23 December 2014

Six Years into a Great Idea

Somehow it got to be almost the end of December--two days before Christmas, no less--and I haven't been around these parts for a long time.  

Can I just say I'm a music teacher and so is my husband and one pre-Thanksgiving program and five Christmas programs and another Christmas play later I'm still thinking maybe one of these days I'll get out our own Christmas music to listen to some quiet evening?  Whew!  What a month!

But I can't let today go by without checking in here for two reasons:  One, I am low energy after donating a substantial amount of blood to the science of my own health care (don't worry about me--I'm on a great track right now to getting some things figured out, and I'm really excited about it), and therefore have a sweet excuse not to be up and around trying to accomplish my usual whirlwind of life I call my to-do list.

And two?

While I was sitting in the lab waiting, I realized that six eventful years ago today my husband and I had our very first date.

Have I told that story here before?  I don't think I have...maybe today should be the day.  So sit back and relax, because if there's something I'm not good at, it's making this love story of mine short.  Sweet, yes, but not short!

I had these classmates in my music classes in college.  Well, it started out that I just had one classmate, and he had a twin brother who was in a different sequence of music classes.  Of course it took me forever to figure out which was which, and so I simply never called them by their names, offering my cheerful nameless greetings whenever I saw whichever one.  

But since I had classes with one and not the other, AND the one in my class had a girlfriend, it got easier over that first year of college. 

These twin brothers had a reputation.  They were always singing, they were always having wholesome fun, and if either of them were in the cafeteria, theirs was the table with two or three times as many chairs crowded around it--all the fun people loved being around them, and they could never leave a person out.  The more the merrier.

And a couple of years into college the twins' younger brother arrived on campus full of just as much energy and fun as the other two.  He soon gained a reputation as well:  plastic-bag-and-straws bagpipe builder, four-person bike fabricator, the guy who dressed like Martin Luther for some Theology exam or another, the guy who dressed in a toga for his Greek final.

Somehow this younger brother and I ended up in basic conducting class together, and occasionally used our batons as swords against each other as we "studied" for our final conducting exam.  

And then one day in the spring I ran into said younger brother and a friend of his, and when I wanted to know what they were up to, I got the most exciting answer:  They were on their way to the pi contest (where you have to recite as many digits of pi as you can from memory to win a prize), where they were not only going to recite, but SING the digits of pi.

Something I had always wanted to do, as it turns out, and in a rare outburst of extroversion, I asked if I could join them.  I only knew about fifty digits, but we found a good place with a 5-8 sequence for a finishing point (don't worry if that's as clear as mud to you), I taught them how to sing in perfect parallel organum, and we were off to steal the show.  Which of course we did.

So.  If you've been following my potentially confusing story, you've figured out that I had become fairly well acquainted with two of the three brothers via taking the same classes, and knew the other one a bit more casually at a distance.

Over the course of time, the two brothers (one twin and the younger one) got married, and I got acquainted with their wives as well.  These two brothers also both did their pastoral internships at a little church I called my home church for five years or so.

Eventually, I graduated and stayed in town, these twin brothers graduated and moved out of town, and that's when younger brother began his internship at my little church.  And that's when his wife and I sat down one day after the service and the potluck and figured out we hit it off really well and in our several years of acquaintance just hadn't had a chance to discover each other yet.

I didn't know this until later, of course, but she got in the car afterwards and said, "I feel like we could be sisters!  WAIT!  We COULD be sisters!"

There was one un-married twin left, after all, and she figured she knew exactly who he needed to marry.

She didn't lose any time getting to work.  Her sister-in-law, who by then had moved away from our college town and was working in the same office as my parents, quickly agreed to the plan and began doing her research into my family, you know, to see if we were decent people or not.


The wives schemed with their husbands.  They thought it was a great idea.  (I still wonder sometimes if they ever have any second thoughts now that they know me better!)  They ran it all by the sets of parents--theirs and mine, too, I think.  Everybody seemed to think it was an idea worth pursuing a little further.

Like by informing one of the parties in question that an arranged marriage was in the works.

For whatever reason, they decided I should be the first (out of the last two, anyway) to know.

We girls were out dumpster diving the weekend of college graduation, because people used to leave great stuff out to be thrown away on graduation weekend, and we were looking for a sewing machine.  We didn't find one, but she used the time to her advantage.

"We've been talking," she said, "and we think you should be our next sister-in-law."

I had to work a little to get out of that awkward moment.  I thought maybe it was behind me when the other one stopped by my house to pick up something to send to my parents (with whom, you might recall, she worked every day).

She complimented my multi-colored dining room chairs, and by way of explanation, I said all my friends encouraged me to try out my crazy decorating scheme before I had a husband to tell me I couldn't.

"Marry a S---," she said, not missing a beat.  "They'd let you do it."

I looked at the floor, speechless.

"There's one left!" she said, as if her little reminder would remove my speechlessness and prompt me to pick up the phone and order a wedding cake.

I knew she was right, though.  I knew him well enough to know he would let me paint my chairs whatever color I wanted, and I knew there was indeed "one left".

They dropped it for a while, but it wasn't too long before the subject came up again and I had to choose, on the spot, whether it was ok for them to give this brother-in-law of hers my phone number.  She presented me with an impressive resume of charms, values, and character traits, and I relented.

But hesitatingly, because if we had known each other for so long already and no sparks had flown why would we think they would now?  

Still, I spent quite a bit of time mulling things over.  Did he have similar values?  Would he manage himself well among the variety of family and friends who made up my world?  Would I lose my friends (his sisters-in-law) if it didn't work out?

I talked it over with my mom.

"You don't have to know if you would marry him.  You just have to know if you would go to dinner.  If you'd go to dinner with him, don't worry about the rest."

I talked it over with my dad.

"Well," he said, "you do have a lot in common.  His brother treats his wife really well, and the apple doesn't usually fall too far from the tree."

And months went by.  I felt more confident that I would indeed go to dinner with him if he asked, but the phone call never came. 

Summer turned to fall, fall to winter.  Winter brought a tremendous snow storm, big enough for my parents to cancel Christmas and let me know they didn't think I should come to visit them until the New Year. 

Conveniently, a certain someone was in the next town over visiting his brother and sister-in-law, who immediately set about getting the two of us in the same room for a couple of hours.  Unbeknownst to me, they hadn't said a word to him about their plans for his future marriage (except a comment by his twin brother that went right over his head).  Unbeknownst to him, they were planning his life and finding his bride.

And you know what?  The snowstorm worked--God's way of getting everybody in the right place at the right time, you might say.

They unveiled the plan to my Mr. Right, who thought about it for several days before agreeing to go to dinner with me.  But that moment they had his approval?  They called me right away, set up a double date, and risked the snowy roads for the 45-minute drive to my office to pick me up and take me out to dinner little knowing from that moment forward they really would be stuck with me.

And a little double date in a little Thai restaurant became the launching pad for our "arranged marriage", as they like to call it, six years ago today.