Our love story started long before Matthew and I ever
actually met. And when you think about it, most love stories start that way. Every moment leading up to the one in which you meet your future husband or wife somehow shapes you and
prepares you for that person you were fated for. Any previous heartbreaks or dark days or lonely nights can be crucially important in the grand scheme of things— sometimes we need to know what something feels like when it’s wrong before we can ever really know it when another thing is RIGHT. So that’s why I need to start the story with a little bit of background. The whole “girl meets boy, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl get married” model is a little too simplistic for my needs. You people want details, don’t you? Of course you do. When I was 18 years old and working as a waitress at a little family restaurant, I met a guy who was 10 years older than me. He was the one who came before Matthew. We dated for three and half years, and even lived together during thelast year and half of that relationship. We moved into a tiny little house and owned Gracie and Cooper together and our relationship was never a terrible one. He was a good guy, I was a good girl, and we really did love each other. But for every moment of those three and a half years, I had a nagging, itching, aching feeling that he would never be the right one for me. Despite his great heart, he lacked ambition and drive and handled his finances very poorly and, at the heart of it all, was very insecure despite being a bright and attractive guy. I understood him, though. I
understood that his family had never prepared him for LIFE,
and the poor decisions he had made as a younger man had
him caught in a sticky web and a hole he just couldn’t seem
to dig himself out of. As the years went by, he could give me less and less of what I needed. Things became strained between us. I was a terrible nag, and I see that now. But the problem was that there were just too many things about him that I wanted to change. And as I began to realize that I could never change him and shouldn’t have to, I struggled SO much with what the right thing to do was. It ate away at me day and night,
because I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without him. And being alone TERRIFIED me. Somewhere during all this, I read the book The Secret which is all about the law of attraction. I really, really believed in what it said. It inspired me. I realized that I had not arranged my life in a way that allowed for all the things I so desired. I hate to skim over this because it’s so important,
but let’s just say that I KNEW I had to decide what I wanted
my future to look like and start taking active steps towards
attracting that future. And staying in my current relationship at the time was a major roadblock. I knew in my heart that if I stayed where I was, life would always be a struggle.
So one day the breakup finally happened. We talked and cried for hours and finally decided that we could never truly
work. He decided to move out and let me stay in the house
and keep the dogs because, on his income alone, he couldn’t afford to live there (I made enough waiting tables to cover the bills if pennies were tightly pinched). I can honestly say that the 48 hours after that break up were the toughest of all my life. I ugly-cried those kind of tears that come from somewhere inside you didn’t even know existed—a place of fear and sudden awareness that you are completely alone. And that’s the place I was in when I met Matthew. We met a mere 48 hours after the ex and I called it quits, which could either be considered really terrible timing or really great timing. I choose to believe the timing was perfect. But let’s back up again for just a minute.
Remember how I was working at that little restaurant? Well,
for a couple of years I’d been waiting on my future in-laws
without even knowing it. We’ll just call them Mr. and Mrs. D
for our purposes here today. They were an odd couple. Mrs. D was a beautiful blonde and friendly as can be, and Mr. D was quiet, reserved, and hard to read. I really enjoyed waiting on them, though, and I found it amusing when Mrs. D would occasionally mention their son in California and how perfect he and I would be for each other. She mentioned this to me on at least two or three occasions, but I always laughed and just politely reminded her that I had a boyfriend. I came to find out later that, in actuality, Mrs. D talked a whole lot more about
Matthew and I one day meeting than I ever knew at the
time; Mr. D now says he had to hear about it every single
time they came to the restaurant, and Matthew, when he
was in town, would always go to eat there and would hear
about me then, too. But for some reason, I was never
working when Matthew happened to stop in with his
parents, and our paths never crossed.But then one day, on January 19, 2009, our paths DID cross.And to make it all the more strange, I wasn’t even working that day—the encounter was, TRULY, by chance. Little did I know when I woke up that morning, Martin Luther King Day and a university holiday, that my life was about to be turned upside down.
It was a Saturday that the ex and I had broken up, and by
Monday morning, though I was by NO means “over” the
breakup, I was feeling ever so slightly hopeful; or at least
looking forward to a fun breakfast with a friend.
One of my male coworkers was (is) like a brother to me; we
were hired on at the restaurant around the same time, and
over the six and a half years until this point in the story, he
and I had become close and occasionally planned a
breakfast outing to catch up on the events of each other’s
lives. A week prior to this aforementioned Monday, he and I
had planned to meet for breakfast at the restaurant where
we worked – only I got called into work when another
waitress went home sick. I didn’t know it at the time, but
this was a game-changing move. One of those moments
where the Universe intervenes because that particular
event wasn’t in keeping with the greater plan.
Truth be told, if I had met my friend for breakfast on that
previously planned date, or if I had shown up to the
restaurant even a single moment later on the day we DID
end up meeting, Matthew and I would have never met. My
life would be drastically different right now. Funny how the
smallest little decisions and changes of course can alter the
entire plot of your life.
So on that Monday morning, January 19 of 2009, I woke up,
got showered and dressed, and headed out to a 9:00 AM
breakfast with my friend. Like usual, I was running a couple
minutes late. Once I arrived, I parked my car and walked across the lot and into the little diner where my friend Chris was already waiting in the line to be seated. We chatted for maybe thirty seconds before the outside door of the restaurant swung
open and, to my surprise, there was Mrs. D! She seemed
excited to see me and exclaimed, “Jenni! I know this might
seem strange, and I know you have a boyfriend, but my son
is here in town—we were just leaving, and I saw you walking up—I’d love for you to come out and meet him!”
I gave her a hug and laughed, saying, “Well, actually, me and
my boyfriend just broke up, so it’s ok.” I thought I’d humor her. Many proud mamas had bragged on their sons to me before, and if or when I ever did end up meeting these “handsome” princes, things were usually awkward and anything but a match made in heaven.
Mrs. D led me just outside the little foyer where we’d been
waiting. Her car was a few feet away, and the driver’s side
door was still open where she had gotten out. I peered into
the car and there he was: the infamous son.
I’d be lying if I said I heard a choir of angels singing, or if I
said a bright light shone upon him like some supernatural
vision from God, but there truly was instant attraction. He
reached over from the passenger side seat to shake my
hand and said, “Hey! Nice to finally meet you!” He had the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and from then on I was in somewhat of a stupor, which is not unusual for me when faced with awkward social situations (especially involving shockingly attractive members of the opposite sex). I said something along the lines of, “It’s really nice to meet you too! I’ve heard a lot of good things about you, and I just love your Mom!” Mrs. D mentioned then that Matthew was going home to California the next morning but would be back in a couple weeks. I replied saying maybe we would see each other again when he returned, and the conversation wrapped up. But in typical Jenni fashion, I had to say at least one ridiculous thing before going along my merry way, so just as I turned around to walk back into the diner, I decided to poke my head in the car one more time and say, “oh, excuse me SIR? What did you say your name was again? I already forgot!” Yes, I called him SIR. And as soon as that word flew off my tongue I was mortified with myself. Why the !@#$ did I just call him “sir?” What an idiot!
He just laughed and said “Matthew.” “Ok, thanks!” I replied. “Maybe I’ll see you again soon!” They left, and I went back into the restaurant where my friend was waiting. And just a couple moments later we were inside and seated at our table near the back of the little one room diner.
We ordered our breakfast and, after a few more minutes,
the hostess walked up to our table and slipped me a little
note. “That guy just came back in and told me to give this to
you. He saw you sitting with Chris and didn’t want to be
rude and interrupt,” she told me. My heart skipped a beat. I unfolded the little note. Matthew had written his name and phone number and the message: Be back in two weeks. Would be great to hear from you! I was shaking. I can’t explain it, but I felt like I was dreaming. My mind was racing with thoughts of how completely serendipitous this encounter was, but how
completely awful it felt to be entertaining thoughts of another relationship so soon after my last one ended. One of the waitresses at the restaurant, a good friend and mother-type figure to me, stopped by our table and read the note. She had seen the whole thing unfold, and the way Matthew had come back in and stared back at me as I chatted obliviously with my friend. With a knowing look on her face, she said “Jenni, it’s a God thing.” And she turned out to be very, very right.
Mrs. D and Matthew both corroborate the story that, when
they had left the restaurant after our initial meeting,
Matthew matter of factly told his mother that I was the one.
That he knew it. And she said she had always known it. She
told him what I said about my boyfriend and I breaking up,
and Matthew demanded she turn around. They came back,
he scribbled his note on that little piece of paper, and he
went back in to find me. And I COULD just say “the rest is history,” but that really wouldn’t be doing the story justice. The part that comes next is half the fun! I suppose that sometimes fate might whisper, but in our case, it screamed.
To be continued…………