Then I grew up. Or, I grew up some, anyway. I went off to college and began to have many wonderful experiences. I learned all kinds of new things, made new friends, and even dated a bit. I was thrilled to find that there were many different types of men in the world. I became convinced I would find the "perfect" guy and live "happily ever after."
Then I grew up some more. When I was 21, I took the opportunity to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While a missionary, I became fluent in Spanish and was able to continue to use my newfound skills when I moved to Texas in the Fall of 1999. By the time I was 30, I had managed to not only elude marriage, but find myself a degree and a career. I became a bilingual social worker.
As you know, social workers don't make a lot. The average salary of a social worker is about on par with that of a school teacher. But, I was on my own, paying my own way, had my own apartment, etc. I made friends, but many of them got married. At one point I found myself pretty alone. Not only that, but I got fired from my job for a mistake I had made. It was not a pretty time in my life. I got internet service in my apartment so I could look for jobs online without having to go to the library to use the computer there. I spent HOURS every day combing the classifieds. After only a few days of this, I hit a pretty bad low. I knew something had to change, and soon! I decided I needed to try to make new friends. For this reason, and ONLY this reason, I decided to join a singles site. I know, I know, it sounds like I was looking for a relationship. But, I really and truly wasn't. I just wanted to make friends so I wasn't so isolated.
People always say it happens when you least expect it. Which, I always found to be silly. I mean, when you get to a certain point in your life, you know the next step is to find the right person, settle down and have a family (If that's the life path you choose.) I wanted that, too. When I was a kid, I thought I'd get married at age 19 like my mom. I never intended to be single at 30. But, that is where I was. And, admittedly, from the age of about 26 or so, I kept looking around every corner thinking that surely IT would happen. But, when it didn't, I finally had to accept the fact that I might never get married. I had to learn to be okay with that. And, I did. Through lots of prayer (and long discussions with my mom), I accepted that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us and even though I didn't understand it, I had to trust Him and His plan for me (which, apparently, did not include marriage.)
So that's where I was. Alone, broke, and searching for friends. And then I met Lloyd. There are so many funny things about the way our early courtship went. The first being, I couldn't even see what he looked like from his bio picture. He had some old, out of date picture where he was sitting on a couch about 10 feet away from where the photo was being shot. Digital imaging wasn't very common then, and the 35mm shot was blurry and hard to see. All I could tell was that he had long legs (as they were stretched out in front of him) and dark hair. Other than that, the image was fuzzy. But, I read his bio and he seemed like a genuinely NICE GUY. That's the kind of friends I wanted to make: genuinely nice people. I wasn't looking for partyers or game-players male or female.
My 35th Birthday 2009
Lloyd and I started emailing back and forth and he was the kindest and most thoughtful man I'd ever encountered. I had no idea at the time that I would fall for him. I wasn't expecting it in the least. In fact, at the time, he was dating a few other girls. Even after we'd had a couple of dates he flew out to California to meet up with another lady. But, it didn't bother me. Why? Because I didn't know I was falling in love. I was totally in the "friend zone" and so I was completely okay with that. On top of that, I knew that if I ever DID find someone to fall in love with, I was definitely NOT going to try to convince him to love me. Looking back, when I was younger, I see that I often gave too much, too soon. I was so eager for love that I gave my whole heart away to those who didn't give back as freely. As hard as those times were, I learned from them. I was determined that I would rather be alone and happy, than with someone who didn't love me the way I deserved to be loved.
Our Five Year Anniversary, December 2009
Lloyd loves me completely and unreservedly. Though our marriage isn't perfect (is anyone's?), we are happy. We work hard at loving each other and we are building our dreams together. They are slow in coming to fruition, but we are partners in our efforts, for the most part (except when he forgets to take the trash out.) I love Lloyd with my whole heart and am MOST grateful for the path that led us to each other. I'm grateful for God's plan for me. He knows what is right for me (and WHEN it is right for me), even though I sometimes doubt. As the years go by, I better understand the value of patience and faith, for in retrospect, I see nothing short of miracles in my life.
Family Picture with our dog, Chance (who thinks he's a "people".) 2010