I'm not entirely sure how to begin. You know, they say it's best to start at the beginning, but at this point in my life there are so many. Beginnings, that is.
So if you want to read the real beginning, you'll have to go back to our Rowleypoly blog. This is the beginning of the Andrewleys (Andrews/Rowleys). I can't just call us the "Andrews" because Vince, Joseline, and Seth are members of our family, and they are Rowleys. And the idea of hyphenating my last name has never appealed to me. Plus, I am now an Andrews rather than a Rowley. But my kids are, and the best way I could think of meshing the family name without hyphenating is Andrewleys. It's got kind of a crazy sound to it, which is perfect, because crazy definitely describes our family.
The year 2013 was a pretty big year for me. I had a baby, then I got divorced, and because of that I had to go back to work. That story is pretty miraculous in itself, and it deserves its own post, and so it shall get one.
Toward the end of September I was freshly divorced and received some counsel that I would get married again. Well, I wasn't even close to being ready to get married, and I was 100% sure that if I was going to get married again I would have to know the guy really really well, and have known him for several years. I also knew that if I was going to get married again I would certainly want to get married before I was past child bearing years, because I have always wanted a large family. After Joseline I thought I wasn't going to be able to have any more kids and my heart was broken. Then after Seth I got divorced, and I was completely devastated. I wanted a house full of kids!
Not really wanting to think about marriage, but being pragmatic, as always, I started thinking about my options. If I didn't have kids I would just go back to a Young Single Adult ward. After all, I was just barely 27. But with kids, being in a YSA ward would seem kind of weird... plus I didn't want to date a bunch of kids fresh off their missions. I wanted a guy with some life experience. Someone whose testimony had withstood trials, someone who was dedicated to the gospel through thick and thin. After a while I came to the conclusion that I was probably looking for a single dad. Either divorced or widowed.
Well, there is no "Single Parents' Ward" (although that might be a good idea! Ha ha), so I went to the only other place I knew of to meet a bunch of single people with kids. The internet. It's not as scary as it maybe once was, and I signed up for a popular LDS dating website. Within a few days I had a date set up with a single dad of 3 young kids, about the same ages as my kids. He was a little older, but after chatting a few times I felt like he fit the basic requirements - he had seen a lot of life and was true to the faith in spite of (or maybe because of) all the experiences he'd had. We seemed to have a lot in common, so I felt good about a date. He ended up being a lot more ready to jump into a relationship than I was. I wanted to meet lots of different guys, date around, and in a few years make a decision. I didn't stop seeing him, but I did continue to talk to other guys on the phone, via email and text, and eventually set up a few more dates.
The next guy I went out with was a single dad of only one kid, he had been divorced for a long time, but we enjoyed talking about the gospel and having some deep doctrinal discussions. He seemed like a really good guy, and I enjoyed spending time with him. He wasn't forward about being romantic, just friendly and we had a good time together.
Then I talked to Justin on the phone - same story, single dad who had seen life and was dedicated to the gospel in the face of anything, we had a lot in common - so we made a date. In the process of making our date we discovered that we lived about 2 minutes from each other, that our Stake President (who played a huge role in my starting to date) had been his bishop when he went on his mission. Of course, we hadn't met, but it felt like we had.
I had season tickets to the Utah Symphony and Opera still, and the next event was the Utah Opera's production of Salome. I asked him to go and he said yes. The next evening was the opera and he showed up on my doorstep. First impression at the doorstep was fantastic. He even brought me some charming flowers. If I remember (and I might not remember correctly) it was a combination of daisies and lilies. He had told me he was kind of old fashioned.
Then we walked out to his car. I almost turned around and went back inside. Okay, that's not entirely true, but my opinion of him went down just a hair. His car was a shiny red Dodge Charger with 22" rims and dark tinted windows, black leather interior, and a spoiler. I was certain I was not going to like this guy. Too concerned with image. I was shocked by the irony of his music choice. When I got in the car he was listening to Seminary video soundtracks. It almost balanced out the car.
The evening was fun. We had fun chatting about the opera, and I realized that despite his lack of exposure to classical music he caught on quick and was pretty intelligent. I like intelligent. My season tickets entitled me to after parties with the musicians, but we ended up being early to the after party and decided to take a stroll. We walked around the corner and passed The Melting Pot. I told him how my sister had gone there once and raved about it. He asked if I had been, I said no, and he said, "Let's go!" So in we went and we spent nearly 3 hours eating delicious food and having the best conversation of my life. I can't even entirely remember what we talked about, I just remember feeling comfortable and at home.
On the way to the symphony we kept trying to figure out if we knew each other from somewhere. We eventually decided that we couldn't have met before, even though we felt as if we had.
After our fantastic evening out I came home on cloud nine. I'd had a pretty good time with the other guys I had dated, but something felt different about Justin. I felt like I knew him already, even though I didn't know him, and I was euphoric. I hadn't felt that way in a long time.
(to be continued...)