Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Day Before You

So many of my friends and family do not know the real story of how my husband Daniel and I met. Everyone knows that we met in college. Since we both studied Criminal Justice everyone assumes that we just happened to meet in one of our classes together. So many factors played into the day that God finally brought us together. Of course my love story would not be complete without at least a little bit of humor.

On December 7th 1941 Japan attacked America's naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii killing over 2,400 Americans and leaving more than 1,100 wounded. It was a sad day for our Country and on December 8th 1941 the United States declared War on Japan and President Franklin Roosevelt declared the bombing of Pearl Harbor as a "date which will live in infamy."

You might be wondering what this history lesson has to do with my love story? Well, I can tell you that it could ONLY happen to me that the day that I met the love of my life was on Pearl Harbor day in 2005! Due to my ever present string of bad luck I will admit that I tend to be very superstitious. I can't say that I wasn't a little leery when I realized that the first day of my love story began on Pearl Harbor Day!

So..what led Daniel and I to meet on December 7th 2005?

I can't say it was an easy decision to leave my small town of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania to venture to Pensacola, Florida to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. But somehow I knew it was what I was supposed to do. I made the decision my junior year of high school and when I finally made it to Pensacola Christian College in the Fall of 2004 I realized I was definitely not in Kansas anymore. I missed my friends, family, the mountains, and my Mom's cooking! The rules of the college were SO strict (and that is an understatement). I was so homesick. I made it through my first year and I told my Mom I was NOT going back the following year. So I packed up all of my belongings and came back to Pennsylvania after my freshmen year with NO plans of going back!

But later that summer I realized that my Daddy didn't raise no quitter! So I ventured back to Pensacola to start my sophomore year.

What I didn't know was that during my freshman year my now husband Daniel spotted me in a crowd in the Four Winds cafeteria. According to him, he saw me walking through the cafeteria and he was like," that is her." He said that he had been all over the world and here in the Four Winds cafeteria was the girl of his dreams. From that day on he said that he looked for me everywhere that he went. Him and his friends nicknamed me "pink and brown' because I always wore pink and brown. Daniel started calling me "Shawty" to his friends and whenever one of them spotted me they would come back to his dorm room and tell him they saw his "Shawty" and ask him when he was going to get the courage to ask me out on a date. He told them that I was way out of his league. He tried to find out my real name and asked everyone he knew if they knew my name.But since I like to keep a low profile not one person knew who I was! I keep a low profile because the less I go out, the less of a chance I have to fall, trip, or embarass myself!

It was the start of my sophomore year. One of the classes that I was required to take was a Security class. It was offered with 2 instructors. One of the instructors I had once before and he was really tough. The other instructor was one of my favorites...Mr. Heckel. I made sure to register for the class with Mr. Heckel. It was the first day of class and much like every first day of class I always try to be strategic when picking my seat. I always avoid the first row..it's much too risky for the teacher to ask you a question when you are sitting on the first row. I also avoid sitting too far back in the row because that means there is more opportunity for me to trip on something in front of everyone on the way back to my seat AND it is also way too far from the door for my liking(I prefer a quick exit)  So here I was on the first day of Security class sitting in my desk the fourth seat back the second row from the door.

Meanwhile, across campus Daniel was puking his guts out due to an outbreak of food poisoning. He was unable to go to the first few days of classes. Once he  was over his food poisoning he finally made it to his Security class. But much to his horror he had accidentally signed up for the instructor that was really tough. He went to the first class and then switched that class quicker than you can say "I want Heckel!!!"

So the first day of his Security class with Mr. Heckel he took a back row seat. Since he sat in the back he always used the exit in the back of the room especially since he liked to use the back stairwells. Because of this I never once saw him in this class. On his first day of class he happened to notice me sitting in the front of the room and he couldn't believe his eyes..there sat his "Shawty" in the fourth seat back the second row from the door...

Daniel couldn't believe it! What was his Shawty doing in a Criminal Justice class?! He thought that maybe I was an Elementary Education major who mistakenly went in the wrong class room. He kept waiting for me to get up and leave, but I never did! 

As the semester went on Daniel continued to stare at the back of my head during Security class. I had still not even seen him! Until one day towards the end of the semester. We had a project for the class which consisted of a written report and a corresponding speech. On our speech day Mr. Heckel asked who would like to go first and a few people raised their hands. Daniel was one of them. He walked right past my desk up to the front of the room. When he turned around all that I could think was," Wow!" Where has HE been hiding?!" He was wearing khaki pants and his black Collegian half zip pullover sweater. There he was the man of my dreams! Tall, dark, and handsome! I had dreamed of this man for my whole life, but he never had a face. It was as if the man of my dreams had walked out of my dream and was standing right in front of me! Then he started to talk...We were supposed to say our name at the beginning of our speech, but of course he forgot so I was left to ponder what this handsome stranger's name was!

 As the next few weeks went by I looked for him everywhere I went! I  told all of my friends about him and tried to describe him to them. Then one day I discovered that he was an usher in church. He was at door 13 and every service I tried to go through his door just to catch a glimpse! I referred to him as the"hot usher". One service after I went through his door my roommate Miriam noticed that one of his friends he was sitting with just happened to be in her class! Miriam said she would ask her classmate what the "hot usher's" name was and whatever other information she could pry out of him without being too obvious! I knew deep down I probably wasn't his type. I assumed he probably went for tall skinny girls. Well, it just so happened that the day she asked her classmate I was walking by and she said," that's my roommate and she wants to know your friend's name." He said, "her? Shawty?!!!"

That night Miriam FINALLY came back from class to relate the details to me. I will never forget it. I was sitting up on my top bunk(which was all pink by the way) and Miriam told me," He is my classmates's roommate, His name is Daniel, he doesn't have a girlfriend, He knows who you are, and he calls you "Shorty." Notice I changed the pronunciation from "Shawty" to just "Shorty". According to a website I just found, for those of you confused on the Shawty/Shorty issue here is some clarifcation:"The use of the word "shawty" is cool when referring to a young woman. As opposed to using the normal pronunciation, "shorty", which would be totally uncool."

 Since bascially the day that I was born I have been called "Shorty". My height is definitely a sore subject with me. All I could think of was that I was right... I was definitely not his type and I was definitely too short. It was like a knife to my heart.

Later that night my friend Amy and I went to the Four Winds cafeteria for our usual Italian food. I had already relayed to her about his "Shorty" comment and how "unimpressed" I was. She told me he wasn't worth my time and not to let it bother me. So there I was in the Four Winds going to drown my sorrows in some spaghetti when I just happend to look over and there is Daniel sitting at a table with a group of his friends right in front of MY spaghetti line!!! The NERVE of him! I remembered thinking to myself" THANK GOD I am at least wearing my high heels!" He looked me right in the eyes while I was holding my tray of spaghetti and I glared at him and said to myself, "He didn't deserve me anyway!" I turned on my heels, stuck my nose up in the air, and you could literally hear the "hmph" from across the cafeteria as I troopsy trotted over to my table. All the while I was giving myself a pep talk," You can do this..pretend you are confident and whatever you do Janel, do NOT trip, or drop your tray! Just make it safely to the table without further embarassment!"  This was Tuesday...the day before..

The next day.. Wednesday December 7th..Pearl Harbor day I woke up to what seemed like any other normal day. A "normal" day for me is making it to my classes preferably on time and trying as hard as I can to get there without tripping, falling down any steps, walking out of the restroom with toilet paper on my shoe, or getting stopped in the hall for a dresscode violation.. you know the "normal" stuff. I was in my Security class and of course the handsome jerk was still sitting behind me. I hated that feeling. Knowing he was sitting back there probably thinking how I was number 1000 on his list of wannabe girlfriends.

The bell rang and class ended and I jumped up and headed for the door.

Unbeknowst to me Daniel who normally takes the back stairwell was trying as hard as he could to catch me before I reached the girl's elevator. Anyone who knows me know that I walk extremely fast and I walk even faster when I'm trying to catch the elevator. He didn't catch me before I hopped on the elevator so he ran down the 6 flights of steps as fast as he could in hopes that he could catch me in the Commons before he lost his courage!

Meanwhile I had just gotten off of the elevator and was making my way to the Commons to check my mailbox. I happened to see in my peripheral vision what looked like Daniel standing at his mailbox. I rememebred thinking, "hmm that is weird. He never checks his mail after class." (I had been stalking him remember?) I then happen to see him walking towards me!!!! My heart stopped! I heard, "Hey!" I turned around to see if he was actually talking to me and there he was standing looking at me!!(looking rather winded I might add). He introduced himself and asked me my name. He then asked me if I would want to "do something" sometime. I remember standing there thinking "even though he is the hottest guy I have ever seen I WILL NOT be his charity case!" As he was standing there looking ever so sure of himself I kept thinking, "I am just another one of his many followers. He is just trying to be nice and I have more pride than to be another one of his forgettable dates!"  I looked right at him with my hand on my hip and with as much pride and sass as I could muster said," I thought you didn't like short girls?"  The look on his face was PRICELESS!! He stood there fumbling over his words and stammering like an idiot! Mr. Confident didn't look so sure anymore! Then I saw the moment when it clicked in his mind...I could hear him thinking" I'm going to kill my roommate!" It hit him that his roommate spilled the beans about him calling me "shawty" and that I had confused it with "shorty" and was offended! He looked down to me giving him a "I dare you to try to talk yourself out of this one" look.

He kindly explained that he did not mean it in a derogatory way and that he would really like to go out sometime. He later told me that he should have known he was in for it if I called him out like that the first time he talked to me! 

He asked me to church that evening and I said yes.

Looking back on our first conversation it makes me laugh to think that I thought he was Mr. Confident when in reality he said he had never been more nervous! It also makes me laugh to think that he thought that I was a little bratt for calling him out after just meeting him! We both had it ALL wrong!

That night we went to church and he walked me back to my dorm. It started raining and as we were walking in the rain I thought to myself...I do not care how many years it takes or what stands in between us...I know he is THE ONE I will marry someday. He asked me that night to be his date for Fine Arts the following weekend. As we got back to my dorm he told me to call him if I wanted to hang out again soon and I remembered that my Mom always told me to NEVER call a boy. So I gave him my room number and he wrote it in his Bible because that was all that he had to write on. To this day my room number is still in his Bible and the rain drop stains are still there.  From that night on we have been INSEPARABLE.

It has been almost 6 years since the "fateful" day that we met on December 7th 2005. And I can't help but wonder..what if? What if he never saw me that first day in the Four Winds? What if I decided not to go back to college after my first year? What if he never got his class switched? What if our roommates didn't have the same class?  Everything would be different. I can't help but see God's hand in every detail of our love story.

I heard this song for the first time the week that I met Daniel:

 I had all but given up on finding the one that I could fall into..on the day before you
I was ready to settle for less than love and not much more
There was no such thing as a dream come true
But that was on the day before you
Now you're here and everything's changing
Suddenly life means SO much
I can't wait to wake up tomorrow and find out this promise is true
I will NEVER have to go back to
The day before you...