Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Story of Dave and Justice

As promised, this is the story of how Dave and I met. It's a tad long, just to warn you. It won't hurt my feelings if you don't read it, but it is pretty funny (and a little mushy), but what love story isn't?

Dave and I met accidentally online in 2001. Not on or E-harmony. Actually, I wasn’t even looking at getting into a relationship at this point. I was focused on having as much fun as I could and working as little as I had to to get by. I was living at home after dropping out of college after two years. I didn’t have any future plans, I bounced around from job to job, I wasn’t interested in getting married until I was at least 30, and was basically just living in the moment. I spent some time online in the evenings, using AOL (remember those days?) and instant messaging various friends at the same time. Well, one night I got a strange message from someone I didn’t recognize asking if he knew me. We talked back and forth trying to figure out who each other were, when he explained that somehow my screen name was on his buddy list. Weird. We didn’t have any of the same friends but happened to both live in CT (about an hour away from each other). To this day, we have no idea how I got on his buddy list. I blame God. That’s right, I said blame.

So, after neither of us could figure out how that happened, Dave looked at my profile which said that I liked the outdoors, camping, and hiking. He happened to be looking for a new hiking partner so he kept chatting with me hoping to make friends. Every night, if he saw me online, he would start up another chat. I was extremely cautious, knowing all about the horror stories of online dating. In fact, I wouldn’t even give him my real first name for months. And I wasn’t that interested in talking with him, but he just kept trying and trying. So, I tried to get rid of him. I told him all sorts of lies and stories to make him go away; that I was in an avalanche or part of a strange religious group and so on. Well, I didn’t know it at the time but he thought I was the most interesting person he’d ever met, which is why he kept contacting me. And he was the first person that didn’t sound shocked at anything I threw at him.

After months and months of chatting online, he asked if he could meet me in person. I said no way. But he kept asking until I finally agreed to a meeting in a public place, and I was bringing a friend. And a gun. So we decided to meet in a very popular hiking park called Sleeping Giant to go for a little hike. At the last minute, I decided to go alone. My plan was to drive by and if he looked weird, I’d just keep driving. It was a beautiful spring day. I didn’t know what this guy looked like but I thought I’d better look cute just in case he looked like Brad Pitt or something (you always have to be prepared for these things). And since I thought we would be doing a short hike along the walking path to the top of the mountain as I had done many times before, I went dressed in some cute jeans, a top, and sandals, with no water or food.

The first thing I noticed when I drove up was Dave’s bright turquoise Kia. I’ve never been a car person but I hoped it was borrowed and not really his. It was just so…turquoise. Of course at that time I was driving a 1989 Chrysler Le Baron red convertible (my favorite car I’ve ever had, bought “as is” off the lot for $3,000, paid in cash). It was sexy. Dave looked harmless enough so I pulled over and got out of the car. The first thing Dave thought was that I must be pretty tough since I was about to hike the whole day around a mountain in sandals. Yeah, apparently we had different plans. I was a bit shocked when I noticed Dave had on “serious” hiking apparel. Clearly he had never been here before, this was no Mount Everest. So, Dave brought a map and had a whole route planned out (totally like him) and I had nothing (totally like me). Oh, and it was his car by the way. We took care of that mess later.

Well, about an hour in, I realized there were more trails than I knew of at this park and that they weren’t the easy walking trail I was used to doing in my sandals. Of course, I HAD spent a summer in Glacier National Park hiking and climbing REAL mountains, but that was with food, water, and a sturdy pair of hiking boots, none of which I had with me. Dave is the hero of this story. He gave me all his water without even a second thought. He let me lead the way to be nice, and when I strayed off the trail (I have a real problem with that for some reason) he said nothing, but kept track of where we were and how to get back. So here I was blabbing away about all my experience hiking and camping in the outdoors as I’m walking straight through the woods, most of the time not even on an actual trail. Every 20 minutes or so I’d stop and say, “I don’t think we’re on the trail anymore.” And he’d say, “Yeah, you veered off ten minutes ago.” Then he’d lead me back onto the right path again. This went on over and over again until we got back to the cars. At this point Dave thought I was nuts, but also very funny (and cute), so we went out to get a quick lunch and went our separate ways, promising to do this again sometime.

I wasn’t into him yet. Honestly, this is going to sound shallow, but I wanted someone taller. He’s not my type, I kept telling myself. I expected to fall in love with someone risk-taking, spontaneous, and dramatic, like myself. Dave was predictable, responsible, and boring. He’d been living on his own since he was 16, had a stable career, and paid his bills on time. Crazy, right? I believe I was 21 at this point, and he must have been 24. Dave would like me to mention that he thought I was a lesbian because I wasn’t at all interested in him. Apparently, anyone who can resist his good looks and natural charm must be a lesbian. God complex, anyone?

BUT, the benefit of befriending this weird guy was that he promised to teach me how to rock climb outdoors. I loved climbing, and took an indoor course, but really wanted to climb outdoors, where I felt it was more “real”. Dave knew how, and (bonus!) had all the gear we needed. He promised he would take me. So I used him. Yes, it’s awful. I wasn’t interested in him at all, not really even as a friend, but I used him to learn to rock climb.

Dave was patient and kind. And he never crossed any boundaries, even though he really liked me. I invited him camping with a couple friends for my birthday. He got me a gift, it was a map of CT, because I was always getting lost. It was cute. And he did take me rock climbing, many times. I sucked.

I planned a beach trip to Rhode Island the weekend of July 4th, with a distant cousin from Sweden who had been staying at my Grandma’s house. I invited Dave along. I don’t know why. I just did. I think maybe I felt bad for using him and thought I should at least pretend to be his friend. My cousin went on to visit other family members, so Dave invited me back to his place, to go a local beach there and then the casino, which was nearby. While we were walking along that beach I stepped on a broken shell and it lodged in my foot. It hurt so bad I could barely walk on it. Dave took me back to the house and offered to get it out for me. He used to be an EMT so he had some medical training. After I refused and refused, saying I was fine, he finally just grabbed my foot, took a needle, and got it out quickly before I could do anything. He would also like to add that I screamed like a baby (thanks honey). Again, he was my hero. That's when I realized he was a much better friend to me than I was to him. We went to the casino that night for dinner and I limped along, Dave waited patiently for me, offering to help over and over. I was stubborn and still didn’t know how I felt about him, so I said no.

That night, I didn’t want to drive home. But I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as him either. He didn’t want me to leave, but he knew I wouldn’t sleep with him. So he offered to let me sleep in his bed and he would sleep on the couch. I considered it, everything it might mean, what message that would send, what my options were, but his bed looked so comfortable and none of it mattered. And he promised me that he would be fine on the couch. So, I did it. I remember asking my best friend’s boyfriend at the time (her husband now) if it would be leading a guy on to sleep in his bed, even without them in it. He said, “of course.” Oops.

The next time we met up was another camping trip in the beginning of August. An old friend from childhood and I reconnected and she wanted to camp at the beach like I had been doing all summer. Dave and one of his friends were going to meet us there and hang out that night. We brought one tent, for my friend and I. Dave was not intending to stay overnight, but later changed his mind (with some persuasion), and his friend, Shaun, was going to sleep in his pick-up truck. But then my friend wanted Shaun to sleep in the tent with us, which would have made things very…uh…cozy. So I decided to sleep in the back of the truck with Dave. At least I knew that guy. We talked almost all night long, about everything. And not made up stories either. Dave felt like this was the first time he was actually getting to know ME, not just some craziness my imagination made up. Dave told me later he so badly wanted to kiss me that night, but he thought I would have punched him in the face. I would have let him kiss me. Then punched him in the face. But I still didn’t think I liked him “like that”. I was fighting it with all I had.

The next day, Dave and I went boogie boarding at the beach. Dave kept finding little ways to touch me here and there; like brushing the sand off my arm, or pushing my hair out of my face. It was sweet but I was still uncomfortable about it. Up to that point, I hadn’t ever had a serious boyfriend. And the ones I did have left much to be desired, let’s just keep it at that. So, boys and touching just scared me. But I remember on the drive back to the campsite, in my sexy red convertible, I sat in the back with Dave and let his friend drive, and all I wanted to do was lie my head on his shoulder and sleep in the sun. I didn’t, but I wanted to.

I knew he liked me. And I guess I knew he was starting to grow on me too. But I wasn’t convinced until after that trip, on the ride home with my friend, she said to me, "Dave is the nicest guy I’ve ever met and he treats you so well, why don’t you go out with him?" Actually, I think she said why don’t you “hook up with him”. Suddenly, the light bulb went on. Yeah, he is the nicest guy I’ve ever met. He does treat me well. Why aren’t I going out with him? Duh.

Once I knew I wanted him, the rest was easy. About a week later, I was house-sitting for my aunt and I invited him over for dinner and a movie. I knew that I had been pushing him away until this point, so I thought I had better make it clear that I was interested now. I went a little overboard. During the movie, which happened to be a horror film, I sat next to him and buried my face in his chest at all the scary parts. I know it’s kind of girly, but how else would I give him the green light without having to jump on him when he came through the door. I didn’t want to scare him. So then, I waited. For him to kiss me, of course. All night long I waited. And I wondered what was taking so long. I gave many clues I was ready, but he was still afraid I would punch him. But, FINALLY, at the end of the night, lying on the couch, he kissed me.

At that point, I was happy to date him, but I didn't think it would turn into anything serious. In fact, I remember telling my mom that Dave was just practice for when my real husband comes along. Funny now, when I think about it.

I still remember the first time he called me his girlfriend. We were backpacking in New Hampshire. We were at a tent site and I was complaining that I never sleep well when I’m camping. So, he offered me sleeping drugs. Then he said, “I can’t believe I’m drugging my girlfriend.” And I felt my stomach flutter. Drugs! No, wait. Girlfriend!

After Dave realized that I liked him ALMOST as much as he liked me, he moved. Yes, he moved. To be closer to me! How sweet is that? He got an apartment in between his work and where I was living. It was still a long enough drive that we saw each other mostly on weekends, but it was pretty much every weekend. A few months later, Dave said “I love you” for the first time. We were at my house lying together on the couch. He stammered and told me he wanted to tell me something. It was hard for him to say. But I told him, “Well, I’ve known I loved you for a long time now. What took YOU so long?” We both laughed and that was it. We were in love.

So, with things getting serious, Dave was concerned with our future, specifically MY involvement in our future. For one, I didn’t have any long-term career prospects. Two, I didn’t know anything about paying bills and supporting myself financially. I was swimming in debt and was doing nothing about it. Not because I didn't want to, but no one had taught me how. Math and finances is not my strong point. So he planned one day to sit down and sort out all my financial stuff and he would make a system for me to pay my bills and consolidate my loans. It took hours and by the time he was done, I was in tears. But very patiently, as always, he worked with me. Like I said, he was very responsible, which is exactly what I needed. He was, and still is, a great teacher. He also taught me how to snowboard and drive stick. I sucked. Only at snowboarding, I rock at driving stick. But we were discovering that we were the perfect balance for each other. I needed stability and organization, he needed passion and a little fun!

He also encouraged me to go back to school. When I decided to go to massage school, Dave was ecstatic but also worried about the logistics. It was around this time that he told me he wanted to be with me forever and couldn’t imagine his life without me in it. We started talking marriage. Dave wanted to marry me that summer (it was January already). I wanted to wait. I felt like it was too soon. I thought I was too young. But as we were figuring out the school stuff, logistically it made more sense for me to start school after getting married so I would have his income to support me. I still didn’t want to get married that summer, but I called my best friend to talk to her about it and she said,

“Do you know you want to marry him?”


“And you want to be with him forever?”


“Then does it really matter when?”


So I figured that summer was as good a time as any. I would be with him, and that’s all that mattered. It was kind of funny the way I broached the topic with Dave. We were in the hot tub at his dad’s house and I sat on his lap and said, “What do you think about getting married this summer?” Of course, I knew he would say yes, because it’s what he wanted all along. Even now he tells everyone that I asked HIM to marry ME. Of course, I told him he damn well better get a ring and ask properly. And he did. About a month later.

It was in his apartment, no special day or anything. He sat me on the couch and told me he wanted to read something to me. He got out his Bible and read the “Love is” passage. Then he brought out the ring and asked if I would marry him. Of course I said yes. I couldn’t stop looking at the ring all week long.

My very first Valentine’s Day, with him or any other boyfriend, was shortly after our engagement. He was meeting me at his apartment after work. I got there first and when I walked in, there were hundreds of balloons covering the floor. And then some big Mylar ones floating around, and flowers, and candy, and just about every other Valentine’s thing you can think of. It was so sweet. We planned to go out to a fancy restaurant but I didn’t feel well, so we canceled and just stayed in. Turns out, I had the beginning of Mono. I stayed at his place during the worst of it, and he took care of me. He brought me drinks when I was thirsty, got me any movie I wanted, and pretty much bought out the entire medication aisle at the pharmacy. I knew I would be in good hands, forever.

Our wedding was planned for August that same year. So we had about 6 months to plan. We knew we wanted small and simple. We chose to spend more money on the honeymoon than the wedding. Picking the location was the hardest part. We looked at TONS of options. I couldn’t make up my mind and was driving Dave crazy about it. Finally, he said that if I couldn't choose, he would. I was happy just to have a decision; I didn’t care what it was at that point. So he picked Sleeping Giant State Park, where we first met.

We were married August 7, 2004, on a beautiful sunny day. Despite it being August, it wasn’t hot. There was a perfect breeze on the top of the mountain. Our wedding ceremony was on top of Sleeping Giant. Yes, we made everyone walk up the 1.5 mile path to get there. That’s why dress was casual. I wore a traditional wedding dress though (with flip flops). There was a big tower on the top of the mountain and several stone rooms with open windows. We blocked off one of the rooms and that’s where I got dressed and ready. My husband’s best friend carried my dress up for me. We didn’t shut down the park so there were people there visiting that got to watch our wedding. Most of them were happy and stayed out of our way. I remember one little boy kept telling me I looked like a beautiful princess, while I was waiting for our guests to arrive.

We formed an aisle by having people stand in two rows on each side of the lawn. I walked from the tower to underneath a big oak tree, where we had the ceremony. My brother walked me down the aisle. Before we started, I had my youngest cousin hand everyone a daisy. As I walked down the aisle, guests handed me a daisy to form my bouquet. Then my mom tied a ribbon around them. I walked out to the song “At Last” by Etta James, playing on a small boom box. The ceremony only lasted about 10 minutes. We wrote our own vows and told our own story about why we got married there. It was very unique.

The reception was at the bottom of the mountain, but still in the park. It was through the woods with big trees all around. There was a pavilion, then some picnic tables outside as well. We decorated using Naglene bottles as vases for the flowers. And we had tiki lights decorated and set up around the pavilion. It was beautiful. We had a caterer who made grilled chicken, wings, salad, and bread. The food was great, I hear. I couldn’t eat. Neither of us like cake, so we did "make your own ice cream Sunday’s" instead. It was fun. Music blared from my boom box again. It was simple and short, but everyone had fun. There were only about 50 people or so there. It was perfect. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

We left after about an hour to go on our honeymoon to California. We flew into San Jose then rented a Mustang convertible, because Dave knew that I missed my Le Baron (which crapped out on me a while ago), and we drove all over northern and central California. We went to Santa Cruz, Yosemite National Park, Mammoth, and Monterrey Bay. Mostly we stayed in hotels, one night we stayed in a hostel, and in Yosemite we stayed in a rugged cabin. Our honeymoon was 2 weeks long. It was a wonderful start to our married life.

So, that's the story of us. Phew...that was long. I might as well have written a book. But there it is. I hope it was interesting enough to read through. If not, and you're just reading the end, here's the summary...

They lived happily ever after. The end.


Crystal and Bryan said...

That is a really nice story!

janiece said...

I love hearing stories about people met. Yours is awesome! Sounds like a perfect match and "someone" was involved in making sure you to were together.

JonesEthiopia said...

What a sweet story. (For the record, I never thought I'd marry A when we first started dating either!)

Side Note: I know of MANY others, too, who have adopted outside of birth order, some from my agency... So I'm hoping people are right when they say it'll be fine and work out as I want. Either way, we'll know tomorrow as they'll review the application then. I'll keep ya updated.

los cazadores said...

I have to admit I skimmed, but you guys are a beautiful pair. :)