Saturday, June 21, 2014

3 Weddings - None of Them in June - Number 1

We are both part free spirit and part planner.

Not a great combination. So it's no wonder that my husband proposed to me in a Ford in front of my house.

This was before the days when a guy would ask 10 friends to help in a grand production of knee-bending, engagement ring revealing ceremony. No, he did not surprise me on some holiday with fireworks, pomp and video cameras running.

It was "will you marry me?" in an after-date conversation on a bench seat in a 1975 station wagon.

How un-romantic can you get?

I dizzily replied yes, sworn to secrecy, because who would believe that after the fourth date, we could be serious about such an important decision. Secret engagements do add some illicit excitement to the whole thing, though - something that every relationship needs.

Now if he had just popped the question 45 minutes earlier, it would have been the perfect setting.

We had just gone to the Queen Mary, an antique ship that first sailed in the early 1900's into the Hudson Bay in its New World glory and ended up docked on opposite coasts at the Long Beach Harbor for all the world to visit. Decked out with restaurants, shops, ballrooms, the floating beauty is a great destination for a date night out. Outside the stars glimmered after our dinner. We talked and dreamed and enjoyed each other's company.

But it wasn't till we were parked in front of my humble suburban house, that my husband realized we were at a crossroads and he needed to seize the relationship.

And seize, he did.

As I said, I tentatively agreed, wanting a little more time to decide. I'm very long on decisions. At restaurants, it takes forever to order. The pros and cons are too much for me to sum up in 5 minutes. The same was true for picking a spouse. Weighing the facts would have consumed me till I was 40, thus missing out on love, children and family.

Decades later, it's even better than when we started out in that tiny Newport Beach duplex, 100 feet from the boardwalk, the ocean waves singing us to sleep, the damp air making my cardboard hangers sag, smiling like happy faces.

And happy faces, we had.

But let me back up, because Tim had to fight just to get us to the first date.

We met at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa at a Saturday Night Christian rock concert. I had known his sparkly - eyed brother, Jimmy, because he taught home bible studies where a bunch of us teenagers met to study and socialize.

Timmy was my kind of guy. He had the beachy, long haired boy look that made my heart pitter-pat.
We would see each other at parties and get-togethers long before any romance had begun.

I started college at Biola University.

He called for a date. I turned him down for homework.

He called a second time for a date. I turned him down again.

A bit clueless, I didn't realize I was insulting him. For me, studies came first, play later.

Little did I know that he vowed  he would never ask me out again. "If You want us together," Tim ranted to the skies, "She will have to call me!"

And call, I did.

But it wasn't for love. It was for homework.

My Biblical Foundations class included an assignment to go street witnessing with an experience "soul winner." This person would need to commit to 3 evangelism excursions. When I asked a pastor's wife whom she might recommend, she suggested Alan Young and Tim Shaw. Well, Alan Young was on his way to the University of Jerusalem, so Tim was the only option.

He said that when the phone rang, he knew it was me before his mom handed over the phone.

And that was the beginning. Date number 1. Sharing Jesus on the Newport Pier preceded by dinner at a Chinese restaurant. How sly is that, of my scheming husband-to-be?

The second homework assignment/date was at a concert.

After the third evangelism/outing, I wrote my paper for the assignment. And I got engaged along the way.

18 months later we were married.

Calvary Chapel Prayer room. 11/19/77

After raising 5 children who are gone now,  the wonder, tears, sleepless nights, glorious days, loving and fighting that a long relationship survives and celebrates, we are back to just the two of us. Though now in a much more spacious house than that 500 square foot abode we started out in.

Ours was a November wedding.  Not a typical time of year to wed. Not a typical courtship. It's June that is known for the month of weddings and summer romances and falling in love.

And falling in love, we are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

California Road Trip

There is nothing like a trip up the 5 northbound, escaping the congestion of Southern California with Palo Alto, San Fransisco or Yosemite as your destination.

The delirious ascent on the Grapevine and the roller-coaster ride descending into the valleys is better than Disneyland's Matterhorn.

Down in the valley rows and rows and rows of grapevines fill the expanse, an endless linear repetition of low plants and stake props.

Telephone poles blur by and mesmerize. Hot dry, wind blows your hair strands into your teeth. No air conditioning. The sky is wide and powder blue, as blue as western skies ever get.

If it was a family trip, my brothers and I would play license plate games. "Fastest person to find all the letters in the alphabet wins!" Or "whoever finds the most out of state licenses is better!" Older, faster and smarter, my brothers always beat me. I'm certain we bickered in the back seat and drove our parents crazy.

The expanse of vineyards, garlic and strawberry fields gave way to golden rolling hills. On a lucky trip orange poppies might dot the gentle slopes.

Sometimes we'd sing. To ourselves or at the top of our lungs.

Oh you can't get to heaven (echo)
In a put-put car (echo)
Cause the put-put car (echo)
Can't get that far (echo) Repeat

Oh you can't get to heaven (echo)
On roller skate (echo)
Cause you'll roll right past (echo)
Those pearly gates (Echo) Repeat

Then the Redwoods or Sequoias would take over.

A coastal journey is another  edge-of-the-cliff story of steep mountains, Monterrey jagged pines, rocks and choppy seas to

Santa Barbara, Pebble beach, San Simeon or Carmel.

But my idyllic central California Steinbeck reverie is interrupted.

The trips weren't always picture perfect.

On one vacation, my dad, the adventurer pioneered off road toward the deserts behind Big Bear. My mother, gripped with fear, begged my dad to turn around back to our mountain home. She had just read a story about a family stuck in the desert, broken down car with no water. They had to do some desperate things to hydrate. My dad finally turned around and headed back to the cabin in Moonridge. They didn't speak to each other for the rest of the day.

 Yes, being a parent on a road trip is a much different story from being a child traveler.

Armed with backpacks bulging with word puzzles, pens, paper, books, games and snacks, we'd venture out, 5 kids in tow to camp in King's Canyon or Ojai. The two rowdiest of the 4 boys sat in the closest back seat at arms length in case dad had to quickly discipline them. Which was often. I think I've blocked out this memory.

My husband, reading over my shoulder here, is quick to turn my rose-colored recollections into reality. On the narrow dirt road leading up to Reyes Peak, he reminded me of how I flipped out fearing we'd drop off the inches away precipice into the rocky ravine, or be stranded in a desert without water, forced to drink our own urine. (The same fear my mom had in Big Bear).

With a four-month-old in the back seat, I can now explain my psychotic mom-moment as postpartum disorder. Oh My! Lions-and-tigers-and-bears-Dorothy-of-Oz, Oh My! And Dorothy wasn't even a mom.

Next month my g - children will take a road trip from Virginia to South Florida. It's a good 16 hours. Hope they'll stop in Georgia to break it up. Pretty gutsy move with a 6 year old, 3 year old and a baby.

To kill time the boys will watch Frozen, Disney movies and Spider Man on the screens behind their parents' heads. I would've done the same if the technology existed in the 90's.

But I hope they also sing

and play games

and lean their little foreheads against the van windows

watching the hypnotizing stream of stick-pines go by.

And fight too, even if they drive their parents crazy.

Just like we did.

Cath (sis-in-law), Bro Pete, me, Yosemite (70's)

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