Twenty-three years ago, I waited in a sparsely-populated building on the campus of Whitworth College for the other members of a leadership retreat to arrive. I was the editor of the campus newspaper, but more important at that point, I owned a car.
A beautiful redhead sat down in a tattered stuffed chair nearby, and we quickly realized that she needed a ride. It was a match formed out of convenience, but one detail changed everything: during the drive I played the B-52s. Like seemingly everyone else at the time, I owned a cassette of the band’s mega-popular Cosmic Thing album—tinnnnnnn roof!…rusted—but I’d spent plenty of time sinking to dance floors for “Rock Lobster” and of course, growing up in Twin Falls made me a lifelong fan of “My Own Private Idaho.” More importantly, that beautiful redhead was also a B-52s fan.
Over the next few months, I’d run into her often. For example, she always seemed to be studying in the rose garden just outside the exit to one of my classes. I, not surprisingly, was slow to pick up on the fact that this stunning woman was interested in me. Persistence paid off.
As autumn took hold on campus, she introduced me to the wonder of Earl Grey tea (with shortbread cookies when possible) study sessions, and after I finally started to get a clue, we went to a movie. And held hands for the first time.
Twenty-one years ago, on a Friday in February, I raced an incoming major snow storm to drive from Seattle, where I was living after graduation, to Spokane, where Kim was doing her year of student teaching. I didn’t win that race—it took eight or nine hours of patience in snowy conditions to make the normally four-hour trip. But when I arrived, I suggested we go for a walk in the snow. She thought I was crazy, but was game.
In rapidly accumulating snow, I dropped to one knee and produced an engagement ring. We’d talked about getting married, but she had no idea I would propose on that visit. Stunned, she accepted the ring and immediately sat down in the snow. And said yes.
Twenty years ago today, as Kim got her hair and makeup done in preparation for our wedding ceremony, I visited the church to see if I could help with the preparations. We’d picked out a three-pronged candle holder for our unity candle (each person lights their own candle, then they both light the center candle), which looked a little off-center to me. So, being helpful, I straightened it…and snapped off one of the arms. Holy crap, I broke the unity candle.
Kim’s matron of honor appeared in an instant, took the pieces from my suddenly paralyzed arms, and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.” I didn’t try to help any more after that.
At the altar, Kim noticed that the candle holder was gone, replaced by three individual holders. “I’ll tell you later,” I whispered, and we both started giggling. Once we began, it was tough to stop. We tried—a wedding is a solemn occasion after all—but I can’t say we tried too hard.
Instead, we started our marriage laughing. With joy and promise and affection and love. Twenty years on, we’re still laughing.