Yesterday marked two years of knowing Bradley, and since then not a day has passed without my talking to him at least once. That weekend two years ago was wild, fantastic, amazing. Today, I’m putting finger to keys and making it blog history. It’ll have to be in parts, because it’s just that detail-intensive wonderful to us.
I’ll give you Her perspective. And I’ll give you His.
Here’s our story.
14 July 2012
Looking back, I can pinpoint the moment I realized something changed.
I was on my return flight, flying 23,000 feet over Indiana, or maybe Ohio. I laid down my book on the plastic, fold-out tray table in front of me. Just four days earlier, on my outbound flight to Chicago, I couldn’t put the book down. Traced with unexpected romance, adventure and the stamp of the New York Best Sellers list, I clung to every page. But in this moment, on my return flight to Baltimore, all I could think about was the whirlwind adventure of the past weekend and how something felt different. I turned over the question in my mind, what happens when your life becomes better, more exciting, than the book you’re reading?
I got a call, five days prior, from my friend Melanie’s (spoiler alert on that link*) parents in Chicago, asking if they could fly me in for the weekend to surprise Mel for her 21st birthday. I jumped at the opportunity, took off work, threw my best dresses, heels, and make-up bag into an overnight bag and jetted off to the “Windy City” for a weekend of celebration.
It was a Wednesday.
Stepping off the plane at O’Hare I let out a deep breath and said a prayer that I would be open to whatever the next few days held. I wanted to be present and selfless. So I prayed, “God, please help me to be my best self, the woman you’ve called me to be. Help me to be totally selfless this weekend. Holy Spirit, please guide me in my thoughts, words and actions so that I may do what is pleasing to you.”
After surprising Mel, the next couple days were all birthday festivities, including: pedicures, VIP treatment at Fulton’s on the River, family time with the Woods, out with friends (aayhem, shout out to Katie & Maggie), bloody marys, and late night chats. We had the best time just going with the flow.
Friday night, Mel, a few of her closest friends and I were celebrating at The Apartment, a college bar in downtown Lincoln Park. (This is post our super fancy sit down at the Peninsula Chicago, and checking in at our hotel!) Leaning over the crowed, wooden island bar of that shabby bar, we ordered drinks.
Salt. Tequila. Lime. Laughter.
A few guys approached us. We politely responded “Hello” and then made it clear we weren’t interested. I was there for Mel and had no intention of talking to any guy, whatsoever.
Just past the two men who, to our dismay, were still talking to us, I spotted a guy who stood about a foot taller than me, had brown, wavy hair, and was approaching me. With his button-down shirt, green eyes and warm smile he looked like a gentleman. He radiated confidence as he brushed past the two other men and placed one arm on the bar in front of me.
“What’s up? What’s up?” he said as we locked eye contact.
“What’s up? What’s up?” Hah, well I’d never heard that one before.
“Hello.” I responded shortly.
After two minutes or less of “How are you” and “Where are you from” small talk, I finally asked, “How many kids do you have in your family?” (This may seem sudden or awkward but as the second eldest of ten children my family, and faith, has been the center of my life. Just as a football enthusiast might ask someone their favorite NFL team when they first meet someone new, I ask about family.)
“We have eleven… and my mom is pregnant,” he responded.
“No way! I have nine, and my mom is pregnant!” (I’d raised my voice from the excitement.)
I lit up. For once, someone had beaten me.
“Are you Mormon or something?” he asked, half jokingly.
“No. Are you Mormon?
“No, I’m Roman Catholic,” he responded confidently.
“You’re Roman Catholic? I’m Roman Catholic.” (My voice was still gaining intensity.)
Within three minutes of meeting this guy at the bar, we bonded over the two most important elements of our lives that had shaped the people we were up to that day.
He lit up.
14 July 2012
We were in South Bend, and Chris told us about some alumni event in Chicago. So, we contacted all the rugby guys.
Katrina (spoiler alert on that link also*)… and her sister… and her cousin, went early with Ryan to do Mudders. We all met at the hotel and went to the Toms’ apartment that’s on the lake, by the Bean.
Friday night, David and I went out with Chris. This is the beginning of the night at the Lion’s Head. We had to pick up a whole bunch of alumni gear to help Chris prep for the event. When we got there the place was pretty empty; we were some of the only guys at first. It was really mellow, with a bunch of Notre Dame guys and girls eventually showing up. I didn’t want him to go, but a little later on, Chris left.
Whenever I’d been to Chicago, David and I just wanted to have a lot of fun. The point being- it was always about me and David, and he’d never pushed me to talk to a girl, or anything like that. It was always just fun, and never about girls. That changed this night.
We went upstairs to the Apartment. We’d done this “what’s up? what’s up?” thing. We were really goofy with it, and it was kinda our thing that summer. So, David turns to me. He says, “ok, we’re going around this bar. You go that way. I’ll go this way. I’ll meet you on the other side. Talk to everyone you see.”
It was ridiculous, and just really funny.
I never did talk to anyone. I just remember seeing you, but of course I didn’t know it was you yet. You turned around talking to your friends, maybe asking one of them what to order. You turned back around again, surrounded by two guys. You never really talked to them; they were talking to you.
I just saw you and thought, “oh my gosh, she’s gorgeous.” I couldn’t believe it.
It felt like one of those movies… One of those high school movies… Where the girl walks in and everyone stares. I was supposed to be walking around, meeting David on the other side, but I was just standing there, staring at you.
No, we didn’t meet at Church, or through any of our combined 20 siblings. More to come Friday.
[The birthday girl on that fateful weekend. PS, Happy Belated Birthday, Mel!]
[Blurry, but oh well. A chance meeting, at some random bar, in Chicago]