Monday, January 31, 2011

The story

Sometime after Sarah and I got engaged I asked her to write out the story of our engagement so that I could post it on my blog. So Sarah went to work in her typical perfectionist way and she presented me with this post the other day. Enjoy!

It was the perfect day. Mild temperatures (in the upper 90’s), high humidity with a chance of higher humidity, and I was perfectly... distracted. My very best friends had come to visit for our yearly Girls Weekend and I was being hostess to nine women sharing my little house and one bathroom. We were enjoying the short time we had together catching up, eating hummus and watching Ellen’s new baby do what new babies do. My sisters were there, my best friends from forever (aka grade school and beyond) were there, and I was in a happy little place of... well, happiness. Nearly everyone I deeply loved was there. Except for Travis. You see, as near and dear to me as Travis was, this was not a “Girls-and-Travis” Weekend. This was a Girls Weekend. No Travises allowed. And he was feeling a little left out--which was why he called to see if he could steal me away for a small slice of our Saturday afternoon. At least, this was the only logical explanation I could find in the deep recesses of my mind that would explain such a thing. Why else would he take away some of the precious few hours I had to spend with the people (who had to fly and drive from all over the country to be here, mind you) that meant more to me than anything in the world? Exactly. He seemed to be pretty persistent about it, too, so I could only assume that he was feeling extra left-out. Me being crazy-head-over-heels for this man, I was not very resistant to consenting to his request. And so I told him to come pick me up at three.

When he arrived to get me, I took his hand and ran out to his car in an excited but rushed state of mind. One of those “I’m so happy to be with you but let’s please hurry and get back so I can continue with what I was doing” states of mind. Though I was truly curious as to where we were going for only an hour (“Don’t worry, I won’t keep you more than an hour,” he had told me), I was even more distracted by the activity going on back at my house that I somehow forgot to ask him what we were even doing.

As we were driving, I mentioned to him, “You do know what today is, don’t you?” Himself being even more distracted than I was (how was that even possible?), he replied, “No, what?” “It was exactly ten months ago today that you asked me out on our first date!” I exclaimed. Travis looked at me and smiled. “Oh, really? Yeah, I guess I forgot... That’s pretty cool.” Little did I know just how cool (and coincidental) that actually would turn out to be.

We continued driving, and somewhere along the jumbled conversation we had in that short trip, Travis casually mentioned that we needed to make a quick pit-stop at the Tows’ house to drop off some things for connection group that week. I had noticed some boxes in the back seat, and though now, looking back on that day, their presence should have screamed ‘out-of-the-ordinary’, I thought absolutely nothing of them at the time. I was just happy to spend some time with my man (though a bit sad that he was taking time out of our already limited hour to get an errand run when he could do it later on in the day without me).

Now this would be the part in the story where I have to pause and explain the Tows: Who they are, how much they mean to both of us, and how they have played such a huge role in our relationship--mentoring us, letting us in on their family life, and shepherding us through an amazing connection group they hosted in their home. So bear with me.

Travis and I essentially started dating because of the Tows (Ryan and Shana, who have been extremely good friends with Travis for over five years). Last summer I had decided to “live my life instead of letting my life live me” and start dating people (for real this time). I had impossibly high standards that no one--not even Jesus himself--could have met, and as a result, had only dated one person in my twenty-seven years of living. This put me in a predicament. Fortunately, God put an article--and people--in my life that changed everything. One of the things this article mentioned was that in finding someone to date (and ultimately marry), you should always take into serious, serious consideration the recommendations of parents, more mature people from church who know you well, and close friends. For some reason I decided to live religiously according to this article, so when the Tows (along with my good friend Kaci Sloss) recommended I date this friend of theirs named Travis, I listened. Because of an interesting set of events, this didn’t happen right away, but through the months that followed, their advice was always at the back of my head.

To continue explaining the significance of the Tows (and their home) to our relationship, I must also take you back to the first time Travis and I met. It was yet another blistery summer day, and the Tows were having a “breakfast-for-supper” party with me and a few close friends. Because a pajama dress code had been set, I, being the goofy-yet-fun-loving person that I am, decided to wear my new, red, sock monkey footie pajamas. (My sister had gotten them for me for Christmas... long story.) Anyways, already feeling a bit silly, I walked in through the door (the Tows have a don’t-knock-just-come-in policy)... and there, sitting at their kitchen table, was Travis. Oh, boy. Well, I thought, he’s going to see who I really am at some point. Might as well be now. He shook my hand cordially and we went on with our breakfast preparations.

Fast forward eleven and a half months to our original hot, summer day. Real time. Travis and I, in love and equally distracted by our own individual thoughts and plans, pulled into the driveway of this house that had basically become our second home. The Tows didn’t know we were coming to drop off the boxes, and as such were going about their business doing those things that families do. Ryan was working on something in the garage, Shana was off running an errand, and the kids were playing. It was the familiar atmosphere of peaceful chaos that we had come to love about the Tow house.

But my mind was not exactly there--at all. It was impatient and wanting to quickly drop the things off so we could get on to spending time together. Travis grabbed a few heavier boxes out of the back seat and headed for the front door. I, being the efficient woman that I am, stacked all of the remaining boxes in my arms (since they were surprisingly light) and followed him into the cool, air-conditioned house. By the time we got to the kitchen I realized we had no idea where to put them, so I asked Travis. He turned around and saw for the first time that I had gotten the rest of the boxes. I missed the panicked look that crossed his eyes, but followed his direction when he immediately recovered and told me to put them on the table next to him and go ask Ryan in the garage. I did, and not more than three seconds later was back in the kitchen, telling him to just leave them there.

What I came back to confused me. Somehow, in those three seconds, a bouquet of purple daisies had appeared on the table. I looked at Travis, a quizzical expression on my face. “Who are those for?” I asked, though part of me already knew the answer since purple was my favorite color. “They’re for you,” Travis replied, looking right back at me as if his face would answer all of the other questions that had suddenly appeared in my head. What he did next just added to the confusion... He grabbed my shoulders, pulled me toward himself, and quickly kissed me! Right in front of the Tow’s kids, who had been running around playing and were now staring at us! My mind raced. What is going on? Why did you just kiss me in front of the kids? What are you doing? We have to get going--my friends are waiting for me to spend time with you and we’re wasting our time--Didn’t you leave the car running? And where are we going after this, anyways? Don’t we need to get moving? Somehow I still didn’t get it.

A half-moment later, Travis’s hands started shaking along with his voice, in a way I’ve never seen him shake before. His eyes started to glisten, and then it hit me. Oh my gosh, you’re proposing to me! WHAT?? Here, now? But what about that place in the park I always thought you would do it at? And why now? What about the build-up you’re supposed to have before this? What on earth is going on? Seriously??? He got down on one knee and grabbed my hands in his shaking ones. I had never seen him so emotional--or so nervous! He opened his mouth, and said:

“Eleven and a half months ago, in this very spot, I met you for the first time. And my life has not been the same since. We’ve gotten to know each other and have grown together, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Then he turned to a mysterious black photo box that was sitting on the table next to him and flipped open the lid.

This is where I HAVE to pause the story yet again and give you a little background (I’m so sorry, but you’ll see why in just a second!). When I was young--about 10 or 11--I had a small pile of pennies that I had accumulated, and my mom told me that I should start saving them up for the day I got married. She said that after saving them for years, I would have enough to buy my wedding dress or a wedding gift with them. And so I started saving. From then on, I collected and saved every penny I came across. If I saw a coin laying on the sidewalk, I might leave it there if it were a nickle or dime, but pennies... I always picked up pennies. They made me happy. And they all went into my penny jar for that day when I would someday get married.

Okay. Back to the Tows’ kitchen and the confusing (though becoming clearer by the second) proposal that was taking place. Travis turned to the kitchen table and flipped open the lid of the black box sitting next to him. It was filled nearly to the top... with pennies! And there, in the middle of it, was a small, velvet box. And there, inside the velvet box, catching a ray of the bright summer sun and sparkling ever so beautifully, was a ring. The ring. The ring that would soon bind me to Travis. The ring that would symbolize our love that now didn’t have to be just a lovey-dovey “you are the most wonderful person I’ve ever known” feeling, but could finally be an “I am going to be by your side through thick and thin” kind of love. The ring that would be worn for the rest of my days. And it was mine.

Travis looked at me, and, taking my hands once again in his trembling ones, said, “Sarah, I love you, and it would be my joy and honor to spend the rest of my life married to you. Will you marry me?”

For some reason, I was still confused. I’m not sure why, but I was. Everything made sense now. Everything had been revealed. But for some reason, I was still in utter shock and disbelief--not to mention completely caught off-guard. This is why my reaction ended up being a little less romantic than his proposal had been. I looked at him incredulously, jaw dropped, and cried out, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?” When he laughed and said yes, I repeated, “No, for real... are you SERIOUS?!”

Oh, well. Sometimes you can’t “plan” a reaction--no matter how hard you try.

I ran at him and threw my arms around him. I continued to exclaim and question and laugh and hug. I think somewhere in there I said yes. Travis proceeded to take the sparkly ring out of the velvet box, slip off the small gold purity ring that had been holding its place for fourteen years, and put it on my finger. At least, that’s how I like to remember what happened. What really happened was that he was still shaking so badly he almost dropped the ring and I had to help him get it on. In the end, the ring was in place and we were hugging again.

About a minute or so later, Ryan came into the kitchen, looked at us, and said, “Did that seriously just happen ten seconds ago?” When we both nodded in excitement, a huge grin broke across his face. “Congratulations, you guys!” he exclaimed, then continued, “Yeah, I came in because Maddi [the youngest, five-year-old girl] came running into the garage, found me, and shouted, ‘DAD! You’re missing the WEDDING STUFF!’ I had no idea what she was talking about so I came in to find out...” We laughed and laughed. It was probably one of the best engagement announcements that has ever been made. Ever. At least that’s my opinion.

We stayed a bit longer, taking a picture or two, receiving our first engagement gift (a picture of a heart drawn by Maddi), and lamenting the absence of Shana in our special moment. Travis had wanted this to be such a surprise, he had told NO ONE--not even the Tows! On our way home, we were going to stop by Travis’s parents’ house to surprise them, but since they were gone for the weekend, we decided to go to Dairy Queen instead. Our celebratory meal was a chocolate peanut butter cup blizzard and a strawberry lemonade chiller. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When we got home we had a few minutes alone to enjoy and finally talk about what our lives would be like once we got married. We dreamed and laughed and enjoyed the thought of getting to spend our entire futures together. All too soon, our time alone was over, and the girls came back (from--get this--going bridesmaid dress shopping! Apparently the fact that Travis had asked Kathleen for Dad’s second phone number the night before had tipped them off or something..). I ran out to meet them, and as soon as I held out my left hand, there was screaming, hugging, squealing, ring viewing, more screaming, and more hugging. Once we got inside, we told them the whole story. It had been a day of excitement, confusion, unique details, and awesome community. It was, indeed, the perfect day.

you have my love


lynette said...

yay! this was great to read. I like hearing sarah's point of view. we are so excited for you both!

Melissa said...

Love it! Very happy for both of you.

Rachel Farley said...

Sam linked this on her blog and I am so glad I read it.

Lovely story!! So well written too.

Marriage is wonderful; you two are going to love it!

Sally said...

Great details! I remember getting the call with the news from Travis while sipping a lemonade in Pioneer Hall at the State Fair. Hearing Sarah's excited proclamations and crying tears of joyfulness right then and there.