I’ve been thinking about this for a while, people ask all the time how Zach and I met and I love to tell the story, but what happens when I start to forget the detail and I get too busy with kids to write it down……so I’m going to write it now. I’ll be in sections, but I want it to be one post, so I’ll re-post it when it gets updated. I will try to make it easy for you to find the new part, if you want to read the whole thing. 🙂 I’m even hoping I can get Zach to join in and put his side in here and there. Here it goes.
September 1999: I just started my freshman year of college, as was working part time at Orchard Valley Learning Center. I had my own classroom of four year olds every other afternoon I was there. I loved the kids and they loved me. Then one day, I was told to go somewhere else. No big deal, that happened from time to time, but then it happened again. I was pretty upset because I didn’t even get a chance to say bye to my kids. It just happened. So I went and talked to my boss. She said, she was putting this new guy in my room for good, because he was there everyday and I’d just have to get over it. I left her office and went to the playground where all the four-year-olds were, tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t figure out why this 23 year old guy can just come in a take over the world I’d spend years making and why the heck was he at a daycare center anyway? Via rumors, Zach knew who I was and what was going on, but we never really spoke. I put my two weeks in shortly after and went to work as an office manager for a small insurance brokerage.
September 2000: I was extremely depressed. I’d quit my job at Orchard Valley Learning Center almost a year before and working in an office with just four old men just wasn’t the same. I’d had a few failed relationships over that year and needed something to occupy my head, so one day I had the grand idea to go back to the daycare center. It was kinda spur of the moment, I was just driving home from school and stopped in. I ran into an old co-worker in the parking lot, who was going to be the director of the new building that was opening in six months. She wanted me there, so she walked me into the office and told the director to hire me for now and that she would take me next door when they opened that building. Kelley asked me how much I was being paid when I left, I made something up and she said I could start on Monday. It was almost surreal. I made the decision to stay at the insurance office in the morning, go to school in the middle of the day and spend my afternoons at the daycare center and the first day I wasn’t sad…..the kids are so loving.
I was put into a room with this older lady, Donna, turned out she ran the office in the late evening. That evening when I went up to talk to her, Zach passed by and she made a point to tell Zach I was the girl she’d told him about and he wanted to know if I remembered him. At first I didn’t, but when I did I told him I still didn’t forgive him for taking my room. Somehow, in the last year, Zach had become a favorite at the center. He had his own room of school aged children and everyone did whatever he wanted. He got off at 5 (I got off at 6) and he would sit at the front desk and get information about me from Donna. He even got Donna to put me in his room a few times. On other days he would come sit in whatever room I was in and keep me company until closing.
November 15, 2000: Then, on November 15, he walked into my room and said he was just stopping by to say Happy Birthday. I had been in a pretty bad mood, as it was my birthday and still no one had said Happy Birthday, but he was able to get me laughing a talking. We discussed the work Christmas party that was coming up. He was going and really wanted me to go, but I told him, “I don’t do those things.” Plus, I was just turning 20 and the Christmas party was at a bar that I’d be kicked out of at 10. Seemed stupid to me. Finally I told him I’d think about going to the Christmas party, but I had a babysitting job that was tentative, if that fell through, then I’d go to the party.
Friday December 1, 2000: On the day of the party, I wasn’t needed to babysit, so I walked into work and told Zach I’d be going to the party and he responded, “Well, that’s great, because I’m not.” Really wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it turned out his car wasn’t working and Kelley, our boss, wouldn’t let him off to get it fixed, even though he wasn’t really needed and she knew he needed his car for his second job of delivering pizzas. I was finally able to convince him that I was a good driver and had a reliable car and would be happy to drive him around that night. So, on December 1, 2000, we went to the work Christmas party together at Patrick’s. After dinner, we snuck out and went next door to the laundry mat and just talked. I had to get out of the bar because it was so smoky….I couldn’t handle it. When we went back, it was after ten and the lady didn’t want to let us in. Unfortunately, I’d left my purse inside. Finally, she let us in, not believing Zach’s ID to get my purse and leave. We ran into Donna and her boyfriend and they wanted us to go down to the parade of lights with them. We decided that would be okay and piled into their car. It was cold and we had a blanket on top of us. Zach put his hand on my leg…..I almost died.
We parked right next to the Denver Public Library and I was thrilled. I’d never seen the new one and it was beautiful and all the books were lit up. I was so excited about it. I’m sure Zach was rolling his eyes. As we walked around the floats, Zach tried to put his arm around me. I didn’t make that easy. He was moving too fast and too close. I mean out of all the boys I’d ever dated none of them had actually touched me besides a hug or two. Russ had pushed my limits, but we hadn’t even been together and here was another boy trying to do the same thing. I was very conflicted about it. We went to get hot chocolate and I fell asleep in Zach’s lap, I was so tired. And yet we ended up talking for hours in my car at his apartment. Somehow over the course of the night, we decided to we’d go see “How the Grench Stole Christmas” at the theater the next night.
Saturday December 2, 2000: So, the next night I picked him up (remember, I have reliable, brand new car, his is broken and older) we went to the movies….I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do believe we drove all the way to Highlands Ranch. After the movie we headed to an elementary school near my house. We played on the playground and swang on the swings in the dark, then we sat in my car and talk. We talked about almost everything as I suppose most people do on their first dates. At one point, we’d gotten silent, and I asked….
Me: “so, whatcha thinking about?”
Zach: “How I’ve really wanted to kiss you since last night.”
Me: “Not going to happen. I never kissed anyone and I hardly know you.”
He didn’t let it show that it bothered him and I eventually took him home thinking we’d had a wonderful night.
Sunday December 3, 2000: I had to drive clear across town to eat Indian food with some of my classmates from nutrition. They were both boys and lived in Westminster, so it made sense for me to drive that way. Zach and I had been talking about it at work, long before our first “dates” and he didn’t feel comfortable with me driving all the way up there to eat with two guys I didn’t really know. I couldn’t really argue with him on that one and we’d decided that he could come along.
When I picked him up, I could tell something was wrong. He was very short with his responses. He told me it was because of his brother’s mom and I believed him. I chattered as we drove 45 minutes across town about how we’d have to go to the mall afterwards and get Dippin’ Dots, because I love them and you can’t buy them too many places. Dinner was uneventful, but we learned Zach doesn’t like Indian food. Only one of my classmates showed up and it was good Zach was there or would have felt a little like a date. Afterwards we headed over to the mall and got Dippin’ Dots. I remember I was wearing these very noisy gray pants and a tealish button down shirt. Haha…..oh, did I tell you what I was wearing on the night of the Christmas party? Crystal’s Silver Tab jeans and my blue boat neck shirt and as a jacket when it got cold….my purple and gray reversible jacket. Oh, and my birthday earlier that year…..that was my blue flower skirt that I was sure I looked great in…..we’ll have to ask Zach if he remembers. 🙂
We must have had a good night, or I should say Zach must have had fun with me, because according to him, when I said I wouldn’t kiss him, he was done with me. As he says, “I didn’t need another friend.” But after Indian food and dinner we continued our relationship. For months no one at work knew we were “together.” Part of this was due to the fact that we weren’t really together and the other part was due to the fact that we didn’t want it to be a huge deal.
Zach was at the age of wanting to go out and drink and party with his friends. I hadn’t gotten there yet, and was still underage. Therefore, for the first six months or so, we were only a weekday thing, as my father would say. Thurs, Fri, and Saturdays were for partying and Sunday was for football. I fit on Mon, Tue or Wed when the second job didn’t conflict.
Funny thing. Zach was not a Christian when we started dating. I was not on a mission to save him, I was just trying to fix myself and get over some stupid guys. I didn’t figure we’d stay together for long. In fact, one time my dad and I were having an argument about me dating a guy who was not a Christian, and I remember yelling at him: “I know what I’m doing. We are just dating. It’s not like we are getting married!”
A while later, I went to break up with him because I was getting too involved and didn’t want to be hurt and I couldn’t stay with a non-Christian. A crying fit ensued. “This is so stupid. You don’t break up with someone because you like them.”
Don't mind us...we were at work and no one knew we were dating.
March, 2001: I finally give in and kiss Zach. My first kiss ever. I can’t go into much details, because frankly, I was so fricken nervous I don’t remember really anything. Oops! Not really the romanticy thing, is it?
At some point during this year, Zach’s friend Josh shows up on his doorstep, drunk and pissed off. This is my first interaction with any of Zach’s friends, and not at all the way he wanted me to meet him. I enjoyed Josh and hearing about the drama going on over at his house that he was escaping. And to tell you the truth, I was so naive that I wouldn’t have even known he was drunk had I not been told. One of the worst and best thing about this period was not knowning anything….and feeling stupid….but Zach and his friends being so patient and understanding.
August, 2001: Zach goes on a roadtrip with his brother and dad. I stay at his apartment to take care of the bird. He had this funny bed made of foam. It was perfectly shaped to his body and very comfy. We still haven’t said that we love each other, but we really “missed” each other a lot.
Trip to Devil's Head, sometime in the Summer of 2001
September, 2001: Shortly after Zach got back from Oregon….September 11 happened….I think it was on that day that I realized I couldn’t live without Zach. I stressed all day because he was downtown. That day made most of us figure out what was important….Zach was on that list of people I wanted with me at all times. I knew I loved him, but I still think it was another month before I told him.
November 15, 2001: I finally turn 21, but am so sick, I stay home and celebrate in my PJ’s. A few weeks later we go out for drinks, but I don’t remember what and where or the circumstances. Oh well.
My first trip to the beach
Zach and I had grown over the year. We were closer, further from our friends. We continually discuss God. I’m convince Zach will be happier with life, if he’d just give his life to Jesus, but he just wanted to agrue with me. At one point, I told him. I can’t prove God exists for you, it’s something you know and feel. This was one of my best agrument to Zach, and I could tell he was close……and then Mark died.
February, 2002: Mark was one of Zach’s good friends. I never met Mark, but I hear he was a wonderful guy. He was full of life, this I know from the videos. Mark died of cancer, I believe. I remember the day he died. Zach called and told me, but I was at work and okay, but shaken. My boss was kind enough to let me go and I headed over to Zach’s work….he wasn’t there….so I went to his friend’s house….he was there, but I knew it wasn’t my place….this was time he needed with his friends who knew Mark. Not me. I sat in the car and prayed for Zach and his friends. I was scared for what this would mean to our relationship and concerned for how it would effect everyone.
Soon enough Zach was questioning me again. “If there is a God why would he take such and good guy like Mark? Why not someone bad like me?” How do you answer these questions, especially for someone who is tetering on the edge? Mark did. He knew he was dying. In fact, he had just moved back to Colorado from New York to be with his family. He was here two weeks. The night before he died, he proposed. He knew he was going to die, but he had to get things in order. He wrote a poem before he died, asking his friends not to let his life be vain. It was a very touching poem, I might have to go find it. Somehow, this and some one-on-one time with God is what did it for Zach. Meanwhile, I was yelling at God….how could he do this when Zach was so close to seeing his love? Of course, God’s plan never matches our own…it just doesn’t…his plan is much bigger than we can imagine.
At the Cambrian....such fond memories.
Fastforward….December 17, 2003: Zach proposes. We’ve been together for just over three years. I was in a miserable mood. Nothing could make me happy. I was laying on his bed and about to go home, when he was like, hold on….ran out to the other room. When he came back he sat on the floor and rubbed my back….I sat up to leave and he said, “Jenn…”
I dropped my glasses. He picked them up and handed them to me.
“Oh, great. They are dirty.” By this point I kinda know what’s going on and I’m scared. I don’t know why. I clean my glasses and put them back on.
“Jenn….will you marry me?” And he pulls out the ring.
“Are you serious?”
Then I was happy. I remember we had to tell my parents, but I don’t know how we did it. I know Zach had taken my parents out to lunch a few weeks earlier and asked for permission. And I believe there was a promise to my mom that Zach would finish school. 🙂
We set the date: April 17, 2004, which gave us four months to plan. We didn’t really start the planning process until after the first of the year. And then we had to find a place….I wanted to get married outside….we looked a ton of places and I had finally settled on one and we discussed it will my parents….and of course, they were upset with the cost and I freaked out and life was miserable. It was around this time that we decided we wouldn’t splurge, but we weren’t going to have regrets….we were only getting married once, so it was worth it. We thought of getting married on Pikes Peak with a small gathering, but the cog doesn’t start running until April, so it might not be working on the day we wanted. I’d decided against the other place and we were looking at State Parks. We went to Castlewood Canyon, a place we’ve always liked. And we wandering around seeing if there were any places, we ended up going off the trail and came to the nice little clearing with benchs and everything. It was perfect. So we walked back up the trail and realized we were at Pike Peak Ampitheater….in Castlewood Canyon. Even more perfect. It was over looking one of the places we’d wanted to get married and when I was growing up, I’d always wanted to get married in a Castle…..so it fit. Now for the reception…..we started looking at hotels…..I only remember two and I’m so glad we went with the Inverness…..it was so much more elegant than the other place would have been.
April 17, 2004: The wedding.
I suppose it starts a few days before the wedding. I don’t remember exactly what day she flew in, but Zach’s Grandma Dorothy came over to my parents house for dinner because Ron was working late, like always. Dad made his famous steak, corn and potatoes dinner. It was delicious. While we ate, Dad was telling stories and Grandma got to laughing and swallowed her steak, which, of course, got stuck in her throut. I immediately jumped up and gave her the hymlect remover and out popped the steak. I guess all those first aid/CPR classes came in handy. Grandma immediately gave Dad a stern talking to for making an “old woman laugh while eating.” And we all returned to the happiness that was.
We planned the wedding in four months. I only took the Friday before the wedding off. Crazy, I know, but it worked. I’m surrounded by amazing people who work to make things come together.
Zach had a great, snowy Bachelor Party up gambling in the mountains. Put six drunk guys in a limo on a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm and you have the makings of a great comedy show. The party ended up being a bit longer than it was suppose to and I was worried because I knew they were going to the mountains and he hadn’t called me. So in the wee hours of the morning, when I couldn’t take it any longer, I decided to drive over to his apartment and see if maybe he’d just been so tired when he got home that he forgot to call me. No sooner then I pulled the car out of the garage and he called to say he was just getting home and that he was safe. I still went over and he, in his still drunken state, told me the whole story, even some parts that when he woke up he had forgotten.
My Bachelorette Party…well, we won’t go into that except to say that I was home, well back at Zach’s apartment, less than two hours after I had left sobbing. It took him forever to calm me down and we finally decided that we would go out with his friends for a pretend Bachelorette party for me. So we did, the Thursday before the wedding Zach’s friends and girlfriends took me out to play pool. We had a wonderful evening that I’ll cherish forever.
I got nervous on Friday. I was sick all day. There was so much left to do and I could hardly function. My sister was my Maid-of-Honor and my best friend Susie was the Maid-of-Honor II. We along with my mom, went and got our nails done, but all day I felt as if I was going to throw-up. Thankfully I never did. I managed to get ready for the rehearsal dinner and learned that chewing gum helped calm my stomach. We had the rehearsal dinner at a friends club house and she made us delightful food. Her father is also the one who performed the ceremony and was like a second father to me in my late teens.
We had two surprise guest at the wedding. They were invited, but hadn’t responded because they didn’t think they would be in town. Russ, Zach’s friend, just happened to be in town from Chicago the week before and the week after the wedding. He played pool with us and that was the first time I met him. I insisted he come to the wedding and he ended up taking the place of another one of Zach’s friends who had RSVPed, but had to leave town on business. The second friend was my friend Beth from Green Bay. She is the niece of the man who married us and we just have a connection. She was able to get a last minute flight and wanted to surprise me.
The day of the wedding. I went and got my hair done. I came home to my friends (Susie, who was in the wedding; Jess, who cooked the rehearsal dinner and was doing my make-up; and Beth, Jess’s cousin and my friend from Green Bay) fixing up lunch and getting ready. I was forced to eat. We laughed and talked. It wasn’t stressful at all. The weather was holding up. You see. It was the middle of April in Colorado. It had been a very snowy month. It had snowed the two previous weekends and it had even snowed on Wednesday and we were getting married outside.
As we were leaving the house I got a call on my cell phone asking me if we were still having the wedding outside. “Why, yes. Yes, we are.” See I’d included my cell phone with all the invitation in case of that crazy snow storm, but we figured as long as it wasn’t wet outside, we’d be fine. Sure the wind was blowing at 25 MPH speeds, but why would that make us move inside? The sun was shining and the temperature was 78 degrees. There was no question in my mind.
The limo picked us up and we headed to the site. We arrived on time, but commotion was to be had. I couldn’t get out of the limo because Zach was up at the parking lot. We finally got him down, but then my Great Aunt June was in the bathroom, which was at the parking lot. The wedding site was about a quarter of a mile down a dirt trail. Aunt June had a walker and so we slowly followed behind her down the trail. My veil flew off at one point and I yelled to my sister, “Go get it!” As there was no way I, in my big dress could run after the veil through the weeds and bushes, even if I was wearing tennis shoes. She started to slowly walk, thankfully it caught on some bushes and just waited for her. From that point on, I kept a good hold on it.
What can you say about your own ceremony? It was the best ever, even if I can’t remember half of what was said. We have it all on tape….and all you hear it wind. 😦 But for me it was perfect. Everyone’s hair was falling down. We didn’t get group photos because of the wind. People forgot to say Hi as they went through the reception line. But I love it! It put a smile on my face then and a smile now. What wonderful memories! And no one will ever forget the wedding in the wind. 🙂
Our reception was at a very nice hotel. It’s on a golf course and the room, or shall I say two rooms, we were in, had glass windows that overlooked the golf course and pond. It was so beautiful at sunset. The food was amazing….I still want that Strawberry-Papaya Soup. We had just barely enough room. Dad finally agreed to dance with me, just minutes before Zach and Sue’s Mother-Son dance, so we combined them into one. I danced with my Grandpa’s. We did the hokey pokey and at the end of the night I still wanted to hang out. I still get grief for this to this day, but hey, that’s me. I like people. And let’s face it. As much as I love Zach, the thought of being alone with him that night was a bit on the scary side, if you know what I mean. Finally, our friends insisted we go to bed and we headed off into that uncharted world.
I’ll try to spare you the details, but I do have the most amazing husband in the world. He is so sweet and kind and patient in everything. That “first time” took several loving tries over days. I felt the eyes of the world staring at me. It’s such an awkward time.
The day after the wedding was present opening at Mom and Dad’s. We only invited family and I think it’s got to be one of the most boring things to be apart of. We spent that night again at the hotel, then one night at the apartment (that we were sharing with Zach’s dad) and then jetting off to our honeymoon in Cancun.
To be continued…..
I will finish the honeymoon section and Zach is working on his version of our story, which I’m going to find a way to combine into this one. And maybe someday I’ll add some photos…but then again maybe not.