Here at Avon At The Mall, we love a good story. And, even better, we REALLY love a good LOVE story. In the spirit of Valentine’s day (the modern American version, not the historical one), let’s share our stories. I’ll start.
Way back in June of 1991, I’d just battled through my first year of college at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I was 18, and trying to figure out the rest of my life, because, you know, I had to get it all figured out right away! The way I saw it, I had 2 options: I could remain a dependent of my career military dad and PCS (Permanent Change of Station) with my family back to the “Lower 48”, or I could journey out on my own and make my life in Alaska. I didn’t think there was a third option.
At the time, I was working at Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK (both REAL places) between Eielson AFB and Fairbanks. Santa Clause House is a gift and toy shop, and a MAJOR stop for any tour bus coming through the Interior. I was also active in my local church. Although our church was just outside the Air Force Base, there were only 3 (yep, THREE) single people who attended. Myself (I’d “graduated” from the youth group when I graduated high school) and 2 GIs. The three of us had agreed to work together to try to grow the young adults/singles group at Moose Creek (yep, another real place – in between Eielson AFB & North Pole). So, one of these 2 single guys (Spoiler alert! It was John, my Sweetie.) worked second shift at the base, but would swing by my work in an attempt to brain storm ideas for our church group. Unfortunately, EVERY time John came by, we’d get 2 or 4 or 6 buses of tourists (Usually international, with 20 minutes to shop. It was nuts.). The ladies I worked with found it extremely amusing. So, to get them off of my case, I told them the next time John came in, I’d ask him to dinner so we could talk. You know, about church stuff. He came by THAT VERY SAME DAY.
Skip ahead to July 4th of that same year. It was just a couple of days. I was house sitting for a couple from church who were vacationing in the Lower 48. True to my word, I’d invited John over and offered to grill steaks so we could scheme about growing our church group. It was our honest intention. Honest. We visited, shared stories and dreams, and our hearts with each other. John sang songs he’d written. And, it was over (at least for me). I’d fallen for a troubadour with glittering blue eyes. I just didn’t know it yet.
We really didn’t date. We hung out. I helped with youth events (he was serving as youth minister at the time). We were good friends who shared a common faith. Until August 8, 1991. Everything changed then. I came home from work and John was at my folks house. I didn’t think anything of it, he was my younger sisters’ youth minister. I said “Hi” and warmed up the chimichanga I’d picked up at the Market Basket on the way home. We all sat around talking. I showed John how to make Hair Swim (it’s a REALLY cool science trick). Eventually, everyone went to bed, except John and I.
We were just talking, about normal, mundane things, and then I KNEW in my spirit. I remember thinking so very clearly. “He’s going to ask me to marry him. And, I’m going to say yes.” Whadda know, he dropped down to one knee and proposed. And, I did say “Yes”. Eventually he had to head back to the barracks, so I walked him to the door and we kissed. It’s been more than 25 years, and I still remember that first kiss. I felt it in my entire body.
John drove back to the base then called me to let me know he’d made it back safe and we listened to each other breathe on the phone for an hour or so. We kept falling asleep, and eventually hung up.
The next morning, I got up early to see my folks before Daddy left for work. We were in the kitchen. I announced that I’d decided to stay in Alaska, and that John and I were getting married. Their reaction was “It’s about time!”
Within a few weeks, we set the date (January 11, 1992), bought the ring and began wedding planning. I love him more today than I could have ever fathomed 25 years ago. We’ve had life. It’s not been a fairy tale, but we both made a commitment to love each other that August. The decision was final when he asked, and I said yes. We’ve often said that our mutual stubbornness has been the “secret” to our longevity.
We still challenge each other, we still make each other laugh, and we still feel it in our toes when we kiss. Best unexpected decision I ever made. Ever. I love you John King.
What is your love story? Please share in the comments.