Today is the second post in a five-part series on my blog called "The Road." This series will chronicle the events of my life leading up to meeting my wife, the events that transpired after, and how it has led us all to where we are now. The series will end not by my hand, but by my wife's. Some of this will be very hard for me to write, and as a result, will be hard for you to read. Some of you will think differently of me afterwards, but I ask that you please don't get halfway through this series and stop. In the end, maybe you will find something here that let's you know you aren't alone. The roads we travel are unique, but they intersect often. I have changed almost all the names in this story in order to respect individual privacy.
Part Two: The Matrimony
It all started with a phone call.
The young lady who drove that Chevy Corsica was named Alicia. Most of you here might know her as "The Missus."
I asked her out on a date, and we went to Arby's one night after work. She wound up paying.
My brain is really bad at remembering all the smaller details of life. But I remember laying on my trampoline one night, talking to Alicia on the phone, and telling her that I was pretty sure I was going to marry her. I remember walking into her house for the first time and being attacked by an eighty five pound Husky. I remember breaking up with her several times, and always coming back. I can remember proms, and the horrendous yellow dress she wore to mine. I can remember laughing so hard at something that I farted in front of her for the first time. I can remember falling asleep in her bed, and her dad being absolutely furious. I can remember one night in particular, after church, Alicia looked at me and said, "We have to talk," and she took me to that same blueberry farm, parked in the parking lot, and looked up, and I could see it in her eyes.
I wasn't an idiot. I knew what was going to happen. I was about to get dumped.
She looked at me, opened her mouth, and I waited for the ax to fall. It was then I realized how very much in love I was with this woman, and I realized that it was all going to go away if I didn't do something.
But I couldn't get words out.
"Travis, I want to apologize for how I've been acting lately. I know I've been treating you terribly, and I just want you to know I'm sorry."
I had a million questions, but the big one was, "What are you talking about?" You see, she hadn't been treating me bad. I hadn't noticed anything different at all. But I was thrilled, because I still had Alicia.
I planned the proposal. I was going to rent ad space before a movie in a theater, and have them post in big words, "Will you marry me?" on the screen. Details were lined out, theaters were contacted for pricing, and then I made a huge mistake. I mentioned it to a mutual friend of ours, who immediately went and told her what I was planning. The whole thing was botched.
I got her parents permission. Lord that was tough.
My mom helped me finance the ring. I was nineteen at the time, and didn't really have a credit history to speak of. Alicia had picked out several that she wanted, and I didn't think any of them were good enough for her. However, I got her the one she wanted. Then I waited for another brilliant proposal plan to strike my conscience.
Sometime in November of 2002, Alicia looked at me and said, "Travis, we're going to a football game tonight, and I want my ring. My friends need to see that I'm getting married." After those words were spoken, she went to finish getting ready, and I was left wondering what I was going to do.
Her parents had a bowl of mint Life Savers on their kitchen counter. I quickly tore open a package, pulled the mint out, ate it (I was really hoping she'd want to make out after this), and put the ring in the mint package. When she came back out, ready to go, I asked her if she wanted a mint.
"Are you sure? They're really good."
"Travis, shut up. Let's go. Do you have my ring?"
Sheepishly, I pulled the ring out of the mint bowl, got down on one knee, and asked the smartest question of my life.
She said yes.
We went through marriage counseling. During this, the minister asked us to each make a list of ten things we loved about the other.
The engagement lasted seven months, and then one morning it was June 28th, and I was up 8 hours before the wedding, getting ready, and driving ninety miles an hour to that little church in Okay, Oklahoma. I got there early, still not convinced in my mind that I was really about to be married. But I was.
|That was my, "I'm about to have so much sex," face.|
|That was my "I'm about to have so much cake," face.|
The honeymoon ended, and life set in. I worked a midnight shift for a while during the first year of our marriage. It was pretty rough working that schedule and being a newlywed. I started to revert back to some of my old habits, being controlling and possessive. Our first fight was over a cat. She wanted to get one, and I said no. I wound up leaving a very hateful message on our answering machine that my younger brother heard. We made up.
I tried to impress her by making her pancakes. She "caught" me. We bought a German Shepherd that ate the entire house, costing us not only our security deposit, but also any good will we had with our landlord. We eventually got that cat, then gave her to my mom. We went broke when I took a job selling vacuums. We moved three times in two years. I discovered XBOX Live. She discovered she didn't have a tolerance for me playing video games forty hours a week. We cried, we laughed, and we explored our options as a couple.
Then one day, we finally went back to that little church in Okay. Then we went again. It felt just like home. After a few months of this, the pastor pulled me aside and said, "Travis, you know we're looking for a youth minister, right? I want you to pray about it."
We did, and shortly after I had my first stint in the ministry, leading the youth at Okay First Baptist Church.
And then I made The Mistake.