Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part sixteen

Yep, it was the big day. I was very jittery getting ready, but Laurel saved the day and re-did the mess of hair I had made. I looked great, and I started to feel better and better. On the way to the temple I thought about the journey it had taken to get here. Definitely a roller coaster. But I had learned so much and grown and I was ready to take the big step of marrying my sweetheart for time and all eternity.

I don't remember much of that day, but a few things shine through. I remember Mr. TD&H stepping out of the car to greet me, and promptly dropping his white bow tie on the ground and stepping on it. I just had to laugh. He looked long and deep into my eyes, intense and hopeful, and I once again knew I had made the right choice.

I remember feeling so pampered and well-taken-care-of in the holy temple. I remember being surrounded by those who meant the most to me, especially that great man who was willing to go through this earthly journey with me through ups and downs. I knelt across the altar, clasped his hand, and tried to listen to the sealer without getting lost in those beautiful brown eyes. Every once in a while he would squeeze my hand and his eyes would twinkle. I loved thinking about the blessings and responsibilities that were now and would be mine if I was faithful. I felt an outpouring of love and gratitude that I was there in that holy place, making promises to him and my Heavenly Father. I have felt His help from that moment on. I have always felt that the word "sealed" meant so much more that day. We were now one, leaving our own families to start our own, turning to each other and God to make it through.

I remember exiting the temple doors, my arm around my husband(!!!)'s waist, and beaming at all our friends and family that had come to be with us. What joy! We made it! We took picture after picture, laughing and smiling, being goofy and solemn, just grateful that we took the plunge!

I don't remember much more about the day, a whirlwind of luncheons and receptions, make-up and hair refreshing, and thanking people and receiving congratulations. I do remember being so grateful that the important part of the day had gone so seamlessly, so beautifully.

I am glad to be married to my best friend. Life isn't without its trials, but it is priceless to be able to struggle through it with one who loves you. That has been my greatest gift.

P.S. I will post photos, but right now my scanner is on the fritz. I promise that photos are forthcoming!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part fifteen

Mr. TD&H flew out the day before the wedding. The day before that he called me, a little concerned.

"Um, we have a problem with the tux," he sputtered.

I think I was putting up a very heavy piece of wallpaper at that moment, the phone cradled between my ear and my shoulder.

"WHAAAT?" My not-so-calm voice went up about an octave and a half.

"Well, I went in to get my measurements taken, and I gave them the numbers I just got when I ordered my wedding suit. Somehow they got all messed up."

"How?" I demanded.

"I don't think you want to know," he mumbled.

"Oh yes, I do," I sarcastically spat back.

"Let me paint you a picture. The jacket is about 3 sizes too big. The vest is too short. The shirt collar is about two inches too big and the sleeves are about 4 inches above my wrists. At least the pants are long enough but the waist is a size too small. I look ridiculous."

I felt my pulse start to race. You may think that I should have told him to just go and get another tux. The only problem would be that Mr. TD&H is not an exaggeration. Emphasis on the T. 6'8" to be precise. Not an easy body to clothe on short notice.

I think he knew I was starting to panic.

He tried to make me feel better.

"The guy at the tux shop gave me some fake cuffs that we can tape on to my forearms so that it looks like the shirt sleeves are just fine."

Even now I can't help laughing out loud. Really loud.

Taping cuffs to your arms? Are you kidding me? Who does that?

The answer would be: Mr. TD&H.

When he flew in the next day, my first request (after a much needed hug and kiss or two :) was to see the tux. When we walked in the door of my house, I made him put it on to see what we could do.

He looked great. Even in a HORRIBLE tux. I guess it pays to be not only tall, but also dark and handsome. (Emphasis on the handsome!)

I don't think anyone knew that his shirt collar was folded at the back of the neck and held together with his bow tie. Or that I could grab a couple fist-fulls of his jacket behind his back and it would still be loose. Or that we pulled the adjustable neck-part of the vest all the way out to accomodate the beautifully long torso of Mr. TD&H (and that you could see the clasp in only a few wedding pictures).

Oh, and the magic cuffs. He just needed to be sure NOT to take off his jacket.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part fourteen

During that crazy work-filled week, I was talking to my eldest sister. She was the only married sibling I had. She was so excited to have me join the ranks of the happily hitched.

We were talking about finishing details when she looked at me with concern in her eyes.

"What about pictures? Who is your photographer?" she quietly asked.

"Oh, we aren't having one. We thought we could just deal with snapshots here and there," I casually responded. (You will see that this was often my normal response.)

"Oh yes, you will," she countered. "You will regret it if you don't have good pictures."

Honestly, I hadn't even given it a thought. Ever.

I am thrifty by nature, and a wedding photographer was just an unnecessary expense in my very-inexperienced-with-weddings mind.

So my dear sister called her friend from Santa Cruz. Melisa was just starting up a photography business and needed some wedding shots for her portfolio. She jumped at the chance.

So, thanks to Kristin (and Melisa), I had a wedding photographer.

And, yes, I would have regretted it if I hadn't any pictures to physically document our amazing day. In my bedroom right now there are no less that 10 wedding photos on my walls. I am so grateful that we were captured, so beautiful, so full of love, so happy.

At another moment, my almost-mother (mom's best friend) Marylyn sat me down to talk about the honeymoon. And no, not that talk. About where we would stay. We hadn't planned that either. (I know--how insane!!! But, in my defense, we only had 5 weeks AND we were in school. Does that excuse us? Please?)

She called Mr. TD&H and together they arranged a beautiful several days in Carmel and Monterey. She even footed half the bill! Thank you, Whattie!

As I think back, I can't believe how many important things I had dismissed as trivial and unnecessary. And I am awestruck at how merciful the Lord was in inspiring people to lovingly put us on the right track that would help us make our wedding experience a time we would never forget.

I completely mis-represented my sweetheart in this post (not too badly, though). He DID plan a honeymoon for us (at least one night) which was amazing and fabulous. Thank you, sweetie! I didn't want anyone to think he was completely off his rocker in not planning anything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part thirteen

Fast forward four weeks. During that time I studied, did finals, and tried to plan a wedding. What a joke! Thank goodness for my mom and Gerry Y. who took our plans from earlier in the year and made them happen (along with so many helpers!-thank you!!!).

I was going to tell the long, drawn-out, horrific story of the announcements, but I just don't want to. At least, not in detail To make a long, painful story short--I ordered them (expedited) to be shipped ASAP. The day after I was supposed to receive them, I called and they told me that they never received the order. AAAAACK! I called and hysterically told my big sister (very experienced in customer service) what had happened, but not even Laurel could pull out a miracle on that one (much to my shocked surprise--thanks again, sis!). So I found some paper at the stationery store, went to a printer, and got announcements made (photocopied--can you believe the faux pas-ery of it all?).

Well, I am here to tell you that you can get married even if you have photocopied announcements. Who knew?

I flew home a week before the wedding. I walked into a beehive of activity. As a little background, my family seems to need a deadline to get major things done. My little sister and I had provided the deadline--wedding receptions to be held in our backyard. My mom thought she had until the middle of September to get ready, but then I sprang my wedding needs on her only a few weeks before the big day. Boy, I was in for a week of work!

We laid tile in the whole kitchen/family room, recarpeted (I think), rewallpapered the downstairs bathroom (plaid--not a good idea in a time crunch--FYI!), the family room (can we say Hallelujah for wallpaper that can be hung upside down and no one will know?), repainted ALL the trim, etc. And that was only inside the house (where no one would be except the kitchen helpers)!

The backyard renovation included restaining the deck, ripping out the hideous pine tree in the corner, cutting back the iceplant (oh how many stories I could tell about the summer days shen we were supposed to be cutting back the iceplant!), weeding the bark sections and laying new bark, planting HUNDREDS of flowers and shrubs, laying stepping stones between the fence gate and deck, and SO MUCH MORE!

I couldn't believe how tired I was each night as I went to bed. I was supposed to be getting mani/pedis and facials and sitting in the sun with cucumbers over my eyes, right? I guess there was no rest for the wicked (or engaged!).

The work took its toll on my hands. I couldn't get all the dirt out from under my anemic and chipped nails, so I took a drastic measure: acrylic nails for my big day. Just so you know, I bit my fingernails until I was well into my college career (and only stopped then when a classical guitar-playing quasi-boyfriend of mine told me he thought it was absolutely GROSS). I am a pianist. I don't like long nails, but I figured I needed to not look like Ms. Bride Hamburger Hands on my wedding day. I remember the nail tech staring at me in unbelief when I told her how short I wanted my nails to be. She thought it was blasphemy to have them shorter than an inch and a half. But I got my way, and left thinking that my hands looked pretty good.

But my pain was nothing compared to what Mr. TD&H would go through with his tux...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sneak preview

I am going to tell the story behind this picture after I finish our rollercoaster of a courtship. Our anniversary is just a week away, so I'll be wrapping up soon. But not too soon that there won't be more drama...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part twelve

So, I was a believer! But Mr. TD&H and I were still technically "seeing other people." Our little date the night before hadn't changed anything, right?

Yeah, right.

I remember the next part very well. I was sitting at my desk, looking at the computer, when the phone rang. I picked it up, and immediately the caller said,

"So how do you feel about getting married before school starts for the fall?"

My heart leaped in my chest. The proposal I had been waiting for!

I chose my words carefully.

"I'd love to. But we have to be really organized or I know I'll freak out again."

Ah, romance. The telephone call/proposal. Surprisingly enough, I wasn't surprised or offended. I was too happy to be either of those. It was all falling into place (after being a roller coaster for far too long).

He was just as giddy as I was. The rest was all a blur. I hung up the phone, floating on cloud nine. My name? I couldn't remember that right now--I had more important things to dream about.

Just then I glanced at the calendar hanging on the wall. July 15. School was starting again the first week of September. That was six weeks away. And I had to get married and have some semblance of a honeymoon before that. The butterflies in my stomach morphed into falcons and they were diving every few seconds. Do NOT freak out, I told myself. OK--short list: call the temple, get a dress, get announcements...oh, and tell our parents. That's not too bad, right? After all, we had planned a wedding earlier this year. We just had to put all the plans back into motion.

And did I mention that my little sister was getting married on September 12? And that they had planned it for months? I wasn't stealing her thunder, was I? I was probably stealing more thunder from her future hubby than from her. She and I had always been the most laid back girls in my family about stuff like this. I didn't think she'd mind (and she didn't--or at least she didn't tell me!).

So I called the Oakland temple and set the date for Saturday, August 23. As I look back on it now, how in the world did I get an August Saturday (in a big sealing room, no less) five weeks before the wedding. I don't remember very clearly, but maybe Whattie (my second mom, Marylyn) pulled some strings. She had been working at the temple for quite a while, and it is just like her to try to smooth my path a little bit--or a lot. So we were set on the temple date.

Next came the dress. I was so worried about this part. I remembered all to well the desolation I felt when I couldn't find anything I liked. I walked in with a prayer in my heart, and I was not disappointed. I fell in love with the second dress I looked at and, wonder of wonders, it looked fabulous on me! I coudn't believe how much I was being helped and watched over. A shopping excursion may not be reason for a tender mercy for everyone, but for me it was undoubtedly a divine shove in the right direction from my loving Father. Even with the hemming that needed to be done, it would be ready in plenty of time (will the miracles ever cease? i hoped not!). Two things checked off my short list.

During this whirlwind week, I got asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting in my ward. I fished around for a suitable topic, and then settled on the week's most important bit of gospel doctrine--stepping out into the dark with faith. I reminisced on the spiritual journey I had recently taken as I prepared--grateful that the Lord had given me such an amazing discovery at such a critical time. When I sat at the front of the room waiting for the service to begin, I was handed a legal pad with a question--"What is something that not many people know about you?" I figured it would be used as part of the introduction for each speaker. I hesitated only a moment, and then scribbled, "I just got engaged." As the paper left my hands, I panicked. What if this all doesn't work out? My dating chances will be killed in this ward if I say I'm engaged and then it doesn't happen! I gave myself a mental slap-in-the-face. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, I shrieked at my subconscious. Everything will be fine. For heaven's sake--practice what you preach, girl! Aren't you about to pontificate on the merits of moving forward in faith? You should be ashamed of your unbelief! In a matter of moments, I had been faithful, freaked out, scolded, humbled, and recommitted. (Maybe I should have been committed instead--to a looney bin!) As I renewed my desire to marry my sweetheart despite any thorns in my path, I felt again a wave of peace and joy. Heavenly Father wasn't leaving me on my own. He knew this choice was a difficult and important one. He stood by my decision, and He was also willing to remind me of its divine approval.

The member of the bishopric conducting that day was Darin. I don't usually call members of the bishopric by their first names, but Darin was different. He was a frequent visitor to our apartment--I think he had a crush on Emma, my roommate. As he stood to announce my talk, he said my name and, with a huge smile on his face, he continued, "I've been wanting to announce this next information for a long time. Melanie has just gotten engaged to the tall Canadian sitting in the back of the room." Right then I heard a gasp--a very loud gasp that carried through the entire auditorium. Mr. TD&H later told me who it was--a girl he had dated last year (who was still in the ward). It wasn't that she was horrified, just surprised that I was marrying a guy she had dated. She was happy for both of us and a little embarrassed by her outburst. I just thought it was funny and a tiny bit weird. No big deal. But my re-confirmation of my decision had been a very big deal for me. Full steam ahead!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part eleven

I was so excited about having made my choice. I couldn't wait to share my experience with my sweetheart.

Unfortunately, he was having his doubts now. After having been such a constant strength to me during my struggles, he was having a few struggles of his own. Did he want to be saddled with such a crazy wife? I'd be taking a long hard look at that too, if I were him!

The months of March through July were filled with more ups and downs. I was sure, then I doubted. I was strong, then I let my fears creep up on me again. I wish I could report that I was steadfast and immovable, but I was full of failings.

In July my roommate and I decided to travel to San Diego to a mission reunion to welcome home from Spain our beloved Pte. Tenney. We carpooled with a couple of elders we knew in Spain. One of them was an elder that had really impressed me. Of course he was younger than I was, but I looked on this trip as an opportunity to forever put him out of my mind or pursue something more. Don't get me wrong--I wasn't two-timing. I was just exploring other options while not completely sure what was going on with Mr. TD&H.

Within the first couple of hours I realized what a mistake I had made. No doubt, he was a wonderful and faithful missionary, but my appreciation could forever end there. He had a good voice, an outgoing personality, and was a nice person. But NOT what I was looking for. Just another reminder that I already knew who I was looking for. (And where he lived. And what he looked like.)

The reunion was amazing. I basked in the spiritual glow of my mission president and his wife. She gathered myself and a few other sisters in a study of Proverbs 31. Enlightening, to say the least! She strengthened me in my resolve to marry my wonderful, faithful man. He led all of us missionaries in a study of a chapter in Alma. I can't remember now which chapter, but I remember the point he made that really resonated with me. He spoke about when we know something through the spirit that we are sinning by not acting in faith. Whew! Was that a bullseye or what? I needed to repent, that is for sure. I left the reunion re-energized and refocused on moving forward with faith.

I got home on a Sunday afternoon. I called Mr. TD&H right away. I was SO excited to convince him that we were indeed going to get married. He answered and we chatted for a few minutes. As I was thinking about how to tell him about my amazing weekend, he related to me the trials of his weekend. He had been feeling so down and confused. He told me that he had decided that perhaps we needed to start seeing other people. I was floored, devastated, heartbroken. I was so shocked that I didn't tell him a single thing about my weekend. I didn't know what to do. I just prayed that everything would turn out okay.

The next day while I was at work, I got a phone call. He wanted to go out that night. So much for seeing other people. We went to the movies, to see a movie called Contact. While we were waiting for the movie to start, we saw and talked to a friend of Mr. TD&H. He had just gotten married. He talked about what a blessing it (marriage) was. He spoke of learning how to show love in the way the other person can understand and receive it. We were touched.

I hesitate even telling the next part because it is so cheesy, but I'll forge ahead. As we watched Contact, the movie's message came through--you CAN know something that you can't prove to others. You CAN have a conviction that something is right. I knew that was true. I had lived it. I was living it. I knew that I would be blessed if I married him. I couldn't prove it--I had to have faith.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part ten

***Disclaimer*** This post is full of deep faith based musings and experiences. Proceed at your own risk!!

A few days later, I was talking with my dear roommate. She had seen me up and down, confused and deliriously happy, heartbroken and comforted. She was concerned about me, and like a true friend, helped me see to the heart of the matter.

"What is it that you are looking for?" she tenderly asked.

As I sat, thinking about my reply, she continued.

"What more do you want?"

I was stunned. I had never thought about it in that way. What more DID I want? I couldn't see into the future to see how he would react to all the things life would throw at us. But I was sure of a few things:

1. He loves me.
2. He loves God.
3. He is a faithful priesthood holder.
4. He loves the scriptures and temple worship.
5. He is humble and honest.
6. He is a hard worker.
7. He wants to do God's will with his life.

I thought of these things and re-asked myself my dear friend's question--What more do I want?

I had to have faith. I couldn't know everything at this point. But I knew that I had an important decision to make. I wanted to marry him. I couldn't let him get away. I loved and respected him. I wanted to spend my life learning to love and sacrifice for him.

I knelt by my bed and said a different kind of prayer. All this time I had prayed that Heavenly Father would make the decision for me. Now I wanted to make my own decision. I wanted His seal of approval on my choice. As I prayed, a feeling of peace and joy flooded my body. I had my answer. He was my choice. And the Lord approved. Just the way I wanted it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part nine

Well, the weekend was, expectedly, a disaster. I was surprised that we made it back alive. And still speaking to each other.

As I reflected on my crazy feelings and wacko decisions, I found that I had some unresolved concerns. I felt that I hadn't been able to make my own decision about whether or not to get married. I felt pushed into the decision without being given the time to wrap my mind around such a huge step. I let myself "take counsel from my fears" and needed to figure things out. And fast. I knew I loved Mr. TD&H. I knew he was an amazing, loving, caring, unselfish, humble person. I loved all of that. I loved that he loved me. All of me. Even my psycho parts (which, I was finding, were not a few). I did need time. Time to sort myself out. Time to listen to heaven helping me make this all-important choice. I needed that divine help. I had been doing this on my own too long.

So I went to talk to my sweetheart. He was so sorry that I felt pushed into the decision. He wanted me to feel comfortable with my decision. He backed off and gave me time. That took a lot of love and faith, and I was so grateful.

About a week later, I came home to a wonderful surprise: Two dozen long-stemmed roses from him. They were the MOST BEAUTIFUL roses I had ever seen (and they are still unmatched--they were incredible!). I felt so loved. So patiently loved and cared for.

just an FYI--chapter four has a new picture--FINALLY! (that's for you Liz and Rita!)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part eight

Later that day we were standing in the kitchen with his sisters. He looked across the room at me and said,
"So, should we tell them?"

Well, as you can probably imagine, they didn't need to be told. They started screaming with excitement and hugging us in turn. His younger sister, who was already married, was beside herself with happiness. She whispered in my ear that she had been hoping for this. I was nervous and anxious, yet I felt so loved and accepted.

The next experience was NOT my favorite to recall. We were walking around the mall in Lethbridge. As we passed a jewelry store, my future SIL stopped us to look at rings. I saw a few that looked nice, and I turned to look at Mr. TD&H. He looked positively green.

"That is more than I thought it would be," he simply said.

Embarrassed, I quickly started to exit the store. I was mortified that he was balking at how much he needed to pay for a ring. For me. I was the reason for his pain!

I think he stayed green for the rest of the day. His sister caught on to what was going on with him. I think she may have lectured him a little bit (hee, hee). He came to me later to apologize about his reaction. I reasoned that it was totally normal to have sticker shock. I forgave him.

But I was shaken. My fears reared their ugly heads. Are you sure you want to do this? Is he "the one"? Really? Shouldn't he feel privileged to pay whatever was necessary to give you whatever you want? I rebuked myself for being to superficial. My knight-in-shining-armor was a man of limited means, and that didn't bother me at all. What was I expecting--a 3-carat rock to wear on my finger? I was freaking out all for nothing!

In time, we returned to school in Provo. It had been a fun, family and food-filled trip that I would not soon forget. Not only did I get the lovely experience of feeling what snow is like on my skin at 40 degrees below, but I also had a private tutorial by my man's Uncle Lawrence on the finer points of Rook. I was also introduced to Old Dutch chips (dill pickle being my favorite--even still!). Ahh, so many memories!

Back in the real world, I was feeling buffeted. My fears about getting married would resurface several times a day, but I was able to work through them. Then the wedding planning began. I want to be perfectly clear here--I didn't NOT dream of my perfect wedding since I was a young girl. I didn't have an image in my mind that needed to be met down to the last detail. I was just happy to be getting married, and I guessed that all the wedding stuff just came along with that. So I went to find a dress. January was drab and dreary around me as I walked into Walker Bridal on Center St. in Provo. I wasn't (and I'm still not) a shoppin' gal, and after the first few minutes I knew that I should have brought a girlfriend with me. I must have suffered through racks and racks of wedding dresses. I couldn't find ANYTHING that I remotely liked. Not even close. I didn't know what I wanted, but I REALLY knew what I didn't want. YIKES! Did people really buy these dresses? Who were they?

I walked out of the shop depressed and mildly hysterical. What if I couldn't find a dress? Was this a sign? Was I not supposed to get married? Was heaven holding out on me? I may even have gone home to cry on my bed, but I have conveniently blocked that out.

Mr. TD&H and I needed to make more wedding plans--ones that required a trip to my hometown. So we booked our flight and waited for that last weeked in January to head to sunny California!

Our classes, work, and choir (for me) took up a lot of time, so we didn't have a ton of time to spend together. When we were able to get together, I was very sensitive and irritable. I am sure that was one of his favorite dating times! Finally the week of our trip dawned. I was down (probably hormonal), and the night before the trip I called home to commiserate. I spent a lot of time whining and complaining to my mom on the phone. She was VERY concerned and mentioned that maybe I needed to rethink this whole situation. I mulled that over all that night and through the next day. I thought to myself, "If I just break it off, all this stress and hoopla will go away, and I will feel so much better!" In my mind, this was exactly what I needed to do.

I didn't exactly know how to approach my man, so as we sat next to each other on the flight to CA, I casually said, "I have been thinking." (yikes, uh oh, deer-in-the-headlights) "This is all moving too fast. I feel so stressed out. I want to break things off for a while to see if I can figure out how I am feeling."

Now, imagine yourself sitting with the person you love, on the way to visit her family, and she drops this bomb in your lap. He sat there, staring at me with concerned eyes, not moving or speaking. Finally, he said something like, "So you waited until we were in the air to tell me this?"

Then I had my finest hour. I not only didn't answer his question, but I continued by asking the impossible:

"Can you not mention this to my family? Let's just pretend like everything is fine, and they don't need to know. We'll just deal with it on our own."

To ask Mr. TD&H to pretend where his feelings are concerned is like asking him to stop breathing. NOT gonna happen.

He looked at me, incredulous. "How am I supposed to pretend everything is normal? You just told me you don't want to get married? Why are we even here? To plan a wedding that isn't going to happen?"

Needless to say, I didn't have a good answer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Our crazy/silly/roller-coastery story, part seven

It has been a while. If you need to remember where we are, you can read part six here.

With one family "met," we had one left. His family. But I had only been home from my mission for a few months, and I wanted to go home for Christmas. My family wanted me home for Christmas. So we'd have to meet his family some other time.

Fast forward to the week of semester finals. I was planning to drive home with some friends for Christmas to spend it with my family. Then one night, Mr. TD&H and I were talking about Christmas. We didn't want to be apart, but I wanted to be home. He felt very strongly about going to Canada for Christmas, and he just threw the idea out there. Why didn't I come home with him for Christmas? I immediately said that I couldn't. I wanted to be home. But I started to think about it. I had just been home at Thanksgiving. I really did want to meet his family. Why didn't I go? I felt peaceful. I hoped my family would understand. I knew they'd be disappointed. I was disappointed. But I hoped they would be able to see where I was coming from. It was a long trip, and I wanted time to really get to know his family. I knew Christmas break was the right time. It felt right.

I was a little nervous at the thought of meeting his family. Mr. TD&H was VERY close to his family. They meant everything to him. He had five sisters and one brother. His sisters absolutely adored him, and they were also very protective of him. Especially the sister closest to him in age. He had talked about other girls he had taken home that hadn't gotten "approval" from the sisters. I hoped I would win their approval, but I wasn't overly worried because I knew I had his. It would be like icing on the cake. I hoped they weren't hideously mean! (hee, hee, sweetarita!)

After finals were done, I waited patiently to go. We had decided to go the day before Christmas Eve. It was a long drive, 13 hours, and I wasn't looking forward to it. On the other hand, I would have Mr. TD&H all to myself!

As i waited in his apartment, I was getting a little antsy. He had a project for a client that he was finishing, and it was taking a lot longer than he thought. He kept putting off the departure. I was a little annoyed, but I was more than happy to sleep a little more to make up for all the sleep deprivation through finals. Eventually it got too late to go that day, so I schlepped myself home to sleep a few hours and get on the road early on Christmas Eve.

I was back early the next morning, and we were off! We were snuggled in to the melanoma car with a stereo for tunes and a blanket or two in the back seat. We made it all the way to near McCammon, Idaho (maybe three hours on our trip). I was driving and all of a sudden I didn't feel any traction. I told Mr. TD&H and he reacted: "Black ice!" I completely panicked. I had heard so many scary black ice stories and had experienced it myself on a desolate Nevada stretch of I-80--complete with 360's! I screamed back, "What do I do?" He told me to pump the brakes, and they seemed to be working just fine. I just didn't have any oomph. I would step on the gas, but nothing happened. We finally came to a stop at the side of the road just before the exit leading to Lava Hot Springs. This was before cell phones, so we actually had to get out of the car and hoof it to the nearest house. As we left the car behind, we noticed a pinkish trail leading to where we stopped. "Transmission fluid," he stated. I was at a loss. What would we do?

The first house we passed was surrounded by snow drifts. Not there. Let's try the next. The door opened to our knock, and we entered a very comfortable home. There were pictures of temples on the wall and inspirational quotes. Relief flooded me. We'd be okay. We called a tow truck that took us in to Inkom, Idaho (about 20 minutes). We ended up spending about 7 hours in this little fix-it shop. Please remember, however, that it was Christmas Eve. We were lucky they even looked at the car. The guys were so nice. The car just had a tune-up, but the repairman hadn't properly replaced the plug for the transmission fluid, and it had all leaked out. We had to find a new plug. On Christmas Eve. So the amazing guys at the shop called a junkyard in Pocatello and located one. I am still amazed that they fixed it. About 3 p.m. we were back on the road. My guy's family didn't know about the delay, so we hurried on our way so as not to worry them. We made it through Idaho and started into Montana. It was getting dark, and the weather worsened. I was clueless about the directions, so I didn't know that we were near a crucial crossroads. Where I-90 crosses I-15. If you blink, you'll miss the signs and get on the wrong road. We did. We were heading to Missoula, Montana, and we didn't know it. After going about an hour and not recognizing anything, Mr. TD&H pulled off the road and found a pay phone. He called his dad and broke the news that we'd be late. Very late. Then he found out that we were on the wrong road. We had to backtrack over a small highway to get back to I-15. We got the directions and started on our way.

It was pitch dark when we finally made it to Great Falls. We gassed up and called his house to let them know of our progress. As we left the gas station, I realized that we were losing our first Christmas Eve together. So I put on some hymns on the stereo and started reading Luke 2. The Spirit flooded that little car. We were filled with love for a Baby born in a stable thousands of years ago. We were filled with love and gratitude for each other. It had been a hard day, but we had enjoyed each other's company and been positive. Mr. TD&H told me later that he was so impressed by my unfailing optimism. Boy, had I tricked him! The Lord must have strengthened me through that test. There is no other explanation.

We basked in the reason for the season and started sharing Christmas memories from our childhood. I told him of my amazing Beatles digital watch that I sneaked down in the middle of the night to open. He told me of homemade jammies and heartfelt gifts from his family. We were making the best of this crazy situation. Then the blizzard hit. He was driving, thank goodness, and then next few hours we creeped along the highway at a snail's pace. Each time a semi would pass us, we would silently pray that we would stay on the road during the ensuing white-out. He would hit drift after drift in his little car, hoping to not hit one we couldn't get through. I was beside myself with fear. Practically a native California girl, I had never experienced anything like this. Mr. TD&H was intently concentrating on the road, so my mind had plenty of opportunities to play out gruesome scenarios. At the time my inexperience with this kind of weather was probably a blessing. I had no idea how bad it really was. Hours passed slowly as the tension mounted. I prayed we would make it. We weren't prepared for this kind of situation. I was grateful for the blankets, but they wouldn't do us much good if we ran off the road.

Finally, the weather eased up. He was exhausted. We traded places, and I took the driver's seat. With sunflower seeds in hand to keep me awake, I started toward Shelby. After I had driven about 30 minutes, I saw a car. This was a welcome sight. We hadn't seen many for a long time. But then the car started acting strange. It came up right next to me, and the driver seemed to be trying to communicate. I was so freaked out, that I sped up to try to get away from the crazy person. Then the car sped in front of me and pulled in to my lane. Now I was really getting scared. The car then started to slow down. I had no choice but to slow down as well. We both stopped and I locked the car doors and turned to Mr. TD&H. Panicked, I told him that someone was walking toward the car. He sat bolt upright, trying to wake up. The driver was at my window! My heart was racing in my chest. What should I do? Did I have anything i could use as a weapon? All of a sudden, Mr. TD&H said, "Pedro!"

He reached over me and started rolling down the window. There stood an average-sized guy with a blond afro. This was no Pedro. Was my guy really awake? Was this part of his dream? Then "Pedro" smiled. He said, "We are so glad we found you. What took you so long?" I turned to Mr. TD&H for some explanation. "This is my brother in law," he glibly stated. They exchanged greetings and "Pedro" said, "Your dad's in the car, too. We came to find you."

When we hadn't shown up, they called the border. The person working there told them of the storm and that, because it was Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, there would be no Highway Patrol officers out from midnight on. Had we gone off the road, there would have been no help at all. We could have frozen to death in some ditch in Montana. I was so glad I hadn't known that. The family had gotten together and decided they would send a "rescue party." So Dad and "Pedro" set out in the wee hours of Christmas morning to find us. That is completely normal for this family. Sacrifice for other family members? Sacrifice? What sacrifice?

So these intrepid adventurers escorted us across the border. Funny story about that border. Mr. TD&H had told me not to say anything stupid at the border. Just answer the questions calmly and everything would be fine. So what do I do? I get to the border--I am still in the driver's seat, remember? First, they state that we must be the who they had been looking for. Auspicious start, eh? They start asking questions, and I get a little flustered. Finally I just softly shriek that I am an American. My passenger not-so-nervously laughs and says that this is my first border crossing (which it isn't), and they let us move on our merry way. Excited to be so close to home, Mr. TD&H wanted to drove. Go right ahead, I thought. An hour later, we pulled in to his parent's driveway. Home at last!

I walked in, feeling like death warmed over. I hadn't showered in two days, but with the stress and expectations for these introductions, I felt even more crusty and fuzzy-teethed. I said a cursory hello, and headed for the bathroom. The hot water thankfully brought me back to life. It was hot--really hot. I finished my shower, stepped out, and almost passed out. It must have been 90 degrees in that bathroom with the heat and the steam. I thought I would be sick! I quickly opened the window and stuck my head out as far as the screen would permit. It felt wonderful, but as I breathed in, my throat hurt. Was I getting sick? I didn't think so. I found out later that the pain in my throat came because it was 40 DEGREES BELOW ZERO!!!!!!!!!! What? To my Californian body, 40 degrees was cold. But below zero? Does the temperature really go that low? (I am sure there are many knowing chuckles out there at this point) I finally joined the family, and we had a wonderful Christmas morning. Although they had only known about me coming for a few days, they had a stocking and a pile of presents for me. I was NOT expecting that! I felt loved, thought of, and valued. They took me in as one of their own. And the sister I was worried about? She treated ME as a true sister. What a wonderful end to an interesting Christmas journey!

After a day full of family, food, and fun, Mr. TD&H had some time together late that night in front of the fire. There I was, looking out the window onto the first white Christmas I could remember, cuddled in front of a warm fire with the man I loved. Could it get any better?


After talking for a while, he turned to me with a very earnest face. He spoke of hopes and dreams, ones that would include me. He told me he wanted to spend his life with me. I whole-heartedly agreed. It was a glorious moment. I floated to bed on Cloud Nine.

The next day we were quietly talking, and he asked me how I felt about the night before. Great, I responded. He asked if I was ok with it. With what? With being engaged, he answered. Engaged? Are we engaged? Panic ripped through me. Engaged? He saw the deer-in-the-headlights look on my face and faltered. Was I okay, he asked? I considered for a moment. Was I engaged? I guess I was. Our conversation of the night before could be considered a proposal, I just didn't realize it. I did want to be with him. So I was engaged.

I put on a brave smile. I asked myself, why was I so scared? Did marriage scare me? I didn't know. I thought that maybe I just needed time to get used to the idea. Yeah--I just needed time.


I missed July?

When was it?

Oh, I only just missed it.

Oh well.

Life happens, I guess.