He untied my shoelaces and that was it. I knew then and he knew it, too.
When I tell the story, I remember the details. The way my head laid against the dorm room wall, cradling the phone, as I smiled and tried to remember the real name of the boy we called Tico. The girls across the hall, behind their own door, stifling giggles with hand-covered mouths. The MASH games (girls in Bible college play this best, because there is no harm, no sin in it) that had us living in Vegas, driving a blue Honda with four children and an apartment.
Part of that came true. There were four children, though only three are here with us. There was a Honda, though it was red and lived in Oak Park, IL where our love first creaked and groaned under the strain of imperfect unity and immature lovers. There have been apartments, and houses, and more apartments, yet still no Vegas. There was Chicago, and Kansas City, and Dublin instead, even more unexpected than Vegas could ever be.
But I digress. The details are this: He had a side part and I had uncombed curls (the image above is a rarity: I presume I combed it just because I knew I'd see him). He wore ties and I wore plaid flannel. His were creased khakis and mine were combat boots and a skirt with poppies. He'd had no heartbreak and the sutures on mine were just beginning to heal.
In chapel, my feet were on his chair, before I knew his name. He untied the shoelaces and I looked at him and thought without thinking, "Surely not him. He has no idea." When the giggles and the whispers hushed and I sat down beside him on that next day, he looked at me, called me his future wife, and in that moment it was us
against the world,
the giggling girls,
the frowning boys,
the painful past,
the unsure future,
the parents who no doubt would be doubtful,
against all odds.
It wasn't angry unity, but a united front. Thick and thin. Through my pain and his arrogance, to think it would be easy but to know for certainty that it would not.
And here it is: together we are nearly 12... still children, with growing pains and changing voices. His is stronger now and mine is singing new songs. We don't yet know who we will be or where we will go or how long it'll take us to get there. But between the two of us and the children we try to lead and protect as the divine gifts they are, we make no mistake:
He is the father here, following the Father of our future, and I am the mother who sings the songs that point us Home.