HIMMW: A Somewhat New Face

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!

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HIMMW: A Blind Date

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!

Not too long before I tried my hand at online dating, I received a message from a friend from college.  We kept in touch a little bit and our conversations were mostly small talk, but this time around she enthusiastically asked me:

“Can I hook you up with someone?  Or a blind date?”

I merely responded with a simple “yes” as my friend exploded with glee and a myriad of questions.  I was keeping an open mind, aware that this is a good opportunity to meet someone new. The worst case scenario, it doesn’t go that well and I have a story to tell some day.  The best case is that we interest each other and I go on a second date. All the while, I kept my expectations tame.

It took a while to get a date set up though.  Our weekends didn’t really match up, and there was a bit of a back and forth until we finally found a free day 2 months later.  Before I went on the date, my friend would reveal to me that my blind date would be with Faye:

And honestly, I had a feeling it would be her.  I met Faye (not to be confused with Fae, whom I had a crush on in elementary school) in college through the Christian fellowship we attended.  I will give credit to my friend in that on the surface, Faye and I might seem compatible. In their words, we are both “shy, but so thoughtful and considerate”.  Another thing to consider is that we both have a deep appreciation for tea, although her taste is mainly of the English variety and mine is more Eastern. Still, I was willing to go on the date with Faye.

I exchanged numbers with Faye and we texted a little bit before it was agreed that I would pick her up and we would have our date at the nearby tea shop.  We had good conversations and basically caught up on the past year, since that was the last time I interacted with her.

It think we both didn’t want to let our friend down and we wanted to give it a fair shot, so we talked until there really wasn’t much else to talk about.  We finished off our tea and I took her back home as we said our goodbyes. It wasn’t a bad date, but it wasn’t a great one either. Neither of us really felt anything, so Faye and I just kind of left it at that; happy as friends.

Now I can say I’ve been on a blind date.

HIMMW: Looking Online

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!

Many months would pass after my final text with Cordelia.  I was very focused on working and finding jobs. I’ve written about that before, and you can read about it here.  I didn’t really think about dating much during this long stretch of time.  I mean, I’m basically waiting for someone new to come to church in order to meet someone new.  There was no more sea of people to potentially interact with in college, I don’t go clubbing or go to bars, and I wasn’t involved in any sort of social activity outside of work or church.

One day, I had a random conversation with Clair on Gchat.  Since it had been so long since we talked, we basically caught each other up on the last year and a half or so.  We talked about our jobs, travel and church involvement before the topic of dating and relationships inevitably came up.  She had found a guy and the story of how they met is pretty unique. When it came time for me to share.. Well, there wasn’t much to share.  I was still single and pretty okay with it.

That’s when Clair brought up that I should consider trying online dating, specifically with the trending Coffee Meets Bagel.  She talked about how her friend had success with it and I recalled a friend of mine finding a boyfriend through it. Still, it felt weird.  I think there’s a stigma attached to online dating; some sort of mixture of desperation and more chances to meet weird people. It didn’t take very long, but I soon decided to give CMB a shot.  I very much like the design of being paired with one person at a time and deciding whether or not to “like” them or “pass” on them. It made it feel a little more serious and thoughtful compared to the likes of other apps and websites.

Within a few days of using CMB, I was matched (we both “liked” each other) with not just one but two girls at the same time.  It didn’t feel right carrying two conversations with two different people that I was kind of interested in. The app gives you a week to talk to the other person before the connection expires.  If things go well, you assumably exchange numbers and continue the conversation. It is from this where I derived my dating strategy:

  1. Talk via dating app for about a week.  If things seem to be going okay, ask to exchange numbers
  2. If numbers are exchanged, talk a little more to confirm that we have something going and then try to go on a date.  It will always be something casual like lunch or a tea shop.
  3. Continue the conversations and dates until things clearly aren’t going anywhere or if they are, then initiate conversation to enter a relationship.

It’s very slow and methodically.  I won’t suggest you to follow it either, since many years later I would find out that the average person exchanges numbers within 1 or 2 days.  I was probably too slow to stay interesting to some girls. I just figured that if I could make it to the first date, I’ll take the next chance.  On and on until it amounts to something or the chances are spent.

And that’s how I went about my work weeks, each day receiving a new “bagel” to like or pass on.  It certainly kept things interesting as I got comfortable with the daily workflow. I looked into other dating apps, but none seemed to work as efficiently as CMB.

HIMMW: An Interesting Twist

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!

About half way through my 5th and final year of college, I’m trying to remind myself (and a few other peers) not to be tricked by senior vision.

  • Senior Vision – if you are single, the closer you are to graduating an institution, the more desperate you might feel to exit with a significant other.  This is due to the pretense that meeting someone here (in this vast ocean of peoples) often results in a relationship that lasts forever. Also, this is due in part to the fact that after graduating, the ocean of people you know is greatly reduced to a puddle (coworkers, whatever friendships you keep past graduation and other consistent gatherings, like church).  Because of this desperation, people tend to look more attractive to you.

When Spring quarter came around, I was finally able to have fun (only 3 classes, with one of them being a for-fun one).  I was ready to coast through the rest of my college career.

So, there was this girl named Cordelia.

Because I had spent the last two quarters tunneled in on studying and projects, I didn’t really notice her.  In fact, I was pretty nonexistent during that time period. I had missed out on a handful of events and meetings.  She and I had a couple of random conversations, but I didn’t think too much about it. I deemed her as cute, but I reminded myself that I was graduating soon.

A few weeks into the quarter, there was a homeless outreach event scheduled.  I didn’t really want to go, but I didn’t really have a compelling reason not to.  Specifically, I didn’t want to be paired up with Cordelia in fear that I might be overly infatuated and I didn’t want to inflate my ego in regards to homeless ministry.  I had done it a few times via CSM and biking around handing out tacos to homeless people. But, I was needed to drive and I figured I would probably be doing unproductive things anyway, so I attended.

As fate should have it, I ended up getting paired up with Cordelia.

You would think it shouldn’t matter because once we started exploring the streets of downtown, we would be busy talking with strangers and the homeless.  To our dismay, we just so happen to explore the part of town that was completely empty. Itching to feel productive, we actually spent some time talking to and praying for a security guard and a gardener.  When we finally came across a homeless man, he was asleep at a train stop, so we left him an encouragement note and water bottle and let him be. Of course, we weren’t walking in silence together; we were talking and getting to know each other.

After the event was over, I remember driving back to the apartment with Eddie, telling him everything that I thought would happen, happened.  Being a pair of hopelessly romantic super seniors, we joked around with the possibilities and potentials. All that aside, I was a little caught in the middle.  The better side of me was thinking to just do nothing, and the other side was saying “there might be something here, just go for it!”. For the most part and with my better judgement, I did do nothing.  It would not be until Eddie and I would confront a close friend of Cordelia. The friend essentially gave me the red light, since Cordelia recently got out of a relationship and she was still young. And I was okay with that, as if I just needed a solid reason to fully back off.

I graduated college and said my goodbyes to good friends and underclassmen.  And that was that, or so I thought.

About a week later, I received a text from Cordelia.  It was so random, but to my delight she was telling me about what she was reading in the Bible.  For context, it was drawing from a previous conversation we had long before. It was a nice back and forth, but it kept going as the conversation extended itself.  It was refreshing, considering after college all I could find was an internship in Irvine that paid me $0 and my parents were having me run errands and doing odd jobs since they were with my sister, who was in the hospital.

On my birthday, Cheeseburger Eddie and Lauren visited me and we spent the day eating good food, swimming and other silly things.  We ran into a friend from college while she was on her afternoon jog. At this point in time, Eddie and Lauren were living vicariously through me as I was having these texts with Cordelia; they couldn’t help but talk about it.  We tasked our friend with some investigative work as we wanted to know if Cordelia liked me, or if all of this was merely innocent. To skip some of the anticipation, she didn’t like me. Another source even cited that Cordelia was seen walking around a food fair with another boy, presumably on a date of some sort.  So it was in fact all innocent. I won’t fault her too hard if you think she was leading me on, as you could also make a pretty good case that I was overthinking it.

One way Eddie, Lauren and I kept in touch after college was via group Skype calls.  Whether it was watching videos, playing games or even just doing nothing, it always started with a Skype call.  Out of some habit I started too long ago, my phone is always on vibrate, even when I’m at home. And since I have a wooden desk, the noise of my phone vibrating from a text message resonates enough to be picked up on the mic of my headset.  The sound of receiving texts would often get Eddie and Lauren excited and they would ask me to read it to them since it was likely from Cordelia. So, just like all the other times, one night my phone went off as we were queuing up for another game.

“Oooh Ooh oooh, what’s it say?  Is it from Cordelia!?” said Eddie and Lauren.

It was Cordelia.  And after everything I had learned and the roller coaster of emotions the past month was, I knew it was best if I didn’t continue texting her; at the very least, for my sake.  After looking at my home screen, rather than responding, I put my phone back facedown.

“Ah, it’s nothing.  Let’s start the game.”

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.

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.