Thursday, April 22, 2010

He Had Me At "I Used to Listen to James Taylor When I Wrestled"

The other day Katie asked me if I had ever blogged about how Bruce and I met.  I got to thinking and realized I hadn't and I really wanted to get it all down before we get further away and the details start to get fuzzy.  Then I saw that Kelly's Show Us Your Life this week is "How You Met Your Husband" and I thought it would be a perfect time to share!!

So ... here goes.

Bruce and I met at a party that a mutual friend of ours was having in July of 2006.  Unfortunately, we both weren't exactly in great places in our lives and we probably said all of two words to each other that entire night and then went on our separate ways.  Zero contact.

But we heard about each other a lot.  We had a lot of mutual friends and we were constantly hearing "Bruce did such and such" and "Sarah is getting ready to do so and so" - so I kind of felt like I knew him.

Fast forward six months.  These mutual friends of ours were part of a youth leadership program at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, PA.  Bruce had been part of the program starting in 2003 and I came in a few years later (2005 I think?) when Kari (who I had met in college) starting bringing me to some of the events.  In January of 2007 Bruce and I both attended a Justice Summit at the seminary.  It was a weekend long retreat where we talked about issues of justice and the relationship of politics and religion.  We were both small group leaders.

I was in another weird point in my life.  I had just submitted all of my seminary applications and I had a feeling I wasn't going to end up in close proximity to my family.  I had "my heart broken" (in parentheses, because, let's face it I'm a bit of a drama queen) a couple of times the prior semester and had led a very good friend of mine on into thinking I wanted to be in  relationship as I tried to fill some empty holes.  The day after Christmas that year, I put away all my Christmas music (I didn't care about waiting for the Kings to show up at the manger), pulled out all my James Taylor (important to note) and decided I was going to spend my last semester at college with all of my best girlfriends ("WHO NEEDS MEN?!" I thought to myself) and James Taylor was going to be my guide.  Remember that.  James Taylor was going to be my guide.

I remember weird things about the weekend of the Justice Summit.  For instance, I remember standing in the hallway that went down to the offices and seeing Bruce standing in the office of the administrative assistant.  Kari didn't know if he was coming or not, so she was excited to see him, screamed "Bruce!!!!!" and ran into the office to say hello.  I awkwardly said hi and told him I had just driven to Lancaster from his hometown (boy do I know how to sweep someone off of their feet with words, I tell you what).

Friday afternoon there was a workshop going on for the students and Bruce and I were sitting at the same table, sort of paying attention.  We started writing random words on a piece of paper.  Somehow it turned into a game - who could write the most random word, or something like that (my maturity astounds me sometimes).

(Playing our "game")

Then I remember worship on Friday night.  Bruce and I both read scripture and he was sitting three or four people to the right of me (we were all sitting in a circle).  I loved the way that he read scripture - you could tell he wasn't just reading words on a page.  They meant something to him.

On Saturday morning Kari, my friend Cameron and I put on a workshop about our experiences oversees and about mine and Kari's summer trip cross-country (another post for another day).  During the presentation, we decorated a coffin to honor those lives lost to hunger around the world every day.  Cam and Kari and I put blood (okay, it was red paint) on each other's faces to stand in solidarity with those bleeding, hungry and crying out around the world - and then went around the room and did the same to everyone else.  I marked Bruce's face - my heart started to beat really quickly when I touched his face.  He made eye contact with me and my legs went weak.  But I had to keep going.

After the summit closed on Sunday afternoon, the students packed up and left.  Most of the small group leaders stayed behind to clean up and catch up.  Bruce had been planning on driving home, but we convinced him to stick around for the rest of the day (most of us weren't leaving town until Monday).  Before long the five of us that were left had all piled into Bruce's jeep and were driving all over Lancaster County window shopping, drinking coffee and laughing about the weekend.

Oh - I think it is important to note that my friend Courtney loves to play matchmaker so she "graciously" gave me the front seat next to Bruce when we were in his jeep.  And then giggled from the backseat - loudly (I love my friends).

Moving right along ...

Sunday afternoon turned into Sunday night, where we went back to Kari's parent's house and had dinner.  Dinner turned into a "let's tell stories about Sarah and all of the bad decisions she has made with men" (what can I say? - you have to kiss a lot of frogs) so I was pretty much mortified by the end of the meal.

We decided at that point that we were going to go see the movie "Pursuit of Happyness" (thank you Will Smith for making that movie) so we cleaned up dinner and I headed out to my car to clear out the backseat so I could drive everyone.  Bruce came out first and I quickly blurted out, "I'm really not a horrible person."  He laughed and told me not to worry, that had the tables been turned both Kari and Cameron (thanks for keeping things cool, guys) had some stories on him.

My once-fast-beating-heart started to melt a little bit.

And then we piled into my car.  This time I was in the driver's seat, Bruce was in the passenger seat and everyone else was in the back.

I turned the key.  The car started.  James Taylor came on (remember? James Taylor was going to be my guide through life).

Immediately, Bruce started talking about James Taylor and about how he absolutely loves him and he used to listen to James Taylor in order to center and focus before wrestling meets.

I guess now is a good time to point out that I absolutely despise wrestling.  In high school some of my best friends used to wrestle and they would look so miserable on days when they had to make weight and were using a variety of methods to do so.

And yet, when this boy who made my heart beat fast and then melt told me that he used to listen to James Taylor Greatest Hits Volume II in order to focus before a wrestling match, suddenly the sport was the most romantic one ever to be played.

The movie came and went.  Cameron bought everyone's tickets and I bought everyone's snacks.  Bruce got mad because he wanted to be able to pay for something.  I gave him a hug and told him I was sorry.  Kari said, "Awwww, you guys look cute together" and secretly I was thinking, "Ummm, wow.  What just happened?  Would it be weird if I hugged him again for no reason?"

After the movie, we went back to Kari's parent's house.  Bruce had to drive home (he needed to be up for work at 5 a.m., it was already close to midnight and he had an hour drive ahead of him) so we all said our goodbyes and then left.

It was at that point that I realized that I didn't have his phone number.  Or his e-mail address.  Or his screenname.  Or his address in general.  I had NO way of getting in touch with him.

Absolute failure on my part.

The next day Kari and I woke up early and drove to Baltimore to take Cameron to the airport.  On our way back her phone rang - she was driving so I found it in her purse.  My heart skipped a beat; IT WAS BRUCE!  I told Kari that because she was driving I would be willing to answer it for her (I am so safety-conscious, what can I say?).  I answered it and we made small talk - he was exhausted but had a really good time that weekend; I wasn't looking forward to driving back to Connecticut that night, but we should all try to plan something when I got back to Pennsylvania for school in a week or two.

There was something about this boy, I kept thinking ... I just couldn't put my finger on it.  But there was definitely something different about this boy.

Kari and I met up with our friend Courtney for brunch when we got back from the airport (this is Courtney the matchmaker).  I got up at one point to use the restroom and by the time I got back they both had the same look on their faces.  The "we are up to something and want to giggle but we're going to refrain ourselves" look.  They proceeded to tell me that Bruce and I would make a really good couple and they were going to set us up.

At that point I started thinking, "I've got this one, I've already got an awesome plan, I don't want him to think I'm just going along with something that I don't want please don't do this!"  But I said simply, "Okay, whatever you want."

Now I'm sure you're wondering what my awesome plan was.  I had taken oodles of pictures that weekend and I was going to send him a CD with them on it and leave my contact info in a note in the package.

I know.  Blows you away, right?

I got his e-mail address from Courtney and I e-mailed him when I got back to Connecticut and asked him for his mailing address.  I'd like to think I was cool, calm and collected in my e-mail ...

Hey :)

I'm glad that you made it home safe (and quickly!) on Sunday night.  We were all really glad that you stayed and went to the movie with us (and if you hadn't come I never would have had anyone to share my love for James Taylor with!).  I hope work wasn't too painful on Monday morning.  I definitely was almost driving off the road on my way home that night ... it was my own fault, though, I didn't leave PA until 9:15 :)

I have a CD of all the pictures and videos from the summit.  Send me your address and I'll send you your copy.

I had a lot of fun this weekend ... you're definitely going to have to come and visit us soon!!

Talk to you soon,
Sarah :)

Yes.  I did use not one, not two, but THREE SMILEY faces in a four line e-mail.  Totally calm, cool and collected.

I sent the e-mail at 4:43 p.m. on January 11th.  I got the following reply at 9:20 p.m. that night (yes, I'm also the dork that printed every single e-mail Bruce sent me for the first four months of our relationship).


I was worried about you and Cameron on your rides home.  I am very happy to hear you both made it back safe.  Staying Sunday night was one of the smartest things I've ever done (in my life).  I was so happy to be with you guys.  I was also happy you got to ride up front when I was driving the other 3 around because before this weekend I knew you for a few short hours over a dinner, and it wasn't like a chance to talk.  So this weekend, especially Sunday night, was great.

As far as Monday morning goes 3 large cups of coffee and I was good till long after quitting time.  I also came home and took a 4 hour long nap.  The weekend hasn't been the greatest week of work because I keep thinking about my friends and what they are all doing (so my boss says, "Hey did you understand what I just said" and I look at him with a blank look and say, "Yes").

Anyway, here's my information - we got to talking so much I felt like you already had it (did you ever do that?).

(He then proceeded to give me his home address, e-mail, AIM, home phone and cell phone - apparently he had the same, "Crap, I just left her with no way to get in touch with her" thought that I had and wanted to make sure all of his bases were covered.)

I'll try and visit if I can make time, but I want you to visit too, you know that, right?  Well hopefully we can keep in touch and I'll talk to you soon.


My laptop was sitting on my parent's kitchen table when that e-mail came through.  I read it.  Then reread it.  Then stood up on the bench I was sitting on.  Then sat down and read it again.  Then I got up and tried to talk to my family.  I was unsuccessful.  Then I sat back down to read it again.  And then I saw that he had sent another e-mail.

Truth be told, the next e-mail was just a story about the fact that he had taken one of the rubber bands off of my gear shifter, put it on his wrist and it had been getting in the way at work all week.  But in all reality, my heart started to pound at the thought of him thinking about me during work.  I sat down and replied to his e-mail.

And it just kept going from there.  We started to ask each other questions (some funny like "what flavor of ice cream are you?" and some more serious like what we wanted to do with our lives) and we were honest about what we were feeling.  Bruce said things like, "I said I don't e-mail a lot but I find myself here again" and I replied with my own variety of, "There's something about you that make me want to get to know you more."  It was intense.  We went from e-mails to phone calls and a week after I got back to school I drove out to his house to have dinner with him.

We told ourselves that we were going to take it slow, but we realized one night that we were in a relationship - whatever was going on between us had morphed into something real.  And we both knew it was something amazing.  On January 31, 2007 we "officially" started dating (although we always forget to celebrate our anniversary).

The snafu in our whirlwind romance was the fact that I had applied to graduate schools in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia and California (read: NOT Pennsylvania) but the decisions about our future never seemed hard to make - just natural and really exciting.  Bruce quit his job and moved to Georgia with me in August 2007 and I started at Candler in the fall.  Living together before marriage doesn't work for everyone, but it definitely worked for us - we were so far from our families and we learned quickly that we only had each other to lean on.  I am not being sappy when I say that I couldn't had done what I did down here without him.  He has been such an amazing sources of support.

(One of our engagement pictures)

We got in engaged the following May and were married last June.  We are coming up on ONE YEAR of marriage and I cannot believe it!  It has gone by so fast and I get the same smile on my face today when I think about our future that I had on my face when I read his first e-mail to me over three years ago.

And re-read it.

And read it again.

Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me!


  1. This made me cry! It's the sweetest and cutest story and I think it's perfect and that you two are just adorable together! (how was that for a run on sentence? haha)

    I really love this story, especially how you saved all the emails and printed them out, and how you stood up and sat back down on the bench as you were mentally processing the email :)

  2. it's me again! you should go back and read your first post tonight :)

  3. I loved reading your story, and my hubby loves James Taylor:) Thanks for sharing, y'all are so cute, cute pictures!

  4. Sarah this made me cry! You and Bruce are so perfect for each other. It makes me so impatient to get to that moment where I meet my "forever guy" :) I love you both!

  5. So reading the story....
    Had a few hours to blog hop glad that I stopped here....Be sure and stop by and read about a miracle in our family....

  6. I used to sit on the wooden locker room bench next to Bruce while he closed his eyes and swayed his head along to that old James Taylor cassette. I think we both listened to mellow music before matches because, for me at least, it was always more necessary to calm myself down before matches than pump myself up.

    I hope you guys are doing great. Tell Bruce I'm gonna call him in the next day or two.

  7. Whats funny, I thought as I read. Well, you don't need his contact info, just find him on Facebook. Then I realized it was 2007....maybe it wasn't that easy. Ha. Things are so much easier to find people now. Very great story!

  8. What an adorable story! You guys are such a cute couple!


  9. Wow, this is amazing and almost made me cry! (If tears well up in your eyes but don't fall, that's almost. Right? Haha). I'm 28 and single and this gives me hope!!!! Great story :)

  10. I cannot believe i am just now reading this for the first time. LOVE IT! :)

  11. i can't believe i hadn't gotten this far back in your posts yet, but read this tonight & this story is so gorgeous! *hugs* love it!!


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