Whenever we're together and get to tell this story, I've found it's told with almost the exact same words and inflections, taking turns with who gets to tell which part. Each time makes me a little bit giddy, looking over at my cute hubs as he begins the tale with a mixture of excitement and nostalgia in his eyes.
Our tale begins with an unlikely meeting. We both really shouldn't have been at the FOCUS National Conference in Orlando, Florida. It was mostly only known about among college students who studied on a campus that also had FOCUS missionaries. North Central, where I was a senior at the time, wasn't one of them. Brandon had attended Loras, a FOCUS campus, but had graduated two years earlier. But Divine intervention is real and the Holy Spirit was all about making sure we worked out. I was invited by my dear friend Sara, who was going with her undergrad and already knew that after graduation she was called to be a missionary. Brandon's sister Justine attended Loras at the time and was looking forward to heading to the conference and suggested that Brandon come too.
So there we were, 2 of 6,000 people who made it to the FOCUS Conference 2010. We both traveled via coach bus, about a 20 hour trip. We've both said that we don't really want to do that again. ever.
|Excited to finally be in Orlando after a long bus ride and repping NCC!|
I accepted her invitation because I was genuinely interested in thinking about what life would be like as a missionary and if I was called to this ministry post-college. Brandon accepted her invitation because of the presence of (free) alcohol.
So I attended this event on January 1st, 2010 alone, not knowing another single soul who would be in that room. I remember being proud of myself for being willing to attend despite the intimidation factor I was feeling. Upon entering I stood around for awhile before making my way towards the bar, because at least holding a glass of red wine made me look like I was doing something. On my way back to where I was hanging around before, Brandon walked right up to me and said, "Hi there. Where are you from?"
Now, if he was telling this part of the story, you'd hear that he was holding a whiskey sour. And that he had already asked a friend, Emilio, to be his "wing man." And that he looked across the room and saw that I was alone and beautiful and he was proud of himself for having the confidence to walk right up and talk to me. (again, this is what he would tell you...)
"Naperville" was my response and Brandon adds 5 octaves to my voice when it's his version.
Small-talk ensued and honestly I talked a lot with Emilio because we found out how small of a world it is--he had dated a girl whom I was good friends with who was currently dating a guy I had dated for a short time in college. Did you follow that? But I did find out that they were from Iowa and that Brandon was an engineer and had grown up on a farm. The conversation was cut short when Curtis Martin got our attention so that he could talk about being a missionary. Oh right, that's why we're here.
After the "speech" was over, everyone was to head to the main stage for another speaker followed by adoration. So Brandon, Emilio, and I said our pleasantries and wished one another well. And Emilio walked away but Brandon didn't. Instead, he asked if I wanted to walk there with him. (always a gentleman) So we walked and talked and were about a half hour early to the speaker and so we talked some more. I remember finding out about his farm cats (why were we talking about farm cats?) and that one was named "Linkermo" because they couldn't decide whether to name the poor thing "Link" or "Mo." And then Sara called to tell me where they were sitting (because you can't just find someone in a room of 6,000 people) and I asked if he wanted to sit with us. of course he did.
So we listen to the speaker, whom sometimes we're able to recall, but currently it's escaping me, and then adoration begins. Adoration = a time of silent, reflective prayer in the presence of our Lord and how beautiful is it that the very first time we hung out adoration was included?
Brandon leans over during this time of silence and whispers, "Are you going to the swing dance tomorrow?"
"Want to meet up?"
"Sure." *smiling huge on the inside while perhaps not playing it as cool as I think on the outside*
Brandon grabs his conference booklet and scribbles his number on a corner, tears it off and gives it to me.
"See you tomorrow."
Well, that was unexpected. After he's clearly out of sight I take out my phone, enter the digits, and throw the sliver of paper into my purse.
About an hour later, on the way back to my hotel room, I text him so that he has my number, nice meeting you, etc. I check my phone about every 5 minutes until I go to sleep. No response. I wake up the next morning to no response. Around noon and still nothing, so I text again, inquiring about when/where he'd like to meet for swing dancing. And then it's six-freaking-o'clock and I'm like "what a jerk-face" and I'm looking for something in my purse when I come across the little sliver of paper with numbers quickly scribbled across it and think to make sure I entered his number correctly.
So I text the correct number about a half hour before the dance is set to begin and get a response within 3 minutes. When Brandon's telling the story he's really generous about this part and doesn't make me feel as dumb as I did on that day. But he does reveal that he was feeling a little letdown when he hadn't heard from me.
So we meet at the doors and I still remember that I was wearing a cream skirt and a blue shirt. He told me I looked "very nice." His sister was watching and remembers we matched--he was wearing a similarly colored blue shirt.
He had never swing danced before and that's what my friends and I did on many Sunday evenings in high school, so I balanced teaching him while still allowing him to lead. Oh, the foreshadowing.
And then at 11 o'clock he had to run off like Cinderella because his bus was leaving early and driving through the night instead of staying through the end of the conference. On the way out he asked if he could call me and I said that I'd like that but explained that I was kinda, sorta dating someone at the moment. (gasp! I know, right?) When Brandon tells this part he's sure to mention that we hadn't been dating long (only about 2 weeks) and that he was a jerk anyway.
So short story long, he texts me his whole way home and then calls me on the following Wednesday and we chat for an hour, during which he asks if he could see me the following Sunday! I reminded him that we lived 3 hours away from one another, but he didn't seem to mind. So we planned on going to Mass and out to lunch. I promptly hung up the phone and called my mom and squealed a little bit. And then I called the guy I was dating and told him that I thought we were going in different directions (I sure was!) and he told me to have a nice life...Well, I sure am--thank you!
That "first date" was low-key and wonderful and we went to mass and to lunch and walked on the Riverwalk (where I would later say "yes") and played cards for hours. We've always used the day we met, January 1st, as our anniversary date and you could say that the rest is history! How grateful I am for the invitation to that invite-only event.
|Our very first picture together, taken the following Sunday, when Brandon came to see me again :)|
Stay tuned for a few reminiscent wedding pics! ;)