John and I met on October 1st, 2011 at the birthday party of our mutual friend Ben. It was the weekend of the Semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That's a mouthful... we just call it "Conference." For those of you who don't speak "Mormon", twice a year (the first weekend in April and October) LDS people the world around participate (either in person in Salt Lake City UT, or via satellite, radio, TV, or the internet) in a world-wide conference of the church. We hear messages from church leaders about many things. It's a GREAT spiritual weekend. Conference weekends are two of my favorite weekends of the year. Now, back to the story.
Our friend Ben's birthday happened to coincide with Conference, so he had a big "Conference Viewing" birthday extravaganza at his apartment. Now, at this point... I was in a bit of a "life change" kind of moment. I was newly pregnant (like... between 14 or 15 weeks pregnant), newly divorced, and about a million shades of NOT feeling very social. At all. But... I love my Ben-friend. And it was his birthday. And I knew the people who were going to be there... or so I thought. So I went. And sure enough, most of the people there were long time friends of mine. Until this random guy walked through the door with a dozen donuts and a gallon of milk. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
So there I was, the week leading up to Conference... hemming and hawing, and debating whether or not to go. I talked with my mom and dad, I talked with my bishop, I mean, geeeez... I had only JUST gotten divorced. I wasn't really feeling the go out and celebrate with friends vibe. But... I love my Ben-friend to pieces... I mean, he is a REALLY awesome guy. We were in rehearsals for the Savior of the World musical at church... I was playing Mary, he was playing Joseph. I knew that this birthday party was going to be fun, and I didn't want to NOT be there. Finally, I talked to my Bishop. I'm fairly certain that he thought I was silly, calling to ask him if he thought it was appropriate for me to go watch Conference of all things... but I also am pretty sure that he was glad I was being careful.
So there I was, sandwiched between my Ben-friend and my Mary and Darrel friends on Ben's ridiculously comfy man-eating couch, when this stranger with the donuts walks in. I was like, (quietly of course) "Hey Ben, who's that?" and he was like, "That's John. He's at the singles branch with me. Good guy." and we went back to watching Conference. (Oh, and side note: singles branch = congregation for young, single Mormons. It's pretty awesome, actually) Everyone was happy to see John... mostly because, hello! Donuts! And (as I learned later) because he's just a cool guy.
Eventually, the first session of Conference ended (Conference is two, two-hour sessions each day) and we started to make lunch. By this point, I was on the far left side of the couch. I was pregnant and still enjoying the first trimester woozies. I had fought for an armrest, and won. This put John and I sitting next to each other, as he was sitting in a computer chair next to the couch. John and I struck up a friendly conversation, just getting to know each other a little, and John asked the fateful question,
"Why don't I know you?"
I laughed, and said, "Well, I don't go to the branch."
"Why not?" he asked.
*snorts* "Uhhh... it's complicated."
(in a playful, teasing tone) "Who did you date?"
At this point, my eyes (understandably) went wide, and Mary and Darrel and Ben sort of chuckled... poor John, he was the ONLY one there who didn't know my story.
"Well... actually... I've been going to the family ward. I just went through a divorce."
To his credit, John was remarkably unfazed. I was actually quite impressed. We went on to talk some more, the normal small talk stuff; where are you from, where did you grow up, what brought you to the area... that kind of stuff. We quickly realized we had a lot in common; we like the same music, both love movies, both love our families, it was good conversation.
As I got up to go to the restroom for about the millionth time that morning, John, ever concerned and sweet, asked if I was feeling okay. I laughed and casually (well, as casually as possible) said, "Oh yeah, I'm fine... I'm just pregnant." and kept walking. Mostly, I figured he was shocked and I'd deal with it when I was done attending to business. When I came back, he was like, "So how far along are you? You're so tiny!" (instant brownie points, right there) I laughed and said that I was about 14 weeks. He launched into talking about his sisters' pregnancies, like it was no thing that I was sitting there, brand new pregnant divorcee.
At that point, lunch was ready, so we began to dig in. Ben helped me figure out what was gluten-free. So that brought up a discussion... Seriously, how many weird things can you heap on a person you've just met? "I'm divorced, pregnant, and I have Celiac!" All three were very new things to me. And yet again, he took it in stride. Asking questions, apologizing that I couldn't have any of the doughnuts he brought, being a sweetheart. I was pretty much in awe of him. WHY was he not RUNNING!?! I would have been leery of me. But not John. :-)
We sat back down, ate our food, everybody socialized. Eventually I caught him looking through my cell phone pictures. Little stinker. I was totally embarrassed because I had a belly picture in the folder. I don't just walk around with my belly hanging out! But, in true John fashion, he thought it was sweet. Weirdo. ;-) He then proceeded to tell me that he had a phone like mine once, and he totally knew how to add a contact... so he was just going to go ahead and put his number in it for me. Smoooooth. ;-) Normally, that kind of move REALLY ticks me off, but somehow, with this guy? I totally melted. Shoulda been my first clue.
* * * * *
We spent the next several months trying REALLY hard to just be friends. We failed miserably. We figured we'd give the whole "dating thing" a go. Now, a year and 10 days later, we're married... Turns out that dating someone who you count as one of your best friends is a REALLY good idea. ;-)