Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our Love Story, Part 2

Our Love Story is a series chronicling how my husband and I met, fell in love, and married. I've written this for our children so that they can know the love that created them. See part one here.

 Working a party for my summer job- an outdoor summerstock theatre at which I performed Rodger's and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! six nights a week.

The weeks following the breakup were a strange mix of sadness, excitement, and chaos. I had begun rehearsals for my summer theatre job and was at the theatre for nearly twelve hours a day. I would drag my sore, exhausted body into my dark room at the end of the day and turn on my computer, just hoping that my handsome young soldier friend would be starting his day across the world.

Your dad's first deployment to Iraq and the first tire he blew out in Baghdad.

When we talked online, my heart became lodged in my throat. My cheeks flushed. As we corresponded more and more, it became apparent that his heart was being pulled in the same direction.

Then one day, he told me he was going to call me. I panicked and told him not to. But a few minutes later, my phone rang anyway. A strange combination of numbers flashed on the screen and my heart began to pound to intensely that I could hardly catch my breath. It was Ryan. He had taken a holiday leave to Qatar and had some time to talk... if I wanted... and I did.



We talked about everything. Our families. Our jobs. His deployment. Our favorite foods, movies, restaurants, music. I was more honest than I've ever been in my life. There was no sense of pretense there. All I wanted to do was be sure that he knew who I was. All of me. And I wanted to know the same of him, to the very core.

The conversation lasted a short four hours. I don't even recall if it was morning or night, I only know that the hours blurred together and all too soon, it was over. Luckily, it wouldn't be the last time he would call me.

As July Fourth approached, I was preparing for a big event at the theater when the doorbell rang. I know what you're thinking, and no. It wasn't Ryan. But it was a HUGE bouquet of roses and calla lilies. He knew that The 4th was one of my favorite holidays and wanted to make sure it was a special one for me. The card wasn't sappy. It simply said "I hope this makes you smile." And it did.

 The bouquet your daddy sent me for Fourth of July, 2006. He even remembered my favorite flowers!

I floated through most of the summer with that same goofy grin on my face- not really knowing what this was. Was this a relationship? Was he my boyfriend? Was I the only girl he was talking to? Part of me was still holding back worried that this person that I had been speaking with was not truly who he said he was. How could I really know for sure? I mean, I had never actually  met him. He could be anyone. I could see him interact with family and friends on social media so I knew that he was in fact in the Army and deployed to Iraq, but how could I know that all of the things he had been telling me about himself were true?

We hadn't really discussed what "this" was. There was no definition yet. I think we were both playing it safe. I mean, who really meets a complete stranger on a random blogging site and falls madly in love, anyway? We were both okay with just going with it for now. But it did leave me open to a few awkward conversations that summer.

For example, one of our technicians at the theatre was extremely quiet but always very sweet to me. When mutual friends approached me and spilled that he secretly wanted to ask me out on a date, I had to explain the whole thing.
"Well, I'm kind of seeing someone... that I've never met... I mean, I think we're together... but I guess we're not... So I can't. But thanks?"

To which they responded,
 "You *think* you're dating a guy... that you've never met? But you're not really sure?"

"Um. Yes."

I was completely aware of how crazy it all sounded. I was also completely aware of how out of character this was for me. I am not an impulsive person by nature- especially when it comes to matters of the heart. So I stayed pretty tight-lipped about my new "friend."

But as the Fall semester approached, along with the knowledge that Ryan would be returning home in August, I couldn't take my mind off of him. Would we still talk when he returned home? Or did he maybe have someone waiting for him already? Surely he would have mentioned that... but in truth, I held no claim to his heart at this point.

My fears were put to rest when he mentioned that he would be driving from New York- where he was stationed- to Texas to visit his best friend and would have to drive right through Oklahoma City, "so why not meet for coffee or something?"

The plan was for Ryan to stay one night in a hotel in my little college town and then continue on to Texas the next day. Of course, I wanted him to meet my roommates and my best friend while he was in town so they could scope him out and see if he had mild creeper tendencies to which I had previously been blinded. I was completely giddy. It was ridiculous.

The rest of my summer crept by at a slow crawl as I anticipated returning to school in the fall and meeting the young man to whom I had been devoting so much of my time. And when I knew he was finally stateside, my heart became permanently lodged in my throat. I knew that in a few short weeks, he would be standing on my doorstep. He would be right in front of me....

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our Love Story, Part 1

Today marks seven years of marriage to my awesome husband! As our children grow, and the time between our meeting increases, I have felt the desire to write down our story. The one about how we met and fell madly in love. I want to get it all written down before time erases the small details- the best parts- so that our kids can read it some day. So here begins the first installment of a multi-part series...

Once upon a time, in a vast, magical place called the interwebs, a boy and a girl were destined to meet...

In the Spring of 2006, I was smack in the middle of college in my chosen major: Musical Theatre. I was also smack in the middle of a serious relationship that was quickly approaching the two year mark. But mostly I was just busy. Rehearsals, classes, boyfriend, events, social gatherings, and auditions. I barely gave myself time to sleep.

It should be noted, children, that there are very few "normal" pictures of me from college. Always in costume of some sort. This is a picture of me from the University of Central Oklahoma's 2005 spring musical, The Wild Party. I played a hooker. Be proud of your momma...

And like everyone else in the world at this point in history, I was active on a few social networking sites. These sites were still a relatively new concept, and seemingly safer. In my full-blown college girl angst, I had taken to Xanga and Myspace many a time to unleash my thoughts and feelings about various happenings in my life.

I posted poems and lyrics that I had written- ambiguously coded of course- and I explored and discovered new musical artists. I became a member of a few of these online circles for fans of various artists, and one day, by complete chance, I saw a comment that had been left by a handsome young soldier. I admit, my curiosity got the best of me, and I followed the link to his profile. I wondered what he wrote about- war? Music? Family? Where was he from? What did he do in the military? I didn't find much, honestly. A few updates with lots of time spaced in between and a couple of pictures peppered throughout. I have no idea what prompted me, but for some reason, I felt compelled to leave a comment on one of his posts. A strange show of support, perhaps? I don't know. But I left the comment and moved on with my day.

But by the next day, I had a new follower. It seemed the young soldier was as curious about me as I was him- perhaps even more so, because he had also found me on another social media site- Myspace. One might even say he was stalking me. Ahem. Okay, *I* might have said that. BUT, we struck up a friendship and his were the posts I most looked forward to because they always made me laugh. I found myself habitually waiting for his screen name to flash across my screen so that I could talk to him. I tried to ignore the fact that he was rather handsome, as I was still in my "serious" (although increasingly rocky) relationship.

As my Spring semester at college drew to a close and I prepared to move to Tulsa to work in an outdoor summerstock theatre, tensions grew between my boyfriend and I. There were very apparent issues from the beginning. Aside from our obvious differences regarding beliefs and passions, he had informed me not once, but twice, that he just didn't think he was supposed to marry me. Although I had never fancied myself the marrying type, he certainly was, and hearing that I wasn't "the one" wasn't any less painful. I suppose I had hoped that time could change things, as it sometimes does. Truth be told, he hoped the same thing. No one ever wants to think they've wasted valuable time and energy and love on something that was only meant to dissipate... But by the time I attended his college graduation ceremony and celebration at the end of that semester, it had become very apparent to me that that was exactly what needed to happen.

It's funny how you remember moments like these. I remember what I was wearing and what I ate and how I felt like an intruder attending this celebration for this young man with whom I had shared so much, knowing that in a matter of days, I would be explaining to him that we needed to be apart. I distinctly remember looking down at my white floral pants suit and pearls, not recognizing myself anymore.

A week later, as I made my way to Oklahoma City for my regular weekend visit, I knew I could no longer keep together what wasn't meant to hold. I don't remember the words, but I remember both of us expressing our hearts. A sorrow for the end, and a burden that had been lifted, all at once. I remember the red bag that I filled with things I had left there, and the small box of things from my car that I returned to him. I remember that it took less that thirty minutes before I was back in my car, on my way back to Tulsa. And I remember calling my best friend from the highway and sobbing through a mix of sadness and relief.

She talked me into turning around and drowning my sorrows in a fruit smoothie with her. Then she talked me into going to a party with her that night. It was thrilling to be free... a bonfire burned, and boys looked at me from across the flames and I felt noticed for the first time in a long time. We sang and laughed and talked until late in the evening (or was it early in the morning?) and somehow, for all those faces across the fire, I saw his face in my mind. My friend, the handsome soldier- Ryan was his name.  And my heart beat faster and something in me couldn't wait to speak to him again...

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rylan | Oklahoma City Children's and Family Photographer

Once upon a time, when I was still learning my camera (and truthfully, still shooting portions of my sessions in Auto!), I did a maternity shoot for a coworker and her wife.

 
Fast forward to one night a couple of weeks ago, and THIS handsome little fella jumps out of the car.
 
And I just wanted to keep him! But he didn't want much to do with me. He was super shy, and so I decided we didn't need to take any pictures right away. Why not just go exploring! So that's what we did. I put my camera away and we just walked around town and talked, but to no avail. 
 
Finally, I hit on something. I asked him about his dogs. BINGO. Little man opened up and told me all about them. He was so sweet and charming! I asked him if he wanted to come live with me, but he said no on account of me only having one dog, and he in fact has three. I can understand that.
 
 
 
 
We had so much fun running around Deep Deuce, looking for dogs, airplanes, and places to run and play.
 





And near the end of the shoot, as we played in the dirt, he pointed to a large rock amongst the pebbles. Then he dug it out and get this: he gave it to me. Me! It meant a lot to me, considering the fact that he wouldn't even look at me an hour before!

Thanks, Snow Family for letting me be a small part of your story!
xo,
Chelsea