Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The Story of How We Met: Will's Story

Will's Story:

The Inspired Introduction

Back in August of 2003 I broke up with my girlfriend (we'd been dating for a year) as we both decided we wanted to take different paths through life. I was back to being a single man.

The beginning of September my roommate and a friend and I went up to the San Juan Islands to do some scuba diving.

The whole reason we made it up there was pretty awe-inspiring in the first place because all of my buddies wanted to go diving to another place, but I wanted to go to the San Juans. So anyway, we went up there scuba diving Labor Day weekend, had a great time, etc.

On the way back, we took the ferry and then were driving down through some of the country there, just north of the Seattle area, and I had the strong impression that I really wanted to come back to that whole area. It was beautiful, the scenery was wonderful and I had a strong desire to come back that way. But I kind of left it at that because I thought there really wasn't a way to come back because I didn't know anyone up there. So I put the thought aside and came home.

I think about a week later I saw my roommate online, he had an internet profile on an LDS dating website and I thought "Ah that's it! I'll just jump online, meet someone from up there and that's how I'll get back up there." So I browsed around all the different LDS dating websites (there are about 5 of them), but I liked the best (the one Jenni ended up being on).

So I put my profile on there and set it up and went searching for somebody up there.

(This is the first picture I ever saw of Jenni, and it is still my favorite)

I did a little search to see if there was anyone up in the Puget Sound area, specifically on an island. Lo and behold I came across a strikingly beautiful woman (see I'm sharing my feelings), and it said she was from a place called Camano Island, Washington. I thought "Washington? Camano? Island? Hey I bet that is up in the Puget Sound area."

So I checked out her profile.

She seemed really nice and I could tell she had a head on her shoulders and knew what she was looking for: Me. (just teasing).

So let me just describe her profile to you first:

First she was from an island. Come to find out she was only 2 or 3 islands away from where we were scuba diving.

She was strikingly beautiful. (here are more pics from her profile)

She played the piano-but not just played the piano but was an awesome piano player-which just completely won me over.

She was looking for a guy with a head on his shoulders that took his priesthood responsibilities seriously and had his priorities straight.

She had been out of a rough relationship and I had gotten out of a relationship where priorities were different and so that was what we were both looking for.

I wanted to send her what they call a "smile", which is what you send someone when you are interested in getting to know them. But I didn't have all of my pictures in my profile complete, so I finished all that and as soon as I got that all done I sent her a smile and said "Hey I'm interested in you, let's chat" or something of that nature. I sent her a little smile and she wrote back, and we hit it off right away. We had a lot in common. Every email we sent back and forth to each other we just had so much to talk about.

Eventually I asked for her number (because I hate to email- I'm a slow typer!), and I got denied. (Yes I'm sharing my feelings again). But then she finally gave it to me and so we started calling back and forth a couple of times. We eventually set up a date where I would come up there - it was November 4th.

First Date: Not a Homework Assignment

At the same time, at church, I was taking a "Dating and Courtship" class where the teacher told us "All right. All guys need to ask out one girl, and all girls need to be forward enough to be asked out once this week." I thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask Jenni out! So I called her and asked her out because it was NOT a homework assignment-but just a good excuse.

Coming from both of our situations, you can just see the hand of the Lord in bringing us together and how it was also perfect preparation to bring us together. There was a friendship. It wasn't like a "I'm interested in you to marry you", but more or less we were just building a friendship because we understood each other and we were in the same situation- getting over long term relationships that almost dealt with identical situations. Well not identical, but ones that we could both relate to easily. So the timing and prior situations put us in a spot that we both cannot deny the hand of the Lord being involved. Ok, so I had to interject that.

So I jumped in my car and drove up to Camano Island for our first date.

I was excited and looking forward to having fun. I was also excited to be heading back up to that area. I was even more excited for the reason of going up there. I mean here I had developed a, well "deep" isn't the right word, but I had developed a really great connection with Jenni just over emails and the phone-and I wanted to be able to meet this wonderful person that I made a connection with. So it was exciting in that aspect. I drove up there to her parents place, got out of the car and I could hear the piano playing. I thought "I bet that is Jenni playing the piano." I rang the door, it opened up, and Helllooooooo Jenni. I thought she was very cute. Yes, Jenni was cute when the door first opened. (Again, I’m sharing my feelings so Jenni will be happy with me).

Jenni didn't want to stick around the house very long because both of her parents were there, so she kind of hurried me in, introduced me, we made our lunches and then we hurried and left. I was a little confused by that at first, but it was fun because we got in there and started the date like we did it all the time.

Something Jenni's mom told her several months later, was that she knew from the first time that she met me that I was going to be the man Jenni would marry. And her mother, the first date with her dad, knew that she was going to marry him.

We had a really great first date. We went on a picnic to Mt. Erie, went on a ferry ride (which, by the way, Jenni already told you about our little funny moment on the ferry).

Oh another funny story:

While we were making our sandwiches for our date I saw that there were pickles out. I love pickles so I said "Yes pickles" and started loading up my sandwich with them. She paused and then said "Ok well, I guess I'll try them." So then a while later when we were up eating our sandwiches on our picnic, finally she was like "Ugh" and started throwing the pickles off of her sandwich. I wondered why in the world she would put pickles on her sandwich if she didn't like them. And then I remembered on her profile, they have this section for 3 things you hate doing, and one of hers was "eating pickles". So she did one of her 3 worst things just for me on our first date.

Just shows you how important it was and how forgetful I am. Haha.

So anyway back to our first date. We drove down to catch a ferry and we had to wait quite a while for it, and it was VERY cold outside. And so we sat in the car and talked for a while. She was telling me about her ex and how he didn't want her to go out with me, and had told her that if she went out with me one more time then they were through. So I got rejected later that night when I asked her out again. (Yeah, I know forgetful Will again) Haha. A while later I asked her," So. Do you kiss on the first date?" and she said, "No." And I said" Well then!" And I put the car in reverse and started backing out. (I just wanted to show her a little of my sense of humor).

The Courtship:

That first date set the pace for the rest of our dating relationship. We were instantly comfortable around each other, and always had fun and laughter when together. It has always been from the very beginning an exciting friendship.

Things did progress over the next coming months.

A month after our first date Jenni came down for a church dance.

(Jenni and I at Applebee's Restaurant after the dance)

We had fun but my sister's cat happened to pee on her cell phone. It was quite funny looking back, but at the time I wondered if that would have dampened any future progression.

Anyway, I saw Jenni two more times before Christmas as I passed by her place on my way to skiing in Whistler.

It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve where we got to spend more then just a few hours together. It was also then that she realized my irresistible charm (those that know me laugh here).

I remember a few days later getting an email from Jenni. Her ex-boyfriend was in town visiting and she said in her email that even though she was hanging out with her ex who she was trying to work things out with, that all she could think about was how much fun we had New Year’s Eve/ day and how she wished I was there. WOW!! That was quite bold for our friendship, but I welcomed it with excitement. The day after her ex flew home realizing they were done; I was back up there spending some more fabulous time with Jenni.

Things just progressed from there. We saw each other two more times in January and felt much more comfortable.

One of those times I had a neat experience. Jenni took me into a room after church and played the piano for me.

She played a piece that she was currently composing. The spirit filled my entire body. I envisioned her as my wife and us playing with our little children. The song was able to express and portray that joy and positive energy that comes with a family centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Later on this song became "Prelude in F" from Jenni's debut album). It was then that I felt Heavenly Father’s comforting touch telling me that Jenni was special and that He had brought us together for a purpose not yet known to me, but that I had received His blessing in dating His daughter. That meant a lot to me.

Afterwards, Jenni and I sat and talked with each other and I shared my experience with her. She even gave me those “kiss me eyes”, but for one reason or another that didn’t take place quite yet.

We kept making dates to see each other but sometimes the time in between was long. Those were hard times. We had finally stepped up to a new plateau in our relationship after almost 5 months of friendship. We talked a lot via the phone and email.

In one of those talks (I like to call them WAWA talks (Where Are We At). She expressed feelings that she wasn’t interested in dating anyone else but me at that point. I welcomed that as I felt the same way. After some brief discussing we decided not to see anybody else and to make our relationship exclusive. We decided to become boyfriend/girlfriend. It was about 5 minutes later in the conversion that I referred to myself as her boyfriend. That hit her slightly harder then it hit me and before you know it we broke up. (HaHa) Thus Jenni became my shortest dating partner in the history of Will’s 10 year dating life and yet she will be my longest eternal dating partner as well. :)

The Story of How We Met: Jenni's Story

The story of how Will and I met is pretty unique, and so while it might get quite lengthy to read—I hope you do because we think our story is definitely one to tell!

For all you old school people out there this may come as quite a shock, but yes, Will and I met online. (Gasp!) And we can’t really count the number of times when we have been asked where we met, and after telling them, we have seen a hesitant reaction of “Oh....really?.” But as our relationship continues to be rock solid and one full of fun, laughter, and love -- I believe that we have perhaps inspired others to step into the 00’s and accept that online dating is how a lot of people are meeting today.

Both Will and I had some things happen in our life leading up to our meeting that had a great deal to do with the timing of it all, and the how’s and why’s. I had just gotten out of a long term serious relationship with a guy I had dated for about a year and a half down in Utah. Will had also just gotten out of a long term serious relationship with a girl he had dated for about a year. I had also just moved back to Washington State to live with my family after being in Utah for 4 years.

For the full version of how we met though, keep reading...

Jenni’s story:

After living in Utah for 4 years, late in the summer of 2003 I decided to move back home to Washington. To make a long story, me moving back to WA to live with my parents happened after a series of spiritual promptings and experiences that told me this was what I needed to do in my life at that time.

I worked at a mortgage office for a couple of months in Arlington, Washington, where there was another woman working there who was also LDS. One day she told me about this great web site that she and her daughter were both members of, and how they had both met some really great LDS guys and she encouraged me to try it out. I really did not want to, but she ended up convincing me to sign up for an account to try it out. So I did. And to my surprise, it actually was a lot of fun! While I did have to weed my way through some, let’s say “interesting” people, I did meet several quality guys from my area that I went out with and had a great time.

It was around the end of September when I received a message from someone with the username “Skifreak”. He sent me a “smile” and so I viewed his profile. He had so many things in common with me and so many great pictures of him doing things from jet skiing, to scuba diving, to hiking, etc. I thought he sounded like a really fun guy so I emailed him back. Turns out his name was Will Thomas and he was from Portland, OR.

(A screenshot of Will's profile)

Here are some more of this studdly pictures that were on his profile. I love an outdoorsy adventurous guy, so that is what did it for me as you can see from his photos. :)

We continued to email back and forth and we soon found out that we were in similar situations:

We both had just ended long-term relationships. This common link enabled us to form a friendship where there was no pressure, no come-on’s or anything -- just a pure desire to be friends and to have someone else there who understood what we were going through. We were both also looking for someone with the qualities we desired – someone who was a church-going and God-loving person, someone who was fun and outgoing and who loved to get out and do things. We eventually exchanged phone numbers a while later (For some reason I would not give Will my number the first time he asked for it, but I made him wait a while).

During this time, I was still dealing with unresolved issues with the guy I had previously dated and there were a lot of times when I needed someone to talk to about what was going on, and Will was that person for me. Never once did he say anything negative about my ex-boyfriend (in an attempt to put himself in a better light or something). I went through several months of back and forth feelings of getting back together with my ex in Utah, and through it all Will was always there reminding me that my Heavenly Father knew my needs and I was not alone.

Will and I finally went out on our first date at the beginning of November. November 4th, 2003 to be exact.

It was the first time we had ever met in person. He drove all the way up to Camano Island from Portland to see me, and that alone pretty much impressed me. I introduced him to my mom, and then we made sandwiches for our picnic and then headed out the door for the day. We went over to Mt. Erie for a picnic lunch, and then explored much of Whidbey Island, and also took the Keystone ferry over to Port Townsend. The date was just really comfortable and relaxed, and we had much to talk about.

A funny little story from out first date...

While we were on the ferry, we were out on the front deck for a while and it was pretty cold. We were standing behind a wall that blocked the wind while still wearing heavy winter jackets and gloves and hats. Will told me “I’m going out to brave the wind” and then left to go stand out on the deck. A while later he came back and I was giving him this funny look, and asked, “Are you done yet?” He was confused and said “Done with what?” I said “You said you were going out tobreak wind!” He busted up laughing while his face turned red at the same time. He said, “I said I was going to BRAVE the wind!!” We both laughed for a long time about that. Yep. I thought Will was stepping outside, on our first date, to pass gas.

So anyway, I saw Will a few times in December as well. He invited me to come down to be his date for his ward’s Christmas Formal.

And then he also stopped by to see me on his way to and from Whistler for a skiing vacation. All this while he was just a really great friend to me and I for him and we enjoyed each other’s company. We joked around, laughed, and just had a fun time together.

(These next pictures are from when he stopped by on his way to Whistler. My dad talked him into taking our family Christmas photos, and then he (my dad) sneakily found a way to take pictures of us together. Look how awkward we looked. We hadn't held hands, kissed or anything at this point. If you can imagine my dad telling Will, "Put your arm around her, get closer!". Haha)

We also got to play some Christmas piano duets together - which was fun.

While Will and I were developing a great friendship, I was still trying to figure out if I was going to get back together with my ex in Utah, things in that department were continually looking more and more shady. We tried to make it work so many times and I could just never get a feeling that it was right. I went through a lot of depression and anxiety trying to make this decision regarding him, even though we’d called things off earlier summer of 2003, here it was December and we were still trying to make things work.

Then things did start to work...but with a different person...

Will asked me if I wanted to do something with him for New Year’s Eve. I told him I would be free to get together, but I think I was kind of nervous about it...because you know...I wasn’t sure what we were going to do at midnight when everyone else did that traditional kiss thing. And you have to remember also that at this point Will and I were ONLY friends, and I had a guy back in Utah that I was trying to figure out things with.

Will drove up to Seattle on the evening of December 31st and picked me up from Benaroya Hall (where I was working). We walked up a couple of blocks on Pike Street and ate dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. After dinner we went to a movie, and by the time the movie got out it was 11:47pm. We had 13 minutes until midnight and not a clue of where we were going to spend it. I had the quick notion that we should drive over to Gasworks Park on Lake Union to watch the Space Needle fireworks. So we got in both of our cars and zoomed down to the park and made it there by 11:57pm. We parked, got out of our cars and ran down to the lake to get there just in time when they were counting down to midnight. And to ease my own nervousness, no kiss happened and it was just fun!

It was the next day where things started to change for me.

I guess it was the whole trip that did it, but it wasn’t until when we were out skiing where I had my big realization. We got up early January 1st and headed up to Steven’s Pass to go snow-skiing. The whole day was just a lot of fun. We goofed around, and I crashed a couple of times, laughed a lot, etc.

Later that night we went and got some pizza, and then afterwards tried to watch Pirates of the Caribbean but we were too tired.
It was after Will went home to Portland that I realized how happy I was when I was with him. It was a different kind of happiness, it was almost that level of happiness you feel when you know you’re in the right place in your life. Does that make sense? With his positive attitude, sense of humor and the way he approached life - Will made me want to be a better person. His positive energy lifted me up whenever I was around him. I felt very different around Will than how I felt with my previous relationships. I was truly really happy. For the first time, I realized that I may have had more than just friendship feelings for Will. I knew it was a fact when only the day after he left I already missed him and couldn’t wait to see him again.

But so what happened with the guy from Utah you ask? Well, he ended up coming to visit me one last time at the beginning of January, and we talked and came to an understanding that things just could not work out between us. If it had been almost 2 years and we still couldn’t ‘get it together’, then it just wasn’t meant to be.

Will and I continued to do things together on a friendship basis for a short while before things finally became "romantic". However, I did tell him how I felt during New Years – which was pretty bold of me if I might say. I don’t usually just come out and tell a guy “Hey I’ve been thinking about you and I think I like you more than a friend”. But if anything, it opened up the door so he knew how I felt. He obviously reciprocated and said that he had experienced a wonderful time with me as well over New Years.

Over a serious of a couple of more trips to each other's homes those first couple of weeks in January 2004, we finally had our first kiss by the end of the month. And we've been together ever since.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!