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!
Young Adult Network Retreat.
A weekend where young adults from 10+ churches convened to worship, pray and learn together. It’s a chance to meet new friends, catch up, refresh or recharge. A great concept. Although, its name is forever correlated by the fact that during the first retreat, this is where Hector met Stacy, and then they dated, and then they got married and are currently living happily ever after. That created an odd stigma for it to be a “single’s retreat”. It’s unfortunate and that made it a little hard to market to individuals such as myself. I recall a conversation I had with Ramon:
Ramon: “Hey, are you thinking about going to YAN retreat? Today’s the last day for the early bird rate.”
Me: “Yeah, I was thinking about it. I should be free that weekend. Are you going to go?”
Ramon: “No.. I don’t need to go, I have Ada!”
We chuckled together. But I wasn’t laughing so much at his implication of the retreat being one for dating. I was laughing because I recall seeing his [then] girlfriend’s name on the list of people signed up to go. Ada went to that retreat and got reacquainted with a special man in her life (God).
Jokes aside, I spent some time discussing with Matt and Stu about whether or not they planned on attending. We all agreed that it would be fun, given that we went for the right reasons. We would even drive up together to maximize the fellowship time for the long weekend. I like to joke that by walking around with Matt and Stu, I probably made myself look more attractive thanks to the cheerleader effect. Although, more so that Stu’s perfect bone structure and Matt’s body of a greek god helped amplify my [probably] average appearance.
The first morning there, we ran into someone from our high school.
Palla was pretty good friends with Matt and acquainted with Stu, mainly from playing volleyball. As for me? I knew her name, and that was all. We never had class together and I don’t think I even passed her in the hallway before, but our high school was small enough where you at least knew a person’s name and their existence. Matt started a conversation with Palla, so Stu and I did the logical thing and kept on walking. Palla would later call us out for not saying “hi”, which goes to show that the existence things goes both ways; she knows my name (and that was probably all).
To reiterate, I came to retreat with pure intentions. That is, I wanted to grow in my faith, learn new things and hang out with Matt and Stu. Meeting new people was beyond tertiary, so it was a bonus if I allowed my introverted self to socialize that much. The retreat planning team did a good job of splitting everyone up into teams and encouraging us to interact. I can’t speak for the other groups, but I feel like our’s did a good job of getting to know each other. Despite all of this though, I found myself talking to Palla on 2 or 3 occasions (she wasn’t in my team). They weren’t intentional, just coincidental; like the few minutes before a workshop started when we sat near each other or when we happened to be walking in the same vicinity during a group hike. She was very much a “Type A” person, and I found her boldness and independence oddly attractive. But the thing about retreats for young adults is that they’re pretty short.
I recall a funny moment where I was done packing all my things and I went outside of the living area to see if anyone needed help or anything like that. I took a few steps out the door when I saw Palla drive by with her windows down; our eyes met and she waved goodbye to me. In that instant, I thought to myself “Go! Run after her, say something!”.
But I didn’t. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have a proper follow up after saying “hey”.
I spent a considerable amount of time during the car ride back thinking about her, but I didn’t talk about it with anyone. I added her on Facebook and before the day was over and to my delight, she accepted my request. I struck up a conversation with her on messenger and executed my self-invented dating strategy from CMB. Our conversations were surprisingly deep and extensive considering we basically just met. After about a week of that, I asked her out on a date with the only medium available to me. She laughed at my lameness for asking her out Facebook, but said yes and we exchanged numbers.
I had a date!