dedicated to my husband
How does one sum up the most important moments and events in their memory?
How can I possibly convey the beauty of a story that is really commonplace…people fall in love every day…but paramount in my own life? An event that set my feet on a path that I never could have dreamed of?
The task of retelling my love story is daunting, as it includes a hundred glances, thousands of moments blurring into days blurring into years, a depth of feeling that is unfathomable, and yet it is the billionth verse of the same song that people have been singing since the beginning of time…
We met, we fell in love, we married.
But so very new to me…
I distinctly remember the first time I laid eyes on him. I was a cheerleader, standing in my usual spot on the football field, doing what I remember doing most of my high school years, constantly moving, and laughing. How I miss that energy…when I think about the girl I was just twelve short years ago, I see a girl who hardly sat still and who thought everything was throw-my-head-back-and-laugh hilarious.
I had one friend who inspired most of that laughter, who on game nights disappeared into a mascot uniform and took her place next to me on the field, persistently slaying me with her slapstick body language and witty comments. We were caricatures of a cheerleader and mascot, making fun by throwing ourselves into our respective roles with major gusto and exaggeration. Spirit fingers were our favorite.
Anyway, it was just a typical gamenight, Danielle and I cutting up and making those spirit fingers…until I looked up and saw a “new boy” following my youth minister up the ramp to our elevated bleachers. His shirt was namebrand, Tommy Hilfiger to be exact, his hair was red and curly (my Mom’s favorite) and I was immediately smitten.
Now before you melt into the floor at my love-at-first-sight retelling of our story, let me fess up and tell you that, at the time, I was smitten with anyone of the opposite sex, especially at first sight. I was not the brightest bulb in the something (see, I can’t even get cliches right), nor was I the most discerning. I. loved. boys.
Especially this one.
“Danielle,” I exhaled, grasping her arm with my slender and well-groomed teenager fingers. “Who is that?!”
I watched his ascent up the ramp as if a spotlight had landed upon him, illuminating his newness, his spectacular hair and the chiseled structure of his ruddy face, and the royal blue-and-white checkered-print on his shirt.
And for the remainder of the football game, my eyes involuntarily flitted to where he sat at least every five seconds. I couldn’t help it; I was dyin’ to know who this stranger was and what he was doing in my neck of the woods.
Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find out…
For just hours later, in our church’s youth building, I sat on the floor alongside my youth group and many young people from the town, listening to this young man preach at our post-game Bible Study.
Any interest that had been piqued at the football game was now a full-fledged crush, for not only was he cute as a button, he was Southern Baptist, and even better, he was a preacher, conveniently meeting every major characteristic on my list of standards.
And if you think I’m talking about a proverbial list, then you don’t know Southern Baptist girls. We ALL had a list, a real one, tucked away in some special hidden place, with the must-have characteristics of our future husbands written out, in order of priority.
We’ll ogle over and flirt with anybody (I’m looking at you, Justin Timberlake), but when it comes to marriage, that list is law.
And so my heart was officially atwitter.
Sadly, I didn’t see the young Mr. Gore again until many months later at our church’s Spring Break retreat in Oklahoma City, where we were joined by another church…
but not just any another church.
Mr. Gore’s home church.
By this time I had solved the mystery of why he had come to our small town in the first place: my youth minister, Mat, was previously his youth minister and mentor, and the two were very close friends. And even though Mr. Gore was now a college freshman at Oklahoma Baptist University and no longer in his church’s youth group, I had my fingers crossed that he would make an appearance at some point during the week.
And oh, did he.
He was just as precious and funny and breathtaking as he had been in the Fall, causing those initial feelings of admiration I experienced when I first saw him to clench themselves into my heart and dig a little deeper.
In that half-week retreat, he went from being someone I had seen once and found attractive to being the boy who dominated my daydreams and made my heart pound in my chest. I was as smitten as ever, but for real this time, and almost exclusively. (What? A girl needs more than a week to be cured of boy craziness…).
Therefore, I am loathe to admit that Mr. Gore still did not know I existed. He has no memory of my being at that retreat or ever meeting me (even though we had a riveting one-minute discussion on why Honey Nut Cheerios trumped all other cereals!) which really just eats my lunch, for two reasons:
1. I was in no way used to not being noticed, and
2. I was painfully aware of him, each moment spent near him adding to my interest and my desire to know him better.
Which, praise be to God, eventually came just a few months later…
Part Two, coming soon to Mrs. Gore’s Diary