All dressed up with someplace to go on June 17, 1998
Once Peter got the green light to take me out, he spent the next couple of days planning ways to make it special. He prearranged for a rose to be brought out to me at a local coffee shop. He gave me his diaries to read (my oh my how I blushed when I read those), took me to dinner at a family-run Italian restaurant, and ended the evening with a rousing game of Putt-Putt. It was a lovely evening, but it was totally awkward until we arrived at Putt-Putt and started acting like friends again. We laugh about how it was our first, last, and only "date". We're just not "dating" people. We were friends who liked to hang out and somehow we ended up finding each other and getting to pal around for the rest of our lives - life doesn't get much better than that in my book. At any rate, after cutting our Putt-Putt game short so we would be home before 10:00, we had achieved a level of "officialness" to our relationship in my dad's eyes.
Here I am with the rose that Peter arranged for the waiter to give me at the coffee shop
Two days after our date I was on an old school bus and headed to Merritt Island, FL for two weeks of Boot Camp with Teen Missions International (TMI). At that point I was very torn - now that I was in love with Peter I wanted to spend all my time with him, and yet I was excited about the opportunity to spend the summer in Italy. On top of that, I was more than ready to get away from home for a while after all the stress that had been going on because of our developing relationship. Peter was very supportive of me going and encouraged me to make the most of the experience. Even when we were apart Peter continued to encourage me - I got at least one letter a day, every day, all summer long! At the end of boot camp I got a huge surprise when the director of Moody Aviation showed up with a gift for me, encased in a strange PVC-pipe contraption. When he learned that the director was going down to TMI to set up a college booth for the final week-end of boot camp, Peter arranged for him to bring a gift to me that would perk me up after two weeks of h-e-double-hockey-sticks-ifyouknowwhatImean. I opened the PVC container (which Peter made) and found a beautiful pink rose! Here are some photos of Peter packing the container and me receiving the container (along with the "delivery man" from Tennessee!):
I was so dirty! I'm forever thankful to Mr. Robinson for carrying that special delivery down to me from Tennessee to Florida!
After I left for TMI several things happened that made me thankful I was gone. There were some more blow-ups on the home front over us and then, while I was in Italy, my mom was diagnosed (by my father - a pathologist) with cancer. It's a pretty amazing story (that I never even heard about until after I arrived back in the States) and Peter was there standing in my place while I was gone. Major brownie points and he earned my dad's respect. I think Dad realized for the first time that Peter wasn't just there to take his daughter away, he was there to become part of the family. Peter did whatever needed to be done and whatever he thought I would have done had I been there. He spent hours sitting in the hospital, celebrated family birthdays, handled car maintenance needs and more. He also took it upon himself to speak to each of my four older siblings about us and to see how they felt about him pursuing me. He wanted to know their concerns, thoughts, and comments about us, and he wanted the opportunity to share with them how he felt about me and to express that he wanted the best for me. It was something he certainly didn't have to do, but once I found out about him doing it, I loved him all the more.
Peter rode to NC with my brother in this little Geo Metro and got an earful about our relationship on the trip! :-)
While Peter was working full-time, writing me daily, and taking care of things on the family front, I was busy learning lessons in patience and trusting God over in Italy. I survived TMI Boot Camp and can honestly say that in all of our travels around the world, I have never experienced anything harder or worse that those two weeks in Florida - so I guess TMI did their job by teaching me that I was tougher than I thought. My team had lots of problems, not the least of which was poor leadership (possibly one of the reasons I'm so passionate about good leadership now) and a lack of a project once we arrived in country. I had a very small amount of free time and this resulted in Peter getting two letters from me all summer (remember that he wrote me daily). Although Peter continued to build the relationship from his end (and I fell more in love with him with each letter), he was working on blind faith that I still felt the same way since he never heard from me.
Here I am working on some hillside steps at the church in southern Italy
All summer long I had been building up in my mind the way that our reunion would play out. I would leave my team in NYC and get on an airplane - by myself, something that was a big deal to me - and fly home. At the airport I would be reunited with Peter for the first time in front of all my family and some friends. It would be movie-perfect. There are so many dangers with building up something like that...mostly that reality likes to slap your fantasy in the face. My sweet Peter made arrangements the night before I flew home to fly to NYC and surprise me. Well, it was a surprise alright...to both of us. First of all, he didn't recognize me because over the summer I had eaten like there was no tomorrow and between that and my newly found muscles, I had put on 17 lbs. in only eight weeks. Since I wasn't expecting him, I was on my way out the door to change airports when I heard my team members (who knew all about Peter and had seen pictures of him) yell, "It's Peter!" Sure enough, I turned around and there was Peter with a dozen pink roses in one hand - staring at me. A forgotten plane ticket, a couple of drastic announcements (Mine: "we won't be kissing or touching until the wedding" and His: "your mom had cancer while you were gone"), serious culture shock, and about fifty-six misunderstandings later we arrived at my home airport to a crowd of happy family members. We were anything but happy, and we were trying to smile while wondering if there was a future for us. The next two weeks were the closest we ever came to calling it quits.
Wondering if buying that wedding dress was a mistake...
To be continued in Part 8...
I'm loving that you're taking forever to tell your story. I've known my husband since kindergarten (believe it or not) and I would totally take a ton of posts to tell our story too. I appreciate that there are others in the world like me. :D.ReplyDelete
This is cracking me up. Love it. Keep going...;)ReplyDelete
I don't know if you've seen Dumb and Dumber or not, but the fact that you told him there wasn't a chance until maybe 10 years, etc. reminds me of when Mary tells Jim Carrey (I forget his character name), "Not a chance in a million", and he gets all excited because, hey, there's a chance in a million! :)ReplyDelete