AUGUST 2006 - MAY 2007
The time from August 2006 to May 2007 may seem pretty uneventful on the surface but in reality it was a time of building a nice solid foundation of friendship on which we could build from there.
I began to visit the coffee shop on a pretty regular basis. I soon learned that Sarah was 23 years old, only a mere 13 years younger than me. In my head, that pretty much sealed my fate, as the last thing in the world I wanted to be thought of (especially by Sarah) was "that creepy older guy." I also learned Sarah was seeing someone else at the time and I would have no part in trying to move in on someone already in a relationship. I accepted the situation and moved on into "the friend zone."
What I didn't realize at the time was the fact that this was probably the best thing that could have happened. I'm not too naive to admit God knew what He was doing. If circumstances had been different I would have changed the way I acted around her. I don't know if I"ve mentioned this before but I'm not a good single guy around pretty girls. I become awkward, unsure of myself, very self-conscious, and I usually end up coming across as a goof. And not in a good way. Trust me on this.
But when I know there's no chance (or, in this case, think there's no chance), I can talk to anyone. Whether she is the one in the relationship or if I happen to be with someone, all of that goes out the window and I can talk to anyone. Why? Because of the simple fact that I don't care what they think of me. If I don't impress or woo them, it's all right, because it wasn't going to happen anyway. And so because Sarah was seeing someone, I was able to just be myself. I know. Crazy.
The Coffee shop is owned and operated by Sarah's sister Stacy and Stacy's husband Nathan. The are two of the coolest, kind-hearted, down-to-earth, mellow people you'd ever want to meet and I got to get to know them through my frequent visits as well. Sarah's younger brother David also works there and because Sarah's family was always around that also made things for the future even cooler.
You see, what was happening was this: I was getting to know and love Sarah's family.
Don't get me wrong, they're great people and I'm not saying it wouldn't have been fun -- or easy -- to get to know them if Sarah and I started dating right off the bat, but this way there wasn't any of the pressure that is sometimes there when you "MEET THE FAMILY" for the first time. It was really cool.
Speaking of cool, wait until you hear this. It may be a little harder to follow reading it than if I were there to explain it in person but hear me out and try to follow because it's worth it.
I grew up going to church in Auburn, Indiana. One of the kids who also went there was a boy in the same grade as me named Chris McCormick. We became really good friends and it became a common occurrence that after church I would go home with him or he would come home with me and we would hang out and play and get into whatever kinds of mischief fifth graders get into. Sometimes I would get to spend the whole weekend at his house. I have fond memories of us pooling our Star Wars action figures together so we could create epic adventures. I remember that my Princess Leia action figure was cross-eyed, so she became Chris's Princess Leia's retarded twin sister.
Chris's Mom had remarried a guy named Ken Stine and because I spent so much time at their house I got to know the two of them pretty well over the years (and vice versa). Ken spent a few years working as the guy who refills candy machines and I remember Chris sneaking me aboard the candy truck on more than one occasion to sample the goods.
As sometimes happens, things change, and a number of years later Ken and Chris's mom separated. And, you guessed it, a few years after that Ken married Sarah's mom. Small world, huh?
So, From late summer of 2006 to spring of 2007 I got the chance to get to know Sarah and some of her family. They're great people and now, as Sarah and I move closer to marriage, I can't wait to call them not only friends, but family.