In honor of my 4th wedding anniversary (which isn’t until March 28th), I’d like to share our story. You know, the L-word story. Yikes.
Now, just know, this is hard for me. I don’t really know why. I hate being cheesy and lovey-dovey while in the midst of others. Especially on the interwebs! But I’ve made a promise to myself to be more vulnerable. So here it goes. And maybe you’ll enjoy it? It’s a love story, after all. (Oop! I said the L-word!)
To really start with our story, you’d have to go all the way back to me finding a love in working with people with disabilities, and for Mark, his brother Jonathan being born with cerebral palsy. BUT that would be a terribly long story (instead of just a regular long story, which is what it is going to be), so I’ll just start out with when we met.
June 5, 2006(ish) – June 15, 2006(ish)
I worked at a camp for people with disabilities called Camp Barnabas since I was 15, and that is where I decided to major in recreational therapy. In 2006, after my sophomore year in college, I was asked to be in charge of programs for Camp Blessing – a camp in Texas for people with disabilities. The founders were old friends – I met them at Camp Barnabas and started babysitting for them – and Jodi (one of the founders) knew that my classes in rec therapy would come in handy.
The camp was only for a week that summer, kind of like a trial run, but was a whirlwind of craziness. I was SO busy. But there were minutes here and there that I stole in order to enjoy camp and everyone there. That’s when I met the Klentzmans.
I remember, before camp had started, Jodi kept telling me, “I can’t wait for you to meet the Klentzmans! They’re like a better version of the Partridge Family!” And it’s true. All 9 of the Klentzmans were there that week. Jonathan was a camper, the two youngest were “sibling campers”, and the rest volunteered with various jobs around camp and were the worship band for the week. All of them have musical talents, including Jonathan (you should hear him laugh).
I met Kim and Jill first, who stayed in the same cabin I did. We connected quick, being girls who preferred wearing t-shirts and chacos to heels and dresses. Then I met Rick and Mary, Mark’s parents. I could tell they loved me instantly, and I loved them as well. Then came Jonathan. He was hilarious in the “costume closet” at camp, and also had an infatuation with my younger sister. Cutest thing ever.
But I didn’t really get to bond with the other boys during the week. The youngest ones were off having fun and flirting with girls while Mark and Matt, the two oldest boys, worked one-on-one with campers that week. And they were in the band. Needless to say, they were just as busy as I was.
My first impression of Mark was that he was constantly smiling. He seemed happy to do anything and be wacky as can be, as long as it made someone laugh. Mark had no comfort zone. He was comfortable acting weird.
A few little girls, around 5 and 8 years old, became so infatuated with Mark simply because he was willing to play with them. It was so cute. I was the camp’s unofficial historian for the week (among countless other jobs), and therefore captured these moments regularly.
During the talent show, Mark sang “My Girl” to that 8-year-old little girl. Though she acted embarrassed, you could tell she was eating it up inside. And she wasn’t the only one. Mark’s voice, which is one of the best I’ve ever heard, caused every girl in that room (ages 5-75) to swoon as well.
During lunch on one of the last full days of camp, we had green jello as our dessert. Matt (Mark’s brother) came up with the awesome idea of having a jello-eating contest. And who did he choose to partake in the challenge? Oh yes. He chose me and Mark. I don’t know why. But he did.
Of course, I won. I’m uber-competitive. Especially when it comes to boys vs. girls. So I slurped down that green jello like nothing else mattered, and I beat that boy named Mark! Ahhh…sweet, jello-flavored victory! Mark thought it was hilarious. He said he was accustomed to girls beating him at things, having Kim and Jill as sisters.
Though we had the throes of competition to bond over, Mark and I didn’t even get to talk at all until the last night of camp.
We were in the dining hall after the night’s festivities, Mark watching his brother, and I watching a camper until her counselor came back. This camper (I’ll call her M) had down syndrome and is one of the coolest and most hilarious chicks I know. M decided that she wanted to give us nicknames. Mark became “Marky-warky-farky-larky-hunka-hunka-sugar” and I became “Bailey-waily-faily-daily-likes-to-kissy-all-the-boys”. It was one of the funniest experiences I’ve ever been a part of.
After that, Mark and I actually had a conversation. We talked about the highs and lows of the week and what we might change for the next year. And from then on, I called Mark “Hunkasugar” and he called me “Likestokissyalltheboys”.
And that’s it for part one. Stay tuned for part two!!