Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tell Your Love Story

Here's an idea for the Blog World. How about we all tell our love stories -- let's tell how we met the men we love. It might be a nice change from posts about our opinions, our housekeeping, our anxieties, even our gardens.

I met Adam in a literature class at Mississippi College in spring of 1988. I was working on my master's degree; he was finishing his undergraduate degree that May. I was a full-time church secretary taking a few classes here and there. Independent. Living a fun apartment life. Dating a lot. Shopping at McRae's. Driving my little Toyota Corolla. Life was grand, but there was a big ugly question mark in the middle of it: would I marry? Who would I marry? When would I marry? I was 24 years old.

Adam was still 21, quite young. I walked into that Milton class and sat next to him. I noticed his very handsome legs. (He'd had a cross-country scholarship.) He was quiet, intelligent. At least one other boy in the class was more flirtatious and chatty, and asked me on a very boring date. Adam, on the other hand, walked me to my car once after a class lecture late that spring. He noticed the bike rack on the back, and we talked about that mutual hobby. And that was it. He didn't ask me out. He graduated that May. I continued working and planned two mission trips that summer -- one to Mexico and one to Poland. And I forgot about the cute boy with the nice legs who sat beside me in one class.

I should admit an interesting twist, and that's the fact that I'd seen Adam at least three times before we ever met in Milton class.  A year or two before, I'd seen him one day in the public library in our small college town. I noticed his dark curly hair, his angular face, his serious mien. Later that day, I saw him again, walking on the sidewalk toward the college. Twice -- and he stuck in my mind. Sometime later, I saw him again in the basement of the college library where I worked in the bookstacks. Clearly, he was a bookish fellow, and I liked that. So when I walked into the Milton class and saw him there, although I'd never met him I felt I knew something of him.

I returned from the mission trip to Poland on Sunday, August 7, 1988. The local newspaper ran a story with a photograph of our team. Adam saw the photo, recognized me, and remembered I worked at the church. So on Monday afternoon, 8/8/'88, he came to my office and said hello. It was quite bold of him! I toured him around the church and we talked the afternoon away. He said, "I came here to ask you on a date." I replied, "Okay, go ahead and ask." Such a smart aleck I was! I'd been dating steadily for several years, was in my mid-20s, attractive, in excellent shape, well-courted by my male friends at church, and frankly did not take this young whipper-snapper seriously. He said he worked each evening waiting tables and only had one night off, that very night (unless I wanted to wait until the following Monday). I told him I'd just returned from three weeks overseas, was exhausted and had piles of laundry to do ... but, if he was willing to accompany me to my parents' home where I did my laundry, he could make me dinner. He agreed. That was our first date. My parents were, as usual, out of town.

My mother had a washing machine that rocked and rolled its way across the laundry room, so I sat on it to keep it under control. Most of our date, after Adam made grilled chicken sandwiches, was spent in the laundry room, trying to talk over the noise of the machine. Not as romantic as many well-planned dates I'd had with other guys, but I preferred the down-to-earth honesty of Adam's manner. He was no-frilled. I felt no pressure.

I never went on another date with another man.

Our second date was a picnic to a local park in Belhaven, the residential area of Jackson where we lived few blocks from each other. That fall and winter we saw each other several times each week. I would walk one block from the church for my lunch break at his apartment. He cooked for me. We went to movies, for long country drives in his VW convertible in rural Mississippi with the top down and the leaves swirling behind us. We rode bikes and took long walks in the country. I met his parents and he met mine. We were an odd mix: his dad was retired military; mine worked at a seminary. Adam went to public schools; I went to private. We were both Christians, but we argued endlessly (and quite aggressively) over theology. We listened to lots of music we loved. I was a musician. He was a photographer. I think that was the most romantic year of my life.
photo taken in a tunnel in the Vicksburg Military Park
When we'd been dating a few weeks, Adam wanted to kiss me. We were at my apartment; I was seated on the couch. He sat on the floor in front of me. "I want to kiss you," he said longingly. I smiled. "Okay. Go ahead," I replied. Clearly I was to a point in my dating life when I was unintimidated by boys and their attempted romances, and I was willing to make him work for it. But he did kiss me. As a young man, Adam enjoyed challenges, and I was one. Later in the fall, I remember a balmy evening at his apartment, which had a lovely Juliet balcony overlooking Gillespie Street. Adam played Tchaikovsky on the stereo -- the big kind with stacks of electronic boxes on the floor and waist-high speakers on either side -- and we sat on the balcony and talked.  From that same apartment the next spring I would drive away in a fury after we'd had The Biggest Fight Yet about religion. Adam was still rather liberal in his views, coming to his faith alone in a Juvenile Detention cell with the help of a Gideon Bible and little else. I, however, had enjoyed all the religious influence that a Southern Christian, Bible-believing, church-attending-three-times-a-week family can give. We were both crying that night. I was sobbing and angry. I got in my car and drove away, and I knew -- I knew -- that if I left then I would not return. I would lose him. I could not lose him. If I did not marry him, I knew I would wonder all my life where he was. I would pine for him. So I did a u-turn in the middle of Gillespie Street, went back, and held him tight.

Sometime in January I got ill. My sore throat progressed to mononucleosis, and I was hospitalized with dehydration for four days. Adam was amazingly attentive. One anecdote here shows a facet of his personality: He told his boss at El Chico Mexican Restaurant that he needed to visit his girlfriend in the hospital. It was mid-February. The boss didn't believe him, and said he just wanted the day off to spend Valentine's with me. Adam said no -- I was really sick. The boss was willing to let him off, but Adam was so affronted at being accused of lying, that he quit his job (!!) Yes, he did. He was an idealist with high standards.

Sometime in March we were engaged. Unlike engagements today, the event was unfilmed, and we don't even remember the date. He attempted a proposal on a Sunday night. He was unusually quiet when we went back to my apartment. Normally we have no trouble with conversation. For almost 28 years now, we always have things to say. But that night, he was mum. Finally, the light dawned on me, and I said those fateful words a woman ought never to say: "I know what's wrong with you. You want to ask me to marry you, don't you?" (Oops!!) He nodded his head. Oh well, I made it easy for him! When we put the question to my daddy, however, we were not met fondly. I am his only daughter and the baby of the family; he was not willing to hand me over quite that easily! My mother had to win him over.

We married on July 29, 1989, less than a year after our first date.
We've been deeply in love ever since.

8 comments:

  1. I love reading your love story and am struck by how it is so "unromantic" by today's standards of over the top big romantic gestures and opulent dates. I have found that true feeling seldom comes in with a bang but more often builds slowly and grows with time. My husband and I met over 50 years ago in a college history class when we were both 18. He was serious and shy, I was just beginning to understand my womanly power and trying out a flirtatious persona. Neither of us had much experience in the dating world but believe me I knew a good thing when I saw it and it took him three months to work up the nerve to ask me on a date! We have been together ever since and have just celebrated our 49th anniversary. I love him more now than then when I thought I loved him.

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  2. Love this on so many levels; especially the pet where you knew that if you drove away, you'd never return. Such a picture of covenant love - we intentionally choose what we don't feel in the moment when our "heart" and "pride" tell us to go the other way and stay "right."

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  3. What a great post!! I so enjoyed reading your love story.
    I think your idea of sharing a post like this is awesome and I just might do as you say in April as that will be our wedding anniversary, so what better time to post about our love story.
    As always, I've enjoyed my visit with you.

    Blessings ♡

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  4. How adorable! I love your story! You have some precious photos!

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  5. I may do this at a later time. Since my hubby's been with the Lord for over 3 years and can't defend himself (lol) I want to be careful what I share. I do agree with the gal above that the later years, (we were married for 33 years)when romance gives way to loving companionship, were the best. Working through the hard times and knowing your family stands together with God is a special blessing. I loved your story!

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  6. A great love story. Thank you, Mary Kathryn. <3

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  7. What a wonderful story M.K. Thank you for sharing it. So simple and sweet, and yes, not over the top gestures, but very real. Sounds like you had a lot of self-confidence and spunk! Fun to read that. Glad I stopped by today. Blessings, Deborah

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  8. You write this so beautifully, MK. I couldn't even begin to put our silly story alongside this!

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