(Hubby obliged to write this post in this series. Thanks a lot - tweet.)
Who's That Girl?
The first time I ever laid eyes on That Girl was back in '78 at the Campus Crusade tambayan (hangout) at the College of Arts & Sciences building, UP Diliman Campus. It must have been lunchtime. I was sitting near the entrance to the tambayan making up my schedule for the week. I looked up and there she was.
She looked like she was looking for somebody but couldn't find her. She glanced at me and smiled. I smiled back. She turned to go and as she did, I noticed her hair, it was braided into one long, thick black rope behind her, down to her waist. Not many girls sported that length then. Hence the vivid recollection years later.
The next time I spied that long black braid of hair and that toothsome smile she flashed at me, it was at The Lord's Church in Cubao. I knew it was her. That hair, that smile.
My sister Beck pointed her out to me sometime later. She said she liked her; she was unpretentious and down-to-earth. I guess they'd talked before. At that point we hadn't. Beck didn't always play matchmaker but this time, she was quite excited about That Girl. So I made a mental note to be open to the Lord's leading. I wrote a short prayer in my journal: "If she's The One, please preserve her for me." It was three years later that I would finally decide celibacy wasn't for me.
Yes, I'd been seriously considering celibacy. I wanted to take the apostle Paul's admonition to young men who were single to remain unmarried to better serve the Lord without the distractions of domestic life. I was heading towards that direction. But after getting to know That Girl better, I felt right about at least considering a relationship.
There were other girls, some I'd really gotten close with enough to also consider. I don't know, she seemed the right fit. So I started bracing myself for The Proposal.
Having had no experience with serious dating, I proposed marriage the first time I ever talked to her about us. The first and last girlfriend I had then was in high school. I didn't know that proposing marriage should have come later after we'd dated. But what the heck.
I remember that night vividly. I took a public jeepney from Katipunan to UP campus, (I didn't even make a call to tell her I was coming over) walked over to her front door, nervously knocked and waited till she opened the door. I blurted out something like, "Can we take a walk?" She sweetly obliged and we headed for the DiliMall which at that time was already closed. So we sat down near the closed doors of the mall, not the most romantic spot for making a serious proposal. No diamond ring, no speech prepared, I was going to wing it.
I told her a bit about my history and how I've been praying for the past three years, on and off, about her, and if she was willing to take a risk with me, if she'd pray about it. She said she'd pray about it and tell me when she's ready. I felt relieved to get it off my chest and now, in the meantime, we'd go out and get to know each other better--you know the drill.
The story is pretty much the same as she recounted it already in her previous posts. Me getting off in the wrong town (even then I had a terrible sense of direction) and getting soaked in the rain with single rose stem in hand looking really pathetic; walking around UP Los Baños and finally receiving that sweet Yes on a rock in the middle of a bubbling stream.
It would be another Rock that would keep us afloat through the many turbulent waters we were to go through in our 24 years of marriage. It's been one heck of an adventure that I would not exchange this for anything. What a great partner God has given me to ride this whitewater raft with! And even now as she waits for me to reach my full potential--after 24 years of wishing, hoping and praying--she waits with the patience of a Job. Who knew that That Girl with toothsome smile and braided hair would turn out to be the love of my life? Who knew?