Levi and I married each other in June of 2012 after only six months of head-over-heels, foolish-about-each-other love. Our story, like every love story, has its own unique and sweet moments and timings. We continue to marvel at the way God orchestrated our lives to bring us together, and though it included pain and trials for both of us before we met, we wouldn't change anything about it.
Everything that happened and every way that we grew led us to this moment.
We'd made plans. His visit to me was in motion. I had about a week and a half to ready myself for what I thought was (and what turned out to be) the most important meeting of my life. Yeah, I know, that sounds dramatic and most definitely cliche, but it is what it is. There's a reason things become cliches...
Chapter 17: Cleaning House
My friend AB sat on my couch fiddling with her camera while I lounged on my living room floor playing with Isis, my grey fluffball of a cat.
"So tell me again," she said, squinting at the buttons on the expensive piece of equipment, "how long have the two of you been talking?"
I'd just filled her in on Levi, and she was more than a little taken aback. As she adjusted and readjusted the settings on her camera, I repeated the details of getting to know Levi. How we'd been matched online just a month ago. How we'd only been exchanging e-mails for three weeks. How we'd already logged almost 50 hours of phone calls in the last two weeks. How he was coming to visit me in just ten days.
"Can you get her to look over this way?" AB asked, repositioning herself on the floor.
Isis was lounging against the wall, the sunlight gleaming off her silver hair and her eyes glowing a bright gold. I began snapping my fingers and saying Isis's name as AB took picture after picture of her. After about five minutes of this, Isis squinted her eyes disdainfully and sauntered off to a different spot in the kitchen where she'd be less likely to be disturbed.
"Ok," AB said, scrolling through the pictures she'd just taken. "Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to come over this weekend, and we're going to get this house really ready for him to visit."
"What's wrong with my house?" I asked, a tad defensively.
"Oh, sweetie," she said gently, "you know what needs to be done."
"Yeah," I sighed. "I know, I know. You're right."
My house wasn't a disaster, by any means. I mean, on the inside, I kept a super clean and organized little house. Things were neatly placed at 90 and 45-degree angles, my DVD collection was alphabetized, and the different areas of my kitchen were efficiently zoned (baking, stovetop, tableware, dry goods, etc.). And I also realize that in saying those things I just revealed a tad too much of my system obsession and my proclivity to OCD, but hopefully you won't think too badly of me. I'd been told before that my home was so clean and clutter-free that it made people uncomfortable. In all fairness, those people lived like slobs (and I'm not just saying that -- 6-month-old dog poop crusted to the carpet and left because it was too much work -- yeah *shudder*) so I don't think my home would make normal people uncomfortable.
What AB was talking about, however, was the outside of my home. It was . . . less than beautiful. To be honest, it wasn't an eyesore for the neighborhood, but really, besides faithfully mowing my lawn, I could barely be bothered to pull a weed here or there. And the side of my carport was filled to the brim with old plywood, doors, planks, poles, and other junk. An old cast-iron tub even graced my back driveway. If Levi was going to come visiting, it was time to finally take care of those things. And it also helped that AB was there. Her interest jumped quickly from project to project, and she rarely had bursts of energy, and this was one of those rare times when interest and energy suddenly focused on one thing: the curb appeal of my house.
I wasn't about to pass up free help!
Levi and I continued to talk on the phone each night, and we also continued to write each other e-mails. It was more and more exciting to talk to each other as the time of our actual meeting drew near. I continued to teach, and I continued to ride the roller coaster that is the American teenager: enchanting, amusing, frustrating, baffling, cruel, hurtful, selfish, selfless, enthusiastic.... the list goes on and on.
When the weekend rolled around AB showed up and we got to work. And I mean, we got to WORK. My word. I never thought I could get so much done in one weekend, and honestly, I wouldn't have gotten half of it done without her help and her motivation.
We scrubbed down the inside of my house. We scrubbed the kitchen floors by hand. We dusted every ceiling fan (I had 5). We polished all the wood. We trimmed up the overgrown rosebushes out front. We swept the big front porch. We pulled old and dead plants out of the beds and raked the dry, winter dirt. We raked leaves. We raked more leaves. We raked leaves for an entire day. We ask one of my coworkers to bring his trailer by, and we loaded it down with all the plywood, doors, planks, poles, and other junk. We took a trip to the dump and got rid of what he didn't want to keep. We raked some more leaves out from where the junk had been. We organized my wood piles. We moved the tub to the side and I vowed to turn it into a planter (never happened). We installed some automatic security lights on the side of the house.
We spent a Sunday afternoon exhausted on the couch before AB left. I couldn't thank her enough. My house felt lighter, cleaner, and more company-friendly than it had since I moved in. And considering I'd have the most important company of my life in 5 days, that was a very, very, good thing.
We're finally, finally, getting to the point when we'll meet each other for the first time! It's still our favorite part of our story. Levi and I go over it and recite it to each other at least once a week. "Remember when..." and "You know the time we...."
Next Chapter (Chapter 18: The Truth vs. The Brain) Previous Chapter (Chapter 16: Plans)