My Love Story~Chapter 24: California Trip

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Today is my husband’s birthday, and I thought it was a great day to share another chapter of our Love Story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I feel so bad leaving everyone hanging for so long (3.5 months) but it is a major effort (hours) to go through the old journals and pick out the nuggets to share here. Not to mention scanning old images to pull up. But I appreciate the nudges from all of you that care!!

If you are new to My Love Story, click on the link to start from the beginning. To refresh on the previous chapter, click here.

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So I bought a ticket to go to California to see this boy, just one month after he visited me in Texas. I flew out on August 5th, 1999 on a 6am plane. When I arrived at 10am, Matthew was there to greet me with a smile, and sharply dressed clothes as I got off the plane. He even pointed out that he dressed up for me (he always preferred t-shirts and jeans). After a long hug, we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves, so we just started walking…no hand holding. We needed to adjust to each other again.

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Once at his parents home, I met his mom and little 12 year old sister, Julie. She joined us on a driving tour of his home town, but that didn’t help our “adjustment phase.” We went to a playground and he pushed us both in the swings. After a while, we we dropped her off to go to what he called Coyote Reserve where we walked and ended up holding hands, but I think neither of us really knew what to do. I knew what I wanted him to do, but there seemed to be apprehension from him.  There was a slight peck of a kiss before a stranger walked by, and we pulled away.

Coyote Reserve

{See his “dressed-up-ness?” Clearly a little windy outside}

Back at his house, his dad pulled out childhood picture slides. It lightened the mood I felt, and was able to forget about “details” for now. After his parents went to bed, his sister Julie chatted with us while he gave me a foot massage. We were used to “free love” like that from our joint apartment friendship.  I fell asleep on his lap as he played with my hair, and woke up to him suggesting we head off to our rooms for the night.  Groggily, I hoped for more to the evening, but with a hug goodnight, we parted ways.

Now, I felt like an idiot, I kept thinking. Was I making all of this up in my head? I can’t believe I tried on a wedding dress last week.

The next day, I woke up to him sneaking in my room to wake me. I heard him, and opened my eyes as he was crouching near me. I’d like to think he was going to surprise me with a wake up kiss, but when I saw him, he altered his course. We packed up his truck and headed out to his favorite spot, Sunset Beach. As we drove, we listened to the mix tape I had given him six months before. Back when he first confessed his feelings to me via a letter.  It was filled with songs that made my heart bleed for him. I didn’t necessarily say that, but he had to know that, right?  We sang along, as we drove.

Matthew had told me before that Sunset Beach was a place that he went to to think. It was his favorite spot on earth, and he was bringing me. It was beautiful, for sure. Mountains, and sand dunes, all along the coast of the ocean.  We took off our shoes, and strolled in the sand, then built a sand castle.

Sunset Beach

As we ate lunch in the back of the truck, he cuddled up next to me as we chatted. I finally blurted out that I couldn’t stand the tension and what the heck was going on!! He said it was always hard for him to initiate affection, and I said I’d just been waiting for him, I wouldn’t shoot him down!  I’m glad I got that out, it was driving me crazy!

Love story

{What on earth am I doing? Clearly feeling a tad bit awkward}

After a while, we headed to Santa Cruz Pier to ride the roller coaster. He did much better at grabbing my hand, and later that night as we watched a movie, he played with my hair again, and finally gave me the kiss I’d been waiting for.

at the beach

{even back then, my film camera wasn’t very far away}

I decided this trip wasn’t yet time to discuss “our future.”  Though I went into it hoping for something like that, with the awkward start, it didn’t feel right. I knew he was the boy I wanted to marry, but we needed more solid ground to stand on, first. In a few weeks, we’d be back at BYU together, and could get it all sorted out then. For now, we just needed to relax and enjoy each other.

The next day, Matthew, his brother Brian, his parents and I packed into the family mini van to drive a few hours to Muir Woods. Matthew didn’t hesitate to hold my hand all day, which made me feel like I was walking on clouds.

Muir Woods

holding hands

{This picture is so blurry, but I love that it shows us holding hands. I’m wearing his shirt that I won from a bet months before, and never let it go.}

We also walked along the Golden Gate Bridge, which was SO fun! His mom and I walked off by ourselves at one point, and she told me how wonderful it was for her to see her son so happy and in love. That she’d never seen him this way before. When he was in high school, he went on dates, but never dated any one in particular, because he wanted to wait til after he served his mission. Then, he had dated at college, but they were a few states away. I was the first girl he brought home.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Fransisco

{San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge}

Once back at his parents home, after dinner, we went out for an evening drive. We packed a bunch of blankets to keep us warm as we went star gazing. Then came all the talking I was hoping for. I am such an open book, and he keeps to himself a lot, so over the time that I’d known him, I felt I couldn’t read him very well, while I felt I was quite easy to read. We talked about past relationships, our parents relationships, our worry of us “fizzling.” We discussed how I dated his brother, and that I feel we owe a lot to him. Matthew didn’t realize how much Sam helped me decide to have him come visit me after Jerusalem when I was so uncertain. We talked about our first kiss–the cold one–and I said I wanted to remember July 4th as our first kiss.  For some reason, talking about kissing, led to, well….kissing, and we made up for lost time.

What better memory than cuddling in blankets in the back of a truck under a dark, starry night?

As we sat there, he confessed a story to me that he’d experienced in April, as I sat with my heart bleeding from his distance. He told me he’d gone overnight fishing with his roommate. I seemed to remember that. He said as he cast his fishing rod into the water to catch something, he looked over and thought he saw me there. He looked away, then back, and I was gone. He said he knew then that I needed to be in his life. However, I was trying to get over him, about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and I had no idea he felt this way for me.

On Sunday, I went to church with his family, and it was great to meet the people that helped shape his life as he grew up in that congregation. He introduced me as his girlfriend, and that made my heart skip a beat. Once back home, we sang hymns around the piano with Julie. I felt a connection with her right away, I’d always wanted a sister, and I could see her as my little sister, too.  He told me he could never get her to sing with him, so the fact that she joined us in singing was a big deal.  I was headed out that evening, and was sad to say goodbye to her, too.   His family was so warm and welcoming to me, it felt like home.

On this day, I felt crazy in love, officially. We couldn’t stop smiling at each other. I loved the way he looked at me.

in front of the walnut tree

As we drove to the airport, I felt sad that we were parting ways again, but I knew it was only for a few weeks, and hoped that it would be the very last time we were apart.  He would be flying back to Houston in a few weeks to drive with me in my new car to Utah for school.

hugging before parting

As I sat on the plane before a red-eye out of town, I looked out the window and thought about how wonderful and gentle and kind he is to me. I felt so grateful, so blessed. To lose him now would shatter me, I’m in too deep, I thought. I finally feel confident in my love for him, which is funny because we’ve never uttered the words, “I love you” to each other.

I am in love. Truly and whole heartedly. I can’t believe that all these wonderful things and events that I’ve dreamed about my whole life are unfolding. Tears start to fall as the plane took off, as I didn’t think I could feel so happy. I always worried I’d never really fall in love.

He is so wonderful. So good to me. So gentle. How did I get so fortunate to have him love me as much as I love him? I wish I could accurately describe on paper this feeling. After the roller coaster of emotion, the ups and the downs, the questions and worry, now felt like a distant memory.

I had a feeling that the questioning days were over. This was it.

airport goodbye

I love how I fit just perfectly in the nook of his arm.

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Comments

  1. Yay – another chapter! Happy Birthday, Mr. Duke!

    San Francisco holds a special place in my heart since that’s where my husband and I spent a couple days for our honeymoon. And the emotions you describe about leaving on flights reminds me when my husband and I were dating long distance. I hated that drive back to the airport when I had to leave him!

    You two are adorable – thanks for sharing the next chapter!

  2. PLEASE don’t make us wait so long for the next chapter! 🙂 I reread from the beginning- just a truly lovely story!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Ha! I know, I’m horrible! I already scanned the pictures for the next one, so I’ll aim to be faster. Glad you got a good update reading them all again–how long did that take???

  3. I love that we are to this part of your story! Makes me reflect back to those days in my own marriage and appreciate it more!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      It’s definitely on an upswing!! It’s fun for me to reflect, too, details are often forgotten with time, aren’t they?

  4. So I recently started following your blog but today was the first post I have seen on your Love Story. Well I started from the beginning this morning and thats what I have been doing all day whenever I have had the chance. I am now completely caught up and can’t wait for more! I love hearing about your story…brings me make to all the memories of first meeting and falling in love with my husband. I can’t wait to hear more!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Megan!! Thanks so much for writing, I’m happy to have you along for the ride on my site as well as my love story! I love that you got to read this far in the love story all in the same day–thanks for caring!

  5. Jacqueline says:

    Yay, so glad to read another chapter – so sweet! Looking forward to the next part, as always!!

  6. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Made me smile! Y’all are so cute!

  7. Oh, I always love, love, love reading your chapters. “He did much better at grabbing my hand” made me laugh 🙂 I’ve said this before, but here I go again… you two have added years beautifully. You look much better after a few years, and that’s not true of everyone 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thanks so much, Aline! Always love to hear from you! I love that you notice those little details in my writing;)

  8. Yay for another chapter! I guess I missed chapter 23 back in June. Glad I was able to read it and this chapter. I hope we don’t have to wait too long to read the next one! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the recent chapter! I come back to this blog just to check the love story…. 🙂

  10. I came across your website somehow and I just read through your entire love story so far.
    It is just absolutely beautiful the way you’ve recorded these events and pictures. Looking forward to future posts!!
    I think the best things are always the thing that take time and work.
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful stories.

  11. I love your blog! I found it via Pinterest and have read all of your love story chapters. I’m such a hopeless romantic and I’m dying to hear your proposal story!

  12. I just found your blog via Pinterest and since than I have been totally consumed with reading your love story! I love it! I can’t wait to read more. Thanks for sharing such personal moments.