Knowing that housing in a college town is hard to come by (especially on a very small student-sized budget), we began the search for a place to move into when it was time to start our lives together.
Every place that we looked at that was within our price range was nothing short of pitiful. Single-wide trailers with the floors rotting through. More single wide trailers with the floors rotting through. Not a lot of options.
One day, however, we stumbled across a little valley very close to the college with teeny tiny brick houses nestled into it. We figured it was either out of our price range or already claimed, but Joseph called the landlord anyway out of curiosity.
We were shocked to find one of the teeny tiny houses was both affordable and available.
Once we had seen the inside, we knew we had to jump on it or it would be gone. The only way we could do it financially, though, was if at least one of us moved into it immediately.
The Hanwell's and I figured out a new arrangement. Joseph and I would move our stuff into our new house, but I would still spend my nights at the Hanwell's house, on my top bunk in Kentucky's room. That way it wouldn't be like we were living together before we got married. I would have accountability.
The evening Joseph and I began moving things in, Genevieve handed me a blue candle in a little glass holder and a box of matches.
"Here you go! In case the power isn't on yet. It'll be so romantic!"
I reached for the candle, but she pulled it back for a second, "Not too romantic though...", she narrowed her eyes at me teasingly.
"Of course not! Genevieve!" I laughed, taking the candle happily from her.
It didn't take us long to successfully move all of our worldly possessions into that precious teeny tiny house on the top of it's own hill in the little valley.
Not a few days after the move, Christmas break began and I bid Joseph farewell once more. We departed from each other and went to be with our separate families.
Christmas came and went, and along with it the week long fast of each other. We had completed the three tasks successfully. That is not to say I wasn't hating that piece every step of the way, and some very stubborn tears may or may not have snuck out the corners of my eyes which may or may not have caused my parents to look confused and my mom to say to my dad, "Huh, I never cried because I missed you that much!" This episode may or may not have ended with my own outlandish claim that my contact solution was made out of rust and splinters and that was the true cause of the completely uncalled for waterworks. Not missing my fiance whom I was only disconnected from for a week, and who I was going to see in another week or two when he flew up for the rest of the break.
And fly up at the end of the break, he did.
It was to be the last time he would see my family before all the wedding madness.
Until this, my 23rd Christmas, I had never in my life kissed a single boy. Okay, scratch that. I had kissed two boys. But I never counted either of them. They were both stolen kisses, and both no more than a pop kiss.
The first was a boy I went to high school with who had always gone out of his way to make fun of me. Not in the silly good-natured way I was used to with my guy friends. He was... well, he was kind of mean. When I graduated, I was glad that he wasn't a part of my every day anymore.
And then one day, suddenly, when I was 19 years old, I came home from my job at the group home for people with Autism, and found him sitting in the living room of the doublewide I was renting with my childhood friend, Deja. As if that wasn't obnoxious enough, Deja and another friend of ours launched into a rant about my never-been-kissed status and then proceeded to dare him to kiss me.
I was not amused. I stood up and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth so that I could go to bed. For whatever reason, my girl friends started squealing, "She's brushing her teeth! That means she wants you to kiss her!"
I quit brushing my teeth and emerged back into the living room to tell them how asinine that reasoning was, and had barely even made it round the corner before he hauled off and planted one on me. I blinked a few times and wished them all goodnight.
The second boy was a friend of mine in high school. He caught me off guard sometime around my 21st Christmas at a contra dance at the Folk School when we accidentally waltzed under some mistletoe. Oops.
No real kisses though. It was never time.
And then one morning I went downstairs to wake Joseph up because he was sleeping in the ugly yellow room with no windows. He could sleep forever in there.
We weren't at the beach at sunrise or on top of a waterfall. There wasn't a stringed quartet serenading us, and there weren't stars winking at us from the heavens. We were in the ugly yellow room downstairs with no windows. But I rested my chin on his arm and he started to stir.
As I gazed into his sweet pale blue eyes, I thought of the first summer he had visited my family in Indiana. Mom had taken us to see Horton Hears a Who, and I had caught myself with my head on his shoulder feeling so safe. I had always been the safe place for my friends, and yet Joseph was here being a safe place for me. I had hoped that he would never go away.
It was that trip that we had seen the most incredible sky that a sun had ever set upon. We were in the living room playing scrabble with my brother when a crazy intense storm wailed through, complete with sideways rain, giant echoing thunder claps, and tree limbs flying around the backyard. I watched out the picture window, nervous that the sickly green/yellow sky might bring us a classic midwestern tornado. Joseph came over and took my hand to watch with me.
We watched and we watched, until the green melted away and the storm became a sun-shower. It was the golden time of the afternoon.
"Look over there!" Joseph pointed, "and then look over there!"
It was only raining in random spots and everywhere else it was all radiant beams of sunlight shooting in every direction. We dashed down the stairs and out the back door. There was no passing up weather like this.
I cantered around the backyard in the brilliantly glowing green grass hopping from puddle of sunlight to puddle of sunlight, in and out of rain showers.
"Look Joe! Now I'm being rained on! And now I'm not!"
When the golden splendor started to fade, we wandered into the front yard and were struck with a brand new kind of wonder. The sun was setting, and we were gazing upon the wide open Indiana sky changing vivid, deep colors before our eyes. To the right it was all blood red blending into fiery orange with bright white rays still poking through. To the left it was rich purple clouds, pale yellows and blues.
Across the street there was a rainbow touching down.
We took so many pictures, and not a single one even remotely did it any kind of justice.
He was my favorite to have adventures with. He was so kind and patient.
It wasn't a fancy setting or surviving a natural disaster together that finally made me kiss him. It was just the fact that he woke up in the middle of my daydreams. And his eyes were so lovely.
I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that after that, we spent quite some time looking for opportunities to practice this newfound pastime. As if we were in middle school. Kissing was our new hobby.
We did have other hobbies, though. When we got back to Cullowhee, Joseph got a camera with a fun setting that allowed one to draw in the air with a flashlight and then get behind the "drawing" for a moment, and the end result was a picture of the person behind the "picture" they drew. It was so cool.
We were lighthearted and carefree... until classes started again. We just had no idea what we were in for.