Love at First Swipe
*Disclaimer: This is not an add for Tinder, nor do my husband and I recommend using Tinder to find your soul mate... or at all...
**This is the long version
So... How DOES a NorCal boy end up married to a Hawai'i girl?
It was the summer of 2014 while Zachary was on his family's annual vacation in Waikiki that we connected online (both clicked a button that indicated we both found each other attractive.) Zac initiated first online contact with my favorite compliment to date, "You're really pretty, but you should have more pictures with your whole face in it." (Remember all those artsy looking-away-from-the-camera-into-the-distance photos we all used to take?.... And still take? I guess I had a lot of those on my profile.) So I responded as any girl would have: "Don't tell me what to do."
Fortunately, although Zac returned to school on the East Coast almost immediately after this conversation, we continued chatting (texting) until we realized we were getting into some deep stuff. Messages lead to phone calls, phone calls lead to our first facetime date (which was almost a disaster). Eventually we found ourselves talking on the phone for almost two hours a day despite the six hour time difference. Before we knew it we were crushing on each other, "strangers" though we were.
It was at this time that Zac suggested we slow things down and stop using all forms of electronic communication and instead resort to letter-writing. His theory was that things were accelerating too quickly for two people who had still never met in-person. He hoped that writing letters instead would reveal new aspects of ourselves to each other and also confirm the feelings we had for each other. I LOVED this idea until I realized I would have to explain to my parents why I was receiving letters from a random boy I had never met before. (If you know my parents and are reading this, you are probably laughing and cringing at the same time). Fortunately they approved of our correspondence once I described Zac and what I liked about him. They figured a West Point cadet couldn't be THAT dangerous.
One whole month of letters-only brought us to the end of September: two whole months of non-stop talking. What do you do when you are falling in love with someone you had never met in person? You go on a date of course. After requesting permission from my dad, Zac proceeded to call me and ask what I was doing on October 25th. It really wasn't a fair question.
After a train, a car ride, a couple planes, and a coffee screening with my dad, Zac arrived at my house to meet me for the first time and take me on our first date! All the butterflies in the world could not have made me feel more anxious as I waited for that moment! (Can I just emphasize again that he flew from New York to Hawaii on a 2 day weekend?!?) But as soon as I opened the door and saw his handsome face, I knew we were going to be okay. I then proceeded to take him to all my favorite Kailua spots and we ended our day with a sunset session at Cockroach Bay (I knew all my uncles were going to ask if he surfed. He does!). After dinner with my family from our favorite Saeng's Thai, it was back to the airport to say our goodbyes and send Zac back to New York.
I know everyone says "when you know, you know," but goodness! What just happened?!
The next thing I knew, two more months had passed during which we had exchanged multiple gifts including one favorite sweater and many burned CD's full of cherished songs. The next time we met was over New Years, which we spent with his family in Northern California: five of the most romantic and formative days in our relationship. I was initially shocked at the idea of meeting Zac's family so soon in our relationship, but seeing as he met most of my family during our very first date, it seemed appropriate, if not fair. And if you're reading this and you know HIS family, you already know I had less than nothing to worry about. I was greeted at the door with hugs and aloha and was treated as both family and the most honored guest. We watched the ball drop in Time's Square on TV and shared a kiss to start the new year.
We had our second airport goodbye and back we both went in our opposite directions. The following year was a blur of letters, late night conversations, countdowns, and the sharing of souls. I attended his 100th Night Ball at West Point and was able to see his world and meet many of his close friends. It was during this weekend that I officially became his "girlfriend." Truthfully if had proposed at this point, I would have said yes. He gifted me three gold bangles with blue seaglass from his home beach and Tahitian pearls, handmade by one of my best friends back home. (The way to any island girl's heart when fresh fish is unavailable).
Three months later I was back to see Zac graduate and commission, one of the proudest moments of my life. We spent the week leading up to that day celebrating with his family and his fellow classmates: a blur of festivities and formals and walks down "Flirty Lane."
We said goodbye again for three months until he returned to Hawai'i with his family later that summer for their annual vacation. Full circle. Except this time our families met and Zac and I saw each other almost every day! We spent the sweetest few weeks together before parting ways again. I was now starting my final year at University of Hawai'i, and Zachary was off to Fort Benning for his Basic Officer Course and Ranger School.
That semester was the longest of my life. Due to Zac's training, there was next to no communication, and the infrequent letters I would receive were short and scribbled in low lighting on dirty scraps of paper. (Infantry problems).
It was all worth it in the end when Zac surprised me at Disneyland with both of our families there to watch him pop the question! It would be rude of me not to mention that he pulled off the surprise without a single hitch, and also that he planned the majority of the details WHILE in Ranger School. I also should mention that leading up to this, my youngest sister Tia had to listen to me cry and complain about how much I missed him and how I wasn't going to see him over Christmas (part of the ruse) all the while knowing full well what was about to go down.
We had a ten month, long-distance engagement and finally married on October 8th, 2016. Almost exactly two years after our first date.
While our love story is far from being finished, I believe we will live graciously ever after. Huh? ... I left out the key ingredient of our love story: Grace. God's grace towards us, and the grace that we are then able to extend to each other. It felt magical for sure, but I know in my heart there is no way our story should have turned out the way it did. It was purely God's grace that allowed us to meet the way we did and have a healthy, honest relationship despite its beginnings. It was God's grace that allowed us to have a relationship five thousand miles apart for 90% of the two years leading up to marriage. (And after, if we are being real haha!)
I guess what I am trying to say is that going on Tinder to find your true love is not the answer...
We were given a gift, and we were spared many heartaches. Though we were not putting the Lord first in our lives when we met, he used each of us to guide the other back to Him. And so our story is one of love on a much deeper level: the love we share for each other, yes, but more importantly how the love of our Great God simultaneously saved us from ourselves through each other.