join us on 06.01.13 for love, laughter, & happily ever after
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Like any good story, ours has had its “ups”, “downs”, and everything in between. Sometimes messy, other times beautiful, it has always been distinctly us. We hope you smile, are encouraged, and enjoy reading!
Amid the craziness of freshman orientation at Westmont College and the swirl of new names and faces, I don’t remember the exact moment that Madi and I first met (alas, for love at first sight!). It wasn’t too soon after, however, that Madi made a major impression on me. We lived in brother and sister sections (basically suite-style dorms adjacent to each other): she lived on the bottom floor, right down the open-air staircase from me. Like half of all freshman, Madi and I took Perspectives on World History our first semester and would study in her room with other classmates, talking about Ghengis Khan and the Soong Dynasty until late at night. During one such study group for the first midterm, something happened: as it grew later into the night, the group became smaller and smaller, until it was just the two of us alone. After closed hours, we migrated to the common lounge area, where we studied and talked until the early morning. We ended up on two couches right next to each other. I distinctly remember wanting to hold her hand (and later, she admitted wanting to lay her head on my shoulder). Something about that night was magic. The joy I felt talking, laughing, and even learning with her was palpable. Finally, the morning janitor eventually came in to clean, and (much to my regret) I decided to go to sleep instead of staying up with Madi for the sunrise. That night changed the way I thought and felt about her permanently.
After that, we continued to spend time together, but always informally: at dinner, in study groups, at Res-Life events. It wasn’t that I was exclusively committed to her at this point, but that I really, really liked her. That fall, before Thanksgiving break, the Westmont community experienced a traumatic and campus-altering event. A fire in the hills above campus spread throughout the Montecito area, scorching many homes in the community and burning much of the campus. Thankfully, nobody was harmed; however, we had to evacuate to the gymnasium on lower campus. It was surreal seeing all of my friends crammed in the gym like refugees, covered in smoke and unsure if we would make it through the night okay. It became pretty clear who I wanted to be with in that time… and it was Madi. Throughout the night, I would bounce between my cousin Jesse (who was a sophomore at the school) and my roommate (and, now, groomsman!) Jonathan, but I would always come back to Madi. Madi had found a little corner of the gym that she had made hers and she didn’t leave it all night. She was strong, but I still wanted to take care of her, bringing her food and a mat to sleep on. Things were different that night, too- I had, in a sense, already chosen her.
I left that night with my clothes and computer bag. Everything else in my room burned. The campus was shut down, so Jonathan and I ended up going with Jesse to my aunt and uncle’s house. Lo and behold, Madi and her roommate (bridesmaid Amelia) were staying at a friend’s house in Simi nearby! Jon and I went to go see a movie with them, and it was there that we hatched a plan: go to Disneyland together! We ended up driving to Anaheim and stayed at Amelia’s aunt’s house. It was like being in middle school. We played cards, made Key Lime pie, explored the neighborhood… and the whole time, I was thinking about Madi. While we didn’t end up going to Disney (we got called back to campus to search through our charred room for anything that might have survived the blaze), I got to be with Madi for an extended time outside the context of school. And even though the circumstances were difficult, we had fun.
The rest of the semester went by like usual. I moved into a new dorm, still near to Madi, but far enough away that I couldn’t just “pop in” on my way somewhere. I had to intentionally make an effort to get there. By the second semester, I was going over to Madi’s room all the time. I had “Madi-vision;” wherever I was, at chapel, the D.C., or passing by her room, I would hope to see her. When I studied at the library, I would walk through the entire building to see if she was there and if there was a place nearby where I could study. We spent a lot of time there too, at desks with the backs facing each other, so that we could study near each other. Many nights, we would study until the library closed, and we would walk back to our dorms together. At some point, I offered to carry her book bag, and from then on, I always did.
Everything was right: we laughed, we connected, we agreed spiritually, I was attracted to her, we were cute, and all of our friends were waiting for me to make a move. And waiting….waiting… waiting. I was afraid to commit and never did anything to solidify all of the good things that we had. To progress, we needed to become official, we needed to “define the relationship,” we needed to date!
By the end of the year, I knew that I would not be returning to Westmont. When I broke the news to Madi, she started to cry. Later that week, when I was at Madi’s room “studying,” Madi told me that we needed to talk. We went down to the prayer chapel that night and Madi told me that she had feelings for me and wanted to know what I thought about us. Basically, she just wanted some closure to our relationship, to know that she wasn’t crazy for feeling the things that she had felt. As we sat there in the dark, talking about our relationship and our feelings for each other, I was amazed at Madi’s courage and strength to initiate a conversation that I was too scared to have. I told her that I did like her, but that I didn’t want to start a relationship because I was going away (yes, I am the bad guy at this point). At the end of the night, I hugged her. At that moment, I remember feeling as closer to her than ever before. Her bold honesty was like drinking cold water- it was refreshing, but it also shook me awake. As I let go of her, I remember feeling like I had made a terrible mistake. But the words were spoken, and the deed was done.
We continued to spend time together for the remainder of the semester, including one memorable night where we just sat in the courtyard outside her room wrapped in blankets: reminiscing, talking about the future, and just enjoying each other’s company one last time. We said good-bye soon after that, and I left to go to Texas as she went home to South Carolina. The long distance had begun.
Continued in “Our Story: The Dating”!