December 27 was our 6th anniversary!
It was my year to plan, so I decided to take advantage of the fact that we are currently living in Utah and planned a trip down memory lane.
I wrote a series of 12 mini-essays, reflecting and reminiscing about 12 specific locations that were meaningful in our relationship.
And then we visited those places throughout the day.
Before heading to each destination, I presented Sam with the next article and we would read and laugh together before driving there to re-live those days which seem so fresh in our memories and yet simultaneously seem like a lifetime ago.
Our first date was to dinner and the IMAX theater at the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City.
I loved having 2 hours of conversation time in the car to get to know Sam.
At the time I was a physics major, and when my dad heard a guy was taking me to the planetarium he said, "He doesn't know what he's getting into!"
How true that turned out to be!
We have commemorated our first date just about every year since with a trip to the IMAX theater, but we loved that on this occasion we could actually go to the original location.
Another stop we made was to the law school building on BYU campus, where our ward held church meetings. (In student "wards," or congregations, groups often meet in various places on campus since church buildings wouldn't accommodate them all.)
This is the room our ward met in.
It was here that I first saw Sam,
here that I took his photo for the ward directory (and creepily saved it instead of deleting it after the directory was made, just because I thought he was so handsome and mysterious),
here that he impressed me with his invitation to come visit the nursing home with him,
here that I secretly watched for the boy who always wore the blue tie,
and here that we began to get to know one another in meetings and conversations.
My old apartment had to fit in the mix as well.
So much of our history took place here!
Sam initially lived in the same complex, but after his trip to El Salvador he moved into a neighboring complex. I thought maybe it was too weird to take a picture outside someone else's apartment, but Sam assured me that it would be fine. I guess I'm not too worried about being creepy anyway, though, as illustrated above.
For lunch we went to the fabulous Guru's!
Our second date was here, and I was totally blown away by the food and my date.
In fact, it was while walking around downtown Provo after eating here that Sam turned to me and said very candidly,
"Well, Kaitlyn, should we define our relationship?"
I was shocked, but thrilled.
Straightforward, clear communication is one of his strong points. :)
There was no question what we would order--we've been craving it for 5 1/2 years!
Their cilantro-lime chicken quesadillas can't be beat.
It was his recommendation on our second date, and I just can't bear to order anything else.
They are crazy delicious. (Copycat recipe here, but I still think Guru's is better)
We also indulged in their famous sweet potato fries and magical dipping sauce.
We left stuffed and fully satisfied after anticipating this meal for years!
Another spot we hit was Pioneer book, an old used bookstore we went to on a date.
Actually, Sam had planned to come to this bookstore after we went to Guru's on our second date,
but it was closed.
I was intrigued by the idea of a used-bookstore date, so I had looked it up online previously to see what it was, and I noticed it would be closed. I kept that information to myself, curious to see what he would do when his plan was foiled.
He passed the test when he remained completely unruffled and suggested we walk around downtown Provo instead.
A couple of months later we came back again on another date, and this time the shop was open!
We purchased a couple of goofy little children's books and took them home to read.
And then, just 2 days before our wedding, Sam gave me a Christmas gift which included an assortment of children's books that were meaningful to me in my childhood, which he had purchased here.
We also braved the really cold temperatures (reminiscent of the 12 degree morning we were married)
and walked around a path that leads through some marshy areas in this park in South Provo.
We had a couple of really significant visits to this park when we were dating--
one was one evening after dark and as we were sitting on the swings, talking and laughing, a police car pulled up and a policeman came over to investigate.
When he saw us he looked like he wanted to laugh.
"It's just you?" he exclaimed. Apparently the park had a curfew we were unaware of,
and I guess he was expecting to break up a little drug deal instead of a couple of giddy college students.
Numerous other locations made the list, including the place Sam proposed (although the trail was closed for the winter, so we could only see the trailhead).
We ended our lovely day with a trip to the temple in which we were married for time and all eternity.
Taking the opportunity to reflect here on the commitments we made to God and to one another that blessed day was the perfect ending to our fun.
You know, it's funny, but our wedding day was far from perfect.
-It had been the most demanding academic semester of my college career, and trying to manage school, work, and this blossoming relationship resulted in suffering grades and an average of 3-4 hours of sleep per night. At one point I basically had a mental breakdown.
-We were engaged for only 7 weeks (which was based on our desire to get married between semesters without having to wait 4 additional months), which meant we had that very short time to plan our wedding and our lives together--housing options were extremely limited with such short notice, and we ended up having to spend Christmas day and the day before our wedding moving in.
-My sister was married 2 weeks before me (yes, my mother is a saint--two weddings in December with Christmas sandwiched in the middle?!?), which was totally wonderful but added more planning into the mix.
-Because we had so little time before our wedding and record-breaking numbers of couples were getting married during that semester break, when we called to reserve the temple they only had small rooms left in the morning. We got the largest one we could, but it still couldn't accommodate very many of our family members! This meant that most of our extended family members could not attend our marriage.
-There was an awful snowstorm the night before which made for beautiful photos, but also made the roads horrendous, so even more friends and family members could not attend our reception and other festivities.
-The night before our wedding I went to bed at 12:30 am and was up again at 3:30 am to get ready for our 8:00 ceremony (like I said, options were extremely limited). After a whole semester with little sleep, I was pretty much a zombie by the end of our reception.
-Somehow the beautiful necklace and earrings we had selected that matched my dress so perfectly had gotten tangled up in some grocery bags and tossed in the trash (at least, that's what we figured when they were nowhere to be seen at 4:30 in the morning).
-Sam's car's engine died in the temple parking lot right as he arrived. And I do mean died. It was towed to a shop nearby, and the engine later had to be replaced. Somehow our families mostly concealed that information from me in an attempt to avoid giving me any stress on my wedding day, and they were wonderful to make other arrangements for us.
-Sam's wedding band hadn't been ready for us to pick up earlier and my wedding band had been left in his car (which was towed), so we couldn't exchange wedding bands in our ceremony (I still had my engagement ring).
-While taking photos in the beautiful snow, my gorgeous bouquet completely froze stiff. When it warmed up again, all of my beautiful white lilies were limp, soggy petals.
-The flowers weren't the only thing hurt by the cold--we got these gorgeous pictures standing in about a foot of snow in front of the temple, but in 12 degree weather and in my short-sleeved wedding dress, my skin turned bright red and I'm pretty sure my feet were in the early stages of frostbite...seriously, another mother of a bride saw my feet in the dressing room and gasped, grabbed her daughter's beautiful white shawl, and came over and started using it to vigorously rub my feet while my mom helped me warm up after pictures.
-I somehow managed to leave my white heels behind in the temple, so they were nowhere to be found at reception time.
-I had planned to put together our wedding slideshow and decorate our wedding cake (what was I thinking?) so the few hours between the luncheon and reception were spent in a frenzy trying to complete those tasks, while meanwhile my dad, brother, and some other family members were an hour away, kindly moving furniture graciously given to us into our new apartment.
-Since our mode of transportation had died earlier in the day, my parents were generously letting us borrow their vehicle for the few days following our marriage. But my dad was getting it ready for us at the end of the reception, so Sam ended up actually helping to clean up our own wedding reception while I sat in my zombie-like state on the couch in the foyer. Needless to say, we didn't leave with much fanfare.
-And then we fought to keep our eyes open as we drove on the icy roads to our new apartment, which was filled with our unpacked boxes (we weren't leaving on our honeymoon of sorts until 2 days later).
It's funny how in retrospect it seems like one thing after another went badly, but I had no stress on our actual wedding day. In my eyes, everything was perfect, because I had just been united with the man of my dreams for eternity. Nothing else seemed to matter.
And this year, as I reflected on the last 6 years we've spent together, I realized that those years have worked the same way. Life has given us ups and downs, and we've faced challenges at times, but they all seem relatively unimportant because of the priorities in my life--with Sam by my side and with God leading us together, it just feels like everything is okay.
And any other difficulties take a backseat to that understanding.
Happy 6 years, dearest.