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This one goes out to the one I love.

May 15, 2012

I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and tell our story. Mostly because of the lack of time, and also because I needed to de-clutter my head. Get my thoughts straight and wrap my head around the changes the last two years have brought. Now, the semester is over and July is approaching faster than a freight train.

So, here it is…

In October of 2009, I was recovering from a wound to my heart I thought would never heal. In the months previous, I was adjusting to a move back home, the loss of a pet I loved dearly, a new school, and the end of a tumultuous relationship. I was broken and slowly trying to pick up the sad little pieces of my life. So when a dear friend, Margaret, whom I’d previously babysat for, approached me and said, “I have someone I want to introduce you to,” you can understand why I promptly responded, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Fast forward six months to April, and there Margaret was again, sure that she had the perfect, non-redneck guy for me. At this point, I was enjoying school, spending lots of time with my friends, and had fallen in love with my new favorite hobby, photography. I was in a good place, not the perfect place, but much better than the place I had been in previously. I had spent a lot of time working on finding things in life that really made me happy. So this time, I didn’t deny Margaret’s offer. I gave her permission to give this guy my contact information, but I wasn’t waiting around with bated breath to hear from him.

About a week later, I was visiting my best friend, Emily, at JMU to attend our sorority’s formal when I received a Facebook message from Matt Santerre. He was very polite, and I admired that he wasn’t in a rush to get together. He simply introduced himself, said we should chat, and just see where this thing might take us. Being the inquisitive person I am (well, let’s be honest. I’m just plain nosy), I proceeded to stalk his Facebook. Hard. I wanted to find out as much as I could about this fella. Pronto.

I came to his pictures, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I thought, “Are you serious, Margaret? Dude is a Park Ranger!” I mean, full on brown uniform, Yogi Bear hat, the works! I am by no means saying that Park Rangers don’t make suitable mates. I was just taken aback because this was not the type of guy I usually date. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was exactly why I needed to meet this guy, because he’s not like any of the guys I’ve ever dated. And if he was I should go ahead and run as fast as my legs could carry me in the other direction because there are reasons, and very good ones, why the guys I dated before never worked out. So, I thought, “Bring it on, Park Ranger Matt!”

Over the course of the next few weeks, Matt and I chatted occasionally, enjoying conversations on life, love, and faith. We decided to meet in person to see if this connection we felt was real. We made arrangements to have a “play date” in which I would bring the little girl I often babysat over to play with his little cousin, Emily. We hoped conducting our first face-to-face meeting under the safety net of this guise would help us to avoid some much dreaded first date awkwardness.

I remember pulling into Margaret’s driveway that day, an excited ball of nerves situated in the pit of my stomach. I saw Matt, coolly bouncing a basketball, sporting his signature Duke hat, watching Emily ride her tricycle. We spent the evening enjoying the laughter of two three year old’s, goldfish, and casual conversation. I remember leaving that night thinking how easy Matt was to be around. How he made me laugh. How he was clueless about how to deal with three year old girls, and how he didn’t mind my taking over. Mostly, I couldn’t stop thinking about that smile of his, so bright, so genuine.

A week later, we went on our first official date. We chose a small Italian restaurant halfway between his house and mine. To this day, we both remember what the other was wearing, what the other ordered, and how, as we parted, he planted the tiniest kiss in the history of liplocks on my face( He loves when I pick on him for that one). The rest, as they say, is history.

Who knew that a little over two years later, those same two people, who were so leery to date each other, would be getting married? We are a tale of a love that almost wasn’t.

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Matt, I’m blessed to say the stars aligned to make you mine.

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