I left you hanging a little bit last week (read the post here), but to recap, I spent the summer in South Africa as our friendship grew through emails and phone calls. At the end of my time there, Nathan called me one day and told me that he was interested in being more than friends when I came back home. I wasn't surprised (he'd spent a lot of time and money calling me over the summer!), but I was extremely excited.
When school was starting again, Nathan left for Blacksburg a few days early and stopped in Roanoke, where I lived at the time. That was our first official date! He took me to Olive Garden (and totally embarrassed me by asking in front of the waitress if I wanted to sit in the smoking section of if I'd 'kicked the habit!') and we ate breadsticks and talked. After that, we hung out at the mall and walked around for a little while. To be honest, it was a little awkward going from typing and halted phone calls to being with each other, but somehow it just worked. We left as friends, but I was hoping it wouldn't be that way for long :)
The day before school started I moved into the dorms, and Nathan took me out on a date I'll never forget. He picked me up on a rainy Thursday evening with a carnation in his hand, wearing a bright blue polo. After that we went to Outback so I could finally have the steak I'd been craving all summer. At the end of the night, he drove over to a little hill and we walked to the top, watching the sun set together. He had planned to say something else, but what slipped out at the end was, "Will you be my girl?" I said yes, so excited about the prospect of our future, as the sun slipped below the horizon.
When I look back on it now, I had no idea what I was doing, or who I even was. I had talked to Nathan all summer and knew him a little, but there was so much I had to learn about both him and myself. In all honesty, I probably would've advised someone in my shoes to wait a little while and get to know him in person before we started dating. At the time, we wanted very different things in life. I desired to travel the world and never settle down. He wanted to work at the Newport News shipyard the rest of his life.
We were such different people, and in a lot of ways we still are. Both of us readily admit that we were not looking for anyone like each other. Nathan wanted to marry a quiet, shy, engineer, and I thought I would never get married or find someone who loved adventure and travel. To this day, I have no idea how we started dating, but I know looking back on it that it was God who brought us together despite our stark differences, and for that reason I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we were meant to be together for the rest of our lives.
Each week I'm including some pictures of the first few years we were together. They aren't professional or perfect, but I cherish them so much, just looking back at the people we used to be.
Next week: the struggles we faced in our dating relationship. Stay tuned!