Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How I Met Your Father

Here's what I posted on my Facebook wall yesterday:

Put kids to bed mid show when we realized what time it was, recording it for tomorrow. Husband then grabs the remote and continues playing Sofia the First. I was like ??? And he was like, "But I want to know how it ends." Way #48 that you know you have all girls....

And this was true.  But my husband posted the following on his FB wall yesterday:

18 years ago yesterday, two somewhat confused kids sat down in a classroom underneath the Commons to have a clear-the-air talk...which resulted in unexpected confessions of admiration and desire...which led to dating and a courtship that may someday be chronicled in multiple volumes (but I hope not)...Happy Little Anniversary to my beloved Katie! I am so blessed to have found you!

And this is also true... made me blush after I realized about 40 people had "liked" this before I realized this post had been shared with the world.  The things you can do with Facebook, man!  :) So I decided to respond in kind and over-over share because... I have a blog.  Welcome to Volume One.  :D

I realized with some awe yesterday that I've now spent half my life with my parents, and half my life "with" Dan.  We celebrate the day we first started "going out" every year as our "petite anniversaire."  (It's a term I made up to get more flowers.)

This date got another layer of meaning when I had my first miscarriage five years ago on the same date; thus, I always ask our little Gabriel to pray for our relationship, and am very thankful for his intercession.

I've decided to elaborate on the original November 17th here, in a (very) loose "Top Ten" Style.

1.  The year was 1996, the fall thereof.  After years of agonizing about which college to attend, I had selected the tiny, beautiful, and (in the end) perfect (for me) institution of learning: Christendom College.  Having turned out a full scholarship to Providence College (which was pretty idiotic, but anyway), I was now set on my chosen career track: becoming a nun.

2.  Not that I didn't have some mixed feelings about the plan.  I was actually very smitten with a gentleman I'd left in Rhode Island.  But I didn't believe my feelings were reciprocated, and I virtuously thought I should separate myself from this distraction to my "calling."  Terribly homesick for my family and this friend at first, I would pray several tearful rosaries for them all while walking the fields and avoiding the nests of killdeers (yep, there's a link for that too, tee hee) while the following song ran through my head (cuz it was the 90's, y'all):

I wanted you to have all that sappiness, complete with random nature scene.  This will now stick in your brain for the next two days.  You're welcome.

Anyway, I figured that four years of theology amongst a couple hundred young Catholics would help me figure things out.  I also thought it would be healthy to live a more normal life (i.e. a non-homeschooled existence) prior to my religious life.

3.  I moved on campus, and after a week of a set schedule of early rising, daily Mass, praying the Office, going to bed by nine PM, and doing laundry every afternoon at 2:15 PM, I figured I was ready to partake a bit in college life.  Thus I embarked upon the terrifying mission of attending the first dance of the year: the luau, on the sand of the volleyball court.  Which with the surrounding field, could pretty much accommodate the entire student body of 200 student bodies.

4.  First things first: I ask my roommate: "What's a luau?"  My poor roommate received a lot of such questions that first year.  "And what do we wear?"

"Hawaiian, Katie.  Something colorful.  Gotta go..."

With all the confident fashion sense of a homeschooler of the 90's, I selected my outfit:  I had a felt-like jacket of dark blue, green, and maroon (oh, I'm suffering just typing this) and stretchy pants.  Yep, I think that's what I wore.  And black shoes.  Oh.  Oh dear.  Oh.

5.  I wandered off across the dark campus to the blazing lights and sounds of the volleyball court turned dance hall, staring at the happy couples doing the lindy-hop version of swing dancing the college was known for.  Just sorta timidly stood on the sidelines till I caught the attention of a "shark," or one of the bachelors who'd graduated long ago but kinda hung around college events.

He asked me to dance.  I said, "Okayyy I guess... I really have no idea how to, though."

6.  I don't think he believed me, but I was quite serious.  I couldn't dance.  I was too scared to actually move to music, too stiff with decorum and shyness to have any sense of how this all worked.

Quickly tiring of helping this particular damsel in distress, my bored partner decided to introduce me to my future husband.  "Hey wait, this guy can teach ya...."

7.  It was definitely "huh" at first sight.  We matched at least.  Dan was wearing a large black t-shirt with an oriole prominently displayed over his chest.  It was this, but on a black background.

Dan could dance, well.  He'd been dancing with pretty much every upper class gal on the court already.  But I'm not 100% sure he ever looked at me, at any point during the dance.

"Oh, teach her?  Okay, sure sure.  Here we go."

Some song was starting.  I was being moved very quickly, my arms pulled in various directions.  I couldn't breathe.  I was stepping all over my own tied black shoes and his high-top sneakers.

"Loosen up, just loosen up, follow my lead."  I obediently stumbled my response.

Dan jived.  I tried.  "Man you're stiff!" he chuckled.  I mumbled an apology.  I kept looking up at this guy's face, all sweaty and excited, with eyes that kept sweeping the crowd, looking for his friends.  I was all like "???!!"  And he was like "...and chachacha... Hi!  Wait, I'll be right there...  Just teaching a freshman..."

His current response to my teasing on this important life moment is, "Well if I knew I was dancing with my future wife, I would have paid a lot more attention."

We were both relieved when the song ended.  Dan disappeared into the crowd, and I disappeared into my dorm to catch my breath, and feel the peaceful conviction of my chosen celibate vocation. Ah yes.  Home sweet silence.  Evening prayer...

8.  Over the next weeks, I focused on doing things I thought God would like me to do.  I joined the pro-life group, the rosary and altar society, the Legion of Mary, the choir... pretty much every group that would let me in.  And I was on the lookout to people to be Christ-like to.  And Dan readily presented himself as one of these people, as he was pretty much always on the girls' side of campus.  You see, Christendom is neatly divided into the girls' side and boys' side of campus, with a chapel in the middle.  But until curfew at midnight, we could all wander about as we pleased.

One afternoon while ironing one of my many ankle-length skirts, I heard sharp taps on my dorm window. This was particularly surprising since I was on the second floor.  My roommate jumped up with glee to look at the window:

"Hey look, that Dancause guy is rocking our window!"

"What does that mean?"  My poor roommate... I was exasperatingly clueless.  She was already hollering down for the message.


I blanched.  I blushed.  I was all ???!!!!  My roommate chortled "Oooooo Katie, you should have told me..."  I mumbled that I had no idea what this was about...  "Oh just go down!"

"Uh, okay.  I'll finish ironing later, I guess."

I descended the stairs, opened the door, and in my most casual voice said, "What can I do for you?"

He grinned.  "Wanna take a walk?"

"A walk?"

"Yup.  A walk.  Have you seen the trails?"

"What trails?"

"Trails.  In the woods.  I'll show you.  C'mon."

"Uh.  Okay."

All I could think of as I followed this guy out into the woods was that despite the fact that I was in a select Catholic college, my mother would be absolutely horrified that I was about to walk with a young man, alone, in the woods.  Even on trails that led to "Our Lady's Overlook" and "Visio Pacis."  I puzzled as to why he was here, since it wasn't as if I had made any impression on him but "shy, awkward dancer."

Turns out, the two other gals Dan had originally come to see were not in their dorms, and the man figured he'd see who else was in.  And I was "in."  So I got invited on a walk.

Nobly swinging a stick to reduce the chance of us walking into spider webs, Dan offered excessive help in making sure I got over fallen logs, sticks, and twigs, so I took his hand a lot that day.  I loosened up enough to talk about such avant-garde topics as professors, classes, the quality of cafeteria food, the comparative beauty of various languages, and so on.

9.  In following weeks, he came to intentionally rock my window for trail walks, and rosary walks down the long path in front of the campus.  And all these mild pleasantries continued until one day, a good girl friend of mine before (and after) this event informed me that "That nice guy Dan is taking me on a long road trip.  So I guess I'll see you later!"

And I had the strangest reaction to this news.  I was... jealous.  And, darn it, I realized I liked this guy, which was not the plan.  Like at all.  And I couldn't shake the feeling.  Darn it.  With a college as small as this one, you saw everyone everyday, so there was no avoiding him.  Even his workstudy was in the very center of campus: the mailroom, where he could handily chat with everyone as they collected their letters.  (As you can tell, my husband is the introvert of the family.)

So, I did what any shy homeschooled gal would have done: I wrote him a letter about it.  Then I tore that one up and wrote another one.  And repeated this process.  When I read the final draft, I realized I would be extremely uncomfortable simply handing this dumb "I like you and I don't know what to do about that" letter to him... I'd just have to tell him and get it over with.  Gulp.

10.  So on November 17th, shortly after he returned from taking my friend on the road trip to see her family, I told Dan I needed to talk to him about something.  Naturally, he thought this was very (very) interesting.

Only trouble was, I just couldn't bring myself to say it.  I hemmed and hawed and changed the topic till curfew, when we found ourselves sitting in a classroom, with me out of excuses to talk about "it."

Finally, Dan made it easy.  He sighed and said, "Well, I do have something to tell you while I'm waiting for what you're going to say: For the past few weeks, I've been trying my darndest not to fall in love with you."

So I said, "Oh.  I've been doing the same thing."

No, no, you don't need to look away friends... Here's what happened next: I just sat there. Wringing my hands.  Smiling back at Dan.  And I asked, "So... what changes now?"

"Nothing!"  Dan was chuckling.  "Nothing has to change.  This is just fine."

And he walked me back to my dorm.  And that was how we started "dating," and the beginning of our life as a couple.  Didn't kiss the guy till St. Patrick's Day.  But that's a whole other story... ;)

"Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways."  Isaiah 45:15


  1. Awww. I remember that girl! You are one of the few people who could make this shy, introverted, naive sheltered gal seem like a woman of the world. Thanks. ;) Dan sounds like the ambassador of friendliness. I too fell for a super-friendlly guy my freshman year. By the end of freshman year he was discerning the priesthood. He introduced me to my husband my junior year. And is now married to a friend of mine. God works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?

  2. Ha...I love "how we met stories"...and this one is really cute!

  3. I felt like I was curled up with a favorite novel!