14 February 2013

A Valentine's Post: Flirting with My Beloved

Warning:  this is SAPPY.  There's no way it won't be.  But it's fun all the same.  At least, I remember it being fun.  I can NOT believe all of this happened ten years ago.  No way has it been that long  Yet here we are...

My beloved caught my eye from the moment we first met.  I was a teaching assistant to Dr. Jim Nestingen at Luther Seminary our senior year of seminary, and Kristin was in Lutheran Confessions that fall.  Because she'd enrolled in a two-year program, she had started while I was on internship, so our paths had never crossed until one morning in Bøckman Hall.  Her hair was down and her eyes were beautiful; I remember thinking, "WOW!" when she strode through the door into the classroom.

As the semester progressed, we spent some extra time together due to Kristin's dyslexia - she wanted some help getting memorizations correct and understanding key concepts of the course.  I didn't mind at all.  But since my divorce wasn't final, and technically she was a student and I was something between a classmate and a teacher, it just didn't feel right to ask her on a date.  That's not to say that the interest wasn't there.  I was certainly interested.  She seemed interested.  And our friends knew we were interested but holding back.  One night in the cafeteria, our friend Kathryn watched me watch Kristin walk across the entire room, and she knew I was hooked.  This led to some wonderfully junior high-ish hijinks.  Like the days they would sit around my seat and leave the chair next to me open on purpose, so Kristin would have to sit by me (she was always late).  Making sure she knew I was preaching in Chapel and getting her to come that morning (she rarely came to chapel).  So on and so forth.  As our friend LeAnn wrote on the day we were married, "This is truly the most satisfying meddling I've ever done!"

But fall semester came and went and we didn't do anything more than flirt.  When January rolled around, I took a three-week Cross Cultural Experience course in Germany and, of course, didn't see her any of that time.  It was a great trip, but I have to admit part of my mind was always wondering what Kristin was up to "back home."  When we got back I found out she hadn't been up to much of anything - classes, work, etc.  My divorce had been finalized in January, and she wasn't in any of my classes that spring, so I started thinking maybe a date might be a possibility.  When I'd returned to seminary post-divorce, I was pretty certain I'd graduate a bachelor and maybe have to do some dating as a pastor in my first call (or second, or third, or fourth...).  But hey, why not take a chance and see what happens, right?  So I started looking for the opportunity.  Problem was, I was waiting for the perfect opportunity. And that wasn't going to just drop into my lap.

I remember February rolling around and thinking, "Well, what about Valentine's Day?"  So I started listening closely when Kristin and our friends talked about their weekend plans, and was immediately crushed:  they were off to a Youth Specialties National Conference in California over Valentine's weekend.  Damn.  The funny thing was, I accidentally saw them off when they left.  I was delivering the Minneapolis StarTribune that last year of seminary, and got home from my early morning route just as they were loading LeAnn and our other friend Kathryn into the car to drive to the airport.  So I stuck my head into the car and wished them all a safe trip.

The following weekend, some friends and I made plans to go to a polka bar in Minneapolis, and I made sure to tell Kristin we were going to be there if she wanted to join us.  She was going to a Jars of Clay concert that night, but said she might stop by after the concert.  So I went to the bar hoping and praying they'd make it.  Did I mention the bar served German beer?  In gigantic mugs?  And I'd recently returned from Germany, where I'd fallen in love with proper beer?  Two humongous steins of beer later, Kristin and her friends walked into the bar.  We said hello and I went back to drinking.  At that point fate intervened - well, actually, Kathryn intervened.

"Okay, seriously, Scott - when are you going to ask Kristin out?"

Heartrate rising quickly.  Was that the beer or just me?


"You should ask Kristin out.  She's been wondering if you would."

[finishing the rest of my beer]  [slamming the stein down on the table]

"Okay - how about now?"

I asked her to dance.  She said yes.

I asked her if she was free Saturday night.  She said yes again.

I asked her if I could get a ride home - my friends were leaving.  She said yes a third time.

I don't remember much of what happened after that.  I know I drank at least one more gigantic beer, and I'm pretty sure I sounded like a moron in the car on the way home.  I stumbled out of the car, told Kristin I'd call her in the morning, and floated up the stairs.  Holy shit - did I just do that?  Yep, I did.  And it's been pretty much "Holy shit - did that just happen?" ever since. But that's a story for another day.

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