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The love story of an urban Texas girl and a California coastal boy

{Special thanks to Lindsay for helping me create the map above}

Preface:

I always thought I’d marry someone who saw me from across a crowded room, and after dashing over to me, would grab my hand, and before even speaking would get down on one knee and propose . . . just because my aura told him that we were meant to be together. The courtship of my husband and myself wasn’t anywhere close to that, and I think it’s a fun story to tell, so here I share. He’s given me his full permission, and I delight in sharing what is most important, that we love each other and were meant to be together. I’ve poured through the many, many journals I kept while growing up, and as I tell “our story” I will weave flashbacks of my life throughout. Though I’ve written a condensed version previously, I plan to blog this one chapter at a time, as I write it. Some of the names of the innocent have been protected, and are changed.

 Chapter One: Little fish

Small. I felt like a very small fish in the vast ocean of Brigham Young University, nervous about my new surroundings. I was in an awkward stage in my young adult life . . . unsure and less confident than I’d felt in years. I had just chopped off my long locks, ready for a fresh start, but I didn’t quite feel “me.” I’d gained that hefty “freshman 15” without even realizing it, so I was slightly uncomfortable in my own skin. Yet, I was exactly where I wanted to be, excited for the new adventure that awaited me.

{See, I felt passionately about Decorating with Portraits even back then. Small shot in the corner to show my long locks previously chopped off…}

 Two weeks before this frigid January day in Utah, my Uncle Mean picked me up from the bustling town of Rexburg for the last time. With everything that was precious to me crammed in the back of his truck, I looked longingly at the life I was leaving behind. A blue tarp covered everything that was precious to me in that truck bed: all of my bedding, clothes crammed into crates, my scrapbooking supplies, you name it . . . everything that I had collected my first 2 years of college.

I stared wistfully out the window at the frozen tundra I was leaving behind, and began to cry hysterically. As my eyes blurred with tears, I awaited a snarky comment from my uncle. Gratefully, for the first time ever, he knew it wasn’t the time to try me with one of his sarcastic comments. My Uncle Mean just let me cry.

When I was around 7, I dubbed my Uncle as “mean” because a) It rhymed with his name, Dean and b) he was a rough-and-tumble country cowboy (see that belt buckle creepin out?), and I thought he yelled too much. I was the spitfire city-girl niece that wouldn’t put up with his shenanigans, and he kinda liked that attitude in me. We have had an unspoken bond of teasing each other throughout my life. But this day, I didn’t need it. I needed to cry it out, and he knew it. I was leaving behind comfortable, and headed into the unknown.

After graduating from high school, I took the fast track at the junior college I had attended in Idaho. Though I was denied acceptance at the university of my choice initially, I now had my Associates Degree and was accepted as a transfer student in a year and a half’s time. Not only with the degree in hand, but with honors to boot. That honors meant a lot to me. It was a first. Never in high school did I achieve such a title. Let’s just say . . . I struggled grade-wise. I wasn’t a straight “A” student, nor did I fail—I was average—but secretly, I always felt dumb. Not as smart as the majority of my friends in the honors classes. Only much later in life did I find out that my parents think I had undiagnosed ADHD. I never could seem to sit still. There was always something swirling around in my head that prohibited my concentration.

As I relaxed over the Christmas break, I had time to think about this awkward phase in my life. Like I said, I had acquired the standard “freshman 15” extra pounds, which left me a bit more unsure of myself. That baggage was no doubt attributed to the fact that my freshman year, I challenged my 6 foot tall friend Scott to enchilada eating contests—over and over.

{Enchilada eating contest–what was I thinking?}

 As I crossed the border between Idaho & Utah in Uncle Mean’s truck, I hoped that entering a new school, finding new friends, and moving several hours away would help me get over the semester-long crush I had on the boy from the potato farm, Bennett. After being infatuated with this blond-haired, blue-eyed, quiet but oh-so-cute boy for several months, I worked up the nerve to ask him to the Christmas dance. It wasn’t necessarily a girl’s choice dance, but I did it anyway and figured . . . what the heck! I’m leaving town after this, so I might as well give it a try. I couldn’t quite tell if he was super shy, or just uninterested in me. I was determined to find out. The dance was fun. We let loose and boogied to “I just want to fly” by Sugar Ray, and slow danced to “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden. At the end of the chilly December Idaho night, as we sat side-by-side, arm in arm, I rested my head on his shoulder and he laid his head on mine. My heart skipped a few beats. Knowing I was nearly packed, ready to head out of town the next week, didn’t stop me from wanting him to get down on his knee and beg me to stay. My friends had watched our interaction that night, and they were totally on board with my unspoken inner thoughts—they thought for sure he’d be asking me to start a potato farm with him. I had schemed about what I would do if he did, but he didn’t. The head rest on the shoulders was as far as it would go.

Besides being admitted to my dream school, BYU, I was very excited to be near my big brother Ryan. A semester previously, Ryan came home from his 2-year church mission to Brazil. We were pretty close when he left, I wrote him lots of letters while he was gone, and we were going to party every night now that we were at the same school.

{me and my big bro}

He found me a spot at his same apartment complex, rooming with 3 girls he said “seemed nice” and had lost their roommate mid-semester to marriage. That was a fairly common occurrence on campus. This complex, Canyon Terrace, was a “U” shaped building with a pool down in the middle of the apartments. The pool was only used in the summer when I wasn’t there, so it didn’t really hold much of an interest to me. I landed myself in the corner apartment on the third floor—apartment #39. What was fun about this “U” shaped building is that the boys were on one side with the girls on another, and being on the third floor, we could see down into the kitchens of the boys’ apartments on the first and second floor. This little fact came to be very handy, as you will see later.

My brother Ryan was in apartment #22, so I could see into his window at a diagonal. I soon found out that the anticipated sibling bonding time was few and far between, as Ryan found himself with a full-fledged girlfriend by the time school started back up. Those Christmas break phone conversations with a small town Utah girl won him over. I was no longer the girl in his life, and that was a bit of a bummer of timing for me. I felt cheated a bit.

When I finally met the girls in apartment #39, I was very relieved, and knew from our first encounter that we would be good friends. I shared a room with Abbi, who was a year younger than me from a small town in Illinois. In high school she was home taught, and was a sophomore by credit in college (I was technically sophomore age, but entered mid-year as a junior by credit). Since we were about the same age, height, and fortunately the same size, we quickly started swapping clothes with each other. Her brown Doc Martin shoes were my most borrowed item of hers, and she introduced me to the zig-zag hair part that she mastered so well (but I never felt it worked on me).

Also sharing our living space was her older sister Hali, who bunked with Amy, and those two had been roommates for several years. They were 2 years older than me, and close to graduating. . . we became one in our bonding experiences. Hali was also from Illinois (remember, sisters) and was several inches shorter than myself. All the boys love to flirt with the cute and little short girls, she was no exception. She was an Economics major which fascinated me, as it was the furthest from my mind (not good with numbers). Hali had short, dark hair and brown eyes. Amy had lovely auburn red hair, and was from a farm in Iowa. She and I had the same degree course, and ended up selecting a lot of the same classes in the future. Through those classes and study time, we became pretty close. It was just the 4 of us, and it didn’t take long to get into our groove and do just about everything together. That happenstance roommate bliss lasted for the next year and a half, and they were my support through my roller coaster of emotions in that time.

{Left to right: Amy, Hali, Abbi, Me}

 Since I came in mid-year, my roommates got me all caught up on the boys, girls, & relationships from our complex. Because it is such a small number of apartments, everyone knew each other pretty well, and there was a good amount of cross-dating. We also attended the same church congregation, as they are aligned by where you live. I got the scoop on who each of my roommates had their eyes on, before I even met the boys themselves. Abbi was interested in a boy who lived next door to my brother, Daryl-with-braces in Apartment #21. Amy had noticed the new boy (who moved in when I did) named T.J., also in #21, and Hali had a little crush on a boy named Matthew in #20. Conveniently, all of these boys we could clearly spy on (and see what girls were stopping by) from the comfort of our kitchen window view.

After about a week of living there, I found myself with a crush on about 10 different boys. I was experiencing an overload of cuteness! I still felt a bit insecure at my new surroundings, wondering how I made it to the “smart” school. Would anybody think differently of me because I didn’t start at that school, along with having not actually been in a relationship in a good 8 months? Thankfully, my insecurities soon became a thing of the past as I jumped right into the new dating pool. I specifically remember my crush on the red-head, Mike, in #23 who took me to play racquetball a few times; Jeremy, from my hometown of Houston who I ended up asking to a girls’ choice dance; and Justin, in #21 who was a good 5 years older than me and had an on-again, off-again girlfriend. I’m not the flirty type, so it wasn’t obvious, but I will admit that each of the boys my roommates had expressed interest in . . . was a hidden interest for me, too. Not only were they cute, but they were good, solid, fun guys. But, it would be kept under wraps, because they were spoken for, and I abided by that unspoken girl code. I would only be “friendly” towards them for the sake of my girls, to help them get closer to their crush. Little did I know then, but in 2 years time, I would marry one of those boys I mentioned.

{Sunday night pretzel making activity…there I am in the bottom right corner}

 

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Comments

  1. I’m loving this! It makes me want to write my own story. Can’t wait for chapter 2!

  2. Sigh… Gotta love Canyon Terrace! I wonder how many marriages have been due to that humble little U shaped apartment complex? I can think of about a dozen without trying hard! :o)

  3. I was at BYU the same time as my older brother and it was really great. Looking forward to Chapter 2!

  4. Jacqueline says:

    This is so neat to read! Can’t wait for the next part!

  5. I laughed out loud at the “they thought for sure he’d be asking me to start a potato farm with him.” :) You´re a great story teller, Kristen! I can´t wait for the rest!

  6. Looking forward to the following chapters! Well written!

  7. Looking forward to the following chapters!

  8. tricia dunlap says:

    i’ve been waiting for you to write this!!! love your humor and honesty!!

  9. First, I love Snow College. Second, I love the Mormon ads on the wall in the enchilada picture. And third, what the semi co-ed housing at BYU? I didn’t know that happened!

  10. Ok, I am loving this! It’s so fun reading someone else’s love story! and you are a great writer. I know what you mean about it taking a lot out of you to write these. Like you, I kept journals with all the details. I’m loving all the details you are writing–makes me feel like I’m there! can’t wait to read the next chapter. xoxo, ashley

    p.s. I too gained the freshman 15 but rather than cut my hair, I dyed it black–it was traumatizing!

  11. I have been dying to read this for MONTHS! I am finally getting started! It is already good!
    McKenzie @ Girl Loves Glam recently posted..Younique 3D Fiber Lash GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  12. Oh my goodness, look how cute and young Ben is! He was my FHE dad for a semester at DT. You know that practically makes us related, right? ;)
    Melanie recently posted..Twenty-FourteenMy Profile

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  1. [...] Chapter 1 Little Fish [...]

  2. [...] My uncle is a tough cowboy, but he and I–we get each other. I’ve always called him Uncle Mean because as kid, I thought he was MEAN! As an adult, I see how much his outer gruffness has [...]