Even though she told me she's a Cubs fan (sacrilege!), I'm happy to share Danielle's story of love in the time of summer camp with you all.
Want to submit your TIHWM story? Check out the guidelines here.
Every summer in high school I attended a co-ed Christian camp where we worshiped with arms raised, talked about the immodesty of tank tops thinner than two-fingers' thickness, and learned how to be young men and women after God's own heart (in no particular order). The memories of my adolescent coming of age and coming to Christ are some of the fondest I have. It was at camp that I swayed on the worn, wooden swing near the lake, writing and praying in the early mornings before reveille. It was at camp that I cultivated some of my most deep and enduring friendships. It was at camp that I began writing love letters to my future husband. And it is at camp that I met the love of my life and my best friend, my husband Mike.
Month one: we meet. The summer after my first year of college I served as a camp counselor for the first time. One of my best friends since my first year at camp, who was several years older, introduced me to one of the new counselors, a tanned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy with board shorts and a cartilage piercing who had attended college with my friend. I didn't think much of this hunk until my friend ever so unsubtly chimed, "Dani, Mikey thinks you're cute." (For the record, she is the only one who could ever call us Dani and Mikey.)
Month two: we go on a non-date. A month later, my friend-turned-conniving matchmaker hosted a post-camp party. In the midst of playing games, we somehow started watching repeats of SNL Celebrity Jeopardy. Teary-eyed and with a knotted stomach from laughing so hard, I spotted Mike looking over at me, amused and enraptured with my response. It stuck with him because a week or so later, he asked to grab coffee. But I made it abundantly clear beforehand that it was a non-date since we would be just friends. Four hours later, just a cup of coffee had not only turned into a blossoming friendship, but also into a lifetime of deep relationship. We gave a (lingering) hug goodbye as I headed home and then headed back to college.
Month three: we begin to date long-distance. We began talking almost every day. Then one day Mike calls me, telling me that he is interested in pursuing a relationship and that even though it will be difficult long-distance, I'm worth it. I'm so nervous and giddy and smiley that my teeth hurt. Over the phone, hundreds of miles apart, we begin officially dating. It even became Facebook official.
Month four: we have our first in-person, official date. A month later, I came home to run the marathon. Mike picked me up for the airport and braved almost two hours of traffic to head downtown for our first real date. (I later realized how much this meant because this small-town boy cannot -- I repeat -- cannot handle city traffic.) We walked hand-in-hand and had our first kiss under the metallic, abstract sculpture in the middle of the park (you Chicagoans know what I'm talking about!). Afterwards, we headed to his place to make homemade pesto pasta as we slow-danced to the first song on the mix I made him -- what many months later would be the song for our first dance.
Month eleven: we get engaged near the wooden swing at camp. We had talked about it for months. First in lofty hypotheticals. Then thinking about the practicality given that we would be long distance for at least two more years while I finished college. Then talking with my parents. His parents. Our friends. Pastors and counselors. Tentatively supportive, my parents put Mike through the gauntlet. A week later, we said our first "I love you"s as Mike slipped the ring on my hand and we embraced next to the wooden swing near the lake at camp. God has a funny way of bringing some things full-circle.
Photo by Beyond the Well
Month thirty-five: we become one in marriage. (Yes, you did the math correctly. We were engaged for almost two very long years.) Last June, surrounded by family and friends in a gorgeous, lily white church, we promised to love and cherish one another all the days of our lives in this holy, mysterious, fun, challenging, and life-giving journey from two to one.
Danielle blogs at from two to one about marriage, feminism, and faith and is especially interested in developing relationships among other self-identified feminists who practice their faith traditions. Connect with her via her blog, Twitter, or Facebook.