How We Met

I’ve been whining quite a bit recently, though I prefer to refer to it as processing and a healthy outlet, you can call it what you want, just don’t tell me unless you think I’ll like it. Any way, I thought I’d like to write about something really good that happened to me once, and remind myself that it is good in the process.

One May long weekend I found myself at this big/giant youth conference in Kelowna, BC. I wasn’t exactly a youth anymore, I think I was 20, had a couple of years of post secondary under my belt, and had driven a bunch of kids out, and a few friends my own age for this event. At the very last day, during the very last meeting, this guy named Trey, who was a California surfer dude, but also the organizer of the event, got up on stage and announced that he was thinking about trying something, an experiment of sorts, he wasn’t sure what it would look like, but here was the basic idea, and anyone who was interested should talk to him afterward. In my life to that point I had made very few actual decisions.

I went into my major at University, completely against the other areas I had been toying with exploring, simply because a high school guidance counselor who didn’t know me at all, looked at my transcripts, noticed that I took a lot of music classes, had very high marks and why didn’t I major in that? I had gone in considering the fields of literature, history, and archeology. I also had the highest possible score on the world lit. exams, and composition for IB, and more than decent in history, science, math, etc. Good grief I was an honors student, and somehow I ended up choosing a music major in one half hour. I definitely don’t consider that a decision I made. The truth is, I didn’t really know what I wanted, so I was happy to receive a suggestion and went with it. I auditioned, got in, got scholarships, and something that I had been considering quitting because I was getting bored with it became my entire focus, and I spent a cool 20 grand on getting better at it before I realized that although I enjoyed it, I would never love it enough to become very successful. You have to be very focused and dedicated to become a professional musician. I had the talent, but I lacked the drive, I kept thinking that there was something much more important than singing opera that I was missing. Needless to say, I didn’t finish that degree.

I tell that story to illustrate that I consider making a decision something quite different from just going with the flow and allowing life to happen to me. When I heard Trey make his announcement, something deep inside me responded. I wanted to do that; I was going to do that. I knew with absolute certainty that that was something I WANTED to do. I didn’t stop to think about whether it was possible, what it would mean, where it would take me, I only knew that my heart had chosen this as I listened, and I went to talk to him.

What followed was an amazing year with 5 other incredible women, living in San Diego, feeding homeless people, turning our hand to whatever need we saw and growing together into this amazing community that I had never experienced before, and haven’t since. I grew up that year, finally, in a lot of ways that I needed to. I was challenged, stretched, fell apart, and put the pieces back together in the love and support that surrounded me. I also met my husband.

We both marvel at the timing of our meeting. He says if he had met me two weeks sooner he may not have even noticed, he was too busy solidifying as a person himself. We ran into each other about a week after he had felt an internal shift where he felt as though he finally knew who he was, what he wanted, and where he was going. I was finally whole enough to not be scared off by the thought of being vulnerable with someone, and I had stopped trying to control the heck out of my life and was shedding my fear of the unknown. (I know, I was a control freak, but I couldn’t make decisions. If it was logical it wouldn’t be considered a hang-up right?)

We met in Mexico. Actually we first laid eyes on each other in a parking lot as we prepared to cross the border but we don’t count that. He thought I said my name was Tureen and thought that my parents must be nuts for naming me after a soup dish. I didn’t notice him at all. In fact he is the one who reminded me of that meeting, after which I could recall vaguely a guy standing next to a white pick-up truck as we went around the circle introducing ourselves and getting our stories straight while the drivers bought insurance. We were with a combined group of churches and were taking food and clothing and baby blankets and such to Tecate in order to help the people who were known to the church there. We threw a big Christmas party (hotdogs) and handed out gifts all day to thousands of people. We didn’t want the guys at the border confiscating all of the stuff, which tends to happen a lot, thus the story meeting.

I was there because my friend really wanted to go, and wanted me to go with her. He was there because he was on his way to India for a year to do mission type stuff, and he had spent a summer or two living with the people down there and building things for them, he wanted to say goodbye before leaving.

I borrowed his keychain scissors to cover the tables with paper. (Now I carry them in my purse, I needed to borrow them so often he finally gave them to me and got himself another one.) I noticed his very cool tattoo, which he designed himself, and we talked briefly about the difference between Pictish and Celtic art. And still we failed to notice each other, though I do remember thinking I really liked his smile.

Then came a very boring bit, for me anyway, where all of the diverse church groups in attendance had a “sharing time” before we began the main event. I stayed at the back and played with two little Mexican girls who were trying to peel my long, and clean, fingernails off so they could get a better look at them. Towards the end of this thing, the Genius Husband’s father, at that time pastor of one of the churches, gave a mini talk and ended with asking people to pray for his son who was on his way to India where a month before or something a Christian missionary and son had been killed in a car bomb. I thought, “Sure, they always pray for the pastor’s kid.” as a bunch of people gathered around him.

I have these moments sometimes when I’m looking at someone, often when I’m praying, when I see something I never saw before. It’s almost like there is a membrane that is pulled aside for the briefest of seconds and I can really see them for the first time, like all pretenses and judgments are put aside and I can see the person inside. I never know when this is going to happen, but it’s always significant for me or the person I’m talking to. So I wasn’t surprised when right at that moment I looked at this “pastor’s kid” and actually saw him for the first time. It was so strong that it was three days before I was able to connect him with the guy I had had the two prior conversations with. In my mind they were different people. All I remember from that moment was thinking that he had the most beautiful heart I had ever seen. There was something so very sincere and faithful about what I saw in that moment, that I desperately wanted to talk to him just once in order to see it again. Maybe that's when I started to love him, though I'm not sure.

Friends and well wishers were all around him, and it was a very busy day. I watched from a distance, and gave up on the idea of talking to him before the evening was over. I served hotdogs, passed out blankets and hygiene items to girls that looked old enough to need them, helped clean up, ate the BEST homemade tortillas ever for dinner, with homemade salsa as well, and then I was sent to pass out oranges for dessert. There he was talking to someone as I walked up and offered oranges. And then stayed, and stayed, and talked, the other person left soon after, and we kept talking. He told me later that about 20 minutes into that conversation, it was as though time stood still for a second, and he knew that he was going to marry me. He described it as feeling like part of himself was looking back at him as we talked, and then quoted Milton, which was the way to my nerdy English lit. heart.

At the end of that conversation I had an invitation to go hiking in the desert with him before he left. I accepted and asked if my friends could come. (Hello, guy I just met, alone in the middle of nowhere, PK or not, I’m not an idiot. We danced to that song at our wedding too; Son of a Preacher Man.) What I didn’t count on was my dear friend who happened to observe our conversation that night, the lovely and talented Journey Mama, whom you should all go and read. At that time she was 18 and so sweet and innocent and she connived, connived I tell you in order to make sure that I was in that desert alone with him no matter what. She knew that something special was happening, even if I wasn’t as certain yet. She told everyone to cancel on me at the last minute. By this time I had agreed to camp and then hiking, thinking that there would be a largish group of us. And then it was just me, and I desperately wanted to go, so I sought out my dear conniving friend and asked her advice. She encouraged me to go anyway, hah, she had planned it that way. No two people ever had a more subtle and perceptive matchmaker.

I was so nervous waiting for him to pick me up, I second-guessed the whole thing, I told myself I was being reckless and stupid, and then he showed up. From that moment on it felt as though I have known him my entire life. I have never felt so completely at ease around someone as I do around him. Talking to him was like talking to myself, in a good way. That night and day we felt like old friends, like we had finally found that friend we had always wanted. It wasn’t romantic yet, but it was intense.

We walked on the beach after he took me home. We finally hugged and he told me he loved me, and held my hand as we walked back. I said goodbye, and gave him my email address, and he flew to India two days later, for a year. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again.

Stay tuned for the next installment where I tell you about how I made the second or third actual decision of my life, which led to me marrying him, and the life I have now.

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