That's the engraving on the garter I wore on my wedding day.
Scratch that - the garter my husband kept that looked just like the garter I wore on my wedding day.
I'm not the one who gave Travis that name. A friend of ours did and it had something to do with another girl, but after our first date I claimed it for my own.
This same friend told Travis the Monday after our first date, "Travis, you have to marry her! This will be a great story to tell your grandkids!"
I was 17 and had just graduated from high school. There was this boy- scratch that - GUY at church. He was 23 so in my mind, that didn't qualify him as a "boy", me being 17 and all. I'd had my eye on him since I was 15...sort of. I mean, when I was 15 he was 21 and it wasn't like I thought I would ever really go out with him. He was like...a grown-up! And I can't say that I sat dreamy-eyed in my room, scribbling his name on all my binders, but every time he talked to me I blushed. Every time he invited me to join the church youth group on an outing and offered to drive me, I got all flittery inside. And whenever he let me ride in the front seat, I couldn't do anything except stare out the window and hope that I didn't look or say anything stupid. And when he tried to strike up a conversation with me, everything I said came out silly or snobby as I tried to look like I was cool, calm, and had composure. What was it about this guy?
He was also the standard I measured every other guy by. Is he friendly like him? Is he considerate like him? Is he as faithful to God and to church as Travis is? I totally liked that in a guy.
And those questions were safe to ask. I was 15. He was 21. And as if that weren't enough to settle the question of whether or not he'd ever be interested in me or vice versa, he was engaged.
So again, here I am 17 and fresh out of high school and here is this guy, now aged 23, now no longer engaged...and talking to me...wow! Wait-actually flirting with me...well, I think. I mean, he is a friendly guy.
And when he said to me one summer evening, leaning over talking to me through the window of my car, "Would you like to do something sometime, like dinner or something?" I figured he was just wanting to hang out...as friends. Like, maybe now that I graduated high school I was cool enough to hang out with this guy and not just with all the other teenagers around.
My mother was wiser.
"But Mom, he hangs out with Davia and Tiffany all the time! That's just how he is!"
Nonetheless, Mom thought I should be prepared and go ahead and dress nice....but go ahead and take some money to pay for my dinner, just in case he really was just being friendly.
The night came. July 24. (I TOLD you I was fresh out of high school!) He picked me up at my mother's house, which is where I was still living, being 17 and all, and let my mother know that we were going to Chevy's on the river. I'd never been to the place, but anything on the river is kind of romantic.
The car ride was...quiet. I was so shy and so nervous. He did his very best to make conversation and I tried my best, too, but I know it had to be hard for him. I warmed up a bit over dinner, but still I was so incredibly shy and incredibly worried that I would wind up with my dinner sticking out of my face or some of it spilling onto my white shirt, or that I would gleek on him or something. I do not miss my shy days!
Dinner went well and we headed off to play a game of miniature golf. On our way, we passed by the street that my elementary school was on. I hadn't been there in such a long time and rarely did I ever drive past it because it was not near my home.
I mentioned to Travis that my elementary school was down that road and he said, "You wanna go see it?" To which I replied, "Sure!"
Travis got out of the straight lane and into the turn lane. We turned left and quickly found ourselves in the school parking lot. I showed him where my 1st grade class was and where the Special Ed. building was that I helped in when I was there. We talked about the playground and I mentioned how there was this tree we planted and I wondered how big it must be by now.
"You wanna go see it?" To which I replied, "Sure!"
So we parked, got out of the car, and walked to the tree. There it was. It was much bigger than when my class and I planted it. So big in fact that Travis and I could stand under it.
I must back up at this point and tell you about the conversation we had on our way to the school.
Travis asked if I thought a couple should kiss on a first date. Me, being absolutely as naive as they come, began to debate with him without getting a clue of where he was going with this. I told him no, that I didn't think a couple should kiss on their first date. That it was a special, intimate thing and one should get to know the other a bit more before heading in that direction. Shoot! What if you didn't even care for the guy or girl but they were expecting a kiss at the end of the night?
Travis, being the logical thinker he is and, well...being a guy, naturally took the position that it was just fine for a couple to kiss on the first date. After all, it was just a kiss. He said some other things that I couldn't argue against. It's pretty much always been that way. He states logical conclusions and I am defenseless to defend my position. The systematic thinker meets the intuitive one. How opposites do attract!
In the end, I conceded that it was ok for a couple to do a "peck", but no open-mouthed kissing, although I still didn't think it was the best thing.
So here we are under the tree. It's dark by now. This time I have more to say than he does, talking about my childhood teachers and friends and reminiscing. I'm guessing he had no idea what I was saying because once I was finally quiet, he looked into my eyes, put his arms around me, and kissed me.
Ok. Now I'm back to nervous!
We walked back to his car and my heart must have been going a million beats per second, or something close to that at least. We stopped by the car door and just stood there talking. Eventually he slipped his hands around my waist and my freak-out factor hit the roof!
He was talking about something when suddenly his voice started sounding further and further away. Then there was this tingling sound in my ears and everything was going fuzzy. And then...
I passed out. Right there in his arms. Out cold.
Looking Through Travis' Eyes