I woke up at 5:30 this morning, feeling like my uterus was tying itself in knots. Thanks, hormones. I know you're doing your job, but geez. Think you could let up just a little bit?
Anyway, since I'm feeling yucky and in the bed with my puppy-dog-heating-pad, I'm going to share our happy love story. It is sort of long and complicated, so I'll try to give the short version (but it's going to be super long anyway. settle in...)
Mark and I met at Samford during the fall of our freshman year (fall of '03). We had several mutual acquaintances, and got to know each other through our friends. Over the course of that first semester, we spent quite a bit of time together - we had a dinner group that we always ate with in the Caf, and that was the year of tennis at 2am, so we saw each other nearly every day. At the end of the first semester, Mark also asked me to teach him to swing dance - I was a member of Swing Kids, which was a swing/ballroom dancing club. We got to be really close friends, and I started to develop a crush. Unfortunately (sort of?) I also had a pretty intense crush on a guy at Swing Kids. He was a senior, and nothing really came of it, but it made for a fairly confusing time...
Also, especially the following spring semester (spring '04), about 4 other girls (some on my hall) had realized that Mark was a pretty awesome guy, and decided that marrying him was their destiny. Because I was such good friends with him, they grilled me for information about him - what he liked to do, what kind of personality he had, did he like them, etc. etc. It was very hurtful. Even more hurtful was when my freshman roommate started dating him after spring break freshman year. She borrowed my senior prom dress to wear to a formal with him. She talked about him all the time. It drove me crazy.
Luckily, all that passed, they broke up (because Mark realized that she was definitely NOT right for him, and he was just with her to avoid all the drama that all the rest of the girls were causing), and sophomore year began pretty calmly.
Mark, Kristine, me, and Waranya in the guys' dorm sophomore year
As that fall semester ('04) passed, my crush on Mark deepened quite a bit. He was still coming to Swing Kids with me consistently, and my former crush had graduated, and I was over him. I still saw Mark every day - our group still ate dinner together that year - and we played poker in the guys' dorm a lot. I actually went on a couple of dates with this other guy in October, and we quickly realized that it was not working ... nor would it. So, single I remained.
Then, in January ('05), my college group leader at church said she wanted to have lunch with me. When we went, she basically told me it was incredibly obvious how much I liked Mark, and that I either needed to suck it up and tell him, or suck it up and get over it, because where I was at was a miserable place. I was terrified, but I listened. I told Mark that I liked him on February 4th, after the first Swing Kids of the spring semester of our sophomore year. I went into that conversation expecting him to never speak to me again. I was prepared for that. Instead, he blew my mind, and said that he felt the same way about me. That he wanted to be with me. I nearly passed out.
Our first "official" date was on Valentine's Day, 2005. He took me to Leonardo's, a really yummy Italian restaurant. He bought me a 5-lb Hershey Chocolate bar (Yes, 5 POUNDS. That is bigger than most of the babies I take care of) and The Notebook on DVD. I gave him a sappy card, and a Build-A-Bear (which he still has.) And so ... we were dating. Every now and then, I would just squeal and jump up and down out of sheer delight. He was my first boyfriend. I was absolutely twitterpated :)
So then we went to Mexico on Spring Break on a mission trip, and that was fun. Cute picture from that trip:
That summer, Mark went to Spain for a study-abroad program, and I sold knives. Worst summer ever. I missed him SO much.
Then he came back, and we were back to normal again, for junior year (Fall of '05) :) I was so, so, so in love with him. We went to the Beeson Ball...
...and he helped me survive my first semester in Nursing School. That whole first year of clinicals felt like hell, and I absolutely would not have made it without him. He was my rock, I leaned on him more than anyone else to help me make it through. That was one of the hardest years of my life.
That Christmas, he came for part of our family vacation to Nashville :) My parents have liked him since we were both freshmen, so that was never an issue. My sister loves him. We had a really great time :)
We were coasting along wonderfully, but I knew that I cared about him more than he cared about me. He wasn't ready to move to that next step yet. He still needed lots of "Mark" time, lots of time away from me. Granted, I was needy and whiny sometimes. I didn't realize at the time that boys take longer than girls to commit. I didn't realize that he just wanted to be independent, to not be expected to do stuff, to be on his own. I didn't realize the best thing to do was let him fly.
I was house-sitting the following spring ('06), and we started talking. About the future. About what we wanted. About how I wanted to get married. About how he didn't. He told me his plans were to graduate that December, and join the Peace Corps. That was a shocker. First he leaves me, and goes to Spain. That summer, he was going to Kenya. (For 10 days. I totally overreacted to that, and he got mad, and I got mad. That cycle happened a lot back then...) And then, he was planning to graduate early so he could fly the coop and be gone for at least 2 YEARS. I was mad. I was hurt. It was a huge fight. And then I got over it. I mourned over my old plans, then accepted that this was how it was going to be. I started making my own plans. Summer came, and it was amazing. I was with Elissa that summer, who bolstered my confidence, and told me everything was going to be okay. Turns out, she was right.
Apparently, as Mark was flying to Kenya, the only thing he could think of while he was in the air was "What if the plane crashes, and I die? I'll never get to see her again." That's what it took. Leaving made him realize that he would always want to come back. And come back he did, and the rest of the summer was lovely. That August, he told Andy that he wanted to marry me. That he loved me.
Which was huge. Because he'd never told me that he loved me. I told him often, and he always responded positively, but never said the words. They meant too much to throw around, for him. He wanted to wait until he knew for sure.
So that fall was great. We were seniors in college. We threw Hannah and Kristine and surprise birthday party at the townhouse. We went to my house, and then Hannah's family's cabin in Monteagle for Fall Break.
We were really, really happy, and I was okay with everything - waiting for him, being with him as we were, forming my own career and looking forward to being independent and on my own. And then his plans changed. He switched from a poli/sci major to a history major, which meant he had to stay on for another semester. I was thrilled. He started talking about graduate school. I was even more thrilled. And then, in December...
...he told me he loved me, got down on one knee, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.
And I said yes :)
It was a total surprise (see my face two pictures above) that everyone knew about but me. I jumped up and down and squealed a lot.
And so we got married.
And we've lived happily ever after ever since :)