Well – I think it’s pretty safe to say a boy likes you when he gets on a plane for the first time in his life so that he can come see you.
That’s right! I visited Peter for Labor Day Weekend in September, and he returned the favor about a month later. This is his sleepy face as he was about to leave (way before the crack of dawn) to drive to and fly out of Omaha, Nebraska. He and his mom got direct flights to Memphis, Tennessee where I picked him up and she set off for Little Rock, Arkansas to spend the weekend with his younger sister Joni.
This trip was very special to me because I had a deep feeling that I was introducing my future husband to practically everyone I loved. For the first time in our relationship, I wasn’t nervous to see him. I’m sure it helped tremendously that he was coming to my comfort zone this time around. I just felt such peace and elation…
(Readers, you are in luck. Something stirred me to keep detailed notes on this visit. This should be a good one…)
His flight was scheduled to arrive in Memphis at 1:15 in the afternoon, and I pulled into the parking deck at about 12:45. It was a good thing I was a little early because I got a text just a few minutes later letting me know he was on the ground.
I walked into the airport and waited in the baggage claim area at the bottom of a huge escalator. Instead of seeing Peter coming down with his mom, I was first met by a huge group from Texas A&M who were coming to Mississippi for a football game.
Because everyone was coming down an escalator to exit the airport, I saw and recognized his legs before I could actually see his face! We hugged and excitedly helped his mom pick up her rental car at Enterprise before heading southeast toward home.
Unfortunately, I had never driven in Memphis before. Let’s just say I got a bit turned around. And I don’t always handle tense situations well. Bless his heart.
But first stop after the lost became found? Chick-Fil-A of course! I had to introduce him to my culture!
We arrived at my house around 7:00pm, (Did I mention Memphis isn’t all that close to Birmingham? Still worth it.) and I briefly introduced Peter to my dad and grandmother for the first time. The next thing I knew, there was a knock at the door. We weren’t expecting company, and I was surprised when my dad’s sister Cindy came walking into the kitchen. She had come to “pick up green beans” from my dad’s garden. YEAH. RIGHT. Haha… Peter handled the surprise meeting very well, and we had a laid back night at home after that.
We set out for the Tour of Almost Everyone Jamey Loves fairly early on Saturday morning, stopping by the house where I lived for the last three years so he could meet my roommate Jenny. I think he won her heart by giving attention to her dachshund, Dora, and she sent a follow-up text after we left saying, “He’s got my vote!”
We quickly drove south, through Birmingham, on the way to my friend Katherine’s house. She graciously offered to host a small group of us at her house so I could show off Peter to my friends while we watched an Auburn football game. She didn’t want me to have to worry or stress about anything, so we were asked to pick up drinks. We stopped at Walmart in Chelsea to grab some two-liters, and Peter proceeded to chuckle at me as I strained to stand on my tip-toes and reach the bottles. He stepped in to rescue his short damsel in distress, and it was one of the first times after being single and independent for many years that I realized it would really be nice to have some help every once in a while.
When we parked in Katherine’s driveway, she came out her back door grinning and said, “You look just like your picture!” We spent the afternoon with three of my best friends – Katherine, Faith, and Megan, some of their husbands, and a few of their kids. Of course, Peter made a good first impression, and everyone liked him, although Megan’s husband gave him quite a handshake just to establish some ground rules… Jonathan’s always looked after me like a big brother. After the game, we all settled in around the living room, and I took advantage of the opportunity to snuggle up to Peter on the couch. Being that it was my first serious relationship, I had never really experienced life among couples, and I loved every minute. I was proud to have him there and share such a beautiful part of my life.
Late that afternoon, before heading back to my parents’ house, I showed him around my college campus at the University of Montevallo, and he loved the big trees and historic buildings. After all, parts of South Dakota were still like Little House on the Prairie when the school was started.
We returned home just in time for a cookout with my parents, sister, half-brother, and sister-in-law. My daddy is a master of the smoker, and everything was delicious. Peter loved talking with my brother about cars, and he listened pretty quietly as we joked our way through dinner. I’m glad we didn’t scare him off!
That night we looked at my baby pictures and watched Father of the Bride Part Two before crashing in preparation for another full day.
On Sunday morning, we got up early enough to say goodbye to my parents as they were leaving for Sunday school at their church. I had told my dad that I was planning to surprise Peter with a big day out. Peter thought I was taking him to Talladega for the big Nascar race, but instead, I planned to surprise him with a trip to the closest Bass Pro Shop and a local indoor gun range. The next thing I knew, as my dad stood in the living room talking with us before church, my heart stopped as he said, “So I hear you’re going to Bass Pro…” Dad!!! Not a surprise anymore, I guess… Luckily Peter still didn’t know about the gun range. He never saw that one coming.
Before his manly afternoon adventure, he first had to visit with my grandmother and two great aunts, Aunt Susie and Aunt Bobbie. Granny is generally mild-mannered, shy, and sweet – and she is even smaller than me. Peter took to her immediately and loved her smile and laugh. Of course, Susie and Bobbie are basically the opposite of my grandmother and gave Peter a run for his money. (I love how you can become more and more blunt and hilarious with each passing year of your life!) When Aunt Susie found out that Peter worked with cattle research, she firmly told him he would just have to move to Alabama and get a job at Auburn. That was a HUGE statement for such a die-hard Alabama fan. She must have really wanted to find a way to add him to our family!
Although the shock of unexpectedly pulling up at the huge Bass Pro complex didn’t work out as I hoped, Peter was still pretty stunned and speechless. He is a hunting-fanatic, so it was like he had achieved a life-long dream of mixing the outdoor world with a cute girl by his side. (His opinion… Just saying.) We mostly just walked around and admired/goofed off with all of the mounts and decor, and we left with the perfect purchase – a camo Auburn hat!
The next stop, and now biggest surprise, of the day was a place called Hoover Tactical. I had heard about it on the radio and thought it would really earn me some great girlfriend points… After all, I had never even shot a gun before, much less been to a range! We decided to shoot a pistol and bought a few rounds to aim at paper zombie targets. Peter’s spirit wasn’t quite as overjoyed and pumped up as I had anticipated, but he just couldn’t get over the shock that his girlfriend planned such a surprise for him. That shock didn’t alter his aim though… Be warned. That boy can shoot! I almost passed on shooting because all the noise and power were quite intimidating for me, but one of the employees talked me through it and helped me calm down enough to shoot a few times. I completely missed the paper with two out of five of my shots, but I was just thankful to get a few hits. I was aiming for the zombie’s heart. Let’s just say Peter got a bit uncomfortable when we pulled in my paper to examine any bullet holes and he realized I aim low… Haha
To top off an already incredible day, we finished with the 6:00 church service at Brook Hills. As usual, the sermon was challenging and annointed, and in the car Peter told me, “That was my favorite part of the weekend.” He said, “How about if I just come visit you every Sunday?” He’s such an answer to prayer.
My friends Lacey and Austin had just gotten engaged that weekend, so I introduced them to Peter and we relived the story over dinner at Jason’s Deli with Jenny and Katie.
We were dreading saying goodbye on Monday, but we made the most of our time together by stopping by my school on the way back to Memphis. Peter also passed that test and seemed to get a stamp of approval by my friends at work!
This was also the morning that I introduced him to biscuits and gravy at Jack’s for the first time. It’s really a shame that we didn’t document such a momentous occasion.
The drive to Memphis was long and sad, but we listened to sermons on the way. I got a bit grumpy as the physical and emotional exhaustion set in, so I finally stopped and let him drive the rest of the way. He felt like my knight in shining armor, and I was almost instantly able to relax again and enjoy our time together.
We met his mom at Enterprise, turned in her car, and although Peter was upset and quiet, we spent our last few minutes together taking pictures in the airport.
When the time came to finally say goodbye, I walked with Peter and Dorothy toward the entrance to the security area. I hugged her first, and she walked ahead to give us some privacy. Peter leaned down to hug and kiss me goodbye, and we promised that the time would pass quickly and we would see each other again soon… After all, I was due for another long weekend in November for Veteran’s Day. South Dakota was calling my name!
I’m sure we both had tears in our eyes, and as we pulled away from each other – reaching out, still holding hands in the air, I did it…
I felt those three little words fly out of my mouth faster than I could chase them down.
“I love you.”
If only we had this scene on video… Perhaps I should have contacted airport security about surveillance. I would LOVE to see a replay of our body language. I know Peter was caught off guard, and he quietly mumbled, “I love you too,” but I couldn’t really hear or understand him.
I was too busy freaking out.
I wonder if I got taller for a brief moment as my spine straightened and muscles tightened with surprise and fear.
I’m sure my eyes were as huge as saucers, and the smile on my face was most likely replaced with a ghostly, blank stare.
We pulled away from each other and waved. He followed his mom into the security check, and I bolted.
Yep. I practically ran out of there. I could not seem to get down the escalator and to my car fast enough. My heart was racing, and I could not believe that I had just told him I loved him – on accident.
Oh sure, I meant it. That’s why I said it. It was the most natural thing at the time.
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34″
But, you see… I’m a planner. I had tread carefully up until this point, so afraid that I would push too hard or move too fast or jump to conclusions. I had been burned before with other guys that caught my eye, and I didn’t want to scare this one away.
And I’m the girl… I didn’t want to say it first!
But there it was. I couldn’t take it back.
Let’s just say that next phone call was both awkward and thrilling as we explained ourselves and more confidently expressed our feelings.
We really did.
We loved each other.
(And we still do!)
This is the twelfth 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!