About 20 years ago, this time in late July, I was bowling with my friends.

We were the group of kids who loved to have raucous fun and get good grades and be good at sports, so we were bowling. Some might call us nerds, but we were way too cool for that.

This time hanging out with my friends, I noticed this guy. I had seen him around before. He was quiet and taking it all in. He seemed super cool. He didn’t go to my school but was friends with someone who did, hence his presence in my core friend group.

This night that I noticed him I thought, “he is kind of cute.” I decided to flirt.

 

Me: Your bowling game is good.
He flirted back: My fingers are too fat to fit in the holes of the bowling balls so I have to basically throw the ball down the lane.

 

I know what you are thinking, “Maggie, you don’t know what flirting is.” Just keep in mind we were two 16-year-olds who were paying attention to each other for the first time. It was exhilarating.

I mentioned to my friend that I was curious about this kid and thought he was cute. Her eyes lit up signaling that she was all over this potential set up. She called him and dropped my comment. He replied, “yeah, she’s cute.”

Cute? I was going for sexy beast! I came to find out later that he was trying to be respectful and of course he thought I was sexy. He was a teenage boy. Also, this was a good sign of the person I would marry and who would become the father of my children. Respect over lust and desire.

Within the week, I created a plan to host a party at my house and invite him. He came. I had a massive group of kids playing capture the flag. I got captured, to my dismay, because I like to see myself as untouchably powerful. However, I also like to make the most of my circumstances. I yelled with all of my might, “Help! I am captured!” and sent a prayer that he would hear me. Like all the fairy tales I had watched, he came sprinting toward me. And as he tagged me out, he lingered on the hand hold. Swoon.

I was the only one of my friends who had her driver’s license, so I piled all of these kids into my mom’s mini-van and drove them home at the end of the night. I, of course, strategically dropped him off last.

Within that week we had our first phone call which left us with hurting faces from smiling so much, followed by our first date to the county fair. Our first date, on August 5th, 1999. As I type, I get it – this has all the makings of a solidly sappy Hallmark movie. And it gets even sappier. After five months of dating, on new years eve, this quiet, go-with-the-flow guy passionately grabbed me at midnight and we had the most spectacular kiss I have ever had. I believe in magic and miracles and divine providence and to that end, at the beginning of 2000, I locked in my fate to be with this guy for the rest of the next century, as long as we both shall live.

I promise, as we continue to grow this community, I will share lots of wisdom I have painfully come into through the course of 20 years of living in covenant with another person. But remember my last post, when I invited all of us to conflate the good? This is one of those easy ones for me. Last night, I walked out onto the porch to let my dog out before going to bed. I felt the heat and humidity on my skin. I looked up to the stars and marveled at their beauty. I heard the bugs. They get so loud late in summer as if to say, “we’ll drown out everything else so you can just live here for a moment in harmony with us as we sing in the trees.” I called Brad outside and told him that every time the summer gets late into the year it makes me think of that first summer we met.

As life would happen, five months after that spectacular new years eve kiss, my sister tragically died. When you find yourself in the midst of joy, grab it. Grab it with all of your might. Keep people at bay who think your joy is dangerous or selfish or any other negative thing.

Live in to every spectacular moment when it lands in your lap.

Life is hard and messy. Today, I get to celebrate the memories of that remarkable summer. It was everything I ever wanted it to be, and I get the unearned privilege to say that this man is still a gift to me today.