This year Jeremy and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, which means that it was 10 years ago this month that we started dating. In celebration of this momentous anniversary, I’ve dusted off a popular series here on the blog and am finally adding a few new chapters!
If you haven’t yet read the beginnings of the fantastic tale of how a tongue-tied, tipi-dwelling, ultra-conservative girl actually found a guy to marry–get caught up here. We left off right after I broke up with my first boyfriend and I was trying to recover from the myths I’d believed about courtship.
In Which the Quiet Man Enters the Scene
The winter after my first breakup, I spent inordinate amounts of time in my bedroom writing melancholy poems, my manikin Monique my only companion. When I came downstairs I immersed myself in massive sewing projects–creating authentically-detailed ball gowns for myself and my sisters to wear at period dances and presentations.
With the other young people at Church, we’d formed The Society For the Restoration of Historic Ballroom Dancing and every Saturday night we got together to practice new dances, tracing the steps with chalk all over Mom’s vintage hardwood floors, and every few months someone had an idea for another Ball. We were reveling in finally finding a social outlet that was approved of in our conservative circles–in fact, our pastor was our biggest proponent, waxing eloquent on the many benefits of the chivalry and decorum of the ballroom atmosphere.
So it was that despite my still-tender heart, I was involved in a very merry social life, and had many things to distract me from my tendency to mope.
The key distraction showed up that winter in the form of my pastor’s eldest son. We’d met before, but for the last few years he’d been living several hours away so I only saw him on rare occasions. That winter, though, he’d moved to live closer to his parents, and now lived eight miles down the road from me.
Many things were against me taking any notice of him…
- I was determined not to have a whiplash relationship
- I thought he was interested in someone else
- I’d already written him off years ago for being too short
- I was going to be friends first with a guy before I ever dated again, and Jeremy and I weren’t friends.
But God had a plan for scaling the walls I’d built. He knew how gun-shy I was, and He knew the desire I had that “next time” I dated someone, it would be built on the foundation of a casual friendship, not the formality of courtship. He knew that I’d need a lot of casual opportunities to warm up to a guy.
Breakfast, Candy, and Dinner
It was the candy shop that did it. Friends were building a retro candy and ice cream shop in the tourist town just north of us, and had hired Jeremy (who was an independent contractor) to remodel the building and create their brainchild. It was a good four-month project, and Jeremy needed help. My dad was self-employed and could use the work that winter, so Jeremy hired him. Then, because my family only had one vehicle, Jeremy would pick Dad up for work each weekday morning and drop him off in time for dinner.
Enter Stage Right: Mom, the Gracious Hostess. Followed swiftly by: Dad, the Breakfast Connoisseur. It wasn’t that they were wooing him–it was that my parents hold good food and hospitality in such high esteem they can’t abide anyone missing a meal. So Dad invited Jeremy for breakfast most mornings, and Mom convinced him to stay for dinner in the evening.
So it was that between Church, Prayer Meeting, Dance Practice, and his working with my father, we were seeing Jeremy nearly every day of the week. Whether I liked it or not, I was being given plenty of chances to get to know this guy!
Then ski season started and Jeremy began to show up for evening Church services straight from his ski-instructing job still in his ski clothes. It’s hard not to notice when a well-built guy comes to church in an UnderArmor ski shirt, no matter how short he is. It was getting a little harder to ignore this guy.
Yet, determined to guard myself from disappointment, I made every effort to still the tremors that indicated my heart was waking up, going as far as refusing to write his name in my journal, using the pseudonym “Bob” whenever I absolutely had to vent about the frustration of wondering if anything would come of this. I chided myself for not being able to stop thinking about him, then wondered if it was because God was leading my heart. I was digging in my heels and doubting, but meanwhile, God continued to draw me toward His plan.
God was doing the wooing at this point, because Jeremy certainly wasn’t. Although he was practically a member of the family at this point, with insights into the best way to tease my younger sisters and my little brother’s favorite wrestling partner, we still paid no attention to each other. When his car would pull in the driveway, I couldn’t keep my heart from jumping, but I could keep from going downstairs to greet him, and instead eavesdropped on his visits from the cast iron grate in my floor until called down for dinner.
For his part, Jeremy had always been a quiet individual, rarely seeking to start a conversation or draw anyone out. My family was loud, extroverted, and opinionated—the perfect environment for a quiet, laid-back person to just sit back and watch the show. He showed absolutely no interest in me in particular, and we had no indication that he was there for purposes other than enjoying hanging out with our whole family. He seemed to be just your average bachelor, enjoying my mother’s excellent cooking.
The Sisters Pitch In
By this time my sisters had started to notice the potential for romance, however, and began to try to assist. One afternoon Jeremy showed up for no apparent reason and it was just my younger two sisters and I at home. Olivia got the idea in her head that Jeremy and I just needed the chance to talk in private in order to jumpstart our romance, so she lured our youngest sister upstairs with a puzzle and then kept her there for an hour while Jeremy and I made stilted conversation. I was relieved when Dad and Mom finally got home and there was someone else in the room to look at and talk to!
January and February passed in this manner—Jeremy a regular fixture in my days, and thoughts of him often dominating my nights. Many an evening I’d end up in my parent’s room hashing out where we thought we were in the drama that was my love life. Was he interested in me, or just my mother’s cooking?