Other than the speeding ticket, I’m not sure there was a dull moment in the weekend Alexandra and I shared back in October. It was really the first time we hung out as friends (close friends at that) and that was all it took. Although it did take all weekend to get there.
Day 1 found Ali coming to visit me at school and watch me play for the choir in chapel and then grab some lunch and go to a class with me. Her mom also flew in to Dallas later that afternoon so she spent the afternoon with her while I was out teaching. Later that night though we were able to have dinner together and just hang out.
It was the beginning of the end of being “just friends.”
Day 2 found us actually visiting Criswell and some other roaming around the DFW area before again eating some dinner over on campus and then hanging out, eventually out by the pool were we had a rather amazing conversation and I saw Ali’s eyes sparkle for the first time.
Day 3 involved Ali getting dropped off at NorthPark mall while I had a meeting for work. Later on I picked her back up and we headed off to church up at The Village. It was by the time I dropped her off that night around midnight or so that I thought it was time to talk about “us.” Although I was not entirely sure myself where the conversation would go. This jarred Ali quite considerably and she spent the entire night up praying and wondering if she had overstepped the friendship boundary she had so carefully maintained during her weekend in Dallas.
So, on Day 4, what was supposed to be her last day in Dallas, I picked her up around lunch time and we made our way off to lunch with the suspense already so thick you could cut it with a knife. Lame attempts at conversations about other things abounded. I got perpetually lost which is probably only the 2nd time this has ever happened (the other also interestingly involving Ali). We finally made it to an On the Border somewhere way out past the airport on 183.
Conversation continued to stall until I finally broke through and started talking about what I should have been talking about hours ago. “Us.” Again, I don’t really remember the bulk of the conversation, just her smile once the conclusion was made that we should start pursuing a dating relationship. Then we actually started talking.
After lunch we headed over to Marshall’s to watch some football before Ali had to head off to Love Field to fly home. We said our goodbyes once it got perilously close to her flight and headed off. We made it just the nick of time, only for Ali to realize she had left her cell phone at Marshall’s. This presented quite the problem, but it was non-negotiable. She would have to miss her flight and leave the next day.
So we ended up back at Marshall’s and then eventually up at Zach’s to watch Talladega Nights, what would be our first movie night. We even held hands for the first time on the way home. Home of course being Washington Tower apartments where I lived on campus at DTS, and home for Ali that particular evening being with a Abby a friend of mine who lived on the floor below us. She of course had immediate questions for Ali and got the Cliff Notes version of what I’ve typed out so far as soon as I left the room (as in what I’ve typed out since Part I, brevity escapes me, I know).
So the next day we tried for round 2 after having what is controversially labeled our first date, although it was obviously extremely informal. I mean I did ask her to lunch and did pay for it, and Ghengis Grill is now sort of “our place.” Anyway, afterward we were off to the airport and Ali did actually make it off safely this time. But only after we stood awkwardly saying goodbye in the airport for what seemed like hours before I actually leaned in and kissed her. Honestly though it was more of a peck, I’m not sure it really counts other than that our lips made contact.
So the whole long distance thing. Not a fan. It was a tortuously long time before we would see each other again. Ali though at this point already knew we were going to get married. It took me a bit of time though. Our initial game plan was to see how things went over the rest of the fall semester and maybe “make it official,” or some nonsense like that, over Christmas break.
We made it two weeks before making it official. Some time not long after that we had the conversation that did it for me. I asked Ali what made her feel most alive. I remember I was outside at Marshall’s, in and out of the car depending on my battery strength on my piece of crap phone (that has thankfully still lasted to this day). I honestly don’t actually remember that much of her response, I just remember the way the trees looked that night and the fact that her response left me quite speechless. It wasn’t just the response that it did it, it was more or less the final piece needed before making a decision to move forward.
So, what had started in October as a “let’s take it slow and see where this thing goes,” ended in the fall semester with me immediately buying a ring as soon as I got home and making final preparations for giving Ali the surprise of her life once I could make it down to Florida after Christmas. And you can read all about it in the next and last installment of this story, to be posted just prior to the wedding.