Ask anyone who knew me at any point between 3rd grade and sophomore year of college and they will tell you – I was not getting married. I just wasn’t. My plan was to graduate from college, move to Colorado, and have lots of cats and if I got lucky, a horse or two.
That was THE PLAN. Not plan A or B. THE ONLY PLAN. If I wanted to, I could probably dig deep down and offer all kinds of explanations for this certainty, but if I briefly analyze things, I just couldn’t imagine myself ever opening myself up so completely to one person. FOREVER.
Fast forward to 2011. Two years into college, I was just as firm in my resolution as I had been when I only knew a handful of guys my age. Possibly more. I was a busy interior design student with two jobs and a staff newspaper position looking forward to summer break. I vividly remember standing with my friend and stage crew coworker, Anne, in the basement of Rodeheaver Auditorium, discussing her plans to spend the summer working at Camp Chetek, a Baptist summer camp. “I could never work at camp!” I said. (I had attended a large Christian summer camp one summer before high school and had never gone back. Who on earth would voluntarily go spend a week crammed in a room with a bunch of kids you don’t know, going deaf from the screaming cheers, trying to remember lyrics to stupid camp songs, and playing massive group games that threatened to smush anyone under 5′?!) While I wanted to spend a summer as part of some kind of ministry, summer camp was not on my list!
“Its a great place to meet guys,” she said. I rolled my eyes. “Really, because that would make me want to go.” “They have horses, ” she said. “Oh…” I said.
Thus began the mental process that led me to submit my Camp Chetek application for the summer of 2011. While my reasons may not have originally been the most spiritual, God was beginning a work in my heart and life, even though I didn’t have a clue yet! I was accepted to camp as a horse wrangler and thus began the summer that changed my life forever.
Brian has asked me what my first impression of him was when we met and I honestly don’t remember. I’m pretty sure I barely paid attention to the super tan, smiley guy that greeted us when we rolled into camp. I had just flown into Minneapolis and ridden down to camp in an overcrowded mini van with a group of people I didn’t know. My luggage, which had to be strapped to the roof, was covered in every single small insect that was unlucky enough to cross our path on the two hour drive. My first impression was probably, “Oh great, someone else I don’t know whose name I now need to remember!!!” (#introvert problems) During the course of the summer we ended up together a lot, simply because Anne was the only person I knew before I arrived so I stuck to her like glue, and she and Brian were pretty much siblings.
Brian says that the first time he “noticed” me was when we drove up to the airport to pick up a friend during the course of the summer. It was Anne, me, and Brian in the van on the way and I got shotgun. (As a slightly older staff member and a responsible human, Brian was one of the designated camp drivers. To this day he is the only person whose driving I trust implicitly.)
At that time, I was even more shy than I am now, and opening up and talking to people took me a while. As we conversed about who knows what, apparently Brian realized that I actually had a personality hidden under there somewhere. 😀 We talked the entire trip and then life proceeded. He says that I flirted with him. I still maintain that I didn’t even know how to flirt!
I do remember one memorable trip to Minneapolis on a weekend. Brian had just gotten a new car (his old one had been smashed by a tree at the beginning of the summer.) and wanted to take it on a longer “test drive” so he and Anne and another friend and I headed to the Mall of America. We had most of the day to kill, so we wandered for a bit. At one point we went to grab some popcorn (my favorite snack in the world) and then catch up with the others.
Please picture this scene…by this time in the afternoon I had already purchased items here and there, so once my popcorn was in my hands…I had no hands left to eat popcorn with. The hot, buttery popcorn was calling my name and we still had a ways to walk before we met up with the others – what was a girl to do?! Without even thinking I reached down and snagged some with my tongue – at the precise moment that Brian paused his mumbling about not having hands and not wanting to stick his face in the popcorn just in time to catch me with my face in my popcorn. AWKWARD. I wanted to die. Apparently he thought it was adorable. I was mortified.
Obviously God was working in this relationship before it even began because if it had been up to me I would have botched it a hundred different ways. (By this point I had a kind of huge crush on Brian, although at the time I would have admitted it to no one!!!) That summer I watched him be the Renaissance man of summer camping – driving vehicles, doing skits, being “Private Poindexter”, working in the sound booth, singing special music (his tenor could/can melt granite), lifeguarding, driving the pontoon, pitching in wherever needed, staying up all Friday night to help us get the photo CDs ready to deliver on Saturday morning. Color me smitten with no intention of doing anything about it or admitting it to a soul.
That summer ended a few days early for me – I was scheduled to photograph my very first wedding in Ohio the last weekend of camp. Since I was missing the last hurrah, Brian promised that he would get up early to see me off. I smiled and nodded and completely didn’t believe him because I knew he wasn’t a morning person and I needed to be up SUPER early.
I got up the next morning and packed my stuff in the car, double checking the office to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind. And then Brian turned up, just in time to walk me to the car. (Little did I know that this would not be the last time I would under-estimate his level of interest.) I turned to say goodbye and he leaned in for a hug and…wait for it….I gave him a side hug…..
He still says it is hands down the most awkward hug he has ever experienced. Super embarrassed and sure I would never hear from him again, I shook it off and headed to Ohio to shoot my first wedding!
To be continued… 🙂