Today is a special day in my heart, because 6 years ago today, Doug & I started dating. Now that we're married, we don't celebrate dating anniversaries, but I'm usually pretty good with dates, so each year when it comes around, I have a little smile in my soul all day.
Spring is the season for twitterpation, so I thought, hey, the Internet needs to know our love story. So here's our "timeline" (try not to gag on all this sweet, lovey-doveyness!).
January 2004: Picture it. My freshman year at college. By this time, I think I know the ropes pretty well. I'm familiar with most of the faces at our small, Christian school, and I'm loving la vida single! One day in the dining commons, I see an unfamiliar face. A really cute unfamiliar face. After some sly inquiring, I was informed that this was "Doug Parton - he's a junior, and he was studying abroad in Costa Rica last semester." Turns out we had friends in common. And we kept showing up at the same places. And no one was introducing us. So one day, at the Spring Arbor Library, I was talking with one of my friends, and "Doug Parton, who was studying abroad in Costa Rica last semester" was sitting next to this friend. Turning to Doug, I stuck out my hand and said, "Hi. I don't know you. I'm Rachel." Naturally, he found me irresistible, and 3 years later we were married.
Oh, more details? Sure.
We chatted for a bit that evening, and became friends quickly. Because I was a flirtatious freshman (me?!), I wanted Doug to like me, but I didn't want to date him. However, I did confess to my best friends that I had a "baby crush" on Doug. We had established that a "baby crush" meant you thought the person was cute and dateable, but you weren't quite at a full-fledged crush. Because there's so much difference!
Feb. - Mar. 2004: On Feb. 1st, Doug & I hung out for the first time - I had expressed interest in his time abroad, so he invited me over to look at his pictures from Costa Rica. College boys - if you can't play guitar, make sure you get some pictures of yourself holding impoverished children. Anyway, we looked at pictures and talked and Doug was totally laying on the charm, and it all worked. I realized this Doug Parton guy had an amazing heart and he was smart and funny. So I got over my denial and admitted to myself that I liked him. Throughout the rest of February and March, we continued to hang out with increasing regularity. Toward the end of March, Doug and I got around to discussing how we felt about one another, which is known on Christian college campuses as a "DTR" - Define The Relationship. We didn't start dating, but we at least knew the feelings were mutual. Phew.
Apr. - Aug. 2004: On April 14th, 2004, Doug & I were on our way to a Tigers' game together. We were about 10 minutes down the road when Doug said, "So, do you want to make this official? Do you want to be my girlfriend?" Naturally, I found him irresistible (and 3 years later we were married...). Doug & I were apart for the summer, but we saw each other a couple times. We still liked each other, so we kept dating.
Sept. 2004 - May 2005: We were an established, typical couple at SAU. One funny thing about the year was that 2 of housemates and best friends were engaged, and I was living with their fiances, so all of us spent a considerable amount of time together. Which obviously put some pressure (both intentionally and unintentionally) on Doug. It manifested itself every month or so, when Doug would randomly tell me that he didn't want to talk about marriage or engagement or anything yet. Mind you, Internet, this pressure was not coming from me! But I found these conversations mildly amusing, and would routinely console Doug by telling him that I was only a sophomore and totally content. Doug graduated in May, and began the tedious process of looking for a REAL JOB.
June - Aug. 2005: Doug & I spent another summer apart, seeing each other a few times for the weddings of those friends. At some point over the summer, Doug told me that he "could see us getting married someday." Score! The day I returned to Michigan to go back to school, Doug made a special dinner for us and told me for the first time that he loved me. THE L-WORD, PEOPLE! This was a big deal.
Sept. 2005: Doug got a job offer in NYC. Which meant we'd be doing long-distance again. For a longer time. The day before he left, we looked at engagement rings together. WHOA.
Oct. 2005 - Apr. 2006: We did the long-distance thing. We saw each other at holidays, I drove to NYC to surprise him for his birthday in December, he flew me to NYC for my 21st birthday in January. Then in February, he came out for a weekend to visit. Unknown to me, he also purchased an engagement ring that weekend. In March, he took a secret trip to Excelsior Farms to ask my dad for permission to marry me. On April 14, 2006: Doug proposed on our 2-year anniversary, after setting up a sweet little scavenger hunt on my family's farm. Naturally, I found him irresistible and said yes.
May - Aug. 2006: Still long-distance, seeing each other sporadically.
Sept. - Dec. 2006: I spent a semester abroad in England! Doug flew out and surprised me around Thanksgiving and we visited France together.
Jan. - June 2007: Student teaching. Wedding planning. Registering. Grading. Daydreaming. Practicing writing "Rachel Parton". Ahh, twitterpation.
July 7, 2007: Our beautiful wedding day at Excelsior Farms! The start of our marriage. Details from this point forward have been chronicled in varying length throughout this blog.
For our 1st anniversary, Doug & I took a weekend trip to Mackinac Island. For our 2nd anniversary, he got me a puppy. This year, our upcoming 3rd anniversary, we'll be in Jamaica with the youth group on a mission trip.
I feel so blessed.