Aside from my favorite part of our early story, this may be one of the most fun and special posts to share about the process of meeting Peter online and moving toward marriage with him. After emailing for a week and talking/texting for almost two months, we were finally all set to meet in person.
Warning: This post is LONG. Grab a beverage. Settle in. It’ll be awhile if you make it all the way to the end.
When I left off last week, my mom and I had driven from the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park to our hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota on Thursday, July 26th. As we moved east, Peter and his mom were making a westward journey to a hotel very close to ours. We were all full of anticipation and wonder. At the ages of 26 and 27, were we finally meeting our future spouses that night?
I was a nervous mess. My stomach hurt, and I couldn’t really eat all day.
I found out through his text messages that we all arrived in Rapid City at about the same time, and Peter and his mom were just down the street. However, if I was truly about to meet my future husband and make a good first impression, I was adamant that I wanted to shower, change, and primp a bit. I told him that I would let him know when I was ready, and he could come pick me up.
My mom says I have never in my life taken so long to get ready.
After about TWO HOURS, he stopped waiting and sent me a message to let me know he was on his way and would meet me in my hotel lobby.
By this point, I was pretty terrified. Two months had been a long time to get to know someone and wonder about them if it was all going to turn out to be a dud. And what about that pastor who prayed for him by name before we ever even talked on the phone? I was exhausted and scared and queasy. This was all too much to deal with.
I hugged my mom goodbye and walked through the long hallway to our hotel lobby. Just as I passed through a large doorway, walking by the large registration desk on my left, I heard a familiar melody and lyrics…
I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. “Unchained Melody” was playing in our fancy, yet outdated hotel lobby at the very moment when Peter and I saw each other in person for the first time.
As I walked around the corner, I saw him near the front wall. He had his back to me and was casually looking at a selection of tourist postcards, trying to look calm, cool, and collected. I guess I kind of snuck up on him… He turned around and saw me when I was about ten feet away.
Just as I had seen through the pictures he shared on his eHarmony profile and email (as well as the ones I found while stalking him on Facebook), I thought he was very good looking… The only surprise was his height! He is about 6′ or a little taller, and I knew that, but it was more shocking to see how far I had to look up at him! I felt bad when he hugged me and had to lean down so far since I’m only 5’1″!
That first moment of seeing each other in person wasn’t as uncomfortable as I feared it would be, but I definitely showed my awkward side for the next couple of hours. We walked out of the hotel lobby to get in his car, and I remember rubbing his arm and exclaiming, “I just want to touch you!” Unfortunately for Peter, that was one of the few things I said voluntarily that he didn’t have to drag out of me. My nerves got the best of me, and I clammed up on him for the next couple of hours. He has told me since then that it really caused him to doubt us for a little bit because he wasn’t sure he could be with someone who didn’t talk!
We didn’t really have a plan set for the evening. We just said we would start by going to dinner somewhere and then we would play it by ear. We got into his car and started driving around, but apparently it was the blind leading the blind. Peter grew up traveling to the Black Hills pretty often, so I thought he knew his way around and had a restaurant picked out. However, when he would visit that area, he mostly spent time at a cabin, so he really didn’t know much about the city. While I rode silently and smiling in the passenger seat, he was frantically trying to figure out where we should eat. We came back from a downtown area toward our hotels and the mall, and I saw and suggested Texas Roadhouse because he had told me it was his favorite restaurant. He seemed a little surprised by my suggestion, but he liked the idea and that we had finally made a decision.
One issue with Texas Roadhouse that I didn’t really consider is that it has a really loud environment with blaring country music and dancing waitresses. I was already giving him more silence than he was ready to handle, and now we practically had to yell at each other if we wanted to try to talk! My nerves were still on edge, so I really wasn’t hungry. We both ordered steaks, although I got the smallest one on the menu and had to force myself to eat it. I left about half of my food on my plate, so now he was starting to think that I don’t talk OR eat! I’ve since corrected that false impression!
Peter did a great job carrying the conversation, although I did notice he seemed a bit perturbed each time the waitress would come by to check on us. I guess he didn’t want to be interrupted!
When my mom and I were at the rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming earlier in the week, I bought Peter a shirt and hat, and I gave them to him at our table at the restaurant. I had asked his younger sister about his size in a Facebook message. However, I was really embarrassed when Peter opened it up and laughed because it was too small! I also gave him a pocket-sized Jackson Hole souvenir version of a dice game called Farkle. I felt a little better because he really loved that.
After we ate, we sat on a bench to take pictures outside the restaurant. We had to sit and wait for a few minutes because the car parked right in front of us was leaving, and their headlights were shining on us. While we waited, a woman walked up and asked for $2 so she would have enough money to stay in a local shelter. Peter was impressed when I automatically gave it to her without any hesitation, and we talked about how we like to give whenever we can and leave it to God to judge if the others use the money honestly or not. I loved that we agreed on that.
The only pictures we took that night were selfies on the bench in front of Texas Roadhouse.
When we got back in his car, he gave me some really sweet gifts that he had gotten a few days prior at a Christian book store in Sioux Falls called Crossroads. I was already a little suspicious because when he was out shopping for me, he sent a few texts asking about my favorite Bible verses. I really couldn’t figure out why he wanted them – he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would be making a craft for me or anything like that… Little did I know that I was giving him obscure verses and he was looking all over the store for something with one of my verses on it! He got me a canvas with a beautiful beach scene that says “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. What a great reminder that night that I could relax and trust the Lord!
He had also told me that he was reading a book and he wanted me to read it when he finished. It was in his backseat when we were driving and looking for a restaurant. He admitted that he hadn’t quite finished it yet, and then he did a big reveal… I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud when he showed me it was Wild at Heart by John Eldridge. That has been one of my dad’s favorite books for years! I had previously only read the chapter about women, but I was excited to read the whole thing now with both my dad and Peter in mind. Because he wasn’t finished, I assured him that I would borrow my dad’s copy. He also gave me some small cards with our names and their meanings to use as bookmarks.
We decided to go try to play mini golf. Of course, we had a funny awkward moment when I called it “putt putt” and he had no idea what I was talking about! As we were driving away from the restaurant, we saw someone walking down the side of the road. Peter scared me a little bit when he started to pull over and roll down the window. I honestly thought he was taking charity and generosity a little too far.
However, it wasn’t a scary stranger… It was his mom!
She had walked from their hotel to the mall and gotten her nails done, and she was walking back to their room as the sun was going down. I’m sure we scared her a bit too, but her smile when she realized it was us was so warm and sweet! We gave her a quick ride to their hotel, and she talked joyfully the whole way there. I think she was really happy to meet me that night instead of waiting until the next day. She shared that she was able to strike up a conversation about the Gospel with the girl working on her nails, and I was amazed by her boldness and openness.
After such a busy week, I was extremely exhausted, and his mom could tell. However, she encouraged us to stay out as late as we wanted.
When we got to the golf place, it was about 9:30, but we realized they were closing at 10:00. We felt like we wouldn’t have time to play, so we turned around to walk back to the car. That was when he grabbed my hand for the first time. It took me by surprise, but it felt great and fit really well! It was funny to go from only talking to actually being together on a date, and I guessed he must have liked me if he wanted to spend more time with me and hold my hand…
We drove back to my hotel and settled in at a tall table outside of the connected restaurant called Perkins. There was a bar inside the hotel, and the music from inside became our background noise as we talked and played Farkle. I pulled a pen and paper out of my purse and embarrassed myself when the pen leaked on my hand and I smeared it on my forehead! It was a little weird, but he was sweet enough to lick his thumb and get the spot off my face without laughing at me too much. When we were playing the game, I got off to a really slow start, but I ended up winning. He was a really great sport and didn’t seem at all upset about losing.
When some people from the bar came to hang out outside, we decided to move and sit inside the lobby. The karaoke music was still a little distracting, and we laughed when we realized we were listening to someone butchering “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. We sat on the couch in the lobby and I showed him the pictures from my trip. It was so relaxing to sit close to him and to feel him lightly rubbing my back and playing with my hair. Physical touch is one of my main love languages, so I loved realizing that he is good with the exact thing that comforts me and makes me feel loved.
Around midnight, we walked down the hall and hugged right outside my door. I was a little curious to see if he would try to kiss me, but since it was all so much to take in for one night, I was glad when he waited. We both went to our hotel rooms and talked to our moms in eager anticipation of spending more time together the next day starting with plans to meet for breakfast at 9:00…
This is the eighth post in a series called We Met Online: Wednesday Series! Start from the beginning here, or you can also retrace the whole story here! I hope to write every Wednesday, using my old journals, photos, and memories to tell our story. I truly hope that it blesses you and brings glory to our Savior. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to share this with others and check back for more soon! You can also subscribe to receive posts by email so you don’t miss anything!