Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Our 7 th year anniversary
The beginning, the wedding & quite possibly the longest post in the world

It all started way back in November 1997. I was a senior in high school & working as one of the assistant managers at Fresh Blend, a smoothie & juice bar. Bill just moved to Vegas from North Dakota after their town flooded & his family lost their house. He started working there the beginning of that month. I was still dating a boyfriend long distance who moved not too long ago & I thought Bill was a cool friend. I didn't know anyone else who loved music as much as I did, until we met. We talked about our favorite bands, concerts that we went to (we happened to be at the same concert , just a few feet away from each other a month before we met) & art.

Bill was going to school for graphic arts & was into photography too. He was (& still is) really talented. I was pretty impressed with his work & it was part of the initial attraction to him. I am a total sucker for a smart guy. He would bring me along when he had a photography assignment to do. We would talk & laugh & listen to music & we just had a lot of fun.

Our relationship grew pretty fast. We seemed to have had an immediate "click". In December, right before Christmas, I got a letter from my boyfriend letting me know that he was with someone else & we were breaking up. I wasn't really that upset. Bill & I started to hang out even more. At the time I was really involved with the church & had pretty high (& snooty) standards. I told Bill that if we were going to hang out, he had to quit smoking & drinking. He did & without even thinking about it (this was one of the first signs that he was The One).

My family (the cousins that I had only known & lived with for two years-this is a whole other story) were planning on spending Christmas in Deer Valley where they had a condo. Bill was going back to see his friends in Grand Forks. The day before he left, I invited him over to watch a movie. As we watched "Swingers" on opposite ends of the couch, there was a bit of tension. We wanted to cuddle, but we weren't sure if the other wanted to. The movie ended & we got up (still from opposite ends of the couch) & walked out to his car. That's where we had our first kiss. It was all the two of us could think about while we were on our Christmas vacations. I called him a few days into the week. We talked for a while (I don't remember for how long, but I know it was a long time). Years later, Bill told me that he hated living in Vegas & planned on staying in Grand Forks with his friends, until that first kiss.

When the both of us were back in Vegas, things started to move really fast. We would hang out in one of our cars after work & talk. One night Bill nervously turned to me & asked, "Do you want to go out?" I thought he was sweet & said "sure". My family noticed that we were dating seriously & told me that if we were going to be together, Bill had to come with us to church on Sundays & had to go to seminary with me after school. Eventually he would have to take the missionary lessons & join the church. I didn't think twice when I told him about the hoops he would have to jump through to be with me. He didn't complain or run away. He did everything that I asked (or rather told) him to do (this was another sign that he was The One).

March of 1998, on my 18 th birthday, we were driving to meet up with his parents for my birthday dinner. On the way there, a really old guy (born in 1901, no joke) decided that he was going to make a U-turn in the middle of the road, right in front of us. As we T-boned him, Bill threw his arm across me to make sure I didn't get hurt (this was yet another sign that he was The One). Fortunately we were smart & wore seatbelts, otherwise Bill would've gone through the windshield. We walked away from the accident injury free & with a much stronger bond.

By Easter, we were very serious. My family was in the church choir singing & directing the Easter performance. After church we had the entire choir over to celebrate, meanwhile I had a meeting with the bishop. In this meeting the bishop asked about our relationship & asked when Bill was going to join the church. By this time I had a major epiphany & realized how evil the whole conversion situation was. I Bill was doing this for me because he wanted to be with me, not because of religion. I wasn't going to church as much, I was skipping seminary & wasn't following through with Bill's conversion. The bishop told me that I had to make a choice. Choose the church or choose Bill. I went home with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I got home, with the entire choir still over & in the midst of the Easter celebration. I called Bill & told him that we had to meet at a park & talk. We met a few minutes later & sat on a picnic table in the cold, dark night. In tears, I told him everything the bishop said to me. I told him that this situation wasn't right. It wasn't fair. He had done everything that I asked him to, without fight or complaint. The church had done nothing, but cause problems . I made the decision to leave the church to be with Bill.

We walked back to our cars. Bill opened my door for me & paused. Then he got down on his knee. "I know you're still in school, we don't have any money & I don't have a ring..." He proposed right there. It was such a special moment & one that I'll never forget. With both of us in tears, I said yes.

We kept it quiet for a while, as I was still in school, my family wouldn't approve & Bill was apprehensive about his parents reaction. I couldn't keep my mouth shut at school & told all of my friends (that weren't in the church). I was also working at a law firm right after school (& would go to work at Fresh Blend when the office closed) & I told some of the secretaries. One of them had a ring that she wore until her husband could afford "the real one". It looked like a real solitaire engagement ring. She passed it down to me saying that she had sons who wouldn't need to use it for years (I ended up passing the ring down to another couple who were in a similar situation). Now it looked official & everyone knew (even though we still hadn't told anyone).

A couple of months later Bill & I told his parents at dinner. I've never seen Bill so nervous. It was funny how the whole conversation started. Bill & I decided to tell them & he was getting cold feet. He wasn't touching his food. His mom noticed & asked him about what was bothering him. He had to tell them now. "Don't worry, she's not pregnant" he blurted, as most people assume this is the situation when you get married so soon into a relationship at 18 & 20. They were really happy for us. I graduated a few weeks later. My family found out about our engagement & me leaving the church. It wasn't a good situation (but it never really was to begin with anyway). I moved out & moved in with Bill & his parents until we could afford a place of our own. I quit my job at the law firm to go work in a chiropractic office because the attorneys were family friends & members of the same church. One of them called me into his office to try & talk me out of my relationship with Bill & to come back to the church. Saying "yes" to Bill & leaving the church (& the family who were essentially strangers) was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life.

We saved up for a little less than a year & in March (on my 19 th birthday) moved into a beautiful, brand new apartment. It was on the top, the third floor, with a view of the valley & the strip. The day we moved in, we got Buddha (He's been with us through everything). We were still saving for the wedding & planned on getting married that October. The next month we found out from Bill's parents that his grandmother, who never travels, was planning on visiting in June. If we wanted her to be at the wedding, we would have to bump up the date. I had less than a month to make everything happen.

We were paying for the wedding ourselves. I wasn't on speaking terms with my mom (that's a whole other story as well). My dad had previously been out of my life for 8 years & had been back for the last two. It was my Grandma Nancy's death that brought him back. We didn't have a strong relationship, so I didn't ask him for any help. I invited him to the wedding, but he said he couldn't make it & disappeared again. Bill's parents helped us out a bit though. His mom bought my dress & we ended up using a credit card for the rest, including my ring.

I wanted a small but nice wedding. Bill wanted to do the whole "Vegas thing". No way in hell was I going to get married Vegas style. Because it was on such short notice, it was going to be a small wedding anyway. Bill had his parents, sister & grandmother there. We were able to fly two of my sisters out (the youngest one, my half sister, was too little to come), my Aunt & one of my cousins came, a couple of my high school friends that didn't care about me leaving the church & co-workers from the chiropractic office.

It was a cute little wedding. We were married outside on a golf course that was close to home. It was everything I wanted it to be. There was even a little bit of wedding drama. That morning as I was getting half ready at home, I was trying to get the last few things together. Bill's mom gave me a handkerchief that had been passed down for generations to pin underneath my dress. The time I was supposed to be walking out of the door, I was busy searching the entire house for this handkerchief. After frantic & hysterical hunting, I found it in the hamper in the bathroom. We ran out of the house to get to the wedding on time. I think we were late, as well as the photographer (but I don't remember how late).

As we finished getting ready, there was trouble outside. The wind started to pick up big time. We had an arch with a rose garland that we were getting married under. The wind blew it over & it broke. The wedding coordinator had to get it nailed back together & during the ceremony, someone had to crouch down (so they wouldn't show up in the wedding pictures, but he did anyway) & hold it up.

The massage therapist that I worked with married us. She did a wonderful job (& to this day I still regret not tracking her down to get a copy of the vows). After the ceremony we all went inside for a nice lunch & wedding cake. We had chicken picata on rice pilaf (& we laugh every time we see this on a restaurant menu). After lunch, Bills' sister had arranged for a limo to pick us up & take us to Mandalay Bay where we were going to stay the night. The limo never showed up. Bill & I ended up driving our little Kia to the hotel. I thought it was pretty funny, but Bills' sister was upset.

We stayed in a really nice suite at the hotel. We had a huge jacuzzi tub & decided to take a bubble bath. I think we used half of the bottle of bubble bath & then we turned on the jets. Bubbles went everywhere. Over the side of the tub, all over the floor, building up so high that we couldn't even see each other. It was such a mess. I don't think I've laughed so hard in all of my life. We only had time to stay the night because I had to go back to work the next day. Since we had such a short amount of time to get the wedding together, I couldn't give the Doctor enough notice to get more time off. The day after the wedding I had to train our first associate Doctor. I don't think we could afford to go on a honeymoon anyway, seeing as though we put the entire wedding on our credit card.

For our first year anniversary, Bill surprised me by renewing our vows. He got all of our friends together & in jeans & t-shirts, we got remarried at the Little Church of the West. Bill finally got his "Vegas" wedding. Afterward, we had a big party in our suite across the street at Mandalay Bay. The same place we had our "Honeymoon". Now that was a party!

We were definitely meant to be together. The term "soul mate" is very true to us. If we didn't meet at Fresh Blend, we had so many other opportunities to run into each other. The concert the two of us were at a month before we met at work & we applied to all of the same jobs before working at Fresh Blend.

Over these last 7 years, we've gone through good times & bad. We hung in there when 9/11 scrambled our lives into financial chaos & gave us a lesson on what life is really like. We stayed intact when we drove across the west to live in Oregon so I could go to school. We were strong when we moved to Colorado so Bill could take his promotion & my chiropractic dream died. We stuck together even during the times when one of us wanted to quit.

We are thankful that we have endured life together. Especially on our fun mountain biking trips & hiking excursions, video game competitions against each other (I always kick his butt), celebrating our birthday weekend every year, working together to buy & now sell our first home & of course, the birth of our first baby.


Beth said...

Aw! Happy Anniversary! Great story!

princessr9 said...

Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing your story.

e said...

Awesome story! :D Happy Anniversary!

Jack's Mommy said...

Happy Anniversary. That's a great love story! Thanks for sharing ...

Lizzy said...

Okay, I'm really late to this party, but your year in review made me want to click on your Wedding Memories link.
Happy quite belated anniversary...
But what a nice story!