Twenty-one years ago, I met the man who would become my husband. I didn't know it at that moment, and it has not always been an easy road. We have had twists and turns, but he has had my heart for so many years now - since long before we were wed. Here is our story - at the beginning.
When I was 14 years old, my family changed churches. We'd been attending a Presbyterian church in our small town, and for reasons I won't get into here, it was time to move.
Some friends recommended a little country church about 15 minutes out of town. It was a tiny place, in a tiny town, but incredibly pretty. I was struck by the simplicity of the place. The stained glass windows, the humble wooden pews, the hymns. We began attending regularly, and gradually got to know the church other people who went there. They were the salt of the earth, truly.
In June of 1991 my parents invited the pastor and his family to join us for dinner in our home. They lived in another town, but came anyway. This family had two boys. One was three years old and cute as a button. The other? He had just turned 17. He was tall and lanky, with shiny brown hair falling down across his forehead. He moved in the gangly manner often seen in teenagers. He had a nice smile, but it was his eyes which really caught my attention.
Oh, those eyes. My diary would hear volumes about those blue, blue eyes.
His name was Jeff.
If I'm shy now, I was doubly so as a teen. Not used to conversing with boys, incredibly self-conscious... Yet somehow this guy felt easy to talk to. He was good at drawing me into conversation - about school, and the Driver's Ed. classes I was taking that summer. He was nice to my younger brother too. I clearly remember that the evening ended with the three of us out in front of my house. My brother and this young man were tossing around a basketball, and I sat on the front step watching them. Watching him.
Something about it all felt magical to me. Perhaps it was the mild summer evening, the dawning dusk, the fireflies. Maybe it was the sweetness of my first real talk with a boy - his attentiveness, his kindness, the way he included my little brother. (His eyes definitely had something to do with it.)
I knew, in a way I couldn't quite define, that something important had happened. Whether it was simply a turning point in my adolescence or something more, I couldn't say. But I liked this boy, in a way I hadn't felt before. Don't misunderstand: I'd had crushes prior to this. Plenty of them. Yet something about this felt very, very different. Somehow I knew that after June 19, 1991, I would never be the same again.