So…..there’s this boy, Peter. We started talking last September, and although I often seem to OVERshare about my personal life on this blog, I’ve been pretty mum about this fella. At least online. Part of the reason I’ve been quiet is because I wasn’t really sure what to call him. I HATE the word “boyfriend” as it just conjures up memories of 15 year old girls draped over these prepubescent boys who just KNEW they were going to be together forever……or at least until the homecoming dance was over. I know it’s ridiculous. Plenty of people….just as old as myself, have boyfriends. But seriously, even as I write this, I give a little involuntary shudder. Just can’t help it. So I have had this….”Friend” Peter, for a while now.
The other reason I’ve been quiet is because as much as I’ve liked this guy from the beginning…..the odds just seemed against us. Different cultures, different upbringings, different way we’ve always viewed the world. How could this possibly work?!?! For that reason, while a lot of my friends and family knew I was talking to someone, I decided to keep Facebook out of the loop, as I didn’t need the ole’ “Oh…sorry.” “Don’t worry, there’s someone out there for you” kind of comments, if by chance the status changed back to single. No. Thank. You. (One of my friends eventually did hack into my Facebook account and change my relationship status….after it had become more an issue of me digging my heels in and refusing to change it simply because I’m ridiculously stubborn).
I come back to America every year for 2 months. This trip home was a pretty big deal because not only was I bringing my new daughter, but my new…..friend….as well. Time to spend some time with the fam!! Peter met my parents last March when they came over for a medical team. Boy was that awkward! During that week, my parents, Peter and I sat down for the big “talk.” At the end of the discussion, my parents gave the go ahead, but asked that we wait for 2 years before getting married. (Yes, I know I was 31 years old at the time, had lived overseas by myself for years, and was a mother….but I still wanted my parents’ approval. They have loved me longer than anyone else and I trusted that they had my best interests at heart. I really wanted them on board with the second biggest decision I’d ever make!)
So while Peter had met them before, this trip would take it to another level, as they’d get a chance to really know him. It didn’t take him long to win my family over, and with this final piece of the puzzle in place, I finally felt ready to say…ok. Let’s get married. (He was pretty confident from the beginning that this would be the outcome. I needed some time!)
My dad wanted to start the 2 years ticking in March of 2013, the first time they met. Since Peter and I had been talking since the previous September (2012) (or beginning of October if you want to be a stickler and don’t count the phone conversations that consisted of “I’m not interested….please stop calling me” as dating) I pointed out that he was adding on quite a few months. Like six! Since neither Peter or I are spring chickens, I channeled my inner Sierra Leonean and bartered until we compromised on January of 2013. Plenty of time to figure this whole thing out.
So we came home this year and have been having a great time. It’s been so nice because I knew that we worked really well, together in Sierra Leone, but had some lingering questions of what our relationship would look like in America. (Although we plan on living in Sierra Leone, you never know what will happen). A few weeks ago, I had a lightbulb moment where it just hit me. This guy is incredible. He loves Jesus so much, is so kind, so patient…… and just…so great! I love being around him….and want to be around him forever! J So that was it. I was ready to marry him.
Up until that point, all of our discussions of the future had been “IF we get married…….” Now it changed to “When…..” But we still had a long time. I’d managed to finagle the potential wedding date from January to November (thanks to the million holidays around that time) but we were still looking at a long time. Since we didn’t want to be engaged for more than six months, we were thinking of getting engaged in the spring or summer. I’m marrying a Sierra Leonean. They don’t do big proposals in Sierra Leone like they do here. Since I’m kind of a no frills girl, I told Peter (and probably even more importantly, my sister) that I didn’t need a big proposal when the time came. It would just be weird.
My birthday was on Tuesday. A few weeks ago, my sister started talking about wanting to give me a birthday surprise. She wasn’t sure what we’d do but when I started getting excited about it, she’d caution me that it was NOT a big deal. Birthday surprise turned into “Birthday Day Long Surprise.” I pumped Peter constantly for information but he was a fortress and I couldn’t get anything out of him!
My day started out with an 8:30am massage. Massages aren’t something I get regularly (only when someone else buys it for me) but I LOVE them. All the hours on that horrible road to my village are washed away in an hour of good massaging. After the massage I opened up my first envelope that sent me to a spa where I met my sister and we had manicures and pedicures. I love pedicures but had never had a manicure because I can’t stand the feel of the nail file. However, since they’d put all this work into the surprise, I decided to bite the bullet. ( My self-consciousness made me feel the the need to explain to the manicurist why one of my middle fingers was slanted---crafting accident last year---and why she couldn’t really touch the tip of my thumb because it might start bleeding again –cooking accident the day before).
After our pampering, Peter met me at the salon….and he looked hot!! J All dressed up in the suit we’d bought him a couple weeks ago. But I was confused. Why in the world was he in a suit? I always tease him for being way more fancy than me and would only let him bring 3 pairs of “fancy pants” to America because we’re just more casual here. Although I was surprised, when I thought about it, I just chalked it up to him “being Sierra Leonean” and thought my birthday was a good excuse to try out his new suit.
The next envelope I opened said that one of Elisabeth’s favorite things to do with Aaron is take a nice drive with some warm drinks. She enclosed a giftcard for Starbucks and directions to a location I’d never been to before. I started driving north on I5 and kept asking Peter where we were going. He looked genuinely confused as well. He asked if we were going to my church in Jefferson, but I told him we were headed in the opposite direction. We kept driving and after Peter kept mentioning a church that I liked, I finally figured out that she was probably sending us to one of these old, historic churches I’d seen online.
We got lost, turned around a few times but eventually found where we were supposed to go. The directions on the card said to look around, so we did. I was really into the history of the church so started reading all the little placards. After we had read everything at the church I suggested we move to the historic little cabin nearby. He said, “maybe in a bit” which I remember thinking was odd because there was really nothing else to do at the church. He was talking a LOT (he’s usually not much of a talker), saying all sorts of sweet things about why he loves me. He seemed kind of nervous. He mentioned seeing a sign in my sister’s house talking about a family turning a house into a home and said that he wanted to make a home with me. At this point we were in front of the doors of the church and he took my hands and told me that he wanted to marry me. I said, “I know. I already told you that I’m ready to marry you…..” Then he got down on his knees …..which confused me…. so I got down on my knees too. He pulled out a ring and asked me to marry him. Now that part shocked me. It wasn’t time for this yet!
Sidenote: When my grandma passed away, her sons gave me her engagement ring at the funeral. My mom had been keeping it for me and when Peter and I started discussing marriage, I pulled it out to show him. I went to look for it later that week and couldn’t find it. I SWORE I had put it back right after I showed Peter, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched high and low, asked my mom and sister…but none of us could find it. I was sure I’d lost it ….somehow, because why would anyone else be looking at it? When Peter showed me the ring, I was shocked, super excited, but also SUPER relieved that I hadn’t lost my grandma’s ring!! How could they have let me suffer like that!?!?!?
After the niceties that I assume are pretty typical after someone gives you a ring and says they want to spend the rest of their life with you, I made the comment that we’d be engaged for a long time!! That’s when Peter dropped the next surprise that my parents had agreed to move it up a couple months. We could get married in the summer (which in my eyes is still only cheating the 2 years by a couple months J)!!!!
So that’s it. That’s the story. J My life has not turned out like I’d planned at all!! But I’m so thankful that God has sent me this beautiful little girl to be my daughter and now a man who will be an incredible husband and father. And that’s that. J