(I wrote this on June 25, 2007)
10 years ago to the day. She almost took out my kneecaps with her white Hyundai S-Coupe. Not long after that she took out my heart with her charm, wit, beauty, and the most compassionate spirit i’ve ever met. Most of you have heard the story…but it’s still fun to remember it and retell it, so I will.
It was 1997, the first night of the Creation Music Festival. 70,000+ people packed onto a huge farm in Central Pennsylvania to hear crappy music and go showerless for 5 straight days. Than (short for naTHANael) and I were walking back to our tent around midnight and we were almost run over by a little white car moving in reverse. We jumped out of the way, the girls in the car giggled, and God smiled. Before there was ever a Chuck Woolery or an eHarmony, there was God, who finds much more creative ways for soul mates to meet than by having them fill out a 39-question personality profile. Looking back, I have to say that this was some of His finest work yet.
Erica and I (as well as Than and Kandace) hung out together all week. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, the four of us acting like idiots together despite only having met hours before. Than and I had no idea that there were cute girls out there who were as ridiculous as we were. Before leaving to go back home to Massachusetts for my last year of college, Erica and I prayed together. We knew that we enjoyed each other’s company, we knew we wanted to remain in each other’s company, but 350 miles was a long way. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t see her again.
We went 3 weeks without communicating (email and cellphones weren’t as prevalent then), but finally got in touch over the phone. Two months after that initial meeting, Than and I went back to PA for another music festival. Quite confident that THIS would be the last time i ever saw Erica, I did the “respectable guy thing” and didn’t so much as send one flirty glance her way. (She still gives me a hard time for that). Despite the romantic cold shoulder i gave her that weekend, we continued to talk on the phone, and two months later, Than and I found ourselves stopping in at her house once again on our way down to the Stand in the Gap March in D.C. (yeah, remember that?). Erica and i stayed up all night talking, and at about 4am while watching The Princess Bride, we decided that we should be a couple.
Not many people can say this, but the best decision I’ve ever made was made at 4am.
I finished my last year of college on a steady diet of long distance phone calls and dial-up connection emails, and just when my job search was looking grim, God brought along a company to interview me that just happened to have an office 20 minutes from Erica’s house (which was amazing considering i was interviewing in Massachusetts, 300+ miles away). A couple months later, in May of 1998, I moved to an apartment in Lancaster County, about 15 minutes away from her parents’ house (11 minutes if it’s really late at night).
Than moved up from Massachusetts to live with me, but that only lasted a couple of months. I was spending so much time with Erica that I was hardly every around. Than and Kandace hung out a little bit while he was in PA, but she was in college and he was working in retail and nothing ever happened between them. We did all go to HersheyPark together at some point in 1998. In fact, I think we went a few years in a row. This picture is from 2000, I think. Thanks to the poor sap who had to take it.
Erica and I got engaged in December of 98, and were married the following August. Then Y2K happened and everyone was supposed to die when all the computers froze, but that never worked out. We sure did dodge a bullet on that one, humanity.
Now, 10 years to the day after we met, we have 2 beautiful children and a marriage that is stronger than ever thanks to Erica’s willingness to put up with me and love me the way she does. You might think you’re the luckiest guy in the world, and you might be, but I’m definitely the most blessed. I had a great life before I met Erica, but these 10 years have no doubt been the best 10 years of my life.
Whatever happened to Kandace and Than, you ask? Well, they couldn’t seem to get it to work like Erica and I did. Than was interested in Kandace for a few years, but the long distance thing prevented any connection from happening. They remained good enough friends, though, that those of us who knew both of them always wished that they would get together.
They are still good friends to this day…best friends in fact…because a few years ago they got married too.
Last night we had Kan and Than over to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of when the girls almost broke both of our legs. It’s amazing to think back at how an event that seemed so random at the time looks so God-ordained now in hindsight. Whether you believe that humans have a free-will that God never violates, or that God ordains and orders every breath we take (and every move we make), you can’t ignore the awesomeness of the fact that at midnight on a warm June night 10 years ago, two girls, parking at their campsite amid a crowd of 70,000 people, almost literally ran over their future husbands whom they had yet to meet.
I don’t have any pictures from that night 10 years ago, but we did snap one last night. From left to right that’s me, Parker (4.5), Erica, Kylie (almost 6), Kandace, Brady (5 weeks old), and Than.
UPDATE, June 2012: Our kids won’t stop growing and Kandace and Than now have two little boys running around as well. We live a half hour apart, so we see each other quite a bit, especially when the girls are training for races. They just ran their second marathon together earlier this year.
We even went back to HersheyPark last year just to make stupid faces again.
UPDATE, Summer 2013: Another trip to Hershey Park, this time we recreated the picture from 2000!
UPDATE, Summer 2015: The girls ran their 15th half marathon together a couple months ago. We got this incredibly blurry selfie later that night at dinner!