late night visit to my window there might not have been an India. Aaron certainly wasn't planning on going with us. Until my Dad suggested it, he hadn't even thought about it. I am so glad Aaron was a hopeless romantic. It really worked out for us.
This is now one of our favorite stories. It seems so silly and harmless, but at the time, oh it was quite a moment. I don't think I've ever seen Aaron so scared. Even when I'm giving birth and he is white as a sheet and nearly fainting. His voice sounded like Mickey Mouse. Classic.

After we'd been dating for nearly 3 years, I began to get anxious. I was, after all, over 20, and ready to get this show on the road. Many of our friends were getting married. Aaron's younger sister got engaged.
It was driving me crazy.
I nagged. I cajoled. I hinted. I am ashamed to admit, I even cried.
I didn't know then what I know now, if Aaron doesn't want to do it, there ain't no way anybody is going to get him to do it. In fact, he'll probably resist even more just because you want him to.
He's rebellious like that.
Like I said, I had a lot of growing up to do.

To his credit, Aaron also wanted to wait and ask me with a ring. I know there are guys who have a ring fund before they even meet "the one", or at least begin saving once they meet her. Aaron was too poor to have a ring fund. He was a student, waiting tables part time and scraping by.
I told him I didn't need a ring. I didn't care. And really, I didn't.
Still, nothing.

And then one night, we were in Laguna Beach. We met there often because it was half way between Long Beach and Fallbrook. We'd walk the beach and hilly streets, holding hands and dreaming of the future together. The future, I'd try hard not to point out, that wasn't really a future yet at all.

We walked back to my car, parked on Thalia St, in front of a little beach cottage with a ramshackle, white picket fence, when suddenly, Aaron was down on one knee.
He took my hand, there on the side of the road, and said, "Greta, I don't know why it has taken me so long to ask you this. Will you marry me?"

I think the skies opened up and the angels sang.
I said yes! Yes! Yes!
He didn't have a ring, we weren't having dinner by candlelight or watching the sunset, but it didn't matter one bit.
It was perfect

He told me later that as we were walking to my car it was like a lightbulb went on in his head and he thought, "WHAT AM I DOING? I need to marry this girl." So he got on his knee and asked me right then.

We found a ring a couple months later at an estate jewlry store. It was perfect and just what I wanted. It is from the 20s and just like my grandma's. I can't find the pictures of when he gave it to me, so I'll save that story for next year's anniversary.

Our wedding was on June 13, 1998. We got married under a magnolia tree in a garden. There were lots and lots of people there that we loved. I remember all the little kids I baby sat waving to me and whispering, "Hi Greta!" as my Dad walked me down the aisle.
I remember being supremely happy that I was finally marrying the man of my dreams.
He was worth the wait.
We look so young in these pictures. I can't imagine our sons or daughter being married at 21 or 23. But I am glad we did. We've grown up together.
Have we fought? Heck yeah!
Have we been sick of each other, annoyed, fed up? Yep.
But you know, marriage is really about hard work. It is about loving someone even when you don't feel like it. It is about sacrifices and giving and putting the other person first.
And 12 years later, we are still learning how to do that.
Maybe by 50 we'll have it figured out.

__________________________________
So many of you have responded to this story that I want to encourage you to write down your own love story. Even if you don't have a blog to publish it on, write it down and save it for your kids. Find some old pictures. Remember some of your favorite dating stories. Take a walk back in time and remember the greatest story of your life.
It will be fun.
And if you do, I'd love to hear it.
Happy writing!
Love from,
Greta

2 comments:

katie said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful and sometimes hilarious story with us. It was after attending your wedding that Kevin and I decided it was time to get engaged. It had been 3 1/2 years and we were only 20 years old, but we thought, "hey if they can do it, we can do it!" Congrats on 12 years and wishing that every year from here is as joyful and blessed.
Much love,
Katie

Betsi* said...

Your wedding is still one of my favorites that I've attended. Everything about it was so sweet and fresh, just like you guys!