To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How It All Started

As I'm coming up on my 10 year wedding anniversary, and as I could use every excuse possible to focus on the happy times in my life, I thought I would share a few stories of me and my groom. There was a time, for several years actually, that I was not at all comfortable sharing the story of how Brent and I met. People would ask, and I would tell them we met at a gas station. This wasn't a lie, per se, but it wasn't the whole truth. I didn't want the judgments, the assumptions, or the cross-glances, so I didn't like sharing the story. But my how times have changed. We live in a completely technologically-dependent world now, where anything that happens online is "the norm" I no longer shy from sharing. Brent and I met.....(drum roll)

It was March of 2001, or what we'll call the "pre-e-harmony-era". There was no online dating. There were no personality profile match makers. It was just creepy rapists hanging out in chat rooms looking for their next victim. OR not, because obviously neither Brent or I fit that description. But seriously, there was some scary stuff happening in those days.

Mom and Dad had gone to Vegas for the weekend to attend my aunt and uncle's wedding. They somehow talked me out of attending and instead convinced me to stay and house-sit/pet-sit for them. I'm still confused as to the details of how that worked so well in their favor, but there I was in their large house with four completely non-conversational animals. I was bored.

I hopped online (and I use the word "hopped" very loosely, because this was in the days of dial-up internet. It probably took me a good four minutes to get my homepage to open. Four minutes, people.) to a Wyoming chat room on Yahoo!  The first conversation I witnessed was a woman talking about how dissatisfied with her appearance she was. I of course went and looked at her profile picture and determined in short order she resembled me quite a lot. I told her maybe....just maybe....she should no longer use the word "ugly" to describe herself and we could both feel a little better about ourselves. I didn't know this woman, but we started talking and forming a little friendship. I think it was two years later, I was the maid of honor in her wedding. Racheal and I are still friends to this day.

As Racheal and I began talking, we of course did what young, naive, single women do: we started male-bashing. One guy came to the defense of males. Brent sent me a PM (that's chat-talk for private message) and said, "Hey...we're not all that bad."
"If I had a dime for every time I've heard that..." I replied.
Thus began our four hour conversation. We talked about everything: school, work, beliefs and spiritual convictions, sports, food....we covered a lot of ground.  Come to find out we both were huge 49ers fans. We were both conservatives. We were both English majors. We both believed in Jesus. And we both hit send at the same time to describe our favorite snack in the exact same words: "Tortilla chips with shredded cheese, zapped in the microwave."

Obviously we were meant to be together.  

He lived in Gillette at the time, and I was living in Cody.  It was a four hour drive over the mountain, and that's a haul to meet someone who might be crazy in real life.  One week after our online meeting, Brent decided to risk it and make the drive.

I had him meet me at the busiest gas station in town. It was on a busy intersection, well-lit, and had a pay phone that was in clear public view. I told him to call me from that phone when he got to town. He did. I drove up to meet him, nervous as all get out.  I got out of my car, and came face-to-face with this guy sporting a big smile. He had changed some since his profile picture. Come to find out it was his senior high school picture and he had graduated five years earlier. We hugged, made awkward small talk, then he followed me to dinner.

Our dinner destination was an iconic, historic restaurant downtown, where my coworker and her husband were meeting us. We had discussed an "all clear" signal.  If they approved of him and did not find him to be a complete creep, they would show said approval via "the signal". It wasn't too long into the evening, they both approved. Brent was a genuine, good guy.  We enjoyed our dinner, laughing and trying to eat politely in front of each other. I still remember what I wore that day. A lavender v-neck sweater, jeans, and white vans-knock-off tennies. Twelve years ago, and in that outfit, I was one smokin' hot cutie. He had no chance of resisting me, really.

This was the start of our relationship. Brent decided after knowing me for three days, he was in love. And he told me so. My response was something like, "Oh...okay...."  I then broke up with him not quite three months later.

Insert record-skidding-stop-the-music-sound-effect here.

Yes. I broke up with him. Ask my psychologist, I don't know - I just couldn't handle being in a relationship with a good guy who actually cared about me. It freaked me out. Everyone else had left me when boredom or jitters or another woman settled in.  So he was gone when I realized he wasn't going to break up with me first.

Fast forward through the muck, we ended up getting back together before I broke up with him again.  By this time I was going to school in Tennessee, there were a lot of cute college boys who were right there, and Brent was 1600 miles away. I'm no math expert, but it seemed the perfect equation for long-distance-relationship-demise.  

Are you following? I broke up with Brent twice. Twice.  Maybe I was a heartless snot. Maybe I was immature. Who am I kidding - I was a heartless, immature snot.  It was right before Christmas of 2001 when we decided we would be a couple again. Now who's the crazy one, taking back the woman who broke his heart twice?

Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for Brent's total and complete lack of judgment on the day he agreed to get back together with me for the third time. I would be absolutely lost in this life without him.

To think it all started with "Hey....we're not all that bad."  You were right, Brent. You're not all that bad. In fact, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me.

(Stay tuned for: The Proposal)

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