Here we are again, wondering about this strange girl, Rachael and if this budding romance is actually going anywhere, or if it will end abruptly, dying before it’s truly begun! If you’d like to catch up on the story you can read, A Budding Romance part ONE and TWO. Or you can start here and imagine your own pre-story! :)
It was 10am on May the 17th, 1999. Rachael and her mom sat silent on a bench outside JC Penny in the less than busy mall. Her nerves were wrapped up so tight, she probably couldn’t have spoken if her life depended on it. She tried not to look around, but her desire to search every face for the possibility of meeting the one person her heart longed to know was almost overpowering. Part of her was beginning to fear that he would take one look at her and keep walking; that he would change his mind.
But before she could give in to despair, a young man, early twenties, tentatively walked up to them sitting on the bench. Rachael had never seen his face. She’d only read his words; thousands of them. She hoped she’d not be disappointed because she was already so emotionally invested in this person. Before he could say a word, though, she stood from the bench and hugged him. There was a small doubt in her mind that she’d hugged a total stranger, but when he returned the embrace, the relief was immediate. It was him.
“Hi, Rachael,” he said. There was a smile behind those words.
“Hi, Karl. It’s so good to finally meet you. This is my mom.”
Introductions were made, and instead of standing awkwardly in the mall they decided to head to the car to take a scenic drive around the city. Rachael’s wise, or meddling, mother suggested Rachael drive. Her mom sat in the back to give Rachael and Karl opportunity to visit. As it turned out, Rachael was so nervous she could barely speak. She’d spent every minute of the hour and a half drive to the city talking and now nothing would come out! Her mom came to her rescue, though, and asked this stranger in her car questions about himself as well as just being a kind conversationalist.
Eventually they ended up near the lake and decided to walk around the locally famous trail on Tubbs Hill, near the resort. Rachael’s mom stayed behind and the two new-not-so-new friends started out on the unfamiliar trail. It was supposed to be an easy 2 mile hike around seeing the views of the lovely lake.
Tour Boat on Lake Coeur d’Alene at Tubbs Hill
But, they took a wrong turn and ended up lost on the upper trail. It was fun finding their way down again. They didn’t talk a whole lot on this walk, but they did enjoy each other’s company. Too soon, they made it back to the car where it was time to return Karl to his own vehicle and say their goodbyes. The time had gone by too quickly but much better than should be expected from such meetings! Rachael only hoped that he wouldn’t now run as fast as he could the other way . If nothing else, he was sure to be a splendid friend. One can never have too many of those!
To Rachael’s great relief, the letters continued to flow back and forth between the two of them. May turned to June and Rachael’s graduation arrived. It gave another opportunity to build on their friendship, so Rachael asked him to attend. She was to have a small solo part in the choir, singing “And So It Goes.” I think she probably wanted to show off a bit. This was also opportunity for her dad to meet her new friend. The best part was when their person-picky Queensland blue-heeler, Slider, raced off the porch and greeted this stranger like a long-lost friend. Slider never did that with anyone.
Next it was Rachael’s turn to fly on over to meet Karl’s family and spend the Independence Day weekend with him. Karl was so thoughtful. He picked her up from the airport and brought her home to meet Mother. She was nervous to meet his family, but she was more excited to be there, stepping outside her comfort zone. His family was all smiles and warm welcome was given without a thought. The room Rachael was ushered to was comfortable and on the table there was a welcoming gift, thoughtfully put out by her dear friend, the friend she hoped to convince wanted to be more than friends. Yellow roses and honey roasted peanuts (both favorites) graced the table.
The rest of the weekend went much like the beginning. It was fun and entertaining, with hikes, boating and fireworks watching on the back deck. The fourth of July will forever be etched in Rachael’s mind, though, because on that day Karl held her hand. As they walked up the trail on the side of Mt Rainier her hand would give a gentle graze across his every once in a while. I think he must have finally gotten the picture. They didn’t talk much but enjoyed each other’s company. Eventually the trip had to end and Rachael went home, her love for her friend deepening a little more with each parting.
The summer continued to pass by with phone calls and emails still sent daily. After some gentle prodding, Karl was finally able to admit that he had feelings for Rachael, but he was reticent to pursue them because he didn’t want to rush into anything. He relayed fears of Rachael being too young to really know for sure that this was what she wanted and not wanting either of them to get hurt. He didn’t want to ruin their wonderful friendship.
Rachael appreciated his honesty about his feelings and concerns, but she was confident. She continued to work to convince him of her steadfast heart and that she knew her own mind. Yes, she knew she was naive in some respects. Time wore on in much the same way. Their letters spoke more and more of the desire to be together and the future.
August came around and Karl moved to Coeur d’Alene to be close to Rachael while she attended college. This wasn’t good enough, so he asked her to marry him at the beginning of September. He picked her up from work, they came back to her apartment that she shared with three other lovely young women, she changed and in a basket, lovingly prepared by his own to hands, was a picnic dinner.
Rachael’s roommates giggled and said goodbye as Karl and Rachael walked out the door. On the beach, under the dim edge of light from the lamppost, Karl proposed. Rachael’s elation couldn’t be hidden and she gushed over the ring and the man.
“Yes! Yes, I will marry you. I love you.”
Now the giggles made sense. She giggled, too.
Calls had to be made, people had to be told. A December wedding it was to be! Well, that is until Rachael’s mother and grandmother tag-teamed her with countless phone calls asking all kinds of questions about the wedding. Rachael became so overwhelmed with it that she told Karl they should just elope…after all, The Hitching Post was just down the road.
He used his good sense, though, and talked her out of it. Instead they would get married at the church with as many people as possible to attend…in two weeks.
Many people whispered and thought things that just weren’t true…who gets married in two weeks?! Well, Rachael and Karl, of course! Rachael wanted to be asked no questions and wanted to plan no things. Her mom and grandma took care of all the details, including a quick shopping trip to find a suitable dress and shoes. Well, no shoes since back in 1999, no one carried white dress shoes in September…some kind of faux pas or something. Toe rings would have to do.
And just like that, on a Friday night at 7PM (a little after, since they were late for their own wedding), this couple who’d met 9 months previous by the odd happenstance of a friend’s guestbook link on Geocities, were wed…”with this wing I thee wed” even. ;) He’ll have to forgive me for immortalizing that little line. haha Here we are almost 15 years later, and Rachael would still say, “I do.”
Now, that ends this story. Really, this is only the prologue of a life together, but it’s mine and I love it. I hope you enjoyed reading along with a little of my history. I tried to contain myself and not spout off every last detail, boring you to death. I can’t say I succeeded, but you can! In fact, let me know what you thought of my retelling of this history of mine. I’d love to hear from you!
This week I’ve decided that I will be focusing once again on the topic of beauty, so come back again and find out what else I have to say and share on the topic!
Come find me on Facebook: WritingRaci or Twitter: @RachaelRitchey I’d love to get more connected!