How We Met Part 5, Burning Questions Answered

I almost didn't write tonight. Aubrey wrote with a Sharpie on our laptop screen and then somehow broke the screen beyond it's already damaged state and most of the day the screen was all green, then black and wonder of wonders, when I started to use our horrible desktop keyboard (the equivalent of a scratchy pen with little ink--shudder!), I checked the laptop and baby, it is back! I really didn't know if I could write without the laptop--isn't that horribly quirky and dependent?

Still, I could not leave my few faithful readers in the urgent suspense which your comments expressed so well. I will now answer the unanswered question of Part Four:

How do you get an insect out of your ear?

Have the afflicted person lay on their side with the infested ear on the up side. First, pour oil (olive or vegetable) into the ear. This will suffocate the bug and end the horrid noisy stuff going on deep down. (Shudder) Then, pour warm water into the ear, this will cause the oil to rise, bringing the bug right on up with it.

There you go.

Back to the story. I was holding the small box, everyone was looking at me and smiling, I was choking, suffocating and feeling so incredibly awkward and perplexed. I opened the box and pull out three cards.

Three phone cards.

With pictures in the style above.

Remember phone cards? You could use them at pay phones to make calls without using change?

Tuan was grinning ear to ear. I was at once breathing a HUGE sigh of relief and, yet, more confused than ever. Why was he giving me phone cards?

"They are illustrations from the Lord of the Rings by the brothers Hildebrandt and I got them on Ebay!"

This was such foreshadowing of life to come. First of all, Tuan enjoys giving gifts. He puts a LOT of thought into them. Many times in our marriage, I've been utterly baffled by the time and thought put into gifts that I never would have asked for. Second, the man is an Ebay nut. Many times in our marriage, he has openly grumbled at the horrible inconvenience of buying something at the mall when he could just get it on Ebay. I get a LOT of Ebay gifts. Third, He loves Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings, especially. Now, at that time of life, I'd started both the Hobbit and the Trilogy and simply could not finish them (quelle horreur, I know). Naturally, I could never admit to anyone that I had failed to finish the pinnacle of reading, so I'm sure in a past conversation I had admitted to liking Tolkien, but at that time, I mostly remembered Tom Bombadil and Riddles in the Dark. I had no idea who Sauron was, much less Goldberry!

So there I was with these wonderful collectible phone cards that I knew must be treasured! I was also left with some great relief that he had not declared his love to me at Garfield's in front of his parents and my best friend.

We were still "Just friends."

During exam week, right before the Christmas holidays, Tuan called me from a pay phone in New Orleans. His mom had been in a terrible wreck and could I please go be at the hospital with his dad siblings until he could get there? I rushed to Forrest General and spent the next several days at the hospital with him and his family whenever I could get away. Again, I was getting to know my future in-laws, without the pressure of them being "my future in-laws."

That fall, my parents had moved from Collins to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida and I spent the holidays puttering around the Destin-Seaside area, knowing no one besides family and very eager for something to do. So, it was quite exciting when things fell into place for Tuan to come and stay a week with us. We had a lot of fun on the freezing beach and riding around in his Jeep. It was that very week that we exchanged our first Christmas gifts (in addition to the phone cards) and had our first fight.

Yes, our first fight. But Christmas gifts come first. He bought me Casablanca on DVD and I gave him Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--the Movie--on DVD. DVDS had just come out and were such a big deal!

There was no romance going on that week, but we did have conflict. One night, we were riding around and Tuan asked what we were doing for supper.

"Oh, yeah, my mom is making Nachos!" I was super excited. Nachos night was a big deal for our family.
"Nachos? For supper?! I have NEVER heard of that!" He exclaimed.

Our nachos involved meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, olives and so on and so forth. Tuan's idea of Nachos were the ballgame variety topped with cheese from a pump dispenser and topped with pickled jalapenos. Naturally he was befuddled. I, however, read into his statement and drew the conclusion that by questioning Nachos as an appropriate dinner option he was insulting me, my mother, my family traditions and probably a few other things.

Things in the Jeep got very quiet. I sort of turned my body to the door and we rode in stony silence. Fortunately at some point that night we reconciled and Tuan now considers nachos an acceptable meal option.

The Holidays ended and it was back to school for both of us. Tuan was living with some guys just off of LSU's campus and I was rooming with a super fun girl named Jeanine. We were always up to something and getting into scrapes and silly situations. Our next door neighbors were all on the USM Tennis team. They were all German, French, Swedish, Morroccan and very Continental. They were as pagan as they were good looking, which made our life very interesting, for sure! We didn't have a lot to do with them, but occasionally they'd wander into our apartment.

On the more appropriate friendship note, I had started going to church at Woodland Pres and was loving the families there as well as hanging out a good bit with Anna Griffith and Leigh Wilson. Anna was still in high school, but came to RUF with us and Leigh and I had met at RYM years ago, then reconnected at JCJC. Also going to Woodland were the "Carey Guys". A whole group of mostly Presbyterian fellows who were a little bit older than me and attending William Carey. A few of them became frequent Sunday afternoon visitors at our apartment and Jeanine and I were amazed at the quantities of food they'd devour at Sunday dinner! Josh Fortier was one of the Carey Guys. His dad had been our pastor years back and his mother, Mrs. Les was one of my favorite people ever. Getting to know Josh and his friend Troy was great fun. At that time, I began working as a janitor with some of them.

I could cover pages with stories of mine and Jeanine's adventures, but Valentine's eve of 2001 was not atypical of our crazy life. It was around eleven thirty, we had run to Wal-mart around ten to buy Valentine goodies to give out and a friend of Jeanine's was hanging around the apartment. The tennis team was wandering in and out of our apartment and we had just gotten absolutely tickled about some nonsense when the phone rang.

It was Tuan. And he asked me to be his Valentine.

Sigh. So sweet. Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the bedlam in our apartment, that I just kind of accepted and got off the phone. The next day, however, was Valentine's day and I walked around the whole day with a big smile on my face and Meg Ryan-ish narration playing in my head over and over about how: "I have a Valentine! I hear nothing, not a sound of the streets of New York. Just the beat of my own heart. I have a Valentine . . . you!" and of course the Cranberries song, "Dreams" was playing:

"Oh, my life is changing everyday,
In every possible way.
And oh, my dreams, it's never quiet as it seems,
Never quiet as it seems.
I know I've felt like this before, but now I'm feeling it even more,
Because it came from you.
And then I open up and see the person falling here is me,
A different way to be.
Ah, la da ah...
La... "

Oh, I was starting to wake up and smell the roses. Suddenly, I found myself staring at the phone and wondering why in the world Tuan had not called in days! I was totally on the line of "girls don't call boys" and would not dream of calling him. But, dang it, why hadn't he called!?!?

When he would come visit me in Hattiesburg and bring his siblings along (every single time--love you guys!), I began to inwardly grumble that I never got Tuan to myself.

It was still on again, off again feeling-wise, but the "ons" exceeded the offs by far.

Still, I was clinging to the dream of this perfect Presbyterian Reformed guy that I just knew God had in store for me. I was torn between this idealized guy who fit everything on the list and Tuan who fit nearly everything on the list except, you know, being Reformed!

As spring came, we both decided not to go back to Harvest. I applied for Twin Lakes and was hired--whoo-hoo! I was so excited to be working out there and several good friends were going to be working with me. Tuan had not made plans yet, but he called up one night and said, "you know, I just realized I do not want to be a computer engineer at all. I would hate that! What I really want to do is work at a camp." He needed to make some summer plans.

My friends Josh and Troy along with some of the other Carey Guys were all planning to go and work that summer at Ridgehaven in North Caroliina. I suggested that he apply there and go work with them.

A few nights later, Tuan called. He had printed out the Ridgehaven application and was filling it out, but he had a question.

"Shoot" said I.

"What in the world is the Westminster Confession of Faith? I have to agree to it in order to work at Ridgehaven."


Joey and Elizabeth said...

You are such a wonderful writer and this is completely cracking me up!!! Gracious... so, so ready for the next installment! d

Hooks Family said...

i am loving this story!!!! i check everyday to see if you have posted something else!