join us on 06.01.13 for love, laughter, & happily ever after
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At some point that summer, Will and I began exchanging videos on each other’s Facebook walls. He’d send one to me… and then I would wait the appropriate amount of time (about 24 hours, if you were wondering) and send one back. This was, of course, punctuated by a long Facebook chat conversation every couple of weeks. When our sophomore year began, I returned to Westmont and Will traveled to Illinois to begin the semester at Wheaton. We continued to talk intermittently as classes began.
A few weeks later, we had an epiphany: Skype! Why had we not video chatted before? And so we began a routine: Sunday afternoons, we would get to see each other face-to-face over Skype. The first night, we talked about an hour. The second time, it was closer to two. And then one October evening, I hung up the call and realized that we had Skyped for six hours. SIX hours. What I had thought would be a slow drifting-apart seemed to be going strong. Throughout this entire time, though, I assumed that Will had put aside his feelings for me, regarding me as a good friend in the midst of a time of loneliness in his life. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would take away my feelings for him so that I could learn how to be a true friend. No such luck. I vividly remember telling my best friend, Courtney (my maid of honor!) that I was terrified that I was going to drift through my college experience alone, because Will wasn’t an option, but I didn’t want anybody else.
Then, a few hours after that six-hour conversation, I received a completely unexpected email from Will. The heart of it: “I still have feelings for you, and at this point, we need to either stop talking, or move forward with our relationship. Dancing around the issue is dangerous. Let’s think about this, pray about it, and talk on Wednesday night.” It was, as you can imagine, absolutely heart stopping. And so I thought. And I prayed. And I talked to some really incredible people about it. When Wednesday rolled around, Will and I finally had that much-anticipated “DTR” (“define the relationship) and at the end, we were officially dating.
The months passed. That January, I was scheduled to travel to Thailand for a semester of studying abroad, and so Will and I planned to see each other before I left the country. By that time, it had been seven months since we’d been in the same place and we missed each other terribly. So that Christmas, Will flew to Myrtle Beach to spend a week with me before I hopped on a plane to Southeast Asia. It was that winter that we first learned what long-distance would be like.
And how could I describe our long-distance relationship? It was constant motion, trying to connect and reconnect, share our lives from afar, coming together and moving apart and then doing it all again. It was a fight, a choice, a joy. Long distance forced us to decide from the beginning whether we were going to be honest and raw and persistent, or not. There was no middle ground. And so throughout the next years, we spent thousands of hours on the phone, on Skype, even sending care packages to each other. We watched movies simultaneously, we read books out loud, we studied with the video chat on, we fell asleep while the other person was on the phone.
Being in a long-distance relationship was exhausting and, as I’ve said before, I would never wish it on another couple. But, at the same time, it was a blessing in its way. Will and I learned how to truly communicate with each other, to work through our arguments, to discern exactly what the other was thinking by a pause or a tone or a particular word choice. After months (and eventually, years) of conversation, we grew to truly know each other. When we went through pre-marital counseling earlier this year, we scored in the 90th percentile for communication and conflict resolution. Both us of laughed when we saw the numbers because we knew it was all those hours on the phone that strengthened us in such a way. How could it possibly be any other way?
Will traveled to Myrtle Beach the summer after I went to Thailand, and we spent an incredible two months in the same place. It was over that summer that I realized that somewhere along the way, I had fallen in love with him. He felt the same way. Our relationship grew as we adjusted to that knowledge; we were in love! And then we went back to our respective schools. At Thanksgiving, I flew out to Wheaton. Then a couple of months later, I went to Dallas. He came to Westmont. And then I went back to Wheaton. At the two-year mark of our relationship, Will flew to Myrtle Beach for a week, breaking up what would eventually be a full nine months apart from each other.
And then I graduated early from Westmont College. December of this past year, I found myself done with my finals and finished with college and wondering what in the world my post-grad life would look like. Will flew directly from Illinois to California to help me pack up my apartment and load all my belongings into my car. Together, we embarked on what would eventually be a thirty-two hour drive to Dallas and then back up to Wheaton. And then, as Will’s last semester at Wheaton began, I settled down in West Chicago. For a while, at least, the long-distance part of our relationship was put on hold as we both lived in the Chicago suburbs.
Continued in “Our Story: The Engagement”!