I've never been good on dates. Ever. For some reason every single ounce of confidence disappears, and I am left feeling both paranoid and awkward.
Is this going to last longer than tonight?
Does he want to marry me?
But the moment Hiram opened the car door for me and I buckled my seat belt for the drive down to Manti, I was absolutely and unbelievably comfortable. Which was really confusing to me. But also nice for a change.
We talked and talked and talked (probably I was the one doing the most talking) and next thing I knew, a cop was flagging us down with his arms and lights as we pulled into Manti. As we pulled over, he walked over to my (passenger) side, and began yelling at Hiram. We had somehow missed seeing an ambulance driving down the main road in the opposite direction. With its lights on. Furthermore, we failed to see every other car on the road pull over, with the exception of both the ambulance and the car in front of us.
Hiram sat patiently and humbly as the cop railed him with rhetorical questions such as, "What if your brother was in the ambulance? What would have happened if they got in an accident because of you? What if that was your mother in there?"
I decided to let the cop know that I was not a pushover, albeit blind and ignorant. I politely said, "Um, Mr. Officer, we don't mean any disrespect, but we really didn't see it. Perhaps it was the fact that we were just following the car, or maybe because the sun is in our eyes since it's setting. I don't know." He responded by asking Hiram to step out of the car. Hiram's actions the entire evening were very impressive; I never once felt uncomfortable.
Three months later, after meeting consistently with Hiram on different outings like football games and more lunch breaks, he asked me on our second date. Had he known my history, he should have recognized that my "yes" meant that I unconsciously favored him. Most friends that asked me out on dates received a, "I'm sorry, but I just really like having a friendship with you and I don't want that to change." I'm not saying I was hard to get at all, just extremely closed off. My history included only finding guys attractive after years of being a friend.
We went to a musical, which I loved, and then we went home. I didn't think I was interested in Hiram, but I wrote in that journal that night, "... I don't know how to sort this all out. If someday I find myself attracted to Hiram... I don't want to close him off now. AHHH..."
But he stepped back. I saw him at football games, and every Sunday evening Hiram would pick me up to take me to a mental home, where we'd play with the patients for an hour or two. No, let me be even more honest, Hiram drove my friend Lauren and me anywhere and everywhere. One evening, Lauren said, "We should double with Jake (mutual friend) and Hiram sometime."
Immediately my inner defenses came up.
I want to be the one to go on the date with Hiram.
And I didn't know why. But I did know that Hiram had changed from being a part of a group of friends to being a best friend.
Three months later, Hiram called and asked me to attend the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. I was grateful that he asked me-- I felt like it was because he understood that that would be something I would LOVE. As we drove to Salt Lake, he teased me gently and we laughed, and as I looked over to the driver's seat to make eye contact with him, my stomach fluttered.
Wait, butterflies? Weird.
As we drove home that evening, Hiram cleared his throat and began, "Cebre, can I be open with you?" I complied, and he began a beautiful monologue about how he admired me, but how it centered on my spirituality. He mentioned a few times how I was someone he could see himself having a relationship with. From my perspective, it seemed like he was saying, "Hey, I'm interested, but only if you are, too. Otherwise I'm just a friend."
Because I was caught a little off guard, I blurted out a jumbled response that in my mind sounded like, "Yes, Hiram. I feel the same way, and I'm open to trying to build a relationship." I guess it didn't come out that clear, because as he parked the car, he asked for clarification and then said, "Okay, cool." to my response. Which made me think that he didn't understand what I said at all.
Later I wrote in my journal, "It was a bit nuts... because he commented on how basically he desired a relationship with me based off of our friendship as well as priorities. And it didn't freak me out. That night I stayed up for 3 extra hours just thinking about it." I called my friend Lauren that night and explained to her that I thought I was going to marry Hiram. Which was weird, because despite my respect and platonic love for him, I didn't think I was interested.
This next part is what I like to call, "Cebre had no idea and was blind."
I should have known I was interested in Hiram; if anything, my subconscious knew. I sent him about 40 texts a minute over Christmas break, including pictures and videos of what I was doing the entire time we were apart. As I came back and began student-teaching at the start of winter semester at BYU, Hiram and I had what seemed like biweekly "define the relationship" meetings. Each time, he would reaffirm that he was interested, but patient. Somehow, the "interested" part never got into my brain. I was just absorbing each minute with him at my leisure.
Hiram, the wonderful and thoughtful gentleman that he is, catered dates to my deepest desires. Knowing my obsession for reading and my childhood, he asked me to go to the library with him. There, he let me select seven or so books from the children's section (he selected a few as well). This was also the first night he took me home. We arrived at his place with our arms full of Cafe Rio and children's books, and as I shook his father's hand I learned that they had "heard a lot about me." As Hiram and I spent the rest of the evening reminiscing at his kitchen counter, I realized for the first time that he probably liked me.
Our next few dates were similar, with Hiram catering to all my preferences, and me beginning to realize that I was falling in love with him. I was beginning to see, and was overwhelmed by, the amount of care he had for me. Every conversation with a friend centered around how giving and loving Hiram was. "Cebre, he's perfect for you," they'd say. And I'd always end up mumbling back, "I know."
Hiram's patience is what ultimately won me over. I had friendships with boys before, and occasionally those boys would want to take it a step further. But with each of them, I'd experience the heartbreak as I realized that they didn't want to wait for me to come around. To Hiram, I was worth every second of the wait, even if it was painful or annoying or confusing. I knew it was frustrating, but I needed it to do my own growing up and self-discovery. I wanted to be a woman worth waiting for.
Hiram and I have a running tradition that is unintentional: every month we go to Salt Lake City together. In February, Hiram asked me to go to a Young Ambassador's performance at the Conference Center. After, we walked around Temple Square. The entire time I was freaking out wondering if he was going to try to hold my hand. To avoid it, I chattered on and on. Hiram finally changed the conversation, asking, "Cebre, what is your definition of a relationship?" Shocked and a bit overwhelmed, I looked at him like, "REALLY? You're going to make ME define it?" Luckily, Hiram was determined enough to push past my strangled answer, and informed me that he believed that we had more of a relationship than many people who labeled themselves as being in one. I went home a happy girlfriend.
The next few weeks were exhilarating. We were hardly getting enough sleep, just because we wanted nothing more than to be around each other. But unlike freshman at BYU, we realized that we needed to spend enough time on our scholastic responsibilities to float. So we became library daters. Hiram and I spent our nights holding hands while also trying to type up term papers or grade student homework. It wasn't very productive, but we pretended it was.
Starting on Valentine's Day, I wrote a note a day to Hiram. I was saving them up for his birthday present. As February came to a close I struggled with writing the notes. I wanted to write about how I loved him, but I didn't know if he loved me. I didn't want to put my heart on paper only to have it be unreciprocated. So I waited.
Hiram, meanwhile, was the absolute sweetest. He would walk me home every evening, and like a complete gentleman would give me a hug, let me unlock my door, and then he'd leave. This drove my roommates absolutely insane. Each night as I'd come home I was asked, "So, has he kissed you yet? Did you kiss him?" And each night, the answer was a "no".
Finally on a Sunday evening in March, Hiram asked me if it was bugging me that he hadn't kissed me yet. When I mumbled some affirmative answer, he explained that he didn't want to kiss a girl until she knew that he loved her. I quickly kissed him on the cheek: his sensitivity was endearing and made him all the more perfect. We went and sat down on the steps by my front door, and I shared with him that I didn't see our relationship ending any time soon, confirming that I didn't want it to, anyway.
Because of that conversation, I was finally able to breathe. The next week my sister and friends peppered me with questions about fall housing contracts. I kept answering the questions with, "Oh, I can't make that kind of decision yet because I need to know about what type of teaching job I can get first." But really, I had a feeling I'd be looking for married housing instead of single. At the end of that week, Hiram and I sat on my couch talking, and he asked, "Cebre, is it too soon to talk about marriage?"
The conversation went as follows:
"Cebre, is it too soon to talk about marriage?"
"I don't think it is. Besides, my friends keep asking me where I'm going to buy a contract and I never give an answer because I feel like I'm going to be married to you anyway."
"That's funny. Because my friends and I went to buy a contract, and I didn't want to. Not because I don't want to live with them, but just because I'd rather be with you. Anyway, I went to go sign and didn't have my checkbook so I couldn't put down a deposit. I have to go back and give them the check... although maybe I shouldn't now?"
"No, I don't think you should."
We spent the next half hour planning out our summers with regards to work and classes, trying to figure out when we could get married. We both knew we should talk to our parents about it. Then I stopped.
"Hiram, if you want to marry me that means you love me."
"Yeah, I do."
"I love you, Cebre."
"I love you, too."
My mind then had a flashback to when I was standing at my doorstep hugging Hiram goodnight, and he said, "I don't want to kiss a girl unless she knows that I love her."
I looked at him and he asked me if I remembered when he asked me if it was driving me crazy that he hadn't kissed me yet. Um yes, I'm remembering it right now.
"Because Cebre, it's driving me crazy."
"Then kiss me."
And he did.
Later, we giggled about how backwards we were. Talking first about marriage, then about love, and then sharing our first kiss. Then I realized that everything was backwards, and I got a bit peeved. I had always been adamant about engagements. I thought it was ridiculous when people were planning weddings, had a date, but didn't have a ring and therefore weren't engaged. But circumstances made me a hypocrite. When I called my parents, they said they already guessed as much and were already planning on transferring my phone plan to Racer anyway. Lexie (my twelve-year-old sister) was a bit upset that I was getting married in the summer, as she wanted to be a teenager at my wedding. Terra reminded me that she had been praying every night forever that I would fall in love with and marry Hiram.
The next step was for Hiram to meet my parents and ask my dad for permission. So we planned a trip to my house for the end of March, right before our birthdays (mine is March 29th, Hiram's is March 26th). We had gone ring shopping, and I had overheard Hiram's roommate asking about the ring, so I thought perhaps that he was going to propose officially on my birthday, or perhaps General Conference weekend. Terra had discouraged me from thinking that Hiram even had the ring, so I kind of even gave up on this hope. We drove for fifteen hours after school on Friday night, arriving home at 6:30am on Saturday. My whole family, with the exception of my dad, woke up to greet us. I was a little put out that they weren't more surprised, as I hadn't told them we were coming home. But I was tired, and went to sleep for the ... morning.
When I awoke, I saw that it was raining outside. My mom started to ask if we could go to the beach, go boogie boarding, or perhaps to some lighthouses. I explained that Hiram had been sick the week before, and we were tired, so boogie boarding wasn't a good idea. I also wanted to rest a little more, so I asked if that evening perhaps we could just go to one of the beaches/lighthouses. Perhaps the rain would clear up by then. My plan was to lay around sloppy all day long, soaking up being home, and then shower when we got back from the beach.
Because I hadn't showered, I put on a hat and a sweatshirt and we left for the beach. I didn't put on any make-up because I decided we weren't going to see anything or do anything anyway besides walk around in the rain. My parents, sisters, Hiram, and I drove out to West Cliff and walked around looking at the surfers. I was surprised at how huge the waves were! Since it was Hiram's first time at a Northern California coastline in forever, I took it upon myself to be a tour guide. "There's the ocean. There are some surfers. Over there? That's a lighthouse."
My family stopped to watch the surfers, and Hiram pulled me over to read an information sign. I looked at it, and thought, "We need to get him to see otters and seals in real life in the wild." We then continued walking, with me making genuine remarks about my interest in the surfers. The waves were HUGE. Hiram then quite literally pulled me over to the lighthouse, saying he had to show me something. There was a heart on the lighthouse door, saying, "Cebre, will you marry me?"
I turned to Hiram, confused. "When did that get there? Who put it there? When did you talk to my dad? Has that been there this whole time?" He smiled, and started opening up his little backpack, fishing for the ring box. Hiram explained to me that he loved me and wanted our engagement to be something special. Since it was still raining a bit, I told him he didn't have to kneel down and get his knees wet. He knelt anyway, opening the box and showing me what I instantaneously decided was my favorite of all the rings I looked at. I asked him to stand back up and kissed him, and then realized that I hadn't answered. "Oh! Yes. I'll marry you."
And that, friends, is the beginning of what I call my Happily Ever After.