Part I is here:
When last we left, Charles and I had failed to meet for nearly a decade of our lives . . .
Just before Easter 2008, I agreed to be the RCIA sponsor for my best friend/RCIA sponsor's younger sister, who had been baptized Catholic, but never received the sacraments of First Eucharist or Confirmation. Unlike lots of places, the Newman Center at that time (since I don't know how they do things these days!) ran RCIA more-or-less year 'round. As a result, she and I started attending RCIA sessions on Sunday evenings a week or two after Easter.
I (obviously) didn't know it at the time, but Easter was on Charles' (March) birthday that year, so we must have finally met at the beginning of April. I remember the day. A good friend of mine from when I studied abroad was in town visiting family, and we met for lunch that Sunday afternoon. It was a warm, sunny April day in Phoenix, perfect for eating outside, which we did. I was in a happy, tired, sun-drenched mood when I got to RCIA.
We always sat in a circle for RCIA, and when we got there, I was surprised to notice a cute, blonde guy across the circle. Which proves that I have never, ever thought of Charles as a redhead, even though everyone else does. Colorblind, thy name is Ashley. Anyway, I decided he must be too young for me, and I kinda put it out of my head. Or at least tried to.
Catch that? I finally met the guy!!
Then, one week, maybe the next week, he sat by me during the RCIA session, and we shared some laughs. I decided he was definitely cute. And nice. And clearly a good Catholic boy. About this time, I friended him on Facebook and learned 1) that we had several mutual friends and 2) that he wasn't actually really young. In fact, he was my age, minus six cougar-ific months. By then, I convinced myself that he was, indeed, cute, but that he had the potential to be a really good friend. I didn't want to blow that with some stupid romantic entanglement that would, inevitably, end badly. No, I've never overthought anything. Ever ever never.
Also about that time, I remember talking to an RCIA team member who I knew from my own jaunt through RCIA (a post or 10 for another time), who was going on and on about all the great people who were RCIA sponsors that year, including Charles, and my heart did that stupid beat skipping thing. By now, I was working really hard at not liking him and doing a fair-to-middling job of it.
Meanwhile, according to Charles, he thought I was cute, but didn't think it was even possible.
So, Mother's Day rolls around. Meaning it has only been like a month, but girls, you know how it is when you're developing a crush on someone; things go in slow motion and fast forward all at the same time. My sister and I had gone to Prescott to spend some time with each other and with our dad. We talked about boys the whole way up, but I was so convinced that nothing was going to happen with Charles that I never even mentioned him to her.
We made it back to Phoenix in time for me to fulfill my obligation to serve the 7pm Mass. There was no RCIA because of Mother's Day, but I did get a little wave before Mass. I decided, for sure for sure for sure that nothing was going to happen. All I got was a wave! Not even a "Hi"!! Clearly.Not.Happening. After that, I joined the young adult group for a drink and fellowship at a local brewery. I was sitting there chatting with some friends when Charles walked in. He said, "Hi," to one of the people I was talking to, and I smiled and said, "Hi," to him. I got a "Hi" back, but things moved on. It was a big group.
Somehow, we ended up standing close enough to converse. He asked me a question about RCIA. Except that he says I said something to him. Regardless, we started talking and continued talking (with a couple of friends--one of whom had to later confirm for him that I was interested) for a couple of hours, until I couldn't put off getting home and going to bed any longer, since I had to get up early the next morning. Before I hit the pillow, however, I posted on his Facebook wall, because I'm that cool late at night. It was something like, "I had fun talking to you tonight. I hope we can do it again sometime." Subtle, too. The wall message turned into a couple of private messages turned into a phone number exchange turned into plans for Monday night.
That was that. We went to the movies on Monday. We hung out on Tuesday. I don't remember why, but we didn't hang out Wednesday or Thursday, but we talked. I'm pretty sure that every day that we've been able to talk to each other or see each other since then, we have. We got engaged just over two years later, got married 51 weeks later, and had a baby 52 weeks (and a day) after that.
I didn't ruin that awesome friendship with romantic entanglement. I got so very much more.
My dad calls us two peas in a pod, and I think that works rather nicely. We may not be grand gestures people, but we certainly are happy together, raising our family, and doing it side-by-side.
All we had to do was meet.