7 days

It took me 7 days to fall in love with my husband.

May 30th was our 9 year wedding anniversary, so I thought I’d step away from the farm for a second and go back with you, Readers, to where this whole journey to the farm really began. Because there would be no ‘this’ without ‘us.’ And the ‘us’ here, is pretty much why ‘this’ is so cool.

So if it’s okay, I’m going to leave the spiders behind for a second and take you back.

Yes, it took me 7 days to fall in love with Thomas.

I think that is as realistic as ‘love at first sight’ is going to get. And to be honest, it was hardly the first time I had seen him. It wasn’t even the first time that I had talked to him or hung out with him. So I guess ‘love at first sight’ doesn’t really, actually apply here. And I believe that ‘love at first sight’ is pretty illogical anyway so I’m sorry I even brought it up.

Thomas and I actually met in high school. I get asked that question all the time; ‘Where did you guys meet?’ When I say ‘high school’, people look surprised. And that surprises me. I heard a statistic once that most people already know the person they are going to marry by age 20. I heard that statistic when I was about 22 and I thought they were crazy. I just could not imagine marrying the guy I was dating when I was 22 and naturally when someone says that you already know the person you are going to marry, you assume it’s going to be the person you’re dating at that time. So when this person told me this statistic, I really hopped that they were wrong.

But guess what…

I do actually remember the first time I met my husband, and it’s kind of a funny story. I was dating someone else at the time, my high school sweetheart, and he and I were sitting in the dark in the living room of his mother’s house and we were watching a scary movie. We had been dating for some time by that point so there was certainly no hanky panky going on. We were actually just watching the movie.

Queue Thomas’ entrance into my life.

He marched into the dark room, gave a rather strange look around, and curled up under a blanket on the other couch. My boyfriend and I looked at him expectantly, but he didn’t seem too concerned with giving us an explanation as to who he was or what he was doing, so we just went back to watching the movie in silence.

Come to find out later, that weird kid was one of my boyfriend’s brother’s friends who had been forced to smoke too much weed in the back yard.

Who could have ever guessed that so many years later I would have walked down the aisle towards that same weird kid? Certainly not me.

Thomas was a year behind me in high school and he didn’t show up on the scene until my senior year, so our time in school together was limited. We weren’t what you would call friends, although I certainly thought very highly of him… once I got past the whole stoner thing. You could say that we knew OF each other. We had mutual friends. His best guy friends were my best guy friends, but I actually only have a few memories that include him.

One of which takes place at my high school graduation. A few weeks into our relationship, Thomas and I just so happened to walk in on my sister and Mom watching home videos. The video that was up on the tv was of my graduation party. I was filming and I was scanning the back yard, commenting on all my crazy friends that were jumping around in the pool and all of a sudden… there was Thomas. Right smack dab in the middle of a water fight with my step brother. I would never have remembered that he had come to my graduation party. Surely he was there not for me, but for our mutual friends who were also graduating that day. But seeing him on the video tape did bring back a very interesting memory…

Thomas made out with my cousin that night. I remember my sister telling me all about it in the morning. I don’t think he will ever live that down. Life is really funny sometimes.

2 years later, after I had moved down to San Diego for college and had ended my relationship with my high school sweetheart, I was home for Spring Break and a very close friend of both Thomas and mine invited me out to see a band play. The band was called ‘Thomas Cunningham and the Loco Focos’. Maybe you’ve heard of it? 😉 Thomas was the leading man of course, but I was mainly there in support of our mutual friends- aka the other band members.

But I have to tell you… I took notice of Thomas for the first time that day. I leaned over to my girlfriend, who was there with me and I told her that I was getting a major crush on the lead singer. What I was really saying to her was: Years from now, you are going to be a bridesmaid in our wedding. How strange.

After the show, I told their manager and my close friend that if Thomas ever broke up with his girlfriend- whom I knew he had been dating for years and definitely expected him to marry- he should give me a call! My friend told me that I had no chance. Apparently he expected Thomas to stay with his girlfriend too. Little did he know that he too would be toasting at our wedding only a few short years later.

 

In 2007, I decided to move home from San Diego. It has to be said that I had THREE going away parties over two years, TRYING to move home. I would always change my mind and stay. Some may call it failure to commit, I now call it God. You see, timing is everything. When I graduated college in 2005, my then boyfriend convinced me to stay in San Diego after I had already had my going away party. I stayed. A year later, upon our terrible break up, I decided to move home and had another going away party. Before I could leave town, my best friend Tess convinced me that my place was still in Southern California. I agreed and stayed. Across the state, back home, Thomas was going through similar things. Had I have moved home the first time, he would have been gone touring with his band and we wouldn’t have connected. Had I have moved home the second time, he would have been preparing to leave for the military and we wouldn’t have connected. But the third time… God knew what he was doing.

After my third going away party, my friends were wondering if maybe I just had a drinking problem and needed an excuse to throw a party. But alas, my time had REALLY come and God was ready to change my life.

You see, I didn’t know God at this point in my life. You can actually say I was the opposite of knowing God. I basically was an atheist. And this is the gaining perspective part of the story… looking back, God was right there working in my life every step of the way, even when I couldn’t see Him and didn’t know Him. And that brings me such joy and such an amazing comfort knowing that when I didn’t deserve it, He was there loving me and guiding me. He was bringing me towards one of the biggest blessings of my entire life- one that wasn’t happenstance, but divinely planned.

That’s commitment man. That’s TRUE love. It’s the purest love there is.

But I digress… God was ready to show himself to me. He was ready to save me from myself. He was ready, but I was not.

I thought moving home was the worst decision I could have ever made for myself. I couldn’t see how taking- what I thought- was a step backwards, would ever move me forwards in life. Luckily God acted quickly and showed me that most of the dang time, we don’t know the whole story and we can’t see the whole picture.

He can. He did.

I moved home on a Tuesday.

I had been home in Northen California all of one day. I was unpacked. I was miserable.

The ONLY thing that I was looking forward to was Friday. Why?

About a month before moving home, God had made his first move as match maker in the way of facebook. Guess who popped up in the ‘people you may know’ section?

Thomas Cunningham.

Apparently my sister had recently befriended him and so facebook decided that perhaps I would also enjoy being his friend as well. Of course facebook knows all! When I went to click on his picture, an amazing thing happened… I noticed that his picture wasn’t a picture at all. It was an album cover! And I wasn’t excited because he had made it to the big time… I was excited because the album was entitled: Goodbye Emily Jane.

Goodbye Emily Jane????

That could only mean one thing! He was single! Everyone knew that his high school sweetheart and all around perfect girlfriend was named Emily Jane. Now was my chance!!

I made my move.

I messaged him.

I told him that I was moving home and that we should hang out sometime. I made up some sob story about not having any friends back home and so he should feel sorry for me. I, of course, suggested we hang out the first Saturday that I would be home- many of my friends had agreed to go out that night already- but he had a wedding to go to that night. So, like the gentleman that he is, he suggested an alternative night. He suggested we go get a drink on Friday, the night before the wedding.

Perfect.

So as I said, the only thing that kept me from moving straight back down to San Diego that first week, was my ‘kind of’ date on Friday night with my future husband.

And I mean that 100%. God is so funny and so perfect. I really believe that if it weren’t for something potentially exciting in Woodland- aka a boy- I would have packed my car right back up and moved right back down to SoCal.

When Friday came around, I took the chicken way out and I decided to text message Thomas. I have never been much of a phone person and I feel like texting just seems more casual. So I texted him to see if we were still on for that night.

He called me right back. Like… RIGHT back.

And of course I didn’t answer. I was totally freaking out. I just sat there and watched the phone ring, thinking of some dumb excuse as to why I hadn’t been able to answer the phone that had clearly just been in my hand about 1/2 a second before texting.

After a casual amount of time has passed, I called Thomas back and told him that I had jumped in the shower and had missed his call. LIES! He confirmed our plans, we set a time and a place, and now all there was left to do was wait.

I talked my girlfriend into coming with me on my casual meet up as my wing man. She had just gotten married not even a month before that and we joked that maybe Thomas and I would end up hitting it off and getting married ourselves. Life is just really really funny.

Thomas and I met up later that night, as planned, at a little place called Morrison’s. We exchanged hugs like we were old friends, but really, we weren’t. We weren’t friends meeting up to talk about old times… but since we had both brought along friends, we weren’t exactly on a date either… the boundaries were fuzzy right from the get go.

But I remember having a really great time that night. We talked about break ups and high school friends. We talked about San Diego and Europe. We basically just talked for the first time in any sort of real way. And I really liked him. I knew that right away. But I wasn’t sure if he was even interested in me in that way at all. He was being respectful and friendly and sweet… which were three completely foreign concepts to me at the time.

Either way, after the bar, Thomas and I headed over to a friend’s house to continue chatting. We hadn’t had much to drink at the bar- which again, was a new idea for me- and so when we left for our second location, we both felt perfectly safe and ready to leave our wingmen behind.

We hung out until 4:30 am that first night. We didn’t kiss. We just talked. But I walked away a little more committed to staying in Woodland than I would have liked.

That was day one. We made plans to go on a hike the following Monday.

Day two: Saturday.

Thomas had a wedding to go to. He had invited me to come with him as his date, but I had already made plans with the rest of my friends to go out on the town in honor of my return.

Before the wedding, Thomas called me just to say hello. I thought that was very sweet and I appreciated that he wasn’t a game player and didn’t think that he had to wait any certain amount of time to call me because guys… girls hate it when you do that! But even still… despite the great night, the invite to the wedding, and the phone call… I wasn’t so sure that Thomas was interested in anything more than friendship.

 

The next morning, after our respective nights apart, I woke up to a voice message from Thomas checking to make sure that I had gotten home safely. I decided that I was not going to be afraid of the phone, and I gave him a call back instead of texting. You should be proud of me!

I asked him if he would like to come over to go swimming. He agreed. We both invited friends over and we made a day of it. Again, I found myself a little concerned that I was breaking all of my rules and I was going to get myself attached to this stupid guy… but I figured that I had had my heart broken before and I could probably stand to have it broken again if he just wanted to be friends in the end. What the heck, right?!

But just for good measure, when I hung up the phone, I looked at my Mother and asked her:

‘Are you ready to meet your future son-in-law?’

It’s frightening, I know. I really did say that.

Thomas stayed for dinner that night. Non-date number 2 and he was already meeting the folks. I’ll never forget sitting across the table from him as he talked with my mom and step dad. My mom kept shooting me these looks like she was trying to say: Don’t screw this one up! It goes without saying that I had never brought home anyone even remotely close to Thomas. He was just in a class all by himself. I mean, I wasn’t worried about him meeting my parents. I knew he would impress them. But I found myself even more impressed by him because of how actually IMPRESSIVE he was. And to be honest, it was really starting to freak me the hell out…

What if he really did just want to be friends? For some reason, I just could not get that out of my head. But I had no choice but to continue to fall for him. There was no turning back.

After dinner, Thomas and I got back in the hot tub. He sat on one side and I sat on the other side and we talked. No hanky panky. We just talked about everything. I can’t even remember it all, but we just couldn’t seem to be silent. There was too much to know.

After the spa, we laid in our wet clothes on the floor of my mother’s living room. We were both wrapped in towels, our heads propped up on pillows, and we talked some more. Thomas kept telling me that I had these ‘looks’ as he called them. He told me he was trying to learn them all. And each time he noticed a new ‘look’ he would point it out to me. He told me I was beautiful. He told me that I had the face to be in movies, which by that point he knew was my dream. But he didn’t kiss me. He didn’t even touch me.

When he left, it was 4:30 in the morning again. We hugged goodbye.

That was day three.

Day four: Monday. Our hike!

Remember? On Friday night we had planned to meet up Monday and go on a hike. We hadn’t planned to see each other on Sunday and so now that we had, Monday definitely felt more like a date than I think either of us had really intended it to be. It was the first time that we would actually be alone from start to finish, on purpose. I was pretty confident that if we were going to cross over into the dating category, we would need to have our first kiss on this, our third non-date.

He came over to pick me up around 10am, only 5 1/2 hours after he had left my house. We hugged good morning, but there was no kiss. We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hopped in the car. (Sidebar: I don’t actually like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in case you’re keeping track).

Thomas drove, he knew where we were headed. He had a plan… I could only hope his plan included him busting a move. I’ve never been one for sober move busting and since I knew we had not packed any BudLight… it was going to be all up to him.

Yes, this is who I was then.

We had discussed hiking at length on Friday. He asked me what I was most looking forward to doing now that I was back home and my answer was hiking and camping. It’s true that I love the outdoors, but it’s also true that I’m a girl and I need to take things slow. When we agreed to hike on Monday, we also agreed to hike something mild and relatively easy. I hadn’t been doing much hiking down in San Diego.

He said he knew just the place.

It didn’t take me long to realize that his ‘mild and relatively easy’ was a LOT different than mine. OH MY WORD! I thought I was going to die. It didn’t help that the temperature was a ripe 109 degrees, or that the trail he had planned for us to take was now under water. He hadn’t accounted for the snow melt.

So as he tried to figure out a way for us to get to this magical location that he said we could hike to, have lunch, and return from all within about two hours… I did my very best to keep my mouth shut. I had said that I was an outdoorsy girl and I knew for a FACT that he was a very outdoorsy guy and so the last thing I wanted to do was complain. As a matter of fact, the last thing I wanted to do was talk… I was so out of breath from the incline of the trail that I knew if I were to talk, my breathing would have given me away as a rookie in no time! I was so embarrassed.

About 30 minutes into the hike, we found ourselves hiking along what I can only describe as a cliff side. We were walking along the cliff parallel to the stream below us. The ground was like quick sand. Every step I took filled my tennis shoes with dirt, and sent me sliding just a little bit further down the cliff face. I was grabbing on to bushes and trees and dirt and logs… whatever would keep me from sliding down the hill and/or falling on my butt. I had so many splinters in my hands and my shoes were so full of rocks that I thought I would never get through the day without crying. But Thomas was moving so quickly that it was all I could do to keep up.

We weren’t talking to each other and I wasn’t quite sure why that was. I knew that I was too out of breath and too pissed to talk, but I wasn’t sure why he was so quiet. I figured he was either annoyed at my slow pace or best case scenario, out of breath himself. I never dreamed that he was actually thinking the exact same thing I was:

‘If we don’t quit soon… I’m never going on another date with this person again.’

 

Alas, as we approached the 1 hour mark, Thomas turned to me and said:

“This is not going as planned. Do you want to just go back to your house and get in the pool?”

Sweeter words, I had never heard.

Relationship saved.

As we headed back to the car, the flood gates opened. We both started complaining and laughing openly about our disastrous first hike. He agreed that he was just miserable and he commended me on making it so far without saying a word. I promised him that it had not been easy.

As it turned out, during the entire hour hike, we hadn’t made it more than 100 yards away from the car.

And furthermore… about 6 months later, we attempted the same hike again. It took us 2 hours to hike in, we spent the night where Thomas had intended for us to just have lunch, and then we hiked back out the following morning.

I have no idea what he was thinking.

Back at my house that afternoon, Thomas and I picked up on our conversation where we had left off the days before. It felt like we just had so much to say to each other. We just couldn’t know enough or share enough. I was just hungry for information. I wanted to know everything about him. I couldn’t get enough of it. And it seemed like he felt the same way, although we maintained our pattern of no kissing, no touching, no sitting next to each other… just talking. Just words. But there was something there… or so I thought. I hoped.

It was on that day that I realized that I wanted to marry him.

I had already decided that I wanted to date him; be his girlfriend. Of course I did. Why wouldn’t I want that? He was perfect to me. He was attractive, he was kind, he was a gentleman, he was well spoken and intelligent, he was interesting and interested, he was real. He was honest. And I wanted him to be mine. But it was in that pool on that Monday that I realized I wanted him to be my husband.

I asked him what the most important thing in the world was to him.

His answer?

Becoming a father.

I just knew. I knew in that moment that he wasn’t like anyone else I had ever met, let alone dated. He was different. He was so different. And I knew that if he would have me, I was going to marry him.

They say ‘when you know, you know.” #fact

I guess technically this means that it only took me 4 days to fall in love with my husband… but keep reading anyway…

Day five.

Tuesday.

I didn’t have a job yet. I had just moved home the week before and although I was supposed to be job searching, my new infatuation was completely interfering with the rest of my life. I basically lived to talk with Thomas. And Tuesday I woke up in a little bit of a panic…

Tuesday was the first day that I didn’t already have plans with him!

Friday was the drinks, Saturday he had the wedding, Sunday I had a reason to call him first thing, Monday the hike… and then TUESDAY! Crap! Nothing. No reason to call, no plans to see each other. It was torture, I assure you.

When we first starting going on our non-dates, Thomas was working for his dad which meant that his schedule pretty much worked around what he had going on. However, because he had taken Monday off entirely for our horrendous hike, I knew that he was going to have to put in some extra time on Tuesday to catch up. So I came to the very difficult decision that I was going to just have to wait until he called me.

Although I was completely worried that he only thought of me as a friend, I was pretty sure that he was going to call. If nothing else, I was very confident that he at least enjoyed spending time with me. If we weren’t going to end up in a relationship, surely I was going to be the best friend that everyone knew was really in love with him.

Thomas didn’t call until nearly 5 o’clock, which in hindsight, was a perfectly normal time to call. He said he had just finished work and that his family was expecting a family friend for dinner. My heart dropped. Did that mean…

“I won’t be able to do anything tonight, but we should meet up tomorrow.”

Devastated.

I have to be honest, I was truly heart-broken that I wouldn’t be able to see him. I mean, it was only going to be one night but I felt like it might as well have been a year. Thomas had already become my addiction and now he was just asking me to quit cold turkey. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with myself.

Up until our first night out for drinks, only five days previous, all I had been doing was thinking about San Diego and how stupid I had been to move home. Now, after Thomas, all I could think about was him. I had been in deep water before, but never quite like that.

I called my sister that night and I told her that I THOUGHT I was dating Tom Cunningham. She knew who he was, of course, from high school and she was more than pleased, although she did find it hysterical that I managed to get myself anchored to Woodland in less than a week. It was no secret that my previous string of boyfriends had been less than tolerable. Thomas was a giant LEAP in the right direction. I could tell that she was excited for me, but I just couldn’t seem to convey to her just how excited I was!

I told her all about our non-dates and how badly the hike had gone. And then I told her:

“If he likes me… I’m going to marry him.”

I could hear the smile in her voice, but I don’t think she realized how completely serious I was. I knew that if he and I ended up together, I would be off the market for good. But I just couldn’t seem to figure out whether or not he really liked me… or just liked being around me.

I analyzed the situation with another friend over the phone as well that night. If I couldn’t talk to Thomas, I was going to talk ABOUT him. This friend, Lauren, was scheduled to come up for a visit that Thursday- only a few days away- and so I was hoping that I could introduce him to her and she could help me shed some light on the situation. She said she was pretty convinced, based on the evidence thus far, that he did actually really like me, but I just wasn’t ready to come to that conclusion.

It just felt like that would be too good to be true. People like Thomas didn’t like people like me. I wasn’t lucky like that…

By the time Wednesday night came around, I was chomping at the bit to see this stupid guy.

It was the sixth day.

He came right over after work and we sat on the couch upstairs and talked for 8 hours straight. We came down for dinner of course, and enjoyed another lovely meal with my family, but we returned to the upstairs couch to continue our riveting conversation. Like I said, I can’t remember all the juicy details about what we found to talk about for all of those hours in those first six days, but I do remember that on that Wednesday he told me that he had missed me the day before. One day apart and he missed me. I was sure that was a good sign, but we were still sitting on opposite sides of the couches, with our feet touching in the middle. If he did like me so much… where were all the moves?

You guys, I was being courted! Can you even imagine? I didn’t even recognize such an approach! Thank GOD for this man! And as confused as I was about how he really felt, I knew that a big change was happening within me. I was being treated well. And I liked it. God forbid I would come to expect it!

But anyway, there was one other fairly major sign that night, that he really did like me in that way…

As we were chatting on the couch, I mentioned that my good friend, Lauren, was going to be coming to town the following day. I told him that we should all go out and that I was very excited for him to meet her and vice versa.

And would you believe it, in all that talking over the past six days, Thomas had failed to even mention to me the fact that Thursday morning he was scheduled to go down to Irvine with his family to watch his sister graduate college. All those hours of talking and the topic of ‘what are you up to this weekend?’ never made its way into the conversation.

I was shocked and completely bummed! I was so excited at the thought of one of my closest friends from San Diego, mixing in with my new reason for staying in Woodland. Not to mention, I desperately needed her to tell me that he liked me for real.

How was that going to happen if Thomas wasn’t even going to be around? TERRIBLE!!

I guess my disappointment was pretty obvious because Thomas took quick action. He made a quick call to his dad, jumped on the internet and BOUGHT A PLANE TICKET for Friday morning to fly down and meet his family in Irvine. Just like that. He actually purchased a $150 plane ticket just so that he could stay in Woodland an extra night to meet my friend.

I mean, I was pretty convinced by this point… but I just couldn’t be sure if he was really into me. I didn’t want to assume. You know what they say about assuming!! And besides, this grand gesture could still be interpreted as him just really liking being around me. I mean, come on, I’m a good time.

But after all, we did make it the rest of the night (until 4am again) without even a goodbye kiss.

It was getting pretty ridiculous. I had already begun planning our wedding day and he hadn’t even reached for my hand under a blanket.

And now, looking back, I think that the speed that our relationship picked up once we actually realized we were in one, directly correlates to how slowly I felt that we moved at the very beginning.

Day seven…

Almost ten years ago to this day…

Lauren came up for her visit. I quickly explained to her that Thomas had purchased a plane ticket so that he could stay in town an extra night to hang out with us. She nearly smacked me in the head. She felt that it was becoming painfully obvious that he liked me, but again, I just couldn’t be sure. I can’t stress to you, Readers, how bad my previous relationships had been and how undeserving I felt of this kind of attention. It was so confusing and definitely too good to be true.

So that afternoon, while Lauren and I were out and about, we stopped by his house to say hello. He was very friendly towards Lauren, making an amazing first impression, and because he just so happened to be playing guitar when we stopped by… I got to hear him play for the very first time that day.

Well… that’s not entirely true. I had heard him play live that one time so many years ago… and I had heard all three of his albums… but I had never heard him play just for me.

He played ‘Long Goodbyes.’ If you are a fan and know the song, you know that it has a lot of cuss words in it and it goes so quickly that you have to struggle to make out the words and in a nut shell, it’s about ‘assholes and whores.’

So there is that.

To this day, I have no idea why he chose that as his first song for me to hear him play… but that is neither here nor there.

He was very nervous, which I took as a sign that he really cared about what I thought. But of course it could have been because Lauren was there too. I didn’t want to get cocky. He didn’t look at me the entire time he played. But I was looking at him…

Lauren and I left and went about our business for the rest of the day. We gathered up a group of people and decided to make our little night out, a big deal. As Lauren and I were getting ready to go pick up Thomas, I told her that I was going to get a little liquid courage under my belt and I was going to make a move! The time had come. I had stacked up enough evidence to convince myself that he wouldn’t turn away if I went in for the kiss and so I decided that tonight was the night! I was going to make this non-dating thing… a real thing.

And so we went out. To Morrison’s. Again.

It had been almost one full week and we were returning to the scene of the crime. I figured that this would be the perfect time to make my move. It almost felt serendipitous. Like we had come full circle or something romantic like that. But of course… I just couldn’t get enough beer in me fast enough.

We had a great time, but I just couldn’t work up the nerve. So we headed to the next bar- Kenny’s- and continued getting ‘courage’ via BudLight.

Lucky for me, Kenny’s had BudLight too!! Oh man, how I used to love me some BudLight. #stayclassy

 

Think what you will about BudLight, but it was working. I was getting some of that courage I was hoping for. And so, I decided to ask Thomas to marry me.

I mean, why not open strong, ya know?

I was flirting, of course, but I think he could see the seriousness in my eyes because he laughed at me. He laughed!

I asked him again and he said no. He just flat out denied me. Just no.

I couldn’t believe he said no. I mean… at least flirt back and say yes. But no… he just wasn’t that into me. But he did reach for my hand and then before I knew what was happening to me, he had pulled me onto the dance floor. Yes… at Kenny’s. Where there is no dance floor.

I was obviously embarrassed, for one. Crushed that he had not accepted my proposal,  for another. And three… too drunk to dance. So that’s a fun recipe.

We left shortly there after and headed home. The night just wasn’t quite working out how I had planned. How can you make a move on a guy who won’t even marry you?

Thomas got Lauren and I a cab home, but I told him that he should probably just come back to my house with us. I had promised him a ride to the air port in the morning and so I figured that we could at least salvage the night by having one of our all night chats. If he didn’t want to marry me, I was still totally open to the ‘friend’ category in hopes that I could eventually sway him in my direction over time.

He agreed to come back to my place.

Now let me please point out to those of you who think you know where this story is headed… WE HAVE NOT EVEN KISSED YET, he has turned down my proposal, and the fact that he is at my house late into the night has not exactly been unusual before this point! Keep your minds out of the gutter!

So while we were in the cab- Lauren and I in the backseat and Thomas in the front- I decided that I was going to text Thomas, even though he was literally two feet away from me.

Hey… I was feeling a little disheartened after the denial earlier and although I was not completely ready to give up, I was still feeling shy. And vulnerable. But also drunk…

So I texted him:

‘I have a crush on you.’

I heard his phone go off. I saw him pull it out of his pocket, look at it, and put it away again.

He didn’t look over the seat and give me a look. He didn’t text me back. Nothing.

Strike two! Son of a…

When we got home, the three of us sat on the floor of my kitchen and ate the taco bell that we had paid the cab driver to take us to go get. After taco bell, I stormed up to my room in protest. Lauren and Thomas followed, and they both crawled in bed with me.

Please people!! This is not going where it seems to be going! This is the first time that Thomas had even seen the inside of my room!!! It was perfectly innocent.

So I was laying in the middle of my great friend, and the future love of my life. We were quietly pretending to go to sleep when I decided to make one last-ditch effort at a love connection.

I LOUDLY whispered:

“Lauren!!”

She answered back with a giggle and a ‘what?’

“I really like this guy… what should I do?”

She giggled again, but I felt Thomas smile on the other side of me. I could hear his head moving on the pillow in the dark.

“I think you should kiss him,” Lauren suggested.

“What if he’s a bad kisser?” It was a legit concern. I mean, he was wonderful in every other way, but you never know…

“You should still try it out and see,” she urged again.

And so I did.

I made the move. I kissed him. And I assure you, he was a perfectly wonderful kisser. I even went so far as to give the results of the kiss to Lauren, who was still waiting on the other side of me for a full report.

Don’t worry… Thomas and I went back out onto the landing and left Lauren alone to go to sleep. We didn’t put her through the awkwardness of hearing us confessing our hearts to one another. But before we left the room, I made sure to make one thing abundantly clear to Thomas:

“I want you…” I started, unsure of how exactly to phrase what I wanted to say and yet, pretty sure I was off to the wrong start…

…”But I want to be your girlfriend.”

Thomas smiled again and kissed me. It felt like we had been waiting years for that first kiss…

“Okay,” he said…

“Starting now.”

And so it was. We were boyfriend and girlfriend. It was the easiest relationship I’ve ever gotten myself into. No games, no gimmicks. Just pure excitement and honest intentions. And just as I had anticipated, I’ve never returned to ‘the market’ since that night. Exactly one year and one day later… I became his wife.

My wedding vows:

Thomas-

Four days after our first date, I said to my sister and my Maid of Honor, “If this guy actually likes me, I’m going to marry him.”

Six days after our first date… I asked you to marry me. You laughed at me and said no. But later that same night I tried a different approach and said: “I want to be your girlfriend.”

You didn’t say no and you didn’t laugh. You said: “Starting now.”

Today, almost two years to the day of that first date, I ask you again: Please marry me, because I want to be your wife. Starting now.

Falling in love with you has been the easiest thing that I’ve ever done. And I have only just begun to know what it is to love you. I never dreamed love could be like this. You have made me believe that I deserve love like this.

Loving you has never been the question; it’s always been the answer. The answer to my dreams, to my prayers and to every other question in my heart.

Thomas, you have shown me that romance is in the jokes and in the mishaps, and wrong turns, and even way out in the wilderness. Romance doesn’t have to be a preconceived notion. I know love isn’t perfect. But you have given me romance. And you have given me love.

You have taught me that it is okay to rewrite the old fairy tale, to find my own happily ever after. Who knew that a small town country boy, with a gun and a guitar would turn out to be my Prince Charming?

But most importantly, you remind me everyday that love is a journey not a destination. It’s hard and rough and sometimes we get lost, but as long as we have each other, we will find the right path for us. This is our journey, Thomas. Starting now.

You are the best man, the best friend, the best partner that I could ever hope to find. And I promise before God and our friends and family that I will work everyday to be a better woman, a better friend, and a better partner for you.

I love you with all of me.

I will always stand by you, Thomas, no matter what our happily ever after brings. Through hard and harder times, through children and grandchildren, through life and through death, I will be there with you.

I will be the one to hold your hand. Forever.

Thank you for loving me, Thomas. I will make you glad everyday that you do.

You sent me this quote in a text message the night you graduated basic training and it really sums it all up: Love never gives up and its faith hope and patience never fail.

That’s how I fell in love. It took 7 days…

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