Sunday, October 23, 2011

how it all began...

I've been thinking a lot recently about Cori and how our relationship was beginning to unfold around this time two years ago, so I thought I'd recount our story.

I moved to New Orleans from Virginia in August of 2006, just months after graduating.  I did relief work for two years, and then began teaching.  In August of 2009, right as I began my second year teaching, Cori moved to New Orleans, also from Virginia.  He came to get his Masters of Public Health at Tulane, and the only person he knew in NOLA was Harris, a friend of his from his undergrad days at Virginia Tech.  He called him up when he realized he was moving and stayed with him for a couple weeks while he looked for his own place.  Harris and I had been involved in the same church and Bible study for the past two years and hung out in the same group.  When a group of us went to pint night at one of our favorite bars, the Bulldog, Harris invited Cori to come and hang out with some of his friends.

Cori and I were introduced, briefly bonded over the Virginia connection, and then talked to other people for the rest of the night.  Cori says that his first impression of me was that I was loud.  A fairly accurate impression, especially considering that I randomly met another JMU alum that night and loudly sang our fight song in the middle of the patio bar.  I thought Cori was cute, but was wrapped up in the beginning of the school year and other aspects of my life, so I didn't think much about it.

Without my knowledge, however, Harris and my best friend Kim had decided that Cori and I would make a great match and conspired about ways to bring us into social situations together.  One night in September, a group of us had dinner- a group that I would later find was specifically formed so that Cori and I could hang out without knowing we were being set up.  We chatted a bit and I shared about the difficult school year I was having.  Later that night, I got a text from Cori, sharing a Bible verse and that he was praying for me.  Some might find this cheesy, but for me, this was a major turn on.  The next day, I went for a run with my roommate Laura and told her that while I didn't want to read into it, I thought Cori was great and enjoyed him pursuing me a bit with that text message.  I decided to do my part to make sure Cori was included in group activities, and was happy when he joined our gang that Saturday at Oktoberfest.

This is where the story I love to tell happened.  Cori and I were chatting when Kim told me to come to the bathroom with her.  Apparently, our group had decided that I needed to 'get out of the friend zone' with Cori, and had voted that Kim be the one to tell me.  Kim instructed me to touch his arm while we chatted, and I obediently followed her instructions.  I was pleasantly surprised with the results- Cori bought me a drink and the two of us spent the rest of the night talking.  As I was asking him some questions about his life, for some reason, we decided that the best way for me to get to know him better would be if he made me guess random facts about his life, with me getting points for each correct guess.  If I got 10 points, he would dress up and sing the Schnitzel Bank song, which is a tradition at Oktoberfest.

Cori says that he underestimated my determination to win a bet; what he really underestimated was my desire to get to know a cute, funny, Jesus-loving guy.  We spent the next couple months texting and flirting, me advancing in our silly little game, and enjoying him.  But I was also confused- there were days when I was convinced he was going to ask me out any moment, and other days I was sure he wasn't interested at all.  I continued to be interested in him, but prepared my heart to accept that it just wasn't going to happen.  I did, however, when our little bet, and at our annual 'Friendsgiving' gathering, Cori dressed up in Leiderhosen and performed the Schnitzelbank song in front of all our friends.

December was an emotional month for me as I struggled through some huge drama with my job.  I didn't have the energy to worry about Cori, and had pretty much convinced myself that he wasn't interested.  But that doesn't mean I wasn't going to still give it a shot- if he flirted, I flirted back, which is why my friend Katie found herself uncomfortably in-between us when we went out for drinks and holiday lights to celebrate my roommate Laura's birthday.  She moved spots and Cori and I bantered about a little sword that was in my drink- he really wanted it, and I gave it to him- but only on the condition that he give me his word that he'd owe me.  This seemingly unimportant interaction was actually crucial for Cori and gave him the courage he needed to ask me out.  He planned to do it the next day, but after his car got flooded, his plans were delayed.  We didn't see eac hother for the next few days, but in a gchat conversation, Cori asked me what a girl would like best as a treat, music or dinner, and I straight up told him that I thought he was asking me because he was asking another girl out.   He avoided answering and assured me he'd tell me the next time he saw me.   He was also particularly interested in what I was doing that Friday, but I just couldn't handle the disappointment of him not being interested so I didn't let myself read into it.

A few days later, on December 16, 2009, a group of us went out to sushi to celebrate Laura's actual birthday.  I asked Cori what he'd been talking about in our gchat conversation, and he said, "It's my thing to tell and I'll tell you when I'm ready."  So I gave up and spent the rest of dinner talking with other friends; I specifically remember my friends Jeremy and Shannon asking what was going on with my guy life, and me saying that I didn't think anything was happening with Cori.  (This was from the other end of the table.)  We finished eating, and chatted outside for a few minutes before people started heading home.  Cori asked me where my car was parked and said he'd walk with me to it.  That's when it hit me- this guy was about to ask me out.

Cori walked me to my car and said, "So, the reason I asked you what you were doing Friday is because I'm interested in you and I'd like to take you out on a date to talk about it."  I said, "I've been hoping you were interested..."  We talked for a little while and Cori filled in a few missing details for me.  My sweet intentional Cori hadn't been trying to confuse me by flirting and not asking me out- he'd been trying to make sure that he truly liked me before acting on it.  He was surrounded by girls in his classes, but found that his thoughts kept drifting back to me.  When he realized he truly was interested in me, at the advice of a smart guy friend of ours, he waited a few weeks for some of my work drama to die down.  Before that night ended, Cori handed me a blindfold and told me I'd need it for our first date.

I was absolutely giddy for the next two days, so much so that one of my students asked, "Miss Taylor, are you okay?  Why you smiling like that?"  My girlfriends giggled with me, and I was amazed to find out that Kim and my friends the Paddocks had known about Cori's plans to ask me out since Thanksgiving.

Our first date, Cori blindfolded me and took me on a tacky lights scavenger hunt.  We held hands and went back to his house and talked until 2 in the morning.  The next night, we went to our friends' Scott and Rebekah's wedding and danced all night.  I was smitten, but I was also overwhelmed.  I'd spent the last month convincing myself to not be interested in Cori, and then- BAM- there he was, crazy about me and wanting me as his girlfriend.  It took me a couple weeks- until New Years Day- to say, "Hey, Cori.... I want to be your girlfriend."

8 months later, we started talking about marriage and exactly a year after our first date, Cori asked me to marry him.  I love our story. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

let's hear it for the girls

This past weekend I had the absolute joy of going to my dear friend Rachel's wedding.  As I was flying back to Florida at the end of the weekend, I reflected on my friendship with Rachel and our group of girlfriends.  I was reminded of the time Rachel came to New Orleans to run the Mardi Gras Half Marathon with me.  As I was introducing her to people, my friend Tori said, "Oooooh, you're one of the girls!"  The way she said it made it clear that no further introduction was needed, because anyone who knows me knows who 'the girls' are.  These 5 women have been in my life for years, many for decades (am I that old for that to even be possible?!), and whenever I'm in Richmond, they top the list of people I must see, right up there with my parents and Katherine (when she's actually in America, that is!).

me and Emily at one of our annual Christmas dinners, December  '08

First, there's Emily.  Emily and I met in first grade, although as I remember it, we didn't actually become friends until second grade, when we were the only two girls in our class who had been in the same class before.  All that I remember about our friendship then was that we liked that our initials both spelled words- RAT and EAT- and one time she rode home on the bus with me.  The following year I was transferred to another elementary school, and it wasn't until French class in 7th grade that we were reunited. 

freshman year at JMU

Next, there's Rachel.  Rachel was my first real friend when I joined Girl Scouts in 4th grade, and while I don't remember exactly what drew us together, by 6th grade, we were inseparable.  Even though we never had any classes together, we managed to see each other throughout the school day and had constant play dates after school, where we sold lemonade door to door, went to the pool, and made up ridiculous nicknames for each other, like Automobile, Locomotive, and Rachel and Rebecca Bailey.

Jenny's wedding, April 4, 2009

JMU Homecoming- freshman year

Even though Jenny and I first met when I joined Girl Scouts, we didn't actually become close until 6th or 7th grade when we had lunch together.  Pretty soon we were spending hours on the phone, talking about boys (always, always talking about boys!), Winnie the Pooh (classic Pooh, mind you- somehow that made it cool), Sanrio, and Beanie Babies.

me and lori at my rehearsal dinner
In 7th grade, I had science class with Lori.  We quickly realized that she had recently moved to my neighborhood, and being that we were only 12 and driver's licenses were far in the future, we would spend our afternoons and weekends walking around the neighborhood.  

Emily L. and me, celebrating Jenny's 26th birthday

In 8th grade, I had science with Emily L.  We already knew each other because she was friends with some of the other girls, but this was our first time getting to know each other.  We sat next to each other, and I'm pretty sure we didn't listen to our teacher very much that year.  We picked our favorite periodic elements (don't judge us- we were in science class, what else could we do?) and passed notes.

Throughout the years, our friendships have stretched and grown and changed.  There have been seasons that we haven't been as connected to each other, and seasons that we've been attached at the hip.  We've had stupid fights (I'll NEVER live down the time I dropped the f-bomb at Emily L. and Jenny!) and we've had joyous celebrations.  There have been marriages (Jenny, me, and Rachel) and there's been the sweetest addition of Ellie, Lori's daughter.  We've all lived within 15 minutes of each other, and then we've all been spread out across Virginia at various colleges.  

These girls have taught me about unconditional love.  They've carried me through hard times.  I'll never forget sending out an email during a particularly horrendous season of life.  Within 24 hours, the girls had put together a care package for me.  They've celebrated with me as I met and fell in love with Cori, being almost as excited as me when Cori first kissed me.  They breathlessly answered the phone with anticipatory, "Hello's?!" for at least 3 or 4 months before actually receiving my "I'm engaged!" phone call.  I know that no matter how far away I am, these girls will always, always, ALWAYS be there for me.  They are some of the most precious blessings in my life, and because of all we've been through, I can say with assurance that they always will be.  Love you ladies.

And because it's impossible for me to pick just one fun picture of us, here are some favorites, in no particular order.... if only we'd had digital cameras back in elementary and middle school, I'd really have a treat to share- but then again, the girls would probably kill me. ;)

beach trip, summer of 2010- lori, me, jenny, rachel, emily l., lovey

Jenny, me, Emily, and sweet baby Ellie, Christmas '05- Ellie's first!

my wedding- june 25, 2011- lori, jenny, me, rachel, lovey, and of course, everyone's favorite flower girl  precious ellie (she's been mine, jenny's, and rachel's!)

a trip back to Richmond to see each other during our freshman year of college- me, Jenny, Rachel, Emily L., and Emily- dressing up in hunting gear at Wal-Mart, just like any cool college student would

Christmas break, sophomore (?) year of college- Karen, Emily L., me, Emily, Jenny, and Jenny

visit to NOLA! summer 2007- Jenny, Emily, me, Lori

Ellie's birthday party- Lori, me, Jenny, Clarke (Jenny's now-husband), Karen, Emily, Rachel, Lovey, Emily L. 

one of our annual Christmas dinners- this year's was at Kabutos- Emily L., Lori, Emily, Rachel, me, Jenny, Karen

senior year of high school- Ryan, Chris, Jenny, Rachel, me, Emily L., Emily

high school- Karen, Emily L., Emily, Jenny, and me