HIMMW: A Low Point

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

I found my inner peace and my heart was restored.. Great!  During that period and the next quarter, my focus was solely on school.  I was busy facing the hardest quarter of my life, which was preceded by the 2nd (fall) and 3rd (the previous spring) hardest quarters of my life (heh).  I became a nerd and I embraced it.

To keep my mind on track, I wrote out a letter to my future wife, signed it and pinned it to my wall.  It was word for word the things said in the short film “Worthy”.  Even though my paradigm had shifted after all that happened with Caeda, there was no longer those bits of hope I held on to.  As a result, for the first time in forever, I was happy to be single.

Then something strange happened.  The event itself wasn’t strange, but the way I reacted.

It was after brother’s appreciation and Cheeseburger Eddie and I just got back to our apartment.  I turned on my laptop and logged onto Facebook as I changed out of my formal attire. At the top of my newsfeed, I saw

Lyn got engaged to Hector

It was complete with many likes, comments and pictures.  Even though I knew it was coming soon and all romantic ties in my mind had long since been severed, I just kind of stared at it.  I think I was supposed to feel sad. Or at least, that’s how media, TV and other things portray how I should feel. I stepped out of my room and called out to Eddie and asked:

“Hey, do we still have that bottle of Jack Daniels..?”

“Yeah.. wait.  Why?”

Before he graduated and left 140E, La had bought a bottle of Jack Daniels in hopes to do something silly with it.  Of course, he was inspired by Epic Meal Time. He never got around to it, so it was left unopened in our pantry.

“My ex-girlfriend just got engaged..”

“Josh.  What are you doing!?”

At this point, we were in the kitchen and I had the bottle out and two cups on the table.  You guys know me though, I don’t drink alcohol.  I think part of me let it’s guard down and wanted an excuse to revisit drinking.  Half-jokingly, I wanted to drown out my sorrow with inebriation. Or maybe I just suddenly wanted to fit in with some of my friends.  Something weird was stirring in me. I said:

“It’s a good time to make bad decisions.. right?”

And this is why Eddie is a good friend.  He was the type of guy to enjoy the occasional beer after a hearty steak meal, and would often try to encourage me to enjoy beer like he did.  But instead of indulging the moment and downing cups of whiskey with me, he knew this wasn’t the real me. He proceeded to say:

“No, get dressed.  Let’s go biking!”

And we did just that.  After several miles, as is tradition, we ended at the top of the parking structure.  Up there, you could enjoy the view, including the 10 freeway, the horse fields and the architecture building.  It wasn’t much, but it was a nice place to be alone with your thoughts when you biked at night. No words were spoken during the whole ride.  After a few minutes passed at the parking structure, Eddie asked if I’ll be okay.

“Yeah, I’ll be okay.”

We biked back and when I got back to my laptop, I liked and commented on Lyn’s status, signifying that I was in fact okay.

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HIMMW: The Need For Closure

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

I don’t know about you guys, but I like closure.  I wouldn’t say I’m as bad as this, but it’s nice to know that there isn’t unfinished business.

In the same way that funerals aren’t for the dead, but for the living to say ‘goodbye’  and pay respects, Clair’s graduation was my final farewell to her. Except, I had a family dinner scheduled that same night.  So I called her and all the other graduating seniors and super seniors to say my congrats and goodbyes before I finished moving out and drove home.  Clair sounded slightly bummed as I called her about this. I sat down at dinner with extended family and couldn’t help but feel unsatisfied. I did the math and deduced that I could make it to the tail end of her graduation if I drove back after dinner.  Of course, dinner ran a little long and traffic was worse than normal. I remember when I got there, I called Eddie to see how far along the ceremony was. His answer was drowned out by the cheers of the conclusion of it all. I ran across campus just in time to see her.

“You made it!” she said as I happily congratulated her in person.  With one giant group photo, it was finished. After being there for a grand total of maybe 25 minutes, I left for home.

Being Summer now, it meant planning for and serving in Youth Camp again.  It was during this camp that this story happened.  If you wish to continue reading without clicking that link, the short version is this:  During a morning prayer session with all the counselors, we were instructed to pray for God to help us remove anything that might distract us from serving at our full potential.  While thinking about it, I found Lyn in my deepest thoughts. I began to pray for her and Hector; that their relationship would be blessed and flourish. From there, I prayed similar prayers for Clair and Caeda.  I was humbled, which is good, because the camp theme was about humility.

With the above events that occured, I found my closure.  Or so I thought.

Heading into my super senior year of college, I was ready to be serious student.  I didn’t have anymore general education classes to take, so I was set to enroll in only core classes for the remainder of my college career.  Daunting, because that’s a lot of math and programming. In addition to all of this, I started looking for a job. Ideally, I would have something lined up after I graduated.  What better way to do this than to take advantage of the engineering career fairs?

I put my resume out there and got a few bites.  Perhaps the most exciting of all the companies that got back to me was Raytheon.  This was my dream job. All the [optional] senior projects I worked on were related to the aerospace field, so this was something I could market myself towards and show off a little bit.  Also, this was the company that my brother AND dad worked at, so I would make my family proud. It felt really good to know that I got the callback without the help of my dad (who helps out with college recruiting sometimes).  The resume that I put together looked good to the college recruiter at the career fair. I did well during the initial screening interview on campus. I sounded good during the phone interview and that got me an invite for the final on-site interview.  I was pumped. It didn’t get any better than this. I was so close, and got so far and I didn’t want to screw this up. I wanted nothing to distract me on the day of my interview. So I did what I had to do on the eve of my big interview. I don’t recommend you try this, but everyone has their own unique issues.

We’ve all been there; rooting for your favorite sports team and hoping for them to win against all odds when they are clearly losing.  You know it’s been done before, so you cross your fingers and hope that your team can do something ridiculous too. Like, a hail mary that leads to a touchdown and two-point conversion, followed up by a successful onside kick, another hail mary touchdown with two-point conversion to win it all.  Or the basketball team that’s down 30 points in the 4th quarter and they somehow get it together and rain 3-pointers to bring them back into the lead. Sometimes they just lose, but there was always that smidgen of hope that kept you watching until the very end (like a true fan).

This was my issue.  For the storied ups and downs with Lyn, it seemed things were always up in the air, and maybe, still on the table.  All those questions I had on the cruise were never answered. And remember that prayer from unnamed counselor when we were in high school?  It sounds dumb, but yeah, I held onto that “maybe something will happen 10 years from now” in the back of my mind all this time.  I mean, he was a very holy counselor, maybe he was prophesying something?  All of this sat in my head like cancer that I never removed at the root, so it kept growing back.  I just needed to hear her say something along the lines of “no, I don’t have feelings for you anymore”.  Even though I knew that would be her answer and that rumor had it she was getting engaged soon, I just needed to hear it.  I had nothing to gain relationally from this either; I just needed closure.

I had a phone call with Marty to talk about it.  He knew he couldn’t talk me out of doing something as weird as this, so he just heard me out and prayed for me.  For what it’s worth, this would inspire him to do something similar a little later, with a girl he had a thing with in high school.

So, I texted Lyn and scheduled a phone call.  As much as I wanted to get this over with, she was so busy she wasn’t free until later that night.  I finished up my school day and drove towards home to get a haircut. It finished just before my call with Lyn, so I drove and parked in front of Stu’s house.  I didn’t go inside, I just felt like I needed some sort of support and the presence of the Mar household offered that to me. I called her and explained my dilemma and how I needed a clear head for my interview.  She confirmed that she doesn’t have feelings for me anymore and that she was happy with Hector. After some well-wishes, our conversation ended and I let out a sigh of relief. In the short drive home, I realized I wasn’t finished.

Even though I knew how Clair and Caeda felt, I just needed to hear from them.  Yes, I called them up too. And as weird as those conversations were, it was needed to clear my head and to finally close those doors for good.  After all that was said and done, I felt like Po when he found his inner peace and when Te Fiti / Te Ka’s heart was restored.  It was a mixture of sorrow, peace and bittersweetness.  I think I wanted to be sad, so I kept listening to krwling (my sad song at the time).  I think I wanted to cry, so I went through the reddit no-cry challenge (didn’t work, didn’t cry).  There was no time to dwell on that though, I had an interview to conquer.

And I did just that.  It was a group interview, but it didn’t matter because the other two guys were nervous slobs who stuttered through their project presentations and didn’t even wear a suit and tie.  I spoke with knowledge and confidence. My project showed off better use of technologies. This job was as good as mine!

It took a while for them to get back to me, but after 6 months of me reaching out by calls and emails, they finally responded and decided not to move forward with me.  Though I have a dozen theories why I didn’t get the job (the other applicants were white, the interviewers were white, they went to “higher profile” schools, etc.), I rest easy knowing that God had different plans for me.

HIMMW: A Welcome Friendship

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Often times when I’m given a menial task, I tend to over perform to impress the person that asked it of me, similar to Phoebe when she was in charge of cups and ice.  After that cruise and confrontation with Lyn, I made an effort to start texting her again.  I told myself that I would only text her as much as she texted me back; no more and no less.  I started by texting her once a week, asking her how the week was going. There would be a little back and forth before it went silent.  This continued until about week 6 or 7, when she stopped responding to me; presumably because the quarter was getting busy. I was okay with that.  It just means she let up first. So then why the title of this blog?

About halfway into that Winter quarter, I started talking to Clair again.  Not in any sort of romantic sense, but just as a friend. I happened to be in the library more, and she was always there.  Word had gotten out that she had broken up with her boyfriend Wally, but that didn’t affect me. I was just happy to chat and joke around with her platonically. 

It just sort of happened and it was very welcome.  Because when I removed the crush and romanticizing aspects, I got to know her as a pretty cool person.  She was graduating that year (on time) and was on a quest to complete her college bucket list. With others, I often got looped into it (hikes, meals, exploring the hidden gems of campus, etc.).  When it came time to sign up for Spring courses, she tried to get as many people as possible to take a “fun” class with her. With the day and time slot open, I figured “why not?” and enrolled.

We would walk to class together and chat along the way.  After class we often went to the library for a bit. I guess in the time that this new friendship started, she found me to be reliable.  That is, she would sometimes call me if she needed help with a computer problem, if she needed me to drive for something or even just help planning something.  All was well.

Then one night everything changed.  Let me paint the scene for you:

It was a fundraiser night for our fellowship; one of those “15% of the bill goes to this club when you checkout with this flyer”.  Clair and I agreed to carpool, so we arrived together. When we got there we found that the place was packed. We ordered and got our food and sat down at the only seating available: a small secluded table outside, away from all of our friends.  After we ate, we both went to the the nearby grocery store because we both needed to pick up a few things. While there, we ran into Cheeseburger Eddie and his then girlfriend, Felicity (not her real name). Clair and I chatted with them all the while Eddie was making small but suggestive glances at us.  We bought what we needed and headed back to our apartment complex. Before parking, I randomly sprung the question of “What happened to you and Wally?”. To my surprise she gave me a brief explanation of their breakup, but also invited me into her apartment to elaborate more and for a hot beverage. Not too long after she finished her story, I got a text from Eddie, inviting me over to his apartment to play speed Scrabble.  Without hesitating, I extended the invite to Clair to come with me. She had some time, so we walked over to Eddie’s apartment and since it’s 140E, there was a small handful of people there.  We played speed Scrabble until Clair needed to leave, and being a gentleman, I walked her back to her door to ensure her safety.  And for the record, during this whole time, I thought nothing of it.

Wanting to get a couple more games of speed Scrabble in, I went back to 140E.  I was re-greeted by Eddie, Felicity and others who couldn’t help but ask:

“So… Josh.. what’s going on..?”

“What do you mean..?” I asked, genuinely clueless.

“You and Clair!  What’s going on?”

“Oh.  Uhm, nothing.”

I guess they believed me, because it wasn’t talked about for the remainder of the time I was there.  But from there on out, I started thinking about Clair differently again. ‘Do I like her? Does she like me?  I mean, we basically just spent the whole night together and she’s always asking me to help her with stuff..  But she’s graduating! She’s going back home! Even if she liked me a little bit, we only had 6 weeks left together..’

I lied wide awake in bed that night as these flurry of thoughts took over my mind.  Just like that, I was infatuated all over again. I did my best to shake it off. I had no time to make anything happen.  I was 99% sure that she had no feelings for me, because she was the type of girl to be innocently friendly like that. I wished I had another school year with her, but alas, that wouldn’t happen.  The timing just wasn’t right.

So, we continued to be friends, and just that.  For the respect of our friendship, I didn’t make any moves, as much as I wanted to or saw a couple opportunities to.  I didn’t want her last memory of us to be of me asking her out again.  It wasn’t long before I talked with one of her closer friends, who confirmed my suspicions.  Clair saw me as a good friend, but was not attracted to me. Luckily, I was busy with senior projects and such, so I didn’t have time to dwell on that.

I told myself to keep moving forward.

HIMMW: The Cruise

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Fall Quarter of my 4th year of college was a solid one.  With a strong outlook and refreshed spirit, I was firing on all four cylinders as I kept up with my classes, participated in campus fellowship and served at church.  Life was good, I was laser focused on the things that mattered (spiritual growth, friendships and stuff).

Leading into winter break, the grade and I had been planning on going on a cruise together.  Apparently, it was a thing to go on a church grade cruise for senior year, as a handful of graduating classes did before us.  I can see why it’s a good idea. People will be 21, so it’s a safer (albeit, expensive) space to go crazy if you want to. There’s no driving home drunk and your bed is right there on the boat.  If not, there’s all the excursions and touristy stuff at port to enjoy. Or if you’re like me, you’d look forward to all the food on the boat (fancy dinners, buffet meals, 24 hour pizza).

Of course, grade cruise means that Lyn would be there.

I hadn’t spoken to her or interacted with her since that one Summer and I wasn’t going to start now.  I was content with where I was in life and so going into the cruise, I had intentions to stand my ground and avoid her.

But then she approached me.

It was the first night of being aboard the ship and we had all gotten dressed up for the first formal dinner.  After the dinner, we found ourselves loitering in one of the ship’s jazz clubs. We sat in a section of lounge chairs and were all enjoying the music and each other’s company.  There was a pause in the song set as the band was taking their break and that’s when Lyn sat herself near me. She struck up some small talk with questions, but I tiptoed along the edge of being rude by giving her nothing but short and concise answers.  She started to get fed up with me.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked, catching on to my evasiveness.

I replied with something along the lines of “I’m just playing it safe” and “Sorry, I don’t think it’s wise for me or for us to talk”.

She frowned a little.  Then she looked me in the eye and said “You know.. It took me a couple a drinks to gather the courage just to talk to you..”

I exhaled and quickly looked around to the rest of the group.  They were caught up messing with each other, hanging out with the band members and ordering a few more drinks.  I thought to myself “alright, fine..” as I stood up and motioned for her to follow me. The Jazz club was getting noisy, so I didn’t want a serious conversation to be interrupted by the constant “what’d you say? I couldn’t hear you.”  We didn’t chat for long before all of our friends exitted the Jazz club and saw us. Almost as if they knew this was going to happen, they didn’t question it and told us they’d be at the comedy club across the boat. We took the opportunity to move our conversation to the buffet hall, where we could drink some water.

As a side note, during my last couple of years of college, I had a knack for knowing information that I wasn’t necessarily supposed to know (ie. gossip and secrets).  It was a mixture of being at the right place at the right time, hearing a stray sentence or two from people that weren’t whispering quietly enough, being friends with gossip-mongers and sometimes delving in the black market of trading secrets.  When I would be able to reveal that I knew something before I should have, they would always ask how I knew, and I would always respond the same: jokingly saying “I’m batman!”

All this to say that within a couple hours of boarding the boat, I heard Lyn talking with some of the girls saying that she started dating a guy and his name is Hector (not his real name).

So imagine how boss I must have looked when we sat down with our cups of water and I said

“Look, I know about Hector..”

Her wide-eyed surprised face was priceless as she responded with “What!? How do you know that!?”

I knew going into this that I would have nothing to gain.  After updating each other on major life events, the conversation was moved to more or the less the same of before.  She wanted things to be normal between us so that we could be good friends again. I wanted to push her away in fear that old feelings would emerge and that I would only disappoint myself.  But this time, it felt a little different. Our conversation was almost like a tactical game of chess. Every sentence was constructed carefully, and as much information was withheld as possible.  It wasn’t like the speaking from the heart talks we’ve had before. Of course, I technically had the advantage being 100% sober and Lyn was slightly inebriated.

My brain lived Lyn-free for the past year and a half, yet here she was trying to invite herself in again.  She kept pushing for our friendship. Again, what was her ploy? What was her true desire? Was I just a backup plan?  Am I really that good of a friend?

Our conversation had an intermission so that we could use the bathroom.  While Lyn was using it, she left her iPhone on the table. It was password protected as expected, but one little flaw that old iOS softwares had was that you could access the photo library via the camera of a locked phone.  This time, there were no photos of us together. I skimmed through it and saw lots of photos of her and Hector. Good, he made her happy. As far I knew, her intentions for friendship were pure. She returned and our long conversation ended with me agreeing that I would try.  A random text here and there to see what’s up and for the rest of this cruise, no more avoidance. Being a gentlemen, I still walked her to the door of her cabin. Our closing comments were about how we each felt that we might still be hiding something from the other. Afterwards, I retreated to the top deck to have a moment to myself and to reflect on the past few years.

Let me tell you, that conversation with Lyn messed me up.  Remember, I was content with where I was in life, I didn’t need this.  But selflessly I decided to be that friend she wanted, at the cost of some of my sanity.  Reluctant, I aimed to move forward with her request.

You might be wondering, where were all of my friends and the rest of our grade?  We had been gone for so long, yet we did not run into any of them this whole time.  In our absence, our friends went a little crazy and at the respect of all those involved, I can only say that a clown fiesta occured.  So crazy that it actually helped take my mind off of Lyn for the rest of the night.

After the cruise and before Winter break was over, I gave her a small Christmas present.  It was just a gift card with a note essentially saying “cool, we’re friends again”. I signed off with a vague quote (gold star if you catch the reference).

“Even in the depths of hell blooms a beautiful flower of friendship, leaving its pedals as mementos, bobbing back and forth on the waves.  May it one day bloom once more..”

HIMMW: A Paradigm Shift

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

By definition, Caeda and I were “just talking and going on dates”.  I think a lot of people were rooting for us, speculating that a marriage would result in the merging of two great families.  I will give credit where credit is due and that is that Caeda put a lot of effort into trying to figure out if she liked me or not.

Remember, at this point in time, she has no idea what “liking a guy” feels like.  She asked me what it felt like, and all I could say to describe it was “butterflies in your stomach”.  It was hard to put into words and I didn’t really know how to explain that then. So, despite all the phone calls, texts, dinner with each other’s families, teaching her how to bike and other fun times, she remained undecided.  Every now and then I asked her if she felt something, or if anything sparked in her and she would always respond with a “no, sorry”. You might think that after asking that a couple times that I should probably end things, but I think for Caeda, this was a journey of exploration and self-discovery.  For myself, it was interactions with a girl I liked, which is why it was important for me to keep my distance and not force her to do anything the least bit uncomfortable for her.

After a Summer’s worth of activities (Thailand missions, planning for camp, serving in camp, 4th of July at Caleb’s house, etc.), I came to the conclusion that if by now things weren’t working out, I probably shouldn’t keep pushing forward, especially with school starting soon.  So after my Summer job one day, I drove to her house to drop off a gift for her and her family. It was a little something I got for them while my family and I were vacationing in Hawaii. We stood in her driveway as we chatted a bit. As the conversation puttered out and as the last of the sunlight faded, I asked one last time “do you feel anything?”.  Once more, her answer was “no, sorry”.

Reluctantly, I called things off.  She agreed that continuing wouldn’t be a good idea, but that we still had fun and we wouldn’t be weird about it.  I said “good night” to her without extending a hand for a high-five and walked back to my car. As I drove home, I had this overwhelming sense of peace in my heart.  A sense of peace so strong that only God could bestow it.

It felt good knowing that I could date someone, for lack of better words, correctly.  I was okay, but certain friends and family members did not take it well.  Notably, one of her cousins took it pretty hard.

Caeda’s mom even wrote me a letter.  Mostly as a “thank you for the gift from Hawaii”, but she included a line about how she was sorry that things didn’t work out.

A couple weeks passed and it was time for College/Young Adult/Family Camp.  Already, I found myself thinking “okay, what’s my next plan of attack?”.  Playing out scenarios of how I could possibly win Caeda over.  Thoughts of biding my time, with really only next Summer to seize any sort of opportunity.  This is where my mind wandered as I faded in and out of paying attention to the messages at College Camp.

Pitiful, isn’t it?

“..but what is your treasure?  Your treasure is whatever the majority of your time, thoughts, effort and energy go into.”

Pastor Cory Ishida, the speaker of our camp said those words as he preached about Matthew 13:44.  It stuck out to me. Ever since Lyn, my life had been focused on pursuing someone, hopping from girl to girl, hoping to fill the vacancy that is Josh’s girlfriend.  Dang, this was my “treasure”. And so this was my turning point, my paradigm shift. No longer was my life so focused on finding a girl to fill a void only God could fill.

Fun fact though, I think me dating Caeda sort of unlocked a gate for her.  When word got out that we were no longer seeing each other, there was a line of guys waiting for their chance.  She would eventually know what it means to “like” someone as she met her future husband at school.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

HIMMW: In Limbo

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

The next day I drove to Caeda’s area and picked her up for our frozen yogurt date.

One thing to know about Caeda is that she was so innocent that she didn’t know what it felt like to be attracted to a guy.  It probably has something to do with her strong family values and good friendships. So when her peers would talk about “cute boys” and what made them likeable, she would be a little confused why they felt this way.  With that in mind, about halfway through our date, she asked me the question “what are you looking for?”

Though she probably meant to ask something along the lines of “what do you want out of this date?”, the way I interpreted that question was “what was my end goal in this dating process?”  What I should have said was something along the lines of “I’m not looking to date to have fun and mess around.  If things progress well and you should reciprocate my interest, I would like to enter a Christ-centered relationship with the ultimate goal of marriage, if God allows it.”  But instead I said:

“…a relationship..?”

I was still a little nervous and not quite sure what she was getting at; I think she interpreted my answer as “let’s jump straight into being boyfriend and girlfriend!”.  And with that, she essentially said “no” to whatever it was I was asking for. She apologized, but I said it was okay and thanked her for letting me go on a date with her.  We finished up and I took her back to her place. The drive back to my home was quiet. The same kind of quiet when you lose an away game in football and you’re not supposed to talk during the whole bus ride back.  After all that, I came up empty handed. Still, I was glad that I took a chance and was even able to go on a date. Once more, I had no regrets and I was content with that. This is where most stories end, but then something strange happened.

The next day was Sunday.  One thing the planning team and I did the weeks leading into retreat was gather together and pray in between services.  Marty had the idea to do it one last time as a wrap up to retreat and winter break and so we did. As we start heading into the sanctuary for worship, Caeda pulled me aside.  She apologized again for how yesterday went down, but after mulling it over and talking with her family, they encouraged her to let me have another chance. Confused and happy, we agreed to discuss this more later.

Thus began an era of dating Caeda.  To show my respect for girls, women and the institution of dating, I tried to be very formal.  When we went on dates, I kept a respectable distance and never intruded on her space bubble. When I dropped her off at night, I didn’t even hug her.  Instead I high-fived her good night. Though I knew her parents as “Auntie” and “Uncle” so-and-so, I now referred to them as Mr. and Mrs. LastName.

But remember, she went to a school far away, so the times that I was able to see her were far and few between. We agreed that I would call her once a week as a pseudo-date and to get to know each other better.  And that’s how things went for the rest of Junior year; phone calls and the occasional date when she happened to be home for the weekend.

HIMMW: The Magic of Holidays and Retreats (Again)

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

When I was a sophomore, I had the privilege to be the director for college winter retreat at church.  I did a good enough job where I was asked to do it again the following year, to which I gladly accepted.  Really, I was just above-average organized and was good at emailing people to get things done. Still, no retreat can be planned without a good team, so I messaged a handful of people to see if they were interested in serving or helping out.  Of those people, I asked Caeda to be my Assistant [to the] Director

 

We’re all collegians and we all go to different schools, so planning things can be a little tricky at times, especially as our schedules get busier with more tests, projects or homework.  Knowing that, I would start planning early to get as much out of the way as possible. Part of the planning process involved a handful of phone calls and text messages with Caeda in order to bounce ideas off of her and to hash things out.

I will admit, I had a small crush on Caeda before all of this, but it was during my war-torn state after breaking up with Lyn.  Besides, with her college choice, I figured she was beyond my reach, so that faded quickly. For the record, this is not the reason why I asked her to be my assistant.  Anyway, spend enough time with someone you are barely even friends with and then one will eventually bend. Of course, the one that was doing the bending was me. Unfortunately, I was kind of stuck.  We were only in contact because we were planning together, but I didn’t want to ruin any part of this retreat simply because of my emotions. I did the right thing and ignored those thoughts for the better.

All the planning came together and the retreat was, for the most part, a success.  There would be a serious night where the WQ guys and I would gather. We talked about some deep stuff, so talking about my new crush was eventually revealed when it was my turn.  They acknowledged and thanked me for sharing such a secret and it was agreed that I shouldn’t do anything about it, especially on this retreat.

Winter retreat came to a close and everyone got home safely; which meant that I was officially done with my director duties.  Yet there was this feeling of being unsatisfied as I returned home. Luckily, I was able to sleep on it since it was still Winter break.  The next day I got a stray phone call from Man Lauren. We talked about school and continuing our study on the book of Mark in Winter Quarter.  Because Lauren is very wise, I sought his opinion on if what I did was correct with Caeda. He countered with, “well, what has God been teaching you..?”.

Earlier, I had hopped on the piano to pass time.  I was messing around with some chords and melodies when I realized that despite my ~10 years of training, I hardly remembered much of it.  My learning moment being that “whatever I don’t actively pursue, deteriorates quickly”.

“Thanks Lauren, I think I know what I need to do” I said as I explained all of this to him.  He prayed for me before we said our goodbyes.  I then took one deep breath and exhaled as I pulled up Caeda’s number.  With my moment of clarity, I realized I had one opening: a quick debrief on how retreat went as director and assistant director.  I happened to learn that a lot of people weren’t too fond of the speaker I had found. I called her and we chatted a bit. She told me mostly things and opinions I knew about retreat already, but before my little survey finished I said

“Hey Caeda”

“Hey Josh..?”

“We’re pretty good friends.. Right?”

“Yeah..?”

“So, I was hoping to get to know you a little better, would you be interested in going out on a date with me?  For lunch… or maybe yogurt?”

A small pause.  My heart was pounding as I heard her put the phone to the side to ask her family if her schedule was free.

“Sure, yogurt sounds good.”

HIMMW: The Park Bench

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Sophomore year came to a close and I have to say, it was a good year.  Lost weight, gained confidence, better grades, no regrets.. All good stuff.  Since it’s Summer, you’re correct if you guessed that there would be more instances of hanging out with Lyn.  As much as it could have been weird considering where things were left off, it wasn’t. We were cordial and there wasn’t any sort of animosity.

But one has to wonder, why was Lyn pushing so hard to stay in touch?  Yes, we had some history, but it’s not like we were childhood or family friends.  Also, all of these hangouts we had were one-on-ones. In my head, there was often the looming thought of “could we even get back together as we began to find ourselves and grow as an individual?”  What was her ploy?

A turning point came after we had lunch together one day.  She was showing me her new iPod touch and being a techie, I was curious to explore it a bit.  Upon further inspection, it was basically an iPhone without the data plan. As she talked about its features, I perused her apps.  So, I used to be the type of guy who would look at your photos without your permission if given an opportunity (but never texts, cause I respected that area at least).  I opened her photo library and at the very top, I saw a handful of pictures of us. They were photos we took while we were dating. Afraid of what I discovered, I quickly closed it and handed the iPod back to her.

For whatever reason, I didn’t have a car to use that day, so she picked me up and did the driving.  As we got to my home and before I got out of the car, I asked her “do you still have feelings for me?”  She was confused since it was so out of the blue; she asked me what I meant. So then I told her I saw our photos together still in her photo library.

She was a little speechless, but she said that she had a small hope that we could get back together, just not now.  Since our conversation was getting serious, we went to a park to continue.

I admitted to the same, but explained that this probably wasn’t the best way to do it.   With these hangouts, there was always the danger of me being infatuated again, just like that Christmas on the rooftops.  Thankfully, I knew this about me. On the one hand I wanted to be her friend, but I couldn’t keep setting myself up to be disappointed.  Because we kept in touch, it created this false sense of insurance. In the back of my mind, she was the fallback plan should we both graduate, not find anybody and she moved back home.  It sounds terrible, but not overly farfetched given the circumstances. She said she valued our friendship, but I explained that I won’t be able to completely get over her since we keep having these hangouts.  

It came to a point where I said I don’t think we can be friends anymore so I could free myself of this thinking.

“So what do you want me to be then?” she asked.

As we sat on a bench, I stared off  into the distance. I thought about it for a good 5 or 10 minutes as we sat in silence.  I finally responded with:

“An acquaintance”

I said that as I put an imaginary push pin into an imaginary corkboard.  I then got up and proceeded to walk away. Drama aside, I knew I couldn’t ask her for a ride home, so I started walking.  I needed to relieve myself of this burden that has been sort of haunting me for the past year and a half. So if I let my guard down and stopped or turned around for even a second, I would nullify my statement.  There was no turning back, I couldn’t, I had to be firm. I don’t know if she was crying. I don’t know if she was sad. I don’t even know if there was an attempt to run up to stop me. I just kept walking until I got home.  My mind was detached from her.

If this story sounds familiar, it should.  I’ve actually told this story before by dramatizing it and flipping the genders.

HIMMW: Seizing an Opportunity

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

As much as I interacted with Clair, it really wasn’t much more than a group hangout or group meal here and there.  We exchanged a few texts, but the conversations didn’t go anywhere in my favor. She was elusive because she was so busy taking 18-20 units a quarter, among other things.

So, when an opportunity arose to see her more often in the form of an intramural coed basketball team, I took it.  If you know me, you know that basketball is definitely not my thing. Thankfully, it’s a sport where if you throw enough shots at the basket, you’re bound to make one or two.  My days in football helped me stick to a man (until they eventually passed the ball anyway). Other than that, I was pretty useless on the court. For what it’s worth, I did score a basket to bring us into overtime in the last game of the season.  I would have happily warmed the bench the whole time, but we were an inclusive team and everyone was encouraged to play. I was hoping to do as little as possible and chalk it up to teamwork.

Though I didn’t contribute much, I was able to get the face-to-face time I wanted.  In addition to the games together, I had the privilege of walking to and from the courts with her.  At the conclusion of the season, we had a team dinner to celebrate our 1-win season. Afterwards, Clair and I were driven back to our dorm where the perfect moment presented itself.  By “perfect”, I mean that if it didn’t go well then there would be finals and spring break for us to forget this ever happened.

As I walked her to her dorm room door, I got her attention before she walked in.  I was about to ask her out on a date, but then I froze. Bear in mind that up to this moment, I only had three semi-experiences of asking someone one out on a date.

  1. Asking Lissa out on a date as a dare from Caleb, via instant messenger
  2. Expressing my affection for Lyn in the form of a poem posted on social media, followed up by a conversation via instant messenger
  3. Asking my ex-girlfriend, Lyn, on a date on a rooftop

So, as much I rehearsed this in my head a dozen time, my nerves were getting the better of me.  I managed to push out the words of “I’m interested in you, do want to grab lunch or a drink sometime?”  Clair responded with an awkward smile and said that she wasn’t looking to date anyone as a sophomore. With that, we agreed we wouldn’t be weird about it and parted ways.

As I walked back to my dorm, I was sad that I got a “no”, but I was happy that I did it, since now I had no regrets and that door could be closed.  But sometimes, I still cringe at how poorly executed that was.

Before the school year ended though, it would be discovered that Clair would start dating a guy we’ll call Wally.  I was disheartened to find that I might have been straight up lied to and the rejection was greater, but Wally is a good guy and a great find.  And he managed to win her over enough for her to break her self-imposed rule to not date that school year. Almost as a weird turncoat switch, I began rooting for Wally as I realized what a fine specimen he is.

HIMMW: A Crossroad

Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series.  If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!

Who’s Clair?

Rewinding back to freshman year, I actually visited this one campus fellowship only twice before I deemed it as something I was too good for.  Clearly, I was arrogant and wrong. Within those two visits, I met Clair. She kind of caught my eye, but I had Lyn, so her allure had no effect on me.  So, to learn that we lived in the same building, the single hopeless romantic in me ignited, and I could not help but have all the possibilities you learn from Disney, romantic comedies and other TV shows fill my head.  But I knew that focusing on pursuing Clair would not be wise. I came into this school year with a new mindset and outlook and I would do my best to concentrate on that.

Unfortunately and thankfully, life isn’t always so linear.  Consider the following:

  1. You might have heard it said that if you break up with someone, it takes around the same amount of time you were together with that person to get over them.  This is pretty true as I’ve talked with others about it. Although, Eddie has also said that it takes about three times the length of time you were with that person.  Law of averages I guess. All this to say that yes, I still had some feelings for Lyn. It’s not that I was expecting to sulk over her for the next three (or nine) years, but I figured I should give myself time to heal and better myself.
  2. But as it turns out, Clair is pretty cool.  Whatever few conversations I had with her in fellowship or in passing were enjoyable.  No, I did not just go to fellowship to talk to her. These little interactions were merely a bonus to plugging in.  It was all a happy environment for making new friends and growing my faith and spiritual knowledge.
  3. Thinking about Clair pushed out the old memories of Lyn.  In some sense, that was good for me, but replacing old romantic thoughts with new ones is like paying off credit cards with other credit cards, which doesn’t work (or exist).  So I knew this was weird and probably not healthy for the mind and heart.

All of the above were thoughts that cycled through my head.  Think of one girl, like the other, conclude that this wasn’t wise and then flushed the thoughts and focused on school work.  Amidst this though, I wanted to be more social and get out more (despite having so much space in my dorm room). So I made efforts to go out, and if that meant another chance to see Clair to maybe get to know her more, all the better for me, right?  I’m all about the friendship first approach. As I got to know Clair better, I began to peg her as that girl.

  • That Girl – given a group, club, fellowship or church, there is often one girl that most, if not all, guys have their eyes set on with romantic intentions.  In addition to being attractive (or in some cases, the most attractive in the group), that girl often has a fun and outgoing personality to match it. This almost makes it so she is like a prize or trophy that said guys want to achieve by winning her over.  Whether or not that girl is aware of their status, it is up to them to use or abuse this position of power. It should be noted that it is not necessarily her fault, it’s mainly a matter of the circumstances she happens to be in.

When I realized this, I took a couple steps back.  Reason one being I didn’t want to be just another “suitor” and reason two, maybe it would give time for the other guys to potentially mess up.  As much as my mentor told me if I’m interested to just ask her out on a casual date to get drinks or something, I decided to take a slower approach.  I think I figured if anything, I had all year to make something happen. I wasn’t in a committed pursuit either, I was just seizing opportunities as I saw them.

Winter break came along and I had prepared a Christmas present for Lyn.  Initially this was a “look, I’m still trying to be your friend because I know that’s what you want” type of thing.  But In just a quarter, I felt like I had grown up a lot. Dropped some weight, started taking relevant programming classes, was discipled, was eating better. Feeling bold, I added a short note to that present, essentially saying this song.

I followed up with that when we had another of our for-the-sake-of-friendship hangouts.  Our hangout ended with us sitting on a rooftop of a nearby school (because I like high places I guess).  As I found that to be a pretty good hangout session, I couldn’t help but feel infatuated by Lyn again. With the magic of Christmas in the air and feeling like I was in a good spot in life, I took my mentor’s advice and just asked her out confidently, and with purpose.  Note that I wasn’t initiating getting back together, but just a date. And if she was cool with it, maybe we could follow that up with more.

To my dismay, her answer was “I don’t know”.  Confused, we spent a reasonable amount of time talking it out.  We were pretty transparent with one another, admitting that we still had a non-zero amount of feelings for each other.  Oddly enough, I even brought up Clair by saying that there was another girl out there that interests me. It wasn’t meant to be some form of an ultimatum, but more of a “am I wasting our time here?”.  Lyn explained that now was not the best time for her as she was getting more involved and busy at school. But we agreed that we would try, starting with a couple phone calls a week to get reacquainted, even scheduling the first one at the start of winter quarter.

Sadly, I had the hardest time getting a hold of her.  I would call a couple times and it would go to her voicemail.  When she finally called me back, we only really chatted for 5 minutes before she needed to go again.  After a few more attempts, it would be nothing but voicemail, and that’s when I threw in the towel. She truly was busy and I didn’t want to impede her.

With some time, I slowly turned my attention to Clair.