our love Story {first date}.

our love storyHow has it taken me four installments just to get to our first date? Because it took us a year and a half to get there - and a few bumps and broken hearts along the way. Let's see if we can't cover three months in one post, shall we? Anthony called me on a Wednesday to ask me out. I remember because we had youth group that week (I was still a youth minister at the time). As per usual, the middle school teens took an interest in where my love life was at. Also per their usual, they suggested that I date Mr. Sloan, only this time - unlike all of the other times for the last year and a half - I had to keep my feelings legitimately under wraps. You see, they had been on my case (not on his, of course) to date him. At first he was the only male teacher at the school, so I kind of wrote their suggestions off, but the more I knew and heard about him, the harder it made it to fake it around the teens. I didn't want to let on that he'd just called me to ask me out, so I quickly got back on topic and went on with the night. I remember he called me once or twice before Saturday to ask me some questions as he planned the date, things like whether or not I was a vegetarian and what I was or wasn't up for. He wouldn't tell me much more other than what I should wear (not that his advice was helpful because I am a girl the girl who has been crushing on you like a teenager for a year and a half and this outfit means everything, but I digress). I got ready Saturday and drove to Denver. I didn't want to be obnoxiously early, but I underestimated traffic. He asked me to meet him at the Panera by the 24 hour fitness on one of the longest streets in Denver. Guess what? There are TWO Paneras on that street and BOTH of them are by 24 hour fitnesses near the freeway. I went to the first one but he wasn't there. Running late - which is soooo not my style - I made my way to the second one and found him chilling, totally cool and collected and waiting for me. He didn't even notice that I was a whopping 15 minutes late. We ordered the same thing (Mac and Cheese and bread for the side) and talked. We just talked. The conversation flowed pretty easily, which was reassuring because I was fairly certain we'd only talk about the kids we both knew and then run out of things to say. He mentioned that he was going to Lebanon for the summer to see family and I made a mental note to go home and look at a map and figure out exactly which country that was (my apologies to any of my in-laws reading this). Once we finished eating he asked me a series of questions, "How adventurous are you feeling? How balanced are you feeling? How warm or cold are you?" Based on my answers he picked one of three dates he'd planned. We hopped in his car as he plugged the address into the GPS. We arrived at a roller skating rink, and though I was excited and wanted to show off and be the totally cool girl, two problems instantly ran through my head: (1) I hadn't skated since middle school and (2) I had NO socks. We went in anyway - and he brought his own skates so I knew he'd be showing me up. I rented skates and we asked about socks but they had none for sale (lame), however the skate rental guy assured me that they had just gotten new skates in. Sure, sure. We rolled out on to the floor. Let me correct that. He rolled out on the floor, I wobbled out like some farm animal who didn't realize it had legs, much less any idea what to do with said legs. He graciously cheered me on as I wobbled along and was secretly jealous of the kids who had the little bar they could take out with them to hold them up. At some point I think he asked me if he could get one of those for me. For the first 30 minutes at least, we barely talked because I simply couldn't manage skating and talking at the same time, much less breathing and playing it cool on this date I'd waited forever for. I finally started to find my feet (sort of) when I fell. On my bum. He helped me up and we kept going (which apparently impressed him). We talked some until I fell again. He offered his hand to me as I fell...so I took him down with me - unintentionally! I got back up and kept holding his hand. I later found out that he had no real intention of being so bold as to hold my hand on our first date, but he refused to let go. He said he could still smell my scent on his hand the next day and he didn't want to wash his hand. Aww... In any event, the first date was a smash. We talked and talked and skated (I only fell a few more times, until I sprained my wrist - not that I let him on to that!) until the roller rink closed. He mentioned something about being a Maronite Catholic, but despite my vast knowledge of All Things Catholic, I had no idea what he was talking about, so again I made a mental note to go home and look it up (he really is a teacher - I had homework from our first date and he didn't even know it!) At the end of the night we had one of those awkward in-the-car hugs, but he promised to call me soon. It took him all of 10 hours to call and ask to see me again.
At the airport, just before Anthony left for Lebanon At the airport, just before Anthony left for Lebanon
The first six weeks of our relationship were and are a blur. He just fit so seamlessly into my life. We lived 25 miles apart, but we made time for each other constantly. He came to my book release parties and was such a gentleman with my friends and family. His school year wrapped up, the kids found out we were dating and freaked out (in a good way), and all of a sudden it was time for him to go to Lebanon...for six weeks. I helped him pack and took him to the airport. I gave him two letters - one was the first love letter I ever wrote for him - which he still has - with strict instructions not to read it until he was out of the country, and the other was St. Anthony's (I know, right?!) prayer for your future spouse, which I told him I'd be praying the entire time he was gone.
Lebanon. Lebanon.
Two or three days later, he finally had enough service in Lebanon to send a text out to let me know he'd made it. Somehow those next six weeks both flew and crawled by. I wrote him letters - only one of which made it to him before he left Lebanon - and we called as often as he could, even if it was 3am where I was at.
Sheep brain. The types of pictures he'd send me from Lebanon (and yes, he ate this - he said it tasted like cheese). Sheep brain. The types of pictures he'd send me from Lebanon (and yes, he ate this - he said it tasted like cheese).
Work for me was crazy, and I interviewed for and was offered a full-time job at my home parish. Finally the day came when he was returning home. As soon as he touched down in the US, he called me. I'm fairly certain that I cried. I know I cried the first few times he called from Lebanon. I tried to hide it, but he knew, though he didn't tell me until later because he didn't quite understand why girls cry over things like that. Anyway, I made my way out to the airport and within minutes of him getting off the plane - even though he hadn't slept in 36 hours - I knew that he was exactly the man I remembered him to be. I hadn't overdramatized our time together or the incredible man that he was and is. He was simply Anthony, the man I was falling in love with. {Next time - from his return to just before the proposal!}
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