Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Story, Part II: In which I get a little help from my future in-laws

Did you know the original title of Pride and Prejudice was actually First Impressions? Jane Austen changed it when a book with the same title was published a few months earlier. I prefer the current title, but it does give you an idea of where she was going with the story... and how misleading our first impressions can be.

So I’ll admit, that while I originally found plenty of things I didn’t like about Jon in the beginning, I had him all wrong. And I had a lot of first impressions, as you saw in Part I. Jon, on the other hand, had no first impressions. He didn’t really notice me ... at all. But that was all about to change.

Jon didn’t get summers off while at the Coast Guard Academy. But he did have a few weeks to come home for a visit in July and August. While his dad was driving him home from school for break in 2002, he casually said “You know Jon, that Janine girl has really grown up and is quite cute.” According to a letter that Jon wrote me much later, he replied “Micah’s little sister? Dream on Dad!” Apparently all he remembered of me was that I had braces at one time and that I was a nerd. Definitely not “his type.”

But then he saw me in church the next day and was caught by surprise, "Where has she been my whole life?"  But he still, he didn't seem to think the future held much for the two of us together.  Clearly, I had more work to do. Thankfully I was not alone in my endeavors.

We have a great amusement park in Pennsylvania called Knoebels Grove. I have so many fond memories of hot summer days spent there. The T family was planning a visit there one Sunday afternoon and thought to invite my family along too. This was the first of many, many dual family get-togethers over the next few years. What started as a way to throw us together ended up growing into a fantastic familial friendship. Jon and I think it’s wonderful that our parents and siblings all get along so well. It certainly makes holidays and visits much easier on us!

So we spent the day together at Knoebels. Which is where I learned the first thing Jon and I had in common – a love for Twizzlers. It’s also when I realized that Jon doesn’t exactly do things in moderation – and that includes attacking an entire bag of licorice.

I was a little nervous about the whole day. I mean, obviously I wasn’t quite sure how I felt, and I certainly didn’t have any experience around big, bold football players. I brought along my best friend for support and did a pretty good job of ignoring Jon that day. I came home that night and wrote this in my journal:

July 31 2002
Went to Knoebels with the T’s. Yeah, Jon’s good looking, but I honestly don’t feel anything for him. Which is probably a good thing.

And then this a few days later:

August 6 2002
Mrs. T told mom that Jon said he’d “never noticed Janine before” and that my “hair is beautiful.” Owww!! Maybe I should switch things up and play hard to get.

Finally, I had made an impression! Jon liked my hair. Actually, years later I learned he actually liked some "other" features. But I like to keep this blog PG so we’ll stick with the “hair” story..


After Jon returned to the Academy, his mom mentioned that it would be nice if I wrote to him so he'd have a friend from home to keep in touch with. I’m not typically in the habit of writing boys that I don’t know very well. And by then technology and the Internet had rendered letter-writing a tad awkward. I opted to try to connect with him via IM, which was HUGE during my high school and college years. In fact, I credit my 90+ words per minute typing speed exclusively to the fact that I was “forced” to manage typed conversations with multiple people, faster than the speed of thought, on a daily basis. I also was not a phone-talker. Suffice it to say, IM was the way I got to know Jon in those early months. It was a great way for a shy girl like me to reach out to a handsome stranger. The best part is I thought to save the hundreds and hundreds of pages of IM conversations I had with my future husband. Maybe I’ll use them someday in my memoirs … but probably not. Being on my own for the first time at my new school must've given me a good dose a courage because I took a deep breath and sent him a little instant messenger “hi” the first chance I had.

August 30 2002
Well I talked to Jon on IM. I think we’re friends now. At first he didn’t know who I was – again. … So anyway, he’s cool to talk to.

Despite the fact that I had talked to him a few times before, and faithfully checked up on his screen name for the past two years, he apparently was not checking up on mine. I wrote the conversation off as a dud. But unbeknownst to me I had made an impact. Jon later told me that despite being back at school and busy with football the fact that his parents kept bringing me up remained in the back of his mind.  The night I reached out on IM he only got about two hours of sleep thinking me, him and the future.
And that was it. From that point on we chatted frequently and were soon on the road to becoming great friends.

Proud college girl and her trusty computer - the link to my one true love for 4 years.
September 5 2002
Jon said he either wants to go to Law School right after he graduates or he'll go right into at least 5 years of the Coast Guard. Looks like it will be a while before I get married. :)  He even said he should’ve taken me to his school dances. It’s about time Buddy!!

September 8 2002
Mel called. She talked to Mrs.T. and Mrs. T. told her that Jon and I talk a lot and that she thinks I’m “The One.” Haha! Yessss!!

September 25 2002
Took a wedding date predictor quiz. Jon said he doesn’t want to get married until he’s 28. Um, that will not fit into my schedule. We are too much alike. We just might kill each other.

October 17 2002
Had the best talk with Jon. He calls me "Curls." He sent me pictures so now all the girls on the hall can see my future husband. We talked about what I wanted to be, it’s hard to explain without coming right out and saying “your wife.” I just said I wanted to influence the masses, without being overly popular. He’s like “Politician – that’s my girl!”

The more we talked, the better we got to know each other and the better friends we became. In fact, we became very close in those conversations but hadn’t yet tested our friendship in the “real world.” The opportunity came soon enough. Jon’s parents were still hard at work finding him a wife and we both found out our families would be attending my little brother’s wrestling match when we were all home over Thanksgiving, then we went back to my parents’ house for good ‘ole apple pie and awkward conversation. In fact, I don’t know if we said more than a few words to each other the whole weekend. I certainly didn’t think enough of it to record anything in my journal. But we picked up right where we left off chatting online and on the phone when we got back to school.

At Jared's wresting match.  That's Jon in the right corner, and that's me trying my best to avoid him.

December 8 2002
Jon and I are insanely similar. We both want the same things out of life. We’d be good for each other.

A few weeks later I was back home again for Christmas break. Our Youth Group does theme Christmas parties each year, in 2002 the theme was a Redneck Christmas. Jon was not supposed to be there. Which is why I felt okay showing up like this:

I may have misinterpreted "redneck."
And which is why I was thoroughly shocked and embarrassed when I saw him standing inside the door. So embarrassed that I yet again hardly spoke a word to him until the end of the night when we discussed Christmas plans. I ended up having dinner at his parents’ house one night, we all went bowling together another night, spent New Year’s Eve on the ski slopes together, and went back to the slopes another time before the end of break.

Now, Jon is a skier. But he decided he was more than willing to try his hand at snowboarding if it meant spending the evening with me. So he did. And he did mighty fine I might add. I was also impressed by the effort Jon made to get to know my friends, all the church girls that he’d ignored for so many years before. I had to give him credit, he was definitely trying.

New Year’s Eve 2002
I think the night wen well. It was the first time Jon and I have hung out without family constantly around. I think we got to be better friends – hopefully. Either that or was completely appalled by my sometimes evident immaturity and “goofiness”. He’s a good friend.

It was also over Christmas that I came to learn Jon’s love language – gifts. One night I opened my car door and found a black and white picture of the Eiffel Tower on my car seat (I was collecting black and white pictures for my dorm). Another day he gave me a sketch he drew of Big Ben (since he knew I was dreaming of visiting England one day). And before he left he asked me for my address so he could send me another surprise gift when we got back to school! I had never met a guy that was just so … NICE!

January 3 2003
Jon’s a lot nicer than I would’ve ever thought. I’m not used to this. But still – it’s way too soon to find the person that I’ll be committed to the rest of my life. Especially if nothing can really happen for another 3-4 years.

My reluctance and indecision would soon be called to the forefront. Little did I know that, a few weeks after Christmas break, I would be receiving much more than a “gift” in the mail.


JSS said...

I am so loving these narratives! Keep the diary details coming!

Teva Beasley said...

OH my GOSH the suspense. Hurry write part three.

abigail said...

This is SO cute. It's so funny to go back and see what we wrote and thought; confession: I've got some fun recollections with my husband, too ;) it almost seems like there should be a blog for Door marriages...
love it! keep it coming!!

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