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Our Story, Part 7.5 – The Engagement Photos

Really I should call them “proposal photos” because they happened on the same day that Mark proposed. We were lucky enough to have a budding photographer friend with us that day. If you want to read the story of how Mark proposed, click here.

In fact, if you want to read the WHOLE “love story”, just go right ahead. It’s stupidly long. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Anyway. We got engaged on June 19th, 2008. I can’t believe it’s been SIX years.

We were so happy. I mean, we still are! That day was just a whirlwind.

If you ever get the chance, taking your engagement photos on THE day you get engaged is awesome. It feels so real, natural, and right. I feel so blessed not to have had to stress about the small stuff, like figuring out where to take them, if I wanted props or not, how perfect my makeup/hair/clothes were, the perfect lighting, etc. When you take them on that day, you’re just so happy that the whole world is perfect! I would’ve taken them in the rain! :)

[All photos were taken in June 2008 by Sarah Ainsworth Photography.]

Our Story, Part 4 – Happy Birthdays

A few months ago, I started sharing our love story. In writing it, I’ve learned that it was actually semi-dramatic, and the only reason it didn’t feel that way was because I was struggling with a severe case of apathy. I also didn’t know that the story would be so LONG. But in writing it, I’ve realized that there is much to say to know the story. Hopefully I’ll finish this soon and then get to the good stuff – the wedding pictures! ;)

If you are just now tuning in, please take the time to read parts one through three of our story:

Part One – Camp
Part Two – The In-Between
Part Three – Camp Again

I ended part three with Mark and myself being aware that we at least had a crush on each other, but we were still dating other people. Camp Blessing had just ended, and we were going our separate ways for the time being. I thought my feelings for Mark would subside and I would go on with my relationship with T. At his family reunion, Mark realizes that his feelings for me are deeper than a crush, and begins writing me a letter.

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June 18, 2007(ish) – June 30, 2007

I head back to San Marcos after the trip with my friend gets rained out. During the trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mark. I ponder my thoughts on the drive back to San Marcos. I decide to see T as soon as I get back to town.
But there is no happy, grand reunion with T. Sparks don’t fly, and I’m still thinking about Mark. But maybe this will just take time to wear off?? T notices that I’m feeling distant, and so we fight about stupid, petty things. I start planning things to do with him where we don’t have to talk, like watching movies and going to the movies. That’s about it. 
Around this time I get the letter in the form of an e-mail from Mark that he wrote during his family reunion. It basically says that he’s never been so enthralled with someone after such a short amount of time in his life, that I’ve blown him away, that he wants to know everything about me, and that he knows that he shouldn’t be writing this letter. The letter is a confession. 
And I don’t know what to do. I know what I should do. I should break up with T. I should break up with him because that letter from Mark caused my heart to burst open in a way that it has never been open ever before. I feel vulnerable and I want to care for him or care for something, instead of being okay with my apathy. This letter. It changed everything.
But I don’t break up with T. I’m a coward. And I’m happy to have a distraction when a group of friends invites me to have a group birthday party with them, since all four of our birthdays are within the same week. We start planning, reserve our apartment’s community center, and invite everyone we know. Including Mark and his sister, Kim.
Mark ends up coming, and he brings his best friend, Anthony. They need a place to stay, so I ask my 3 roommates if they mind these guys staying in our living room. T meets them, and they get along, since Mark just about gets along with everyone. T doesn’t have a problem with Mark staying in my living room at all, and can’t even tell that I have a crush on him, so I get completely annoyed with T. In my deluded mind, he should be able to tell!! (And then break up with me so I don’t have to do it myself.) I end up acting distant again, I’m sure, and I tell T that I’ll be busy with the party and with being a ‘host’. (Pffft. I’m ridiculous.) 
Mark, Anthony, Cynthia (my bff and roommate at the time), and I end up staying up late, laughing, watching funny videos, listening to music, and just having fun. (Mark and I end up having a ‘moment’ when Just My Imagination by The Temptations comes on my iPod. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs, and I say that out loud. Mark can’t believe it, because it’s also one of his, and also, what college girl listens to The Temptations? Hah.)
The party itself ends up being super fun. It rains right before and we all get sad that we can’t play sand volleyball. But the court becomes flooded because of the rain, and we play some awesome rounds of mud/water volleyball.

Jamie, me, Matt, and Jenna – the birthday buds!
Mud/water volleyball!! Mark, myself, and T are all in this photo…awkward!! ;)
Me and Jamie after having fun playing volleyball.

Despite how fun the party is, I am annoyed the whole time. I want to spend time with Mark, but I HAVE to spend time with T. My annoyance is prevalent, and T asks about it. I play it off, saying that I’m mad about the random guys that took over the volleyball court when it was clearly reserved for our party (which actually happened). But this time, he doesn’t believe my lie (finally!). He says he’ll let my excuse slide until later, when we can talk about it. Ugh. I hate talking. We later get into a fight outside my apartment door about why I was mad at the party. He ends up leaving because I, once again, need to be a good ‘host’ to my apartment guests.

Mark, Anthony, Cynthia, and I stay up late having a great time, yet again.
Mark and Anthony leave the next day, and Mark and I convene in writing e-mails and facebook messages to each other. They all say about the same thing: “I’m sorry for putting you in this position”, “all I can think about is you”, “it’s so hard to ignore these feelings”, “I don’t know what to do”, “you deserve better”, etc. Though they are sappy, they are all actually pretty heartbreaking, as well. We were in so much emotional pain.
Mark ends up coming back a couple of days later to celebrate my real birthday (on June 28, 2007) at Six Flags with me and Cynthia. (T is out of town.) I have SO much fun, and I know that this is how it is supposed to be. Having fun at Six Flags. Talking while waiting in line. Joking with my best friend and this guy, together. No more movies to escape from having to talk. No more avoiding questions because they are too deep.
But reality. It comes back.
Remember that time I told you that Mark and I had once jokingly said that we’d go skydiving together one day? Well, Kim (Mark’s sister) finds out about this, and decides to buy us skydiving tickets as a gift for Mark’s birthday (on June 30, 2007). We’re so excited.
June 30th ends up being the day that T gets back into town. After screening a few of his calls, I finally answer while I’m on the way up to go skydiving. I tell him that the Klentzmans invited me to help them lead worship for a camp a couple of hours away. That part is true, but I leave out the skydiving part. T sounds so sad. He says he wanted to give me my birthday present. 
HAMMER TO THE GUT!!
But instead of being sensitive about it, I act all offended, and tell him there’s nothing I can do about it, since I’m already on my way. This ends up being the last time I ever talk to T on the phone or in person.
We (the Klentzmans and I) lead worship at camp, and then go skydiving on Mark’s birthday. Kim comes with us, and we have a blast.
That night, Mark has a wedding to go to…with his girlfriend. I stay back at the Klentzmans’ house (remember, I became friends with Kim and Jill, Mark’s sisters, before I ever became friends with Mark), and we watch old home movies, listen to music, and talk. Mark’s mom ends up talking to me at one point. She says, “Bailey, I know you are dating someone right now. But even if nothing ever happens with you and Mark, I just want to thank you for showing him that there are good options out there.” WOAH. I don’t think I said anything back because I had NO IDEA what to say. 
Meanwhile, Mark and G (his girlfriend) are done with the wedding. They decide to have a “talk” in Mark’s car since things aren’t going so great with their relationship, either. His night ends with him chanting the words, “I think we need to break up, for real this time” and G slamming a car door in his face, which he most definitely deserved. Or something like that.

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END OF PART FOUR!! Wow, this story really is long. It’s so hard to shorten!! Oh well! :)

Check back later for part five!

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Our Story, Part 3 – Camp Again

A few months ago, I started sharing our love story. And I only got to part 2! I had planned on getting all the way to the wedding day so I could post our wedding photos on our 4th anniversary, which was March 28th. As you can see, that didn’t happen. Why do I ever try to PLAN things? :)

I guess wedding photos will just have to be on a day other than our anniversary. Hey, we don’t have to celebrate only one day a year, right?! :)  If you are just now tuning in, please go read the other parts of our story. I’ve got easy links right here for ya:

Part One – Camp
Part Two – The In-Between

I ended part two with Camp Blessing (a camp for people with disabilities) about to start, and me finding out that Mark was going to be transferring to my college after the summer. We valued our friendship, but both were dating other people. Mark was not going to be at camp (or so he and I both thought) and I was going to be working with his sister on the leadership team at camp.

On to part three, which I’ve titled “Camp Again”. This is a long one, guys.

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May 29, 2007(ish) – June 17, 2007 (ish)

Before I get to camp for training, my then-boyfriend (we’ll call him T) seems annoyed that I am leaving him for the whole summer. He is happy for me; he just doesn’t want to be stuck in a college town, working a crappy job, with all of his friends gone for the summer. I don’t blame him, but I don’t feel bad at all for being at camp. T understands, and says he’ll write me letters. And that makes me happy, because getting mail at camp is absolutely the best! (If you’ve worked at a camp before, you’d agree.)

I arrive at camp, pumped and ready to plan. Kim (Mark’s sister) and I end up being a perfect team, and we recruit a couple of other folks, Laura and Sterling, to be on leadership with us.

Laura, Kim, Me, and Sterling

While working and planning during training, Kim talks to me about Mark transferring to Texas State, and I tell her how happy I am for him and that we’ll get to be friends while in college. I don’t remember how or why, but we get into talking about my friendship with Mark, and how it started. I basically tell her everything I’ve told you guys already (the camper giving us nicknames, our e-mails back and forth, our social networking, and the time we met up for lunch).

Laughing, I tell Kim that Mark and I had once joked about going skydiving together on our birthdays, since our birthdays are only two days apart (and Mark saw skydiving on my bucket list on a Myspace post).

Kim also precedes to tell me about Mark’s girlfriend (we’ll call her G). They have been dating for about three years with one break-up in there somewhere, but Kim and Mark’s family doesn’t really like her as a girlfriend to Mark. G is a good girl, Kim explains. But G and Mark together make their individual bad traits come out. For example, Mark’s apathy towards their relationship makes G’s jealous side come out, (and/or vice versa). Things like that. Neither of them are bad people at all, but they don’t make each other better or even want to be better, Kim explains. Also, they don’t share many interests except music. Music is what got them together in the first place, but it seems that music is the only reason they are still together.

As camp training goes on, Kim, Sterling, Laura, and I (the leadership team) end up becoming closer as friends and as a team as we plan skits, bible studies, parties, games, and activities like crazy for camp. I am so busy that I completely forget about T until I get a letter from him. Everyone suddenly knows that I have a boyfriend because the letter was passed around camp (unopened, don’t worry) before getting to me.

I’m excited about the letter, but all of the sudden, I have to tell everyone about T and me. Ugh. I hate that kind of attention (the kind that the only things worth talking about is boyfriends/girlfriends and who likes who).

I open the letter, and it’s four pages long, front and back. Whew! I read it all, but it’s challenging.

The rest of the week, I get a letter from T every day. That’s about four pages, front and back. Every single day. I seriously stop reading the letters except for the first and last page. (I’m just not a lovey-dovey, sappy person, y’all. I find that stuff flattering at first, but if I get too much of it, I’ll start closing off.) I finally decide to write him back after about five of his letters. I write to him about my new friends, the awesome leadership team, and how I wish he could experience the amazingness of camp. After about a page and a half’s worth of blabbering, I can’t think of anything else to write, and I send it off.

Camp starts. The days of planning, building, praying, working together, and learning are about to be challenged, and we are so excited for the campers to come.

I continue to get long letters from T every day. I end up dreading them, especially with my friends reading the sappyness over my shoulder and making fun of me because of it (all in jest, I swear). I even read a few of them in the bathroom so I could throw them away before anyone grabbed them out of my hands like they usually did when we got our mail during lunch.

The end of the first term of camp rolls around, along with the staff break, which is 24 hours long. There is a nearby mall that some people are going to, and I decide to go with. I end up talking with T on the phone the whole time, though, instead of hanging out with my new friends. T is kind of angry that I’ve only send him one letter and he’s written me eleventy-hundred. I start getting SO apathetic about our relationship at this time in order to avoid conflict (which, of course, is really bad and something I’m not proud of). I figure I kinda still like him, and I really don’t want to break up with another guy, especially over the phone, and because of something as petty as writing each other letters.

The second (and last) week of camp starts, and we get back into the mode of being busy. T continues to send me letters every day. I stop reading them altogether. My friends at camp don’t even ask about him anymore.

A day into the last week, Kim tells me that Mark is coming to pick her up from camp because they have a funeral to go to. It’s not far, so she’s only going to be gone not even a full day. I get excited that Mark is coming, but in a totally innocent way.

Mark comes the next day, and as soon as I see him walking up the sidewalk to the building we’re in, I get so overjoyed that this happy, goofy guy is here, and run outside to greet him. He sees me, breaks into a huge smile, and once again, gives me one of the best hugs ever (read about Mark’s hugs in Part 2). It was that moment that the butterflies started flitting around in my tummy.

Mark comes in to meet the rest of the leadership team. He is immediately playful, goofy, and fun. It’s a breath of fresh air. We talk a bit, Mark walks around camp to say hi to people, and then he and Kim leave.

Mark and Kim get back that night and, once again, I get butterflies. Kim talks Mark into staying that night so he doesn’t have to drive home so late.

The next day, Mark hangs out with us and comes with me to a few activities that I lead. This time it’s Archery, and I am again reminded why I liked the guy (just as a friend) in the first place. He is at home with these kids. All of them – kids with cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, autism, and everyone else. Once again, his smile doesn’t stop and I find myself laughing along with the kids the whole time.

I am aware that I have a crush on him at this time. But after just one day of being around him? “It’s just a crush, he’s going to leave soon,” I tell myself, and I brush my guilty feelings aside.

Mark ends up staying until the end of camp (which was just the end of that week).

We find ourselves camp-flirting with each other the whole time. Let me explain “camp-flirting” to you. At camp, you can’t flirt normally. Normal flirting takes time – time which you don’t have. Normal flirting has innuendos – innuendos that certainly do not belong at camp. Normal flirting includes invading the other person’s personal space – which is strictly against camp rules. (Side hugs only, folks.)

Here’s how we camp-flirted. Mark helped me lead activities. I asked Mark to help me lift heavy objects. We played frisbee together. Mark told kids to tickle me. I told kids to steal Mark’s hat. We made jokes. And yes, we even noticed each other looking at the other from across the room, and may or may not have locked eyes for a split second before quickly looking away (gasp!).

He even looked at me sometimes when he was singing to campers onstage. I bet you feel the heat coming off the screen, don’t ya?

Yay for camp-flirting! Can’t feel too guilty for that, right?

Wrong.

By this time, Mark knows that I have a crush on him and I know that he has a crush on me. It’s very obvious to us. A few friends at camp can tell, too, and one of them even mentions T and all the letters he writes to me right in front of Mark.

I become so embarrassed as Mark gives me a look as if to ask if that’s true. I confirm with my red cheeks and suddenly sweaty forehead. Even though he also has a girlfriend, I still didn’t want Mark to know that I have a boyfriend. I had again forgotten all about T. When I had justified my feelings for Mark earlier, I am now suddenly and painstakingly aware of how guilty I feel. I don’t want to hurt Mark or T, and I don’t want to lead either of them on.

My apathy towards my relationship with T becomes more apparent when my feelings toward Mark don’t go away. I try to just ignore them, and tell myself that I just really like Mark as a friend. But I also stop even trying to think of T, and when I do, I don’t feel that bad anymore. Because camp crushes are sometimes just that, and only last during camp. It’s natural to crush on someone when you’re working so close and with them all the time, right? Camp would be over in a couple of days, and everything would go back to normal.

But the camp-flirting doesn’t stop. I lie to myself more and more every day about my feelings toward Mark and T, and my guilty feelings continue to decrease. Apathy is self-destructive.

If anything, Mark and I begin to like each other even more. I can’t get over how joyous Mark is and how much fun I have when I’m with him. He’s so good with every kid, he doesn’t ever complain, he’s open and honest, and he enjoys giving of his time, talents, and efforts. Mark is enthralled by my ability to plan camp and to perform under pressure. He thinks that I’m funny and that I create anti-drama. He’s also never met a girl with all the same interests and values as him, and sees that my interests, values, and attributes are something he can learn from.

Mark and I end up talking about it on the last day of camp, finally saying out loud what we’ve both known for four long days already. Mark, never being one for subtleties, starts the conversation: “Bailey…you like me, don’t you?” Oh goodness. Red face once again. We talk about how fun the next semester will be “as friends”, which we both emphasize. We both feel guilty about our feelings, and don’t want to end our respective relationships for a silly camp crush, but we don’t feel guilty enough to sever ties with each other, either.

A life-long friend, Hayley (who is at camp at the time), invites me to her family vacation when camp ends. I accept the invitation, glad to have some relaxation after camp.

Camp comes to a close. Kim invites me to their family reunion at a lake. In my heart, I wish I could go, but my brain thanks Hayley for inviting me on her trip sooner. My heart wants to be around Mark and the rest of the Klentzmans, but my mind tells me that it wouldn’t be a good idea.

The next day, Hayley and I are sitting by the pool at a resort on her family’s vacation. Hayley asks me about Mark (of course she could tell), and I tell her honestly that I have feelings for him, but I don’t want to break up with T. I tell her I think it is just a crush, heightened by camp euphoria (it’s a thing, y’all), and she understands. She tells me she likes both T and Mark, but that I shouldn’t break up with T just because of a crush on Mark. I thank her, because I think that’s good advice.

The trip ends early because of torrential rains (thanks, Texas!), and I drive back to San Marcos to see T, still with the “crush” lingering inside of me. I tell myself that once I reunite with T, these feelings will go away. After all, it was only four days with Mark and this little crush! I had been dating T for two months before camp started, so obviously my feelings for T will make their way back. I also tell myself that Mark’s feelings aren’t anything more than a crush, too. His crush will definitely go away once he sees his girlfriend again, since they’ve been dating for three years.

Meanwhile, Kim and Mark are at their family reunion. Even though there’s a lake with fast boats, tubing, fishing, and water skiing, Mark doesn’t seem like his normal happy-go-lucky self. Instead of spending the night hours at the campsite singing around a campfire, talking, and playing games, Mark spends his nights writing a letter to me, confessing his feelings, which end up being wayyy more than just a camp crush.

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END OF PART THREE!

Oh, is that a bad place to stop? Well, suspense is key, folks. I guess you’ll just have to come back for part four!

What I want to emphasize is that the timeline in the above chapter is less than 3 weeks. And from the time that Mark arrived at camp and the end of camp was about 4 days! Doesn’t take long to develop feelings, huh?

Sorry I don’t have that many photos for you here. Camp is too time-consuming for taking photos.

Come back for part four!!