Leighann and Skylar
This is husband's version of the first time we met. Pretty harsh, right? Well, I wasn't so kind to him either. He was the biggest nerd I'd ever met and I let him know it. The summer of 1999, we were 12 years old and my family had just moved to the area. For the first couple years, we disliked each other. A lot. But gradually we became friends. Then best friends. By the time we were 16, we were nearly inseparable, that is until the summer after I turned 17 and found out that he liked me-like that! Before that summer, I had never considered Skylar as anything but my best friend. When I found out he had a crush on me, I didn't know how to handle it due to my teenage awkwardness, so I stopped talking to him for a month or so. It was the most boring month of my life. I realized I had to suck it up and get over myself so that my life could resume as being awesome because he was in it.
I still had no interest in him in a romantic way, and I made it clear that I didn't want to date him. Skylar, however, was clever and found that as long as he asked me if I wanted to "hang out", he could take me on dates without me realizing that's what was going on. This continued for several months before I realized his plan and realized that it was working. I liked him. Like that.
Several agonizingly uncomfortable conversations later, we were officially "boyfriend/girlfriend." The next year (August 2005), I left for college in another state and he stayed home in Texas to work and save up money. It was during those nightly conversations that we determined that we not only wanted to get married someday, but decided upon the date. (Our potential wedding date was to be June 5, 2010, just so you know) There was still a lot we each had to accomplish over the next several years before we could get married, but our naïve selves felt completely confident that we would make that date without a glitch.
The next year (April 2006) Skylar left for Poland for a two year mission for our church. I wrote him regularly, but knew that I'd always wonder if I never dated anyone else to see how that felt. So I dated and compared and over time got myself all sorts of confused. I tried ending things with Skylar a couple of times because I felt that I couldn't be objective in looking at others if Skylar was still in the picture. It never lasted though. Somehow, Skylar was always so patient and understanding. And somehow, he always came out on top.
Skylar came home and we came pretty close to getting married then, but I felt like I had something I still had to do. It was my turn to serve a mission for my church. I was sent to Washington state. Now it was Skylar's turn to figure out the "dating other people life." Only he didn't want to. He wrote me faithfully, but yet again, I was the one to end things with him. There were several really personal, complicated reasons for choosing to end our relationship, but it really was for the best- though I now realize I should have handled it differently. Skylar was hurt, of course, but he was patient. He went on to date other people and I went on to focus on my time in Washington. By the end of my mission, we hadn’t talked to each other in nearly a year and a half. Well, I hadn't talked to Skylar anyway. He still wrote me from time to time on my mission to let me know how he was. He even sent me flowers sometimes. (Yes, I know, I didn't deserve him!)
By the time I came home, I had fully convinced myself that though we couldn't avoid each other (we STILL went to the same church, after all those years), we were long since done as a couple and would never go back to that. Surprise, surprise, I was wrong again. The first time we would see each other after more than a year and a half would be at church the first Sunday after I got home. As I walked through those same doors where we saw each other for the first time 11 years before, I braced myself for a painfully awkward moment between us. But that didn't happen. Instead, we hugged and after church we talked for hours, just like no time had passed.
That's all it took. From there we decided to be "us" again, but this time it was different. It was better than it ever had been. We each were different and better than we ever had been. Less than 6 months later, we were married on July 30, 2010. After all that had happened, it still amazes us that we were only off by a month and a half from the wedding date we picked out as teenagers 5 years earlier.
Often, when we tell people our story, their response is something along the lines of, "So you were meant to be." But we smile and explain that we weren't necessarily meant to be, but rather we chose to be. That's what relationships and marriage are all about. Choosing the other person. Choosing to love them through it all. Choosing to grow that love. And we'll choose each other forever.