When I first met Jeff, he and his brother had just broken one of the Jet skis that our BYU student ward had rented for the day at Willard Bay. “What an idiot”, I thought.
My best friend at the time was Dave Talbot. He had been my district leader in my last sector of my mission in Chile. He was so sweet and wonderful, and was my adopted brother in Utah. And I loved his entire family. I had returned to BYU a few weeks before the start of the fall semester. It would be my last before I graduated. I was supposed to graduate that summer, but did my student teaching in Mexico that spring, and ended up breaking both of my arms with compound fractures in a horse riding accident. I got sent home and spent the summer recovering. I was dating a guy that I was not in love with. He came to visit me in Michigan…my sisters talked me out of marrying him. I’m glad they did. I’m glad I broke my arms.
I went back to Provo, to Dave. We spent a lot of nights lying on the trampoline in his backyard just talking. Trying to make sense out of our mission, and deciding what we were really suppose to do with our lives, telling each other our dating problems. I will always really be so grateful to Dave. He still is one of my greatest friends. I remember feeling that I would never be able to love anyone. My heart had just been completely shattered when I left Chile. For so many reasons. I hadn’t even cried since I had been home. And now it had been over a year. That is why I had partially convinced myself that I could be happy in a marriage with someone I didn’t love. It didn’t really matter anymore. I was sure I could never love anyone ever again. Was there even really such a thing?
The semester started, and I studied hard, and focused on graduation. Dating occasionally, being grateful for good roommates and friends. I didn’t really think about the idiot that broke the jet skis that summer. Then, I was feeling especially lonely one day and called Dave. He told me to come and play cards with him and his friends. I think I felt funny about crashing the guy’s night card party, but I went. Everyone was great…except Jeff. He was not happy at all about a girl showing up at his house for this male bonding ritual. He glared at me and gave me dirty looks all night, and was mad at Dave for bringing me. I went to play cards a few more times. Jeff kind of got used to me coming. He still wasn’t that nice. But he did stop glaring at me. And I did start to notice that his butt looked really good in his bike shorts….
Dave had been telling me about this hike up to this old mine up Provo Canyon. I really wanted to go. Jeff wanted to come with us too, he loves stuff like that. He is the mountain biking, hiking, rock-climbing all-around outdoor guy. He had the lantern and all the equipment we needed. And I think that is really where I thought…wow…he is reeaallllyyy cute. He was very helpful all the way up the mountain, which was a pretty hard hike. And the mine/cave was dangerous too. There were drop offs, and steep ledges, and rats... He helped me cross ledges, and climb walls, and was just so cool. Years later he would tell me that this is when he really started to like me, even though he was determined not to. I didn’t complain, or mind getting dirty. His brother fell in love with his wife at that mine too. I wonder if it has anything to do with their dad being a geologist and their family having an affinity for rocky, dangerous places and girls who are willing to not worry about broken fingernails. After that day, Jeff was much nicer. We started talking. He was quiet, but really smart, and funny. He really made me laugh. He was even nice to me when I showed up to play cards, and took my side when I got into stupid arguments with Dave’s other friends about Spontaneous Human Combustion, and who did the voice for Darth Vader in Star Wars.
Then one night, I was in the car with Dave, Jeff, and another one of his friends and I got really mad at Dave about something. I think we were on our way to a BYU game. So I told Dave to just take me home. I was really mad. I’m sure it was over something stupid, and I am sure it was my fault. Dave took me home, and I got out of the car and slammed his door and started walking upstairs to my apartment, and I heard another car door close. I turned around and saw Jeff talking to Dave through his window, and then following me up the stairs. I told him he was going to miss the game, in kind of a snotty way. He said, “Let’s go watch a movie or something instead.”
We went to his house and watched Lawrence of Arabia, and talked, and I fell asleep. He woke me up when it was over and took me home. Then he showed up the next night at my apartment with the movie Ladyhawk. After the movie, We talked all night. For some reason he decided that he was not going to leave until he understood me. He asked every right question, and broke through every emotional barrier that I had ever set up. He told me how he felt about me…And he was so smooth when he kissed me that first time at the door… and for the first time in over a year…I cried.
The next night, he had a date with some tall, blonde girl from his ward that he had made a week before. She was really pretty, and was the complete opposite of me. I was sure I would never see him again… He showed up at my house at 9:00 after he dropped her off, and we went to Rock Canyon and made out. (Just a little).
We kept it quiet for a while… playing footsie under the table during card night…dating secretly…but it didn’t take that long for everyone to figure it out. We got engaged in March, married in July, 16 years ago.
When I was a little girl, I poured over every fairy tale book I could get my hands on. I memorized every Disney princess movie by heart. I could sing every song, repeat every line. I hoped with all my heart that someday I would have my own fairy tale and live happily ever after…and then I lost hope for a very long time. I felt so dead inside and replaced all of my feelings of hope for a future filled with love to apathy and disbelief. No one would ever really love me as much as I loved them. True love is just a story…
Until that one night when a wild, reckless, and determined player who I hated, turned into my hero, and saved me in more ways than one.
Our lives are far from perfect, and there have been real struggles and hardships, and no one knows what the future will bring, but I am so grateful for my life with Jeff. He has done so much for me and helped me in so many ways. He makes me laugh every day. He knows everything about me, and he still loves me. He understands me, and he makes me feel safe. He is an amazing father, and my best friend. I love him so much, and there is no one I would rather spend my life with….And I still think his butt looks really good in his bike shorts.
I love you Jeff!!!! Thank you so much for an amazing 16 years! Happy Anniversary!!!