7 Years

October 9, 2005 at 3:45 pm (Personal)

Thursday was Calvin and I’s “7-year anniversary”. Well, 7 years since the day we first talked online. I can hardly believe that we’ve known each other that long. Calvin mentioned to me yesterday that my little brother, who is 10 now, will probably never remember a time when Calvin wasn’t in my life. That struck me as rather amazing. You’ll have to forgive me, but I have to reminisce a little. Chances are no one really wants to read our entire history, given that most people who read this blog know it anyways…but I don’t write in this blog for other people, though I’m honored that people feel it worth enough of their time to read it. So…I’m going to write it anyways, and no one is forcing anyone to wade through this!

I don’t know when it was exactly that I first “met” Calvin on CTN (christianteens.net), meaning, the first time I read one of his posts and knew he existed. But I do remember on October 6th, 1998, when that little “uh-oh” came through my computer speakers, and I double-clicked, and there it was: unbeknownst to me then, the first words my future husband would ever “speak” to me. “Hi Jade, this is Calvin from the messageboard. I know it says Faramir, but Calvin was already used so much so I used that.” (or something like that) “Hello,” I said, “How are you?” “Good! So, what do you think of Vince’s thing with…” And thus, we launched into the first conversation we had, which was about some atheist on the board who was trying to corrupt all the poor Christian teens, which led into some discussion about theology, though I don’t remember what exactly about. And from there, we began ICQ’ing fairly regularly, always discussing this or that on the board, theology, and our faith.

At that time, my family and I were living with my mom’s parents in Maryland while my dad, having just retired from the military, tried to find a civilian job. I spent hours in their basement on our computer, typing away in chat rooms, the messageboard, and with increasing frequency, with this passionate 13 year old boy named Calvin. Then, about 2 months later, my dad found a job, and we moved to Virginia.

I was out of contact with Calvin for a few weeks, I think, while we moved. I remember how happy I was when I got back on the computer, finally, and Calvin was there. I hadn’t even told him we would be gone, our internet aquantainceship was so new. He has since told me I was on his mind during that time, wondering where I had gone, and missing our conversations. Anyways, when we got settled in, I began (though it had started earlier, when we moved at the end of my 9th grade year to my grandmother’s) one of the hardest times in my life. I had no friends, I hated my school, I hated life. I wanted to die quite frequently, though I doubt I ever would have killed myself. Calvin was a fantastic friend to me during that time. In fact, I find it amazing that he continued our friendship after he realized just how depressed I was – he suffered through my mood swings, tears, and pain as true as a friend of many years could be, after having only known me for months.

By this time, we were messaging pretty much daily. I got home from school, and almost immediately, I was on the computer, opening up ICQ, and feeling a thrill of excitment at seeing that the little flower that represented his name was green, as our conversations were the highlight of my otherwise depressing days. Our internet friendship quickly, as often happens on the internet, grew into a deeper, more intimate friendship, and soon we were the best of friends, before we had ever even heard each other’s voice or knew what the other looked like. We discussed everything from (what was then to us) deep theology and our faith, to relationships, and the daily, common things of our lives. We planned for how we were going to serve God one day in ministry (separately, of course!), and shared our struggles, pains, and successes. Without him, I’m not sure my faith would have survived that time during my life. It is nearly impossible, I think, to be a Christian alone, and I was a Christian alone, during that time, with the exception of Calvin. We fueled each other’s passion for God and ministry, and carried each other’s burdens. We also discussed our favorite foods, colors, animals, our hobbies, likes, dislikes, pet peeves, thrills…you name it.

We used to say we had “everything” in common. We would continually be finding out the next thing that we both enjoyed. We played games together online, argued over whether Pepsi or Coke was better (one of the few things we didn’t have in common, at the time!) and just did the things that best friends did together, within the confines of a long-distance friendship over the internet. He became an inseperable part of my life.

I knew that he was a great guy, and I quickly also began to wonder if there was ever a possibility of anything more than a friendship between us. But, it was a small, nigling feeling that I often journeled about trying to forget. It seemed hopeless, and besides…I had said I “loved” too many boys in my past, and I had determined after the last one, that I would never say I loved anyone again until I decided I wanted to marry them. So, our friendship continued to grow platonically.

It was 6 months after I met him that I realized just how deeply ingrained he was in my life, and perhaps, how much I really liked him more than just friends. He decided that he liked a girl from his youth ministry, and I was crushed. Despite all my mental attempts to push any romantic notions out of my mind, it was obvious, sub-conciously, I didn’t do a very good job. Doubts, and fears, and all sorts of negative emotions about our relationship began to come up. Not only did I feel the typical broken-heartedness that he liked someone else, but I suddenly became terrified of ever losing him. I began to see the future of our relationship in realistic terms: we knew each other online – online! One day, we would grow up, and he would go off to college, meet his future wife, and I would be left in the dust, abandoned, hurt, alone, having lost, worst of all, my dearest friend on the earth. My struggle with my feelings for him began with that event in full force, and didn’t stop until, years later, the day he told me in no uncertain terms that he had every intention of “courting” me one day. It didn’t take too long, however, for him to come to the realization that this girl was not the type that he could be with because of her lack of love for God, and at least that part of my struggle was assauged. My fears of it happening again though, for real the next time, forever, haunted me sub-conciously, if not always conciously, every day.

But, most of the time, life went on as normal, and our friendship continued, if possible, to get even deeper after he abandoned the notion of the “other” girl. Finally, 10 months after we had met online, I got my chance to see him in person. His family was going down to Florida to bring back up his grandmother, and they just happened to be going right past my house. In what was a whirl of events, his dad and my dad negotiated, and arranged for them to stop by and visit for a few hours. I was delighted, as was he. We were going to meet in person, at last! The visit was short, tense, and extremely nerve-racking. Though we had discussed anything under the sun, suddenly, a real, live, person made me extremely nervous. I was an extremely shy person (still am introverted by nature, but not quite as shy), and suddenly, having him there in front of me drew out my shyness.

After that meeting, I think both of us suddenly realized that perhaps, seeing each other in person more often was a real possibility, and with that, the thought of more of a relationship must have occured to him as a real possibility, because shortly after that visit, at merely 14 and 16 years old, we had an awkward conversation about why we couldn’t have a romantic relationship at that point (he, especially, was too young, and it just wasn’t the right time, we both felt). So, with that thought put on the back-burner, neither of us really sure if it would ever be revived again, we continued our friendship like normal. The conversation we had affected little, if anything in our relationship, except that every once in awhile, when we got onto the topic of relationships in general or something that our parents had said about us (very wise parents who saw our marriage coming down the line a million miles away, I think), the awkward topic was touched on accidently again, and set aside quickly.

And of course, did we ever test the waters! I would have denied it vehemenently then, but even reading back over (the nice thing about ICQ…message histories!) our conversations from before we met in person, especially after the “crush indident,” I can see how we flirted off and on, always trying to push just a little and see if the other person still felt the same way – just enough to be reassured or (more likely in my case) depressed that it was hopeless, and then to back off and let it rest.

I eventually got over my shyness of being with him in person, as we met again over Christmas break that same year, and then again the next summer, and after that, every 3 or 4 months we managed to convince our parents to drive one way or the other to see each other, for some excuse or another. I also eventually got over the depression of my 10th grade year in school, and moved on with a normal, generally happy life. I went to his family’s New Year’s Eve party in 2000, and from then on out. It was that New Year’s that my never-ending struggle to give my feelings for him to God and let Him have control of the situation, whatever that may have been, finally saw some relief.

At some point late in those first two years in our friendship, I finally decided that I loved him, and with that, that I wanted to marry him. And all this at age 17, and him at age 15! What an odd two we were, that’s for sure. Of course, this decision only added to my anxiety that he wouldn’t feel the same way when the time came to finally move our relationship beyond friendship. But that New Year’s, for some reason, perhaps because he could see the anxiety in me, and wanted to calm my fears, or maybe he just thought it a good time to reveal the bit of information that he had every intention on asking me to “court” one day, but he just didn’t know when, as he was not ready (only *just* 16!) and it was not God’s timing to have that relationship right then. I was elated, of course, but resigned to waiting for him patiently. (Did you think that would relieve my fears? Hardly – I always wondered if perhaps he would change his mind at some point, and not tell me!)

That year was my Senior year in high school, and I decided that I had to go to Prom, as I had never been to another dance, and I couldn’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event, and so, naturally, I invited Calvin to go with me as just friends. He agreed, and his dad likewise agreed to bring him down for the event. Oddly enough, I had just a month before Prom finally, I think, really been able to be calm and patient about the whole affair, able to lay him down and wait on God’s timing with true contetment. Little did I know, that somewhere in that timeframe, Calvin asked my dad permission to court me, and made his preperations for when he would ask me.

I was completely not expecting it – but he sat me down outside of J.C. Penny with a Auntie Anne’s pretzel and a drink, the night before Prom, and told me that there was something he needed to tell me. I know my face went white – at least, he said it did, and I think I felt like my heart had stopped. No, not because I thought he was about to finally make my heart’s desire come true, but because I was suddenly certain he was about to tell me he had decided that it wasn’t God’s will for us to be together and that I could stop waiting for him! (I have never been an overly optimistic person, as you can tell!) Instead, he told me that he loved me, and that he would like to move our relationship beyond friendship into a courtship that might one day lead to marriage. I was struck dumb, and I think he was concerned at first that I was going to say no! At any rate, obviously I didn’t say no, and we walked around the mall in silence (or rather I did anyways, staring at the ground in complete shock) and then stopped by Wawa so I could tell my dear friend Beth, who had been there from the beginning, the good news. I don’t really remember what happened after that. I think we just went to bed.

The next day, we took a walk out to a grassy hill near where I lived, on the side of the road, and discussed such things as physical boundaries – how uncomfortable that conversation was! Either there or back, I asked shyly if it would be moving too fast to hold his hand, and he said no, not at all, so we did – held hands for the first time. I get a thrill just thinking about those first days as a “couple,” no longer “just friends,” though certainly still best friends! Then, we went out to eat and to Prom – what I thought was just going to be just as friends, turned out to be our first date!

And the rest, of course, is history – we went to college – the same college – and our Sophomore year he asked me to marry him, and at the end of our Junior year, we got married, and have been married for over a year now. I look back fondly at the beginning of our relationship, and am so glad that we spent all that time “just friends,” as hard as it was, because I think we have a rock solid foundation of a intimate friendship that began centered around Christ and has continued to be so ever since.

Many people would say I’m wierd for determining that I wanted to marry Calvin before we ever even dated, but, why, I must ask, do you need to date someone to know that they are the person for you? What does having a romantic relationship add to the mix that being the best of friends doesn’t? Perhaps the ability to talk about the relationship, and where it’s headed, and the ability to express affection through romantic means, but how can that possibily affect whether or not the person is the person you want to marry? I don’t know – but I do know that but I can honestly say without a doubt, that had Calvin asked me to marry him outside of J.C. Penny’s, though all we were was best friends, I would have said yes without hesitation. Yes – from friends to engaged – how odd!

Well, I’ve rambled enough – I’m sure I lost most everyone about through the 3rd paragraph, but, it has been fun for me to reminisce, and I honestly don’t talk about Calvin and I’s relationship *that* much on here! So, I’ll just leave with one parting word (well, phrase):

I LOVE YOU CALVIN!!!!

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4 Comments

  1. Calvin said,

    I LOVE YOU TOO! *raises glass of wine he is still too young to drink* To another seven years.

  2. Diana said,

    Congratulations guys! Aww….

  3. Adam said,

    MANDY!!! E-mail me, sister. I tried to write you at the address you’ve got associated with your profile at CCN, but I don’t think it worked. breathing.by.grace-at-gmail.com.

  4. Jessica said,

    Oh Mandy! What a lovely story. One I have never heard before. You are beautiful! Congrats on your ann.!!!

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