engagement nuzzle

“Lord, help me to love him as your child in Christ–as a brother in Christ–even if we aren’t romantically meant to be together.”

An avid blogger, I also read blogs like crazy.  I found a blog post that I wish I could find again; the poster discussed her heart about dating and a prayer that she had prayed before she went on a date with a new guy.  She said that she prayed that she would see men not as an object to seek, but as fellow brothers in Christ.  This struck me and I searched my heart. About 10 second before Seth rang the doorbell, I whispered this prayer with a Swiffer duster in my hand.

If you didn’t already, you should read the story of how I met Seth.  Before I continue, in fact, it’s important that you do so.

After a two-month online courtship, Seth drove down for a weekend visit with me.  The plan? He stayed with a friend in Cincinnati while visiting me in Northern Kentucky during the day.  He arrived on a Friday afternoon and left after lunch on that Sunday.  I remember the first day most vividly.

I walked down the fourteen carpeted steps to the hardwood floor landing.  I could see his outline through the window shades.  I opened the door to find him standing there.  Awkwardly.

To say I have no poker face would be an understatement.  I was disappointed.  And my face showed it.

The man before me wore a polo, khaki shorts, and white socks all the way up past his ankles.  His forehead: ginormous.  And he said, “Hey” with a hesitant and shy demeanor.  His voice wasn’t very deep, which struck me.  And he was clearly very nervous.

Then I noticed that he had flowers in hand.  As he came into my condo, he gently and generously awarded me the fresh, pink roses.  I blushed and immediately began trimming them for their new home: a vase my mother had given me.  I asked how his drive down was as we stood in my kitchen, trimming rose stems and arranging the flowers carefully.

Now let me stop here for a second.  I need to acknowledge a few things.  First: my first impression was not stellar.  I admit it.  I didn’t find him particularly attractive, but I also didn’t find him repulsive by any stretch.  He could tell that my first impression wasn’t as favorable as hoped and this made him more nervous.  Secondly, I admit: meeting at my condo wasn’t the brightest move.  Maybe we should have met somewhere in public, but after two months of email interaction, I didn’t feel worried.  Still: that wasn’t the brightest move in my life.  Sorry, Mom.

Our plans were to go to a local park and see the Bison preserve.  So, I drove us to the park on that 92-degree day with two ice cold bottles of water in hand.  We started down the major path I had planned that goes from the upper park to the lower park.

Whadya know? A recent storm had downed some trees across the path, just after the part where the Bison are fenced in and there were no Bison to be seen.

Fail. Times two.

In the process, our arms brushed up against each other and there was this awkward moment: Do we want to hug?  Neither of us could tell if the other was going to hug the other, so we sort of awkwardly side-hugged.  He was sweaty.  And did I mention awkward?  I couldn’t get over his socks.  How could such a fit guy have such non-sporty socks?

So, the hug was not quite a fail, but not a success, really.  Side hug.  Not exciting.  Rebecca, this is the lamest first date story ever. I know.  But hang with me.

After the awkward hug moment, we walked up the path and after about three minutes, realized the heat was prohibitive of enjoying the out of doors for too long; headed to the upper area where the Bison were kept.  As luck would have it, the Bison were on the other side of the area, far away.

Fail again.

This wasn’t quite a success, but we were having enjoyable conversations.  I was learning that this guy, while awkward, was nice and well spoken.  He had good manners and I felt safe and important and appreciated.  I guess a nervous guy on a first date is not very intimidating, which helps the girl.

Like true explorers we watched the Bison from afar.  They were doing absolutely nothing in the intense heat.

In favor of getting out of the hot and into the comfortable on this so-far less-than-amazing date we headed back to my place because I was not creative enough to think of a place to go that was public.  Real creative, Rebecca. Good job. Um, no.

So, since we were ahead of schedule, we decided to put in a movie: Finding Nemo.  Yup, the first movie we ever watched as adults who were dating was Finding Nemo.  We sat on my soft, pinkish couch and watched a movie I could probably watch over and over again. And I have.

After the movie, things got really sweet.  Seth taught me how to make French toast.  Don’t make fun of me, here.  I didn’t know it was that simple; I had only had the treat at restaurants and I thought they were special and extravagant treats.  So, we made French toast for dinner, cooked sausage until it was a burned hockey puck, and sipped on orange juice.

Are you still reading this? Yeah, first dates are sometimes silly stories to tell.  But, frankly, the end of our first date is the part that you want to get to, so let me fast forward through the part where we started over on the sausage and ate our fill.

We returned to my pink couch for our first romantic movie: Must Love Dogs.  Now, what’s a first date without a little cuddling?  Right?  That’s how I felt, anyway, so when the movie came on and the sun went down, I moved in for what I thought was romantic cuddling, PG-style.  Nothing gross.  Gosh, no groping.  I mean, he’s a pastor.  I wasn’t looking to be gross or anything.  Just innocent cuddling.

This is where Seth got super nervous.  I could literally feel his heartbeat.  He didn’t freeze up, but I was literally moved by his heart beating.  This lasted the entire movie.  To this day, every time I hear his sweet heart beat, I think of that evening.

Unfortunately, this sort of weirded me out.  At the end of the movie, we just sat there for a bit and I quietly said, “Relax,” as he was holding me.

His reply: “How can I relax when you’re so beautiful!?”

Sweet, right?  What’s that line? “Find a man who calls you beautiful instead of hot.”  Yeah, I’d heard that line.  And here we were, on our first date, him calling me beautiful.  You would think I would have been swooning?

Not me.  Not lamesauce me.  No.  I wasn’t facing him and I made yet another face and sort of mouthed “what!?”  Of all things, I felt like this was, well, invasive.  “Who would call me beautiful?” I thought.  This guy must be off his rocker if he thinks I am beautiful.

I still think this every day.  Because he tells me I’m beautiful every day.  Every. Single. Day.  But, these days, I blush.

So, to end our first date evening, we continued our awkward mode and hugged, awkwardly, at my front door.  We bid each other goodnight and looked forward to the next date–the next day.

That evening, I wondered: “Will tomorrow be a good date? Will I just be single forever?  I mean, I’m not going back to the internet to find another date, so either this has to work or I should start adopting some cats.”