It was so easy to love him.
I was visiting the men’s dormitory with a group of girls keeping one of our friends company while he worked the RA desk. He walked through the lobby, and we invited him to play Spades with us. Our campus was small, but I didn’t know his name until that evening.
“This is Caleb.”
“Oh! I had a dog named Caleb.” I said. Out loud.
“Okay…” he said.
“Caleb means ‘dog’.” (Because that’s so much better than my opening line.)
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Yes, it does.”
“No. It means brave,” he said one eyebrow raised and lips pursed in irritation, but I was oblivious to anything but my etymology lesson.
“Yes, brave and loyal. Like a dog,” I said with an air of finality. “It’s Hebrew.”
He forgave me. I think it helped that I laughed at every one of his jokes that evening.
The fall semester started the next day, and we discovered that our class schedules meant we were in the same buildings at the same times most of the day. We started walking together from chapel and after class. He figured out what time I ate dinner, and somehow we were eating dinner together almost every night. We figured out that we attended the same church. We started sitting together for service and Sunday School. He came to my birthday party, and I started keeping him company on night security weekends. He was quickly becoming my best friend.
We started watching a movie with some friends one evening on his security shift. Our friends got bored and left, and we started talking about our families. He ended up reading me parts of his journal from high school and telling me stories from growing up on their family farm. Though we had grown up on opposite ends of the country, we had very similar childhoods. We found ourselves saying, “You weren’t allowed to watch that TV show either?” or “You read that ridiculously obscure book, too?” I remember thinking he was the most godly, gentle, and fun guy I had ever met and that he would make some lucky lady very happy.
And that’s when everything changed. I can only describe it as a whisper in my heart.
“Laura, this is the man you are going to marry.”
I wish I could adequately describe what happened in that moment. Somehow I managed to keep a straight face as he finished his story even though all I could focus on was that I was going to marry this man. I skipped (oh yes, skipped like a five-year-old going to Baskin Robbins for her birthday cone) back to my dorm room, threw the light on to the bewilderment of my sleeping roommate, and said, “I am going to marry Caleb.”
“You’re crazy. Go to sleep,” she muttered back, her face in her pillow.
“No, I mean it. I’m going to marry him. I’m writing it in my diary. In ink.”
It was so easy and obvious to me. I loved him and I knew without doubt that I would spend the rest of my life with him. I have the diary page to prove it. A few weeks later we went on our first date. The next day we were “official”. And while I hadn’t said a word to anyone but my roommate, about a month later he said, “I’m just going to say it: you know we’re going to get married, right?”
He bought the ring the next afternoon. I didn’t get to wear it until he proposed with a meticulously planned scavenger hunt in the spring. On January 14, 2006, after four months of dating and eleven months of engagement, I became his wife.
It has not always been fun. We moved from our small college town to the DFW Metroplex for seminary with no jobs lined up and had to find a new apartment the very next day. (Always drive through the entire complex and come back at night, or you may end up living next to drug dealers is the moral of that story.) We endured my miserable year of commuting between Fort Worth and Dallas for work (four hours on a train every week day) and a painfully long wait between his seminary graduation and his acceptance of the call to pastor our church. Every year when winter comes we get an itch to throw things away and pack everything else in boxes, a Pavlovian reflex conditioned by seven moves in six years.
But he still forgives me when I say unintentionally insulting things. He still makes me laugh until I cry. He still finds me perfect birthday and Christmas gifts. He is still my favorite movie-watching companion because everyone else gets mad at me when I talk back to the screen, but he just ignores me or pretends to be the movie and argues back. He is still my best friend, the love of my life, the ink for my pen.
After seven years of highs and lows it is still so very easy to love him.
Happy Anniversary, Caleb. I love you.