February 14, 2015

Every Mile a Memory


Once upon a time, a girl worked at a local supermarket while in her freshman year of college.

One day she decided to come into work early to buy lunch before starting her shift as a cashier.  While at the salad bar, she noticed that a new guy with light brown hair and an aquiline nose was manning the station.  She struck up a conversation for a few minutes and walked away.

February 16, 2006
A weekend passed, and the following Monday was the day before Valentine's Day.  This girl went to her closing shift at the supermarket, resigned to the knowledge of once again being unattached on Singles' Awareness Day.  A few hours into the shift, she looked down her line of waiting customers and saw the new guy standing there with a pack of gum in his left hand.

"Hey, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate you saying 'hello' to me the other day.  That was really nice of you, and I just wanted to say thanks and Happy Valentines' Day."

Fumbling with the cash to pay for his gum with one hand, he handed the girl a single red rose and a red enveloped card.  The next few minutes following the young man's exit from the store found the girl blushing at the lighthearted remarks of approval from the customers in line behind the young man as they checked out with their items.

Later that week, the girl and the young man went on a dinner and bowling date.  It was the girl's first official date, ever, and she was charmed by the young man's Southern gentleman ways.  They talked about their lives and their plans.  She was determined to transfer to the University of Virginia to study English, and he was leaving the next week to go through the Marine Corps boot camp.  Despite their divergent paths, the evening passed quickly with no lack of things to talk about.

From the friend's wedding (May 28, 2006)
A few more brief encounters and then the young man left for boot camp.  Letters were exchanged (the handwritten kind), and through this old-fashioned correspondence, the young man asked the girl to accompany him to a friend's wedding when he returned from boot camp in May.  She agreed - on the condition that he meet her father and ask his permission first.

That May, the young man was the first person she brought home to meet the family.  He met a warm welcome.  That is, her father made sure to ask very probing questions to determine his character and intentions towards his daughter.  She hid behind the door of the basement steps to eavesdrop until she was so mortified by the questions that she scurried away, convinced the young man would not want anything to do with her ever again.

But he did.  And the next week they attended his friend's wedding where he asked her to be his girlfriend.  She accepted, and despite his departure for more training out of state, they maintained a limited long-distance relationship through letters and phone calls.  But by the end of summer, she called it off - intimidated by their age difference, the distance, and in general, unsure of what she was looking for.

June 2008
A few years passed.  The young man friended her on Facebook, shortly after returning from a deployment overseas.  They exchanged a few messages and met up a few times at the river.  He was halfway through his Marine Corps contract, and she had established a life at UVa as a transfer student away from home for the first time.  Just as before, she was charmed by his manners and felt absolutely trusting of his character.

But she just didn't want to settle down yet.  Family illnesses and mishaps in schedules prevented any more meetings that summer before she returned to college in the fall, and he went on a second deployment.  They continued to send messages through Facebook and exchanged handwritten letters, delayed a few weeks as they traveled halfway across the world with their recaps of the day and attempts to carry on earnest conversations in spite of the distance.

April 2009
By the holidays, the girl found herself increasingly thinking about him.  Wondering what he was doing.  Hoping he was safe.  Praying that no harm would come to him.  She told her roommate, "When he comes back from his deployment, if he asks me to go out with him, I will marry him."  Rather than hoping her last few months of college would slow down, she wished they would speed up until he finally returned.

One day she finally got the call.  He was back in the states!  And he would be home that weekend before taking his post-deployment leave in Europe.  She canceled her plans, switched out her work shifts, and drove to Richmond to see him.  His friends welcomed her, his sister smiled knowingly at her, and by the end of the night, they were an item.

The next day he met her at the river and told her he loved her, that he had waited on her all those years.  She knew some would say that it was happening too fast, but she finally knew what God had known all along: that the first "real" relationship of her life, the first guy she brought home, the first one to treat her and her family with respect, and the one who proved his commitment by waiting through her changeability and uncertainties, was the one person with whom she'd spent the rest of her life.  She loved him, too.

The 1st Valentine's Day Card
It's been 9 years since Danny first gave me that red rose and Snoopy Valentine's Day card.  I am so thankful for his persistence and constancy.  I am humbled when I hear his story of wishing on shooting stars in Iraq for me to come to love him.  And above all, I am awed at a God who would orchestrate this beautiful love story.  Our love story.

We've traveled to several states, a handful of countries, and countless cities together, but my favorite journey still continues.  Whether exploring our backyard or somewhere new, home is wherever I'm with him, and the journey gets sweeter by the day.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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Linking up with Adelina of Pack Me To for the #SundayTraveler!

14 comments:

  1. Awwww!!! This is so cute!! What a fateful day at the grocery store. And just think what kind of love story could happen if every guy was brave enough to go chase the girl he fleeting met! Thanks for sharing the beautiful story. Happy Valentine's Day. :)

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  2. Nawwww, what a romantic tale. I am so glad it all worked out. The makings of a good movie right there. Thanks for joining us for #SundayTraveler.

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  3. What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing something so personal and beautiful! God did have a plan for you, and kudos for trusting in it :)

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  4. This was very sweet... Loved thestory!

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  5. Katrina this was so well written! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your love story. I didn't expect that Danny would have to have to ask permission to take you to a wedding!! But it's always interesting to read the little details that come together in the beginning. I'm happy you found your way back to each other throughout the years and the distance <3

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I grew up in a conservative household, and since I was barely 18 and Danny was 23, my dad wanted to meet him prior to the wedding date. Technically, I ended up dating Danny behind my parents' back for a while that summer, too. :P

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  6. Joanna ŚliwińskaFebruary 16, 2015

    Lovely story! My husband waited for me for a few years, too, as I was uncertain and not willing to commit. And then, suddenly, we were an item ;) Luckily ;) Lots of love for the two of you!

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  7. Aww, that's beautiful! What an amazing story. May the two of you enjoy many more miles and memories.

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  8. Ooh, this is beautiful...!

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  9. What a sweet story! Sometimes it's just so good to go back and look over all the small events and decisions that lead to great relationships. It makes it all the more meaningful!

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  10. Oh, Katrina!! You have me over here tearing up. Don't know how I missed this story on your blog. This story melts my heart. And you're so right - when God orchestrates a story it surpasses anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. And I think it's hilarious that you were mortified by your dad's questions. I know that feeling! So happy for you guys!!

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    1. Thanks, Dana! It's so wonderful to have a Sovereign God who makes things work together even when sometimes we work against ourselves! :)

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