When we met? To be exact, I cannot say.
We grew up in the same town, going to the same school, having similar circles of friends, yet we were always on the opposite ends. I was overly involved in sports, art, theatre, French honors society, student government and he… was in the ski club. Wait- I was in that too. We both went on the same ski trip together my senior year, yet we never crossed paths.
In my last few years of college, I picked up three jobs. The first, a student job at my university, which has nothing to do with this story. Job two was selling leather handbags at the Coach boutique in a mall. In walked Craig one winter, looking to buy a wallet. He was much taller than I remembered, and boy, what a handsome fellow. He walked out, and that was that.
Job three was as a waitress at a seafood restaurant, far enough from my hometown that I figured I wouldn’t have to work with anyone I knew. Plus in my last 2 years of college, I just didn’t want to be recognized as that girl who was pressured into taking a laxative the night before she was supposed to model for one of the fashion designers and sharted in her hand-made undies 2 minutes before walking on stage. —Okay now I have to tell you that story, don’t I? I will. I will. But not today.
So fast forward to my victory lap (College: year 5) and I was happy to be working at Bonefish Grill. I walked in to begin my evening shift, and met eyes with a tall, brown-haired, brown-eyed boy, who I recognized the closer I walked to the kitchen.
Craig looked happy to see me, but I was just annoyed at the stupidity of the chance that someone who might know me was there. Working.
But suddenly one day, I was laughing with him when the wait staff did a “sock check” to make sure everyone was wearing black socks (per the dress code), and Craig and I were the only ones wearing argyle-of-the-rainbow.
I was laughing even more as he joked in a different humor than is the norm of the usual crude, boorish, 23 year old male. His personality was like suddenly opening windows in a damp, sour room: he was smart, and his wit sometimes quicker than my own. But only sometimes. Then there was this one time when we were both working as bartenders and Craig ran off a creepy stalker guy who kept trying to give me weird anime movies.
But he kept asking. So I figured I best get it over with.
That one date changed it all for me. But not for Craig, because later he told me that the day he saw me working at the handbag boutique, he began praying for his future wife. For a one Carolyn — to become a Mrs. Svellinger.
And suddenly we were very serious about life and getting married. We couldn’t plan fast enough.
Lexington was conceived.
I was in an awful car accident and fetus Lexington and I, statistically, should have been killed.
For my birthday that year, Craig took me to a restaurant called Fleming’s Steakhouse (one of the perks of working for a great food company is that you get to eat for nearly free.) I’d cried before leaving because I had no clue that there was such a thing as maternity clothing; my pants hardly fit me and my top was from 2003 and had holes in it but it was the only one long enough to hide my open fly held together with a rubber band..
Craig had planned to propose to me in a courtyard, in front of a beautiful, illuminated water fountain –which had been shut off for the season. He’d planned for the proposal to be photographed –and the people he’d enlisted to do the job incognito backed out. We sat down for a beautiful dinner –and looking at the hunk of meat on my plate made me utterly nauseous.
My aunt and uncle paid for a night’s stay at a gorgeous hotel in the city, and dinner at a lovely restaurant on the river.
The steak made me nauseous so I horked down a platter of sizzling baby portobello mushrooms –which gave me horrendous gas. On my wedding night.
Those events which were shameful or embarrassing or just not as pretty as we had planned, humbled Craig and I for the better.
Some people can announce that their wedding day was the most perfect day of their life and they look back on it with happy nostalgia.
I cannot make that announcement, but I cannot begrudge it of that either. I instead view how we met, how we came to be, and the days surrounding our wedding as beautiful, but not perfect. Our marriage has created the foundation for the most perfect collective days of our life, and a path that I never knew I wanted to take anyway.
Our aggrandized expectation of a pomp and circumstantial lifestyle diminished. We realized our life is deeper and richer than making things look perfect and packaged and done in order, and tied with a bow. As my favorite Blessed John Paul II said in his letter to Artists:
“[…] all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”
5 years married this month, and three darling
(when they’re sleeping) baby boys later, however, I’d like a leeettle pretty once in a while to remind me that I’m still a woman …but I know what really matters. Nail polish. It’s nail polish. I am married to a man who loves his Creator, loves his wife, adores his boys, and works very hard because of this love.
So, thank you Jesus, for the way you’ve worked through the life I share with Craig. We trust in You.
And thank you, my steadfast soldier, my Craig, for having prayed for me.
It’s not half bad.