Friday night, Curtis James turned 30 with style. Since moving out here and becoming an official adult, time with The Boys has become scarce. I asked Marie to create a Boys Only Treasure Hunt. For 2 hours, 20 gentlemen raced around Grand Rapids solving clues and closely avoiding traffic violations. After the hunt, they joined us ladies at the ice rink for a little pizza, cake, and skate-o-ramma. I have to say, I have not laughed that hard in a very long time. It was grand. Marie, you are a wonderful friend. Thank you so much.
Someone thanked me on Saturday for a great time and I said, “No! Really. It was our pleasure!” And, it was. I realized, looking around, that these people- all of them- tell the story of our life here in Grand Rapids. The past 6 years can be found in all of them… college family, biological family, church family, study family… and all the new kiddos and all the laughs. It was really something. I could have never known exactly 6 years ago that it would turn out this way.
You see, I met Curt on his birthday. In 2002, I was working for Young Life’s Oakbridge (where I met many of you) as a Program Specialist. My job was to host and help and organize and play. Curt was visiting my friend Kevin (his college roommate), and Kevin called form LA to see if they could come down to see camp and maybe do a little work. I remember welcoming them late that night- February 22nd, and learning Curt was from Grand Rapids. I remember trying to make conversation, like the good host that I was, and saying “I have a friend in Grand Rapids! She’s in nursing school… and she’s tall and blonde and gorgeous and funny as all getout.” And I remember him looking at me sideways and saying, “Well, that’s just about every girl in Grand Rapids.” Oy. Tough crowd. No sparks, if you hear what I’m sayin’.
The next morning, Kevin and Curt and two high school boys and I painted the carnival fence green. I was wearing Carrharts. Kevin asked me how I was doing and I said I was dandy. And he asked me where I thought I’d be in five years, and I said hopefully in a cabin with my fireman on a white horse somewhere in Montana. And he said, “You should talk to Curt- he’s a builder and he just got back from Montana.” And I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘Right. Do you know how many guys come through this camp? How many amazing guys? And they all leave.’ Curt never said a word to me that day. I remember thinking he was a great guy- good with the high school kids and great with Richard, our maintenance guy. I remember him asking me for sunscreen, because it was sunny and hot in February in San Diego. And I remember them leaving after dinner that night and me saying, “Nice to meet you.” and him saying, “When you’re ready to build that cabin, you let me know.” And I remember not giving it another thought… because, well, the boy didn’t say but five words to me and he lived in Grand Rapids and I don’t make great first impressions and he was just another guy passing through.
Never underestimate the power of Carrharts, people. A week later, Kevin called to ask if it was ok to give Curt my address. Eh? What followed was a 6-month courtship that ended in me moving to Grand Rapids in September of 2002. He would come back to California to visit 3 times- in May, in July, and in August… for a total of 11 days together. He even drove to Cleveland to meet my parents without me that summer. I was wrapping up my journey with Young Life that summer, and I thought I’d take a break and move to LA with Chelsey. Instead, John and Renee packed up my U-Haul and sent me on my way East to Grand Rapids. That was the beginning, people. You know the middle. Ridiculous. All of it. But, so very good.
Looking around last Friday night, I could not be more thankful. God had truly blessed us in this place. This frozen tundra of a place. He has made us a home where we are so very loved.
It’s Monday here, which means Torah homework and cleaning. I better get to it. Thanks for walking down Memory Lane with me. You rock my face off.
[edited at 2:30pm to add: I finished my Torah homework- including ALL the questions and The Big Man Upstairs is rewarding me with the finale of the NasCar race that was postponed yesterday. People. All is well.]