Here comes the mushy parts...
Chapter 4: The Summer of Dreams
Although our night in the woods had certainly bonded Michael and me, I still was not ready to date. Some in our church had a strict taboo against dating. One was supposed to simply pray hard enough until a man proposed, without ever actually going on a date together. This hadn't exactly worked out for me, but I still had the guilt of legalism keeping me from dating. But Michael persisted in pursuing me, and I got over it.
Although I was leaving for Amsterdam in three months, I agreed to start dating Michael...just to see. I figured I better find out if this was the man I should marry before I left indefinitely. He knew that he had a very short amount of time to win me over before I left forever, so he packed the summer with outrageous fun every day. One day we would hike in a beautiful forest, another day we would raft down the Poudre in a very insufficient raft we bought at Walmart, our bottoms bouncing up and down on the river rocks.
By the end of the summer, he knew he wanted to marry me and I him.
Chapter 5: Amsterdam
But I had already committed to go to Amsterdam, and I went. He waved me off at the airport, sure he'd never see me again. I had dreamed for years of living in Europe. It was my long passion to be a missionary to Europe, where church seemed to be long dead. I was miserable.
The Netherlands is beautiful and I was studying literature at a medeival university and being a part of something I believed in, but I knew I'd rather be cleaning toilets in America with Michael than pursuing even the best of dreams without him.
So, after six months of loving the European life but missing Michael horrendously, and after many a raised eyebrow, I decided to return home. My favorite memory is a man in the church who, upon hearing of my departure, said, "But aren't you worried everyone will judge you for leaving?" Well said.
Chapter 6: Happily Ever After
I returned home at Christmas and visited Michael at his parents' in Sterling.
We went to chimney canyons, a little known canyon outside of Sterling. We stood on the broad flat plains of Sterling and looked across the canyons, their walls pink and orange like sherbet in the sunset. We decided to be married that summer, in July.
And so it was.
And so we are, happily married. Never dull, sometimes hard, but always precious.
Thank you for reading our story and commenting, it has reminded me of such good memories with friends! This is the beginning of our story...