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.

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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.

HIMMW: A Bumpy Road Ahead

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!

After breaking up with Lyn, I slogged through the rest of freshman year.  Peppered into a couple of those weekends were instances where Lyn would want to hang out.  They weren’t dates, rather something casual like grabbing a drink as friends. This was her way of keeping in touch and staying friend, and so I told myself that I would hang out with her for the sake of our friendship and history, despite how it tugged at certain still-aching heart strings.  To my credit, I was pretty good at not being weird about it.

When Summer came around and the school year finally ended, I took a good look in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.  So, like many newly single guys, I looked to take my frustrations out through exercise and activity. As much as I tried to exercise, I wasn’t very disciplined at it (yet).  Caleb and I would bike and swim, but our desire to look like Matt eventually died out.

There would be a moment where I would get reacquainted with a high school friend during that Summer.  It was one of those planned group hangouts that quickly devolved into just us two. We innocently talked about our respective break ups that day and I basically took it as an opportunity to be a rebound.  I think I turned a little creepy as I started texting her more, but thankfully I didn’t try too hard; she ignored me for the most part and nothing else happened.

Serving in church and going on missions trips helped keep my spiritual life and emotions in check.  Because in the very back on my mind, I knew and acknowledged that there is more to this life than having a girlfriend.  Acts of service is my love language after all, so helping others helped me focus on things that mattered.

In the middle of Summer break, there would be an instance where Lyn would initiate getting back together, but it would fall apart within hours as I unearthed some hatchets.  I’ll take the blame for this one. I think she thought I was ready and/or had changed, but I was still immature.

When Summer came to a close, I vowed to myself that sophomore year would be different.  I would actually go to the gym. I will give the campus fellowship one more chance. I will eat better.  I will study harder. For further context and readings, it was around here where I started to develop my discipline and where WQ sought discipleship.

There was an air of uneasiness as I moved in to the dorms again.  A new school year, a new outlook and a (hopefully) renewed Josh. I was set to move in with my friend Brandyn and we were pleased to discover that we were given the super triple.  Previously, we lived in a dormitory that was dated and had oblong shaped rooms that made it so sharing a space with two other guys felt very cramped.  Moving into this new dormitory was already an upgrade, so this was even better. The super triple was a room that was converted from a laundry room, and there was so much space for activities.

Things were looking up and school hadn’t even started yet.  I finished filling out the moving day paperwork and was waiting to get my keys when I saw someone round the corner and walk towards me to exchange a quick “hi”.  It was Clair.

And I would come to find that she would be living in the same building and on the same floor.

“Yup, it’s going to be a good year.”

HIMMW: Highs and Lows, Oh the Woes

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!

Some people say that when you’re dating someone, you gain super powers and you feel like you can conquer anything.  I think it’s pretty true, for the rest of high school went smoothly knowing that I had Lyn.

We experienced our fair share of ups and downs, some fights here and there, some arguments about petty things, lots of laughter and good moments.  Whatever thing we had felt strong, and it empowered me with this weird confidence.

You would think that we would go to high school dances together, but we didn’t.  It would have been a perfect opportunity to essentially be on a date under some amount of adult supervision and with a group of friends.  But in addition to the “you do NOT love anyone” talk my mom gave me, she also said that I am not allowed to go to school dances with girls from church.  Her reasoning? Because then there would be one less girl at school that wouldn’t have a dance date, and maybe I should ask them instead. You can’t make this stuff up. Upon further reflection, I’m pretty sure my mom just didn’t like Lyn.  We would eventually be able to go to one together, not before jumping over a dozen hurdles.

About halfway through senior year, we would take on the label of boyfriend and girlfriend, mainly to stave off all the guys that were preying on her at school.  It wasn’t really something we went public about. Maybe out of habit we felt the need to keep things secret still, even though everyone knew there was something between us by now.  We would graduate high school, happy that we made it. But we would be going to separate colleges very far from each other. I think every high school relationship secretly hopes to be that 0.01% that lasts after high school and withstands the test of distance and time.

Getting a handle on college is tough enough; pair that with a long distance relationship and it complicates things.  On the surface, we thought it would be more of the same. That is, more instant messaging, phone calls, and now, the luxury of texting. But it wouldn’t be enough, even with some weekends and holidays where we would both come back home and see each other.  Our lack of immaturity showed as things slowly fell apart.

The tipping point? I was trying to turn over a new leaf, forcing myself to sleep 8-9 hours and to have better study habits.  Which meant that I aimed to sleep at 10pm the night before any 8am classes (so I could wake up at 6:30, have breakfast and ample time to get to class).  Which meant that on the eve of our 3 year anniversary of when we first admitted our feelings for each other, I refused to call her at midnight for a celebratory chat.  And even though I ended up setting an alarm, waking up and calling her anyway, it would spark a fight that would prove to be one too many.

A couple conversations later and she would ask if we could take a break for an arbitrary amount of time.  Young and naive, I thought that could mean as little as two weeks or a month, so I agreed.

Even though we were “on a break”, she still wanted to keep in contact.  She wanted to continue having sparse phone calls at night and that was very weird for me.  While I was trying to focus on myself, she was trying to maintain our long friendship, and I wasn’t ready for that.  During this time, I sometimes found myself frustrated, which sometimes led to anger, which would lead me to take it out on her.  All of that solidified the fact that I was not the “man” she wanted, but still just a boy. So when things moved to full break up just a week before Valentine’s day, my life went to shambles.

The last 3 or so years of my life had been centered around Lyn, and just like that, it was over.  I didn’t shut down, but I was still sad, mad and heartbroken. A word invented by Taylor and my brother to describe this emotional state is “zemo”.  No longer as confident in my own abilities, I set out to somehow finish off freshman year of college.

HIMMW: Technical Difficulties

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!

Great!  We liked each other; I was so confused and happy at the same time.  Apparently, Lyn lied to me because she thought I was an irrelevant crush to her.

I remember the first time she called me.  There were butterflies in my stomach as we moved our conversations from instant messaging to phone calls.  Responsibly, our talks were always past 9pm as to not use up any precious minutes of our families’ phone plan.  But, now what?

There’s a lot of variables to understand before you see the way we moved forward in this relationship:

Sunday school, the opportunity to teach about love and dating was too good to pass up, so the whole month of February was dedicated to teaching us high schoolers about it.  The book our Sunday School teachers chose to teach out of was “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, a book about taking an extremely conservative approach to dating and about guarding your heart.  A book so extreme the author has since apologized for his mistakes. There are some good principles and takeaways, but it certainly made it feel like the first person you date should probably be the person you want to marry.  A concept that makes sense, but not really practical.  Lyn and I agreed that we didn’t want to just jump into a relationship.  All too often did we see our classmates in school start dating and have things fall apart within a few months.

Early on, my mom told me that i shouldn’t date in high school because it’s probably a bad idea.  Well, I think that’s what she meant to say, but instead what came out of her mouth was “you DO NOT love anybody, okay!?” (I’m not even joking).  I once said something in passing, like “I love mama’s fried rice” and she exploded at me because she thought I said I “loved” a girl. In addition, my mom believed that boys and girls should not hang out in equal numbers, because then it would be considered a date (or multiple dates as once).  To take it a step further, she used to tell me that it’s best if there are more guys than girls when I hang out. All this to say that my parents would not be supportive of this. So whatever happens, things needed to be low key and/or as much as possible, a secret.

Many of you know me to be an obedient person, but as much as I wanted to respect my parent’s wishes for me not to pursue anyone, it was hard.  They had pretty much the same conversation with my younger sister, but she still found a boy she liked and aggressively and rebelliously dated him.  On the other side of the spectrum, my parents so easily approved of my brother dating a non-Christian girl in college. Not a huge deal, but it was weird how easily that was approved or not denied by my parents.  Everything aside, it just felt like they were being super hard on me but unfairly lenient to my siblings. It didn’t help that my sister felt the need to point out any sort of female interactions I had (with any girl, not just Lyn).  It only further exacerbated my mom’s stance on how I am “NOT allowed to love anyone”.

With all of this, it was clear that we wanted and needed secrecy.  I didn’t really talk about it with my friends in fear of any sort of judgement or opinions.  My parents made it clear that there wouldn’t be an air of openness to this. After that month of learning about “dating”, church made it feel taboo.  Yes, people would eventually catch on and word can travel fast, but we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It’s not like we were openly holding hands and sneaking away to be alone together, but I guess people noticed I stopped teasing her and instead was being nice to her.  Anyway, I liked this girl and in my simple thinking and small world, she was quite the find. So, I wanted to pursue her correctly, whatever that meant.

So where did that leave us?  After lots of discussion, prayer and thinking, we agreed to seek advice from the holiest fellowship counselor we knew.  [Name omitted because he is so humble, he hates it when people refer to him as holy]

We told him everything and asked him “what do we do?”.  He basically validated our thinking and agreed that we should not enter a relationship, but said that maybe with some time, this can become something.  He concluded by praying a prayer of blessing over us; which included a sentence along the lines of “LORD, maybe You will make something happen for them in like 10 years from now.”

After that meeting with unnamed counselor, we agreed that we would not be boyfriend and girlfriend.  Instead, we would continue being good friends that liked each other, chatting via instant messenger and phone calls after 9pm.  It sounds like something written by Nickelodeon, but that’s what we rolled with.

HIMMW: Feelings, Poetry and Other Stuff

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!

In our fellowship, our theme for the year was “No Borders”.  It was perfect for my grade, since we had spent so many years embracing the natural gender divide.  It was monumental at winter retreat when we collectively decided to make more attempts to interact with the opposite gender.  It was pretty cool to be normal; sitting together at meals and teaching the girls how to play the numerous card games we knew of.  Additionally, it was nice to get to know the youth group as a whole. Truly, our borders were broken down.

The Sunday after retreat ended, we tried to have lunch as a grade.  Imagine trying to organize 20+ hungry high schoolers as a high schooler, let alone finding a place to fit everyone.  When we decided on a place, Lyn volunteered to go ahead and reserve some tables before the lunch rush beat us. Not wanting to stay behind to deal with the stragglers, I volunteered to go with her.  And so did Matt. And weirdly enough, I felt slightly disappointed by that. A missed opportunity to have a short one on one time? I shook it off, there was grade lunch to focus on.

Winter break ended and school resumed.  For the next couple of weeks, I kept catching myself daydreaming about Lyn in a romantic sense.

Within the past few months, I had gotten to know the better side of her in small group and over small conversations here and there.  Our jokes and teasing with one another had turned more playful. Whatever animosity I had against her before was gone. All good things, but where did these romantic feelings come from?  A logical being, I traced my thoughts back to that one moment at retreat. Her kindness and care were the tipping points. An irrelevant crush? No, this was a real crush that I couldn’t shake off, but I didn’t want that to ruin our budding friendship.

As you know, I learned a lot about poetry in 9th grade and my friends and I were above average at writing poems.  So one Saturday morning, I decided to channel my feelings into a poem.  Writing it made me feel better and less love struck. Despite some forced rhymes and cheesy lines, I was pleased with my final product.  I was so proud of it, that I posted it to MySpace and Xanga, where it actually got some nice comments from my peers and whatever the equivalent of “likes” where.

Other than for the validation of others, I posted it with a small hope that maybe Lyn will read it and think it’s her.  You see, I had a hunch that she liked me too. The ways we interacted, I couldn’t help but think there was something there.  Then again, what did I know as a sophomore in high school?

Anyway, it happened.  Lyn and I would have the occasional conversation on AIM and our friendship had grown enough where I wouldn’t act dumb and/or lie to her.  So when she asked me who that poem was about, I kind of froze. As much as I wanted to have this conversation, I did not anticipate having it so soon.  I had some perception of if I told her I liked her and the feeling wasn’t mutual, then our friendship and small group might be weird. I avoided the question a little bit until I finally caved in and told her how I felt about her.  Here I am wearing my heart on my sleeve telling a girl that I like her behind the safety of instant messenger, but I was so nervous that I almost threw up.

Of course, she told me she didn’t like me and there was the “let’s not be weird” talk.  But when you’re 15, sometimes you just can’t help it. I recall passing by her the following Sunday; our eyes met and I sadly looked away as we walked by each other.  That Sunday night I would get a message from her. We talked about how I was being weird and distant, and I apologized, but what was I supposed to do? I felt so dumb for writing that poem and for telling her.  I could have waited for an opportune moment. I could have said things differently.

As all these negative thoughts filled my head, that’s when Lyn told me she actually liked me this whole time.

HIMMW: The Magic of the Holidays and Retreats

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 idea of Fir would never be revisited.  Another seating chart shuffle would seat us across the classroom from each other and she eventually found a boy she liked through a school dance.  It didn’t matter to me though, I had my brothers in arms and the crush had faded. By this point, I actually had friends in high school; a clique to call my own.  Though there would always be that split of high school friends and church friends, the clique would be a good influence on me throughout the years.

Moving on to the next topic, Friday night fellowship for high schoolers would be an interesting change.  No longer just junior high boys, it would be co-ed and we would be doing more than just playing flag football and basketball every Friday night.  We would be split into small groups, which, by design, would separate me from all my friends. This is where Lyn and I would be put in the same small group.

Up to this point I only knew 3 things about Lyn:

  1. She can be brash, loud and obnoxious
  2. She was supposed to move to a different state, but didn’t all of a sudden due to some mysterious reason
  3. She used to have a crush on one of the WQ guys for probably the same reason I used to like Lissa

My interactions with her had been minimal, only briefly chatting with her on a day a bunch of us hung out at a friend’s house.  In short, I found her kind of annoying. We were a classic Ash and Misty, always making fun of and teasing each other for any little reason.  So, on top of not being with my friends, I had to be in a small group with her.  Naturally, it’s an uncomfortable situation; perfect for building character though.

What about the rest of the small group?  A few upperclassmen that were very welcoming, a passionate small group leader, and a counselor that was my camp counselor many years ago.  All of this equated to a good environment and it didn’t take me too long to warm up to everybody and sort of plug myself into this fellowship’s culture.  Yes, I even warmed up to Lyn a little bit.

Warm enough to where I got her a Christmas present.  The main reasoning was two-fold. First, I was on a streak of “if you give me a gift for Christmas, I will respond in kind”, otherwise, I wasn’t one to give gifts.  Secondly, for the people that did give me something, I think they expected me to give them some half-hearted gift that I found in the post-Christmas sale section.  So, I would have this mindset of “challenge accepted, I’m going to prove them wrong”.

The gift Lyn made me was pretty cool in that it was personalized.  Perhaps, more impressive was the fact that as long you were somewhat relevant in her life, she made an effort to gift you something unique.  For me, my relevance was that we were in the same small group. Lyn had been going on and on about how she really wanted an iDog. Probably accentuated by the fact that I really enjoy Christmas time, I happily set out to purchase it.  Remember, it was to prove that I’d get her a gift in return and that it wouldn’t be lame. When I gave her the gift, she was super happy. So happy that she hugged me; it was at the top of her wish list after all.

And then..?  Well, nothing.

It was one of those awkward hugs where they wrap their arms around you while your arms are down and you’re immobilized.  So I just said “oh okay.. You’re welcome” and the Friday night continued on as normal. You see, I was still at a crossroads with Lyn.  On one hand, I still found her annoying, on the other, she was pretty cool.

A couple weeks passed and our fellowship would all be at winter retreat.  Up the mountain and away from home in the crisp cool air, how delectable. I never really get a good night of rest on the first night anywhere away from my own bed, so on the first morning I dragged myself to the mess hall to have a hot beverage.  I sat by myself as I was still trying to wake up a little bit and didn’t really want to be social. As you might imagine, without any context it looks like a solemn scene and I must be sad or something.

“Hey, are you okay?”

I heard Lyn walking up from behind me and I explained to her that I was just tired.  Without warning, she held her hand to my forehead to check if there was any indication that I was ill.

“What are you drinking?  Hot Water? Here, let me make you some tea.”

After fixing up my drink, she sat with me to chat a little bit.  Others eventually joined us and we played some card games before Breakfast was ready.  It was this keystone moment that would eventually lead me to think:

“Hmm, she’s pretty cute.”

HIMMW: Mostly Irrelevant

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!

There are two terms I’d like to introduce to you today.

  1. Irrelevant Crush – someone you had a crush on but didn’t do anything about it.  Usually because you aren’t in the same class or you have no means of communicating with them enough to feel relevant as a pursuant.  As a result, the feelings often faded away within a short time period.
  2. Oblivious Moment – a moment where someone was trying to make a move on you but you didn’t notice because you didn’t see the situation that way, or you didn’t see the person in a romantic manner.

They’ll come up in this story and maybe a couple more times down the line.

When I was in 10th grade, I met a girl named Fir.  She was a year younger than me, but we had one class together.  She was new to the school district, having moved from another city.

She was a confident individual.  I think she had to be since she wanted to make new friends and to fit in so she wouldn’t be a loner.  I found her attractive, but attractive enough where I dismissed her as someone who would never have anything to do with me.  So, as much as I liked her, I had already categorized her as an irrelevant crush in the back of my mind. By chance, a couple seating chart rotations would put us near or next to each other.  Naturally, we became friendly as classmates, even teaming up on a couple of group projects with others.

At the conclusion of the JV football season I did not have a 6th period, so I would go to the library to start on homework.  But let’s be real, I only did that about 20% of the time, so I would just roam the halls or find others who were in the same boat as me.  One of those people was Fir.

I didn’t see her consistently, and it’s not like I knew where she was everyday, therefore it was a pleasant surprise whenever I ran into her.  Most of the time, it was just random small talk as we ended up in the library anyway.

On one particular day, I found her sitting on a bench with a solemn look on her face.  When I asked her what was wrong, she wasn’t very responsive. Any answer that came out of her mouth was negative and was making me sad to be there to listen to this.  Fir just kepting dancing around my questions and concluding with the fact that she’s just sad. Not wanting to prod much further, I sat there in silence with her for a bit as we stared at the empty courtyard.

Then I had an idea.  Being on the football team, I learned a few things about the school.  One of them being that the announcer’s box at the top of the bleachers on the football field was accessible.  Even though the door was locked, if you pulled on it, it would still open. Within it, you would find a ladder that gets you on top, putting you on the highest place on campus.

I don’t know why I thought this would be a good idea; I think I wanted to get her mind off of whatever was bothering her by showing her something cool.  I knew it worked because when we got up there, she started smiling. As the breeze blew through our hair, we enjoyed the view as she admitted she felt better.

Then I heard the bell ring in the distance, signalling the end of 6th period and the end of the school day.  Being an obedient one, my immediate instinct was to start heading to the part of school where I was to be picked up.  The ensuing conversation went like this:

Fir: “Where are you going?”

Me: “The bell rang, and I need to go now actually.”

Fir: “Oh… really?  Okay..” (Her smile began to fade)

Me: “Uhm, well, I can probably stay for a little bit longer if you want.”

Fir: “No, that’s okay.”

Me: “Oh, okay.  See you tomorrow!”

And so I left her up there as I walked to the front of the school, unaware of the fact that we may have had a connection moment there.  Honestly, it would be years before I thought to myself “what would have happened if I stayed up there with her..?”

I’ll never know.  A mystery left as just an oblivious moment.

HIMMW: The Bromantic Era

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!

Despite her kind rejection, I still not-so-secretly admired Lissa a bit.  With time, I also came to realize that I did not need a girl in my life at such a young age and my affection for her would putter out.  You might think that I would just move on and have a crush on someone else, but there was no time for that. The formation of Clan WumboQ would usher in a period of pure Bromance.

Riders of Brohan.  The Brohirrim. The army of Broseiden.  And some other bro puns. We were all of that.

We rode our bikes to each other on weekends.  We played Halo together. We got in trouble. We solved problems.  We lead worship together. We excelled at Bible Drill. We invented our own card games.  We lifted His name on high.

Fellowship.  Friendship. Food.  Fun. And some other alliteration..

It has been said that our adventures were so legendary that an angel was sent to record it in detail, but all it could do was weep due to its grandeur.

No one made fun of us, because then suddenly 5 boys were suddenly making fun of you, making you look like a fool.  Also, who wants to mess with us when you have a Matt that looks like this:

Matt will

  1. Fight for his friends
  2. Flick you and you will fall

At least in our young minds that’s how it worked.  Anyway, you get the idea.  I cared a lot about these friendships we formed and they were like family.  Sure, we talked about girls, but that was it. Any crush any of us had on a girl were short lived.  We had each other. No girls needed.

This helped in my growth and confidence.  I had friends that had my back and I could count on them.  8th and 9th grade was a good time. All the weirdness of middle school faded and my outlook on things were generally positive.  This would build a strong foundation from 8th grade throughout high school and some of college.

HIMMW: Ready. AIM. Fire!

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!

AOL Instant Messenger was really popular in middle school.  With some coercion from my siblings, I made an account. I remember the humble beginnings of having only 7 people on my buddy list (2 of which were Stu’s alternate accounts).  The ability to communicate with friends outside of school or church was pretty cool. Buddy icons, fonts and profiles were a plus too. By default, there were four distinct sounds the client would make when you sent a message, received a message, a friend signed on or when a new person was trying to message you.

I didn’t join chat rooms to find strangers to talk to, so whenever someone new messaged me, I probably knew them.  One day I got a message from SprightlyCleric987 (not her real screen name) saying “hey” to me. She claimed to be Lissa, and I actually messaged a few friends to confirm that.

“Lissa… who is that again..?”

I remember thinking that, because for some reason I couldn’t put a face to the name.  Without social media, I didn’t have a way to pull up a picture of her. Eventually I riffled through some old Camp group photos and found her.  With time, we would chat a little more. It started with simple questions and answers and it grew from there.

I enjoyed our online conversations together; it was a nice escape from the pressures of being a pre-teen boy.  Even though there was only so much two middle school kids could talk about; school, places, food, people. I remember looking forward to it as the school day wore on.  Looking forward to turning on my computer and seeing if she was online. And if she wasn’t, my eyes would dart to my screen as I heard the friend-signing-on sound play from my speakers.  I would never message her right away, I didn’t want to appear too eager. Sometimes Lissa would message me first and I would feel so good about that. Our conversations slowly grew more elaborate.  I wanted to brag to my friends like this:

It was a small confidence boost.  Small, because outside of chatting online, our interaction at church was close to nonexistent.  The guys and I didn’t make many efforts to interact with the girls at church unless we had to. Why?  Not sure, I think we sort of embraced the natural divide. But still, it was clear that I liked this girl.

Remember, I’m in middle school.  So what do boys do during sleepovers, hangouts and cabin times?  Play things that involve truth or dare or dares as a punishment. Being a boy that wanted to feel macho, I always tried to perform the dares given to me if they were within the realm of possible.  Over time, real world interactions with Lissa had increased to a non-zero amount (just from group-games or things like that). One day online, I found myself in a situation where Caleb dared me to ask out Lissa on a date.  Not being one to chicken out, I proceeded to do so via instant messenger. As bold of a move as that was, part of me hoped she knew it was some sort of joke, but the other part of me hoped she would say yes. The chat window remained silent as she still had not responded.  I think a good five minutes passed before Marty messaged me asking me what I was doing. I told him Caleb dared me and I was so honorable that I would do it and not tell her it was a dare. Silly, I know.

He proceeded to copy and paste his conversation with her to show me her verbally freaking out.  There were lots of exclamation points and capital letters. I messaged her apologizing profusely, stating that it was a dare and Caleb made me do it.  In the end, she was cool with it. Even telling me to tell Caleb that she said “yes” to mess with him a little bit.

And that’s the story of the first time I asked out a girl.  Even if it was online and was a dare.

Oddly enough, things weren’t weird after that and we continued chatting as normal.  We had that whole “let’s just be friends” talk. I don’t think she ever liked me back, but even if she did, what were we going to do?  Ask our parents to drive us somewhere so we could date as a middle school couple? The reality of being 12 years old sunk in as we joked about that in later conversations.  We were so young! And really, I think the main reason I liked her was because she was the first non-family girl to extensively talk to me.