Thursday, February 17, 2011

15 years of...

warning, long post. grab some tea if you feel like reading. Or a beer. Wine's good too.
on february 16, Zach and I celebrated being together for 15 years. We're only 30/31, so that's half of our lives.
A few people asked us to share our story... I tried to get Zach to write it but apparently he has no time with this whole "job and school" thing he does. whatever... he already gets 4 hours of sleep a night so I don't know what his problem is. Anyway, I'll write it for you, dear (from my perspective of course, with probably more information than you ever wanted... but it's relevant, I swear!).

I was 16 and in high school at a private school. I had dated a few boys... nothing too out-of-the-ordinary there. I liked having a boyfriend but wasn't too owned by the idea. A boy had just broken up with me... he was older and mean kids had been spreading yucky rumors about me, so it was good that we weren't dating anymore. I was in this phase of life of wanting to be swallowed up by a giant hole in the earth. I was struggling with the girls in my school... lots of petty, mean behavior going on, and I bore the brunt of a lot of gossip and mistreatment. I absolutely hated going to school every day. I was sort of brainy and worldly... in the summers I had been going to Romania and serving in orphanages there. When I attempted to share my experiences I got eye-rolls and "she's so self-righteous and annoying" comments. I was heartbroken... I never wanted to make people be like me or even force them to understand the conditions of the world outside our posh little school... I just wanted to be heard. I just wanted people to know me, to know what I liked to do in the summers, and how that impacted me. I had a couple of friends who were brainy and saw the bigger world like I did, so I stuck with them during the day. I started to just not really talk to other people and keep my mouth shut.

One night I drove out to my school to watch a basketball game. I had some friends playing on the girls team and the boys team, so I went to watch both games. As usual I felt pretty lonely, but I spotted my friend John and went to sit with him. John and a kid named Keith were always nice to me, and never made me feel out-of-place. Another kid came and sat with us... named Jon- another Jon. I don't remember how he knew the others but he was nice. Then Zach came in. He knew John and Keith, and some of the girls that went to my school. He was dating a girl on the basketball game. He was cute and nice, like John and Keith, and we all had a good time laughing and watching the game. I didn't feel lonely for the first time in a long time.

The girls' game ended, and Zach went to congratulate his girlfriend even though she had lost. We all watched her brush him off and refuse to talk to him, and cracked up at the site. He came back all sad, and we laughed and said "whoa! she denied you!" ... Good old high school banter.

The next day I got a call from the kid I barely knew (Jon) saying that Zach wanted to go out to a concert with me because he thought I was really cute. I was like "uuh, he has a girlfriend, bye." Apparently he (Jon) also called Zach to tell him that I liked him and wanted to "go out" with him. So this Jon kid was a little matchmaker, apparently. Zach called me to see if I wanted to go to this concert, and I once again said "uuuh, you have a girlfriend"... Zach hung up, broke up with that girl, and called me back. Hmmm. So anyway we did end up going out to dinner and this little concert with a big group of kids (Vertical Horizon and Ziggy's for any of you who may understand the high school coolness-level here).

I'm not kidding you... That night we fell in love. We became best friends. We immediately understood each other and became each other's number one cheerleader and life supporter. Zach loved me just the way I was, period. We weren't exactly alike. We weren't raised in the same kind of families. We went to different schools, and we had different interests. But, on a soul-level, as dumb as that may sound, we connected like puzzle pieces, and there was nothing we could do about it.

I say that because I knew what was coming. I knew that I would be made fun of. Zach had far nicer friends at his school so we hung out with them a lot. The people (for the most part) at my school were not so kind. It was hard dating someone and knowing that a lot was being said behind my back. Zach was my best friend though... he was everything to me, on a very real level. I knew that we would be together forever. How do you explain that to other teenagers? How do you explain that to siblings, cousins, etc, who you feel tons of judgment from? But none of that outweighed my love for Zach and his love for me, so we just kept on going.

Then came college. I wanted to go to Duke. I was a "shoe-in" on many levels. But I didn't get in. I had been accepted at UNC (big school... I had always wanted smaller) and Wake Forest, a school I secretly adored. It was in my hometown though. In no way did I want to go to Wake just because it was close to my parents. I absolutely hated that people thought that about me. But oh well... once again, the opportunity of going to Wake outweighed the scorn I felt. Zach wanted to go to Virginia, but his dad told him to go to Wake b/c it was free for him (Zach's dad was a professor of surgery for WFU). So there we sat, telling each other our college decisions... we were both going to Wake. This killed me on so many levels... we were opening ourselves up to so much more scrutiny. But we went to Wake, vowing to not act "married" and to have fun.

We really did have fun! Some of our friends were the same, some were different. We mostly spent time with our friends, and occasionally with each other. We were in different academic departments. We were committed to each other but also had very separate lives. I LOVED the way college worked out for us. We were able to be college students, act like college students, and relish that fun time in our lives. We both really valued our relationship AND our independence, and just soaked in life. I continued to travel to Romania and the Republic of Georgia and hang out with friends in the summers, and Zach worked at camp a lot. We were usually apart during the summer months, and it was always fun to come home and catch up on our adventures. We didn't have much email access and no phones while I was in eastern Europe, so that was sort of romantic, wondering what adventures my best friend was having and getting to hear the stories all at once upon our returns. Our college friends, both our mutual friends and otherwise, were awesome. They were all so very cool about our relationship and respected us and loved us well, both together and apart. I seriously loved every second of college and the people we were with. Dear old Wake Forest. LOVED it.

Our last "real" summer, before entering the real world, was between Junior and Senior year. Zach and I had traveled to Ireland with a church during spring break of our Freshman year. We fell in love with the country, so it was the best thing ever when Zach WON two plane tickets to Ireland at a big Irish Festival that Wake hosts every year (did you know WFU publishes Irish poetry? it does). He called to tell me he was taking ME! So we went to Ireland that summer for three weeks, after I worked for the first half of the summer. We rented a car and drove around that gorgeous place. It was incredible. I sort of thought he might propose to me, but also sort of pushed it out of my mind. He had been playing around with the idea of being in the ministry, and I, like a wonderfully supportive girlfriend, said "no way. you want to be a pastor? cool, but I won't be your wife." church work did not jive with my definition of married life... judge if you will, but remember I was young.... but knew enough to know what I could and couldn't handle). So anyway, I really had no clue.

But alas, it was meant to be. After lugging a ring around in his backpack for two weeks straight, he got down on one knee as we hiked on the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. I was pretty shocked and excited and forgot to say yes, so he had to remind me. It was full of rainbows and sunshine :).

We got married 5 days after graduating from college. Honestly, I know some of our family members were totally supportive, and some maybe weren't so excited about "us". Lots of concerns about being too young, etc, etc. Valid concerns. But once again, we couldn't deny our hearts, and we had a blessed ceremony with lots of fun and laughter and friends and family surrounding us. We were passionate about each other and the life possibilities before us, and, most importantly, we were/are in love and committed to being each other's support for the rest of our earthly days.

I had no reservations about marrying a man like Zach. He was, and is, a good, peaceful, fun person. Sure we have our difficulties, we're not perfect. But we have the same vision for what our life should be like. We have the same deep concern for the poor and for orphans. We love music and playing/singing everything we can. We are both spiritual and love God, and realize enough about the world to know that our lives are but a vapor. We want to make our time count. Not for any specific reason... we're not trying to prove anything to anyone, or earn grace that we know we are freely given regardless of our acts in this world. But we do know that with hard work and lots of love for our fellow human beings, we can make a difference, a positive impact for the world, and that's what drives us.

We love our kids more than anything, and have common goals as we raise them. We always knew we wanted lots of kids and a loud, fun house. We both have a huge heart for adoption. We've had to "circle the wagons" in recent years as our lives have been crazy busy as Zach changed careers, so we haven't been able to be as open to tons and tons of friends or involvement in every community aspect of life, but we know it's a season. We like partnering together and navigating the ups and downs of life, and I feel like I have the best teammate ever for this journey. YES he drives me nuts sometimes, and even though I'm perfect I'm sure I annoy the crap out of him sometimes too. But ultimately we are partners... we love our kids... we want to raise them well, to be kind and goodhearted, service-oriented people who love God with all their hearts and love their neighbors as they love themselves. Having that common foundation is what I love about us and our family.

So that's our oooh lala love story :). It's still being written, obviously! We love each other and we love our simple life. I really like that love conquered all, and continues to conquer all, and that every day we have a deeper understanding of each other and what love really means. There you go, friends... as I said, maybe more than you ever wanted to know, but you asked, so... :)

(also, I have no pictures in this here computer of us dating or our wedding or anything... soon I'll scan a bunch of pictures in, if you want to see... these are all post-digital-camera era of life)


  1. i love this story, but i do have to admit that i feel a little ripped off that there are no 20th century pictures in here :)

  2. yay! i love your story! and you guys!

  3. i'm so glad you wrote this! so many things i love about it like how you said yall fell in love the night you went to the concert and how you told zach you wouldn't be a minister's wife. i also like the addition of a pregnant becca pic :)

  4. Oh, my sisterwives. I am so happy for you both. I seriously almost got weepy.

  5. Such a sweet little post! I love hearing love stories. I love that you all fell in love so young and are still going strong. Here's to 15 more! (And 15 more after that, and 15 more after that, on :)

  6. Lovely. What everyone else said. Also, feeling totally ripped off that I didn't get to see any highschool or wedding pics.

  7. GEEEE-ORGEOUS love story. I am perfect too and yet I know I annoy the dickens out of my husband. So I hear you. Solidarity in perfection/annoyance! You and Zach are beautiful peeps, hope I get to meet you in person someday.

    Btw, I applied at WF for law school and got WAITLISTED! Arg. (which emotionally I felt was a denial) It was a good thing though, I would incurred even more loans since there's no way on earth or in heaven I could have afforded it.

    Sounds like a lovely school though.