Still yummy, but in an "I'm responsible. Let's get married and have some babies" kinda way.
Anyways... because the five year mark seems significant, I thought it would be fun to go back to the beginning and see how it all started. Strap on your tennies cuz we're walking down memory lane...
The summer after I graduated from high school, I spent most of my time at my parents' beach condo in lovely Destin, Florida. On the first day of the first trip, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this tan, blonde curly headed, lean mean beach-chair-carrying machine running back and forth along the beach setting up umbrellas. That was all I needed to see to convince me that this was going to be a really good summer. Of course, my idea was that this super cool guy was gonna love me and wanna hang out all the time and maybe even be my boyfriend, but in reality I was way too self-conscious to even talk to Caleb... at first. Instead I went swimming in the ocean every day while he was playing lifeguard crossing my fingers and toes that he would come talk to me. DE-NIED! But Caleb would always go talk to my mom. I got so frustrated because he kept ignoring my bikini clad self but was chatting it up with mi madre instead. The minute I'd walk up to our beach chairs, off Caleb would sprint toward some other ancient homeowners. Ouch!
After being totally ignored for weeks using my passive tactics, I thought "what the heck do I have to lose?!" Soooo, I started leaving him my phone number totally unsolicited. The first time, I went to pay him for our beach set-up, and I think I said something really cool like "this is for the chairs (hands over the money), and this is for YOU (sheepish smile, hands over the digits). He seemed not upset that I gave him my number, but then... nothing. nada. no phones ringin'. So the next time I was visiting I left a note on his car. Still nothing. The weeks flew by with no response from el beach boy (other than "Oh... hey... uh... Later Mrs. Underwood! *sprints away*), and in no time at all, I was off to college. A few weeks into school I brought a couple friends down to the beach for a weekend, and I asked Caleb to hang out with us. I'll bet you can guess what happened. That's riiight- nothing. And there was yet another weekend I came down to the beach by myself, and AGAIN asked him to hang out. Yep, same result. Nooooothiiing. (Thank goodness he was a good guy, or I could have gotten myself into some big trouble.) At this point, I'm pretty sure it was just a game to me to see if I could get him to acknowledge me at all, because it was pretty clear that he was not interested.
Winter came along, and only Canadians go to Destin in the winter, so I actually kinda forgot about my beach boy. But right before spring semester ended I took a group of friends to the beach and oh shoot, guess who was back running chairs? Dang it! I thought I was done with him! But since there's strength in numbers, I decided that I didn't give a rippin' flip if Caleb thought I was a total psycho stalker, so I invited him to hang out one more time. That night my friends and I were sitting around the dining room table playing Spades, when oh my... heart pounding, cheeks flushing, there he was! At my door!! (My heart still pounds thinking about it.) He was wearing orange cargo shorts and a black Perfect Circle t-shirt. I really think I knew that night that he would be my husband. It just felt... different. He sat down next to me at the table, and we all hung out and finished our game. I felt completely comfortable and natural with him from that very first moment. At some point in the evening we were running low on liquid refreshment, so Caleb and I made a quick run to the store. Just before we got out of the car to go back up to the condo, he leaned over and kissed me. (You can thank Caleb for providing that detail. I would have sworn our first kiss was on the balcony. But no... no, that's right... he kept trying to kiss me on the balcony, but after a year of torturing me with his aloofness, I had to play it a little cool.) But the point is, it happened... our first kiss!!
I went back to school to finish finals giddy at the prospect of dating Caleb, but then *brace yourself* HE DIDN'T CALL ME!!!! Are. You. Freaking. Kidding me?! Lemme get this straight... I stalk you for a year... you finally give in and come hang out... you KISS ME... and then you DON'T CALL?! Eh, whatever. I won my own little game of "will he acknowledge me," so I wasn't too upset. But two weeks later I was back in Destin, and before I could even get out the words "I'm in town" he was at my door to take me on a date. (And yes, that is what you wear when you're 19 and going on a date at the beach.)
|One year after I-spied-something-cute for the first time.|
Now pause... this may be the single most recurrent fight of our relationship:
Jenny: "Why didn't you call me that whole year and even after we kissed?! You broke my heart!"
Caleb: I was just settin' the hook.
J: Uh! But what if I hadn't been so persistent?!
C: I don't know honey... It doesn't matter because you were.
J: Ok fine. But still... why didn't you call me?!
C: I thought you were out of my league.
J: But I gave you my number! And we kissed!
C: I thought you were just being nice!
J: *Dumbfounded look*
Although it makes no sense to me, my husband is exceedingly honest, and I totally believe he wasn't being a jerk. I do wonder what would have happened if I had been more reserved about persuing him, but I know that Caleb is the man who God picked for me, and perhaps somewhere deep down I sensed that from the first look at him from the window.
So... we went on our first date to a Chinese restaurant, and the same sense of comfort I had the first night continued. It was a good first date, but the clincher was the fortune Caleb got.
|heck yeah we saved this beast!|
We laughed that night and we still laugh about this, because we both knew it was true.
I was living at my parents' house in Birmingham for the summer, so unfortunately I had to leave the suspended reality of the beach. I was a little scared to leave not knowing if I would hear from Caleb once I was gone, but this time he DID call me. And this time he never stopped calling. A couple weeks after the fortune cookie date, Caleb was driving through Birmingham on his way home to NASHVILLE for his middle sister's high school graduation. He stopped off at my parents' house to visit and to take me to lunch, but he ended up taking me back to Nashville with him. And this is where all the buttering up of "Mama U" came in handy. I do not have a permissive mother, so when he asked if I could go to Nashville with him I was bracing for a laugh in the face. But nope, that's not what happened at all. Despite a few of Caleb's exterior features that might make a mother nervous, my mom had seen his work ethic and heard him share his heart, so she determined that it was safe for me to go. So in one brief and terrifying weekend I met his mom, dad, sisters, stepmom, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. And I loved every single one of them!
After that trip which totally sealed the deal for us, we continued to see each other throughout the summer whenever I could make it down to Destin. Caleb was essentially running the beach service by then so he couldn't take days off. Before we knew it, fall semester started, and we saw each other even less. Just when then logistics of our relationship started to take its toll, lo and behold, hurricane Ivan hit and completely obliterated Destin. Not good for Destin, but great for us! You can't run a beach service without a beach, so Caleb came up to Starkville and pretty much camped out at the house for the month of October. During my fall break, we drove up to Nashville, and while we were there Caleb's grandad got sick. We spent most of the weekend at the hospital, which just happened to be across the street from Vanderbilt, and on one of our breaks from the stand-by vigil, I decided to go check out the campus. I came to find out they were still accepting applications for transfers for the spring semester, so I applied mostly as a joke. But then I got in! (WHAT?!) After three years on the beach, Caleb was ready for a change too, so January 2005 found us living in the same city for the first time.
Honestly, my time at Vandy was the hardest time for us. We were both trying to make a new life in a "new" city together, but we were at different schools. We were spiritually ungrounded and searching, and trying to lean on each other. It was a total roller coaster and we barely made it through. But by the grace of God our Christian foundations prevailed, and once we both got back on track spiritually, our relationship flourished.
Spring break of my senior year we went to Destin (where else?). One night we were grilling out and Caleb said he forgot a plate for the burgers. Of course I ran up to the room to get it, but when I got back I saw something that did NOT make me happy. My boyfriend was talking to someone on the phone, and he was positively giddy! I had NEVER seen him that excited. I just knew he was talking to some other girl, and I was ticked! So the second he hung up I lit into him with the, "Who was THAT?! Who is it that makes you THAT HAPPY?!" And with that set up, my always calm Caleb began his speech: "Well Jenny, that was your mom" *gulp* "and" *gulp ... it all goes fuzzy... oh BEEP, he's on one knee...* "its YOU! Its you who makes me that happy! Will you marry me?" Or something like that. Unfortunately I don't remember his exact words, but I do know that I said yes.
|this picture was totally staged, but this was the basic set up|
Sixteen months later, we were married.
And a lot has happened in the five years since then; a master's degree, a house, a baby, another master's, another baby. We've been broke and comfortable and broke again. But despite all the ups and downs, I am so proud of and thankful for the life we've made. Sometimes things are simple, and we look like this...
But sometimes life is crazy and hard and you've just gotta do this...
But no matter what life throws our way, I know we're in it together, and that makes it possible to face anything. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine when I was looking out that 5th floor window at the beach boy that in ten years I would look out that very same window and see this: