We met the summer before our Senior year of high school at Student Council camp in San Angelo. I say "met," but that's not quite right. We noticed each other from a distance but never had a face-to-face conversation. On the last day of camp, as I attempted to carry all my earthly possessions to the school van in one trip, with my right hand bound up in an Ace Bandage because of a surgery I had had the week before, the door closed in my face. Jeff happened to be on the other side and stepped up to open it. I knew him only as Jeffy Weffy at that time, from a silly incident earlier in the week, and I remembered he was from Wink, only because it was a funny sounding name for a town. We had no other interaction at camp, but I remembered his smile and his kindness long after I got home.
In some crazy, alter-ego experience (because this is not who I was, nor is it who I am) I decided to look him up in the camp directory and write him a letter a few weeks later. It was a ridiculous letter, filled with silly high school girl nonsense. And I slipped in a photo because I was sure he wouldn't know me by name, but I thought he might remember me if he saw the picture. Turns out I was completely wrong about that, because he had no recollection of our brief encounter at the door. But, fortunately, he thought I was pretty, so he wrote back. And, that's when we became "pen pals." Because this was back in the day before rampant teenage cell phone usage and certainly before texting was even a thing. And, I'm so thankful for that, because over the next year we were able to develop a sweet friendship, in plain English (not text-speak) and in my comfort zone of communication, that has laid a firm foundation for our entire relationship.
About nine months after that first letter, we had an opportunity to meet each other face-to-face. It was just a couple of hours, in a mall in Austin, but it was a blast. And, we were both elated to know that there was another Student Council event coming up in just a few weeks, that we would both be attending. And, it was probably at that next event that we fell in love, without even knowing it. What we did know was that we laughed (a lot) and talked about everything under the sun and that we had a tremendous amount in common and enough not in common to make it interesting.
In the fall, Jeff went off to Rice and I headed to Texas A&M, and the letters (and newly added phone calls) continued. I invited Jeff up for a football game, and we had what we call our first date. And, then we were hooked, and I guess we started to consider ourselves a couple. Jeff transferred to A&M after the spring semester.
After almost a year, we called it quits and decided to "date other people," even though neither of us did much dating of other people. We remained friends, and after a few few months decided we wanted to give our romantic relationship another go. It was a few awkward months of each of us trying to decide (separately) if we wanted this to be a permanent thing.
And then, following the Thanksgiving break of our Junior year, Jeff stopped by my parents' house to talk to them about asking me to marry him. With their blessing, he then concocted a great engagement plan. He asked me to drive down to Houston with him on the 5th, to visit his old roommate and have a nice little date before finals. I went along, unsuspecting. When we got to his former roommate's place, Jeff unloaded a pile of packages, which I thought were for Jamison. As it turned out, it was my fancy black formal and all the accessories, which he had had my roommate smuggle out of my apartment for him. He said he just wanted to treat me to a really special night before I got stressed with finals. I believed him, because he had done this kind of thing before. We went to a South American restaurant we had visited when he was attending Rice. There were roses waiting for me, which was also not completely out of the ordinary. After dinner, we decided to drive down to Galveston, repeating another date from his days at Rice. We walked on the beach for a while, even though it was freezing. And, just as I was about to demand we go back to the car and crank up the heater, he stopped and said he had something for me. He asked me to close my eyes, and when I opened them, he was down on his knee in the sand, extending the most beautiful ring to me and asking me if I would marry him.
And the rest, as they say, is history. It's one of my favorite stories of all time.