Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When Ryan met Celia

Puddles painted the gray parking lot black and splashed my feet as I crossed the cracked asphalt. Nylons, plus my favorite, cotton, Puerto Rican skirt paper shielded me from the goose-bump October air. It was my twenty-second birthday. Seated inside the office, Colleen questioned me about past retail experience. I looked into her St. Nick eyes and told her everything. I had none. A guy in my Spanish class suggested I come work at the Distribution Center, and his invitation came just after I learned that my new calling would keep me in Utah for at least a year, instead of the short four months that my five year plan dictated. That would mean twelve months of sharing a car with my mom, and sister, unless I got a job.

Nothing on my resume would impress a retail manager, except one line mentioning my service as a missionary, because this retailer was the Church Distribution Center. She shook my hand and led me to the door. Meandering through the isles between bookshelves and white clothing, I scanned the store for the pair of heaven colored eyes that met me when I came in. I didn’t find them until I was unlocking the driver’s side door of the borrowed Honda Accord. He followed a white haired man to his car, pushing a cart laden with boxes of books and church materials.

“Did you get the job?” He called to me as he lifted the boxes one at a time into the man’s trunk. His name tag glinted golden in the afternoon sun, advertising “Ryan” as his name.

“We’ll see,” I shrugged. “She said they would call.”

I never saw him again… until my first day at work a week later.

“What mission did you serve in?” He asked, leaning on the swinging door that closed off the middle registers.

“Puerto Rico San Juan, and you?” I said from inside the enclosure with a duster in hand.

“Mexico City North, the best mission in the world,” he beamed.

“Sorry, but Puerto Rico is the best mission in the world,” I corrected him.

“My mission president told us something important. He said, ‘Every mission in the world has to think they are the best mission, but ours is the only one that thinks it is the best and it’s true.’” His smile revealed two perfect dimples accompanying his straight teeth.

“Oh please! Mexico is nothing compared to La Isla del Encanto.” A limp noodle rebuttal was the best I had in my armory. My blood pressure began to climb.

“It’s okay for you to think that, just as long as you understand it isn’t true.” I was still careening from the assault when he decided--either by divine intervention, or wisdom on Ryan's part--to go stock shelves again. In our first real conversation he had already pushed a red button. After a couple hours, and several dimpled smiles I decided not to hold it against him.

Our first date was that Saturday night, and although he tore my cup to pieces in a nervous fit at Subway, we didn’t get into the Latin celebration, and a cold breeze coming from the broken seal on his car window kept my teeth chattering all the way to Salt Lake and back, we giggled and grinned too much to be allowed. In our distribution center getup, we went to a haunted house. The hour-long wait to get in afforded lots of opportunities to flirt, and quiz each other on their past.

Ryan enjoyed himself enough to ask for my phone number at the front door. He also asked for a piece of paper, and then a writing utensil, because he didn't believe in having a cell phone...yet. When I got home that night, I announced to my mom and sister that I had just been on the most amazing date in my life. The subsequent dates were even better.

I knew I was going to marry him within two weeks of that first date. I couldn’t sleep at night because I relived every moment I was with him until my memories were ragged, and my creative juices ran out from imagining our upcoming dates. Out of respect for my family’s history of heart problems we waited a month before we officially got engaged, and three months before we got married—exactly two years ago today. February 17, 2007 was the best day of my life, and the best decision I ever made. I thank God every day that I have such an amazing husband, that I love more and more every day. Happy anniversary Honey! I love you.


Amy said...

I love how you wrote this! Beautiful! Happy anniversary you two. I sure miss playing with you guys. I hope this is your best anniversary ever.

Sunset Stanley said...

Wow time goes fast! Happy anniversary and here's to many more!

Ryan said...

Thank you honey, I love you too!

But I've got to make a few corrections: 1. I didn't ask you how many people you baptized during our first real conversation and 2. When I finally did ask you, I did not tell you that my mission was better because we baptized more.

If I had done that during our first exchange I don't think that you would have talked to me ever again...and rightfully so.

Livia said...

Happy anniversary guys! You both look great!

Lani said...

Happy Anniversary, you guys look great! And that was a fun story to read.

Cecilia said...

I can't believe it's been two years either!

Also, Ryan, I have taken note of the discrepancies between our memories of our first interchange and made modifications accordingly.