22 In The Series (Happy Anniversary Michael)

8 10 2010

The first time I ever talked to Michael was at a shoe store I worked at in Abbotsford. He was looking to buy a pair of dress-shoes to go pick up his “then” girlfriend at the airport. I don’t remember what we talked about but I do remember the shoes and I do remember the impression he left on me. The shoes were gray and the impression was, “She’s really lucky.”

A long time later and I was attending a young adults study that his racquetball partner was attending. One day, Mike showed up; and then he kept showing up.  I don’t really remember what he said but I do remember being curious about him and the impression he left on me: he likes to go beyond the surface; he has depth.

Some months in and I was at my Aunt’s and my mom phoned me there and said, “Someone named Michael Klassen phoned for you and wants to know if you wanted to go water skiing with him.” I said, “Michael? Michael who?” I drew a blank on whether I knew a “Michael” and didn’t connect the dots to the Michael at the study. And then it occurred to me: that Michael.

For some reason, my heart started racing immediately. It hadn’t raced for anyone else. Mike and a friend needed a spotter, that was me. Michael was a dock-starter and the water was very chilly (it was May). Mike isn’t one for cold water (think wet suit/dry suit in July) and I thought I’d see what he was made of; told the driver to slow down once Mike was up and off the dock. I think that is when I made an impression on Mike.

We had only dated for 4 months when Mike left for YWAM in California and I went to University in Langley. No email, skype, or texting at that point; letters, long-hand. Mike’s first letter was awful: point form, greatly lacking in detail. I kindly wrote him back, “If you are going to send letters like that, don’t bother writing.” The letters improved 100%; I have them all — all our back and forth letters — in a scrapbook. I think he wrote at least 50 or 60 of them. The letters really got to the heart of the matter; we were moving beyond “impressions” to facts and feelings and goals and dreams.

Six months later, Mike was back. Things were serious; but we had one topic we never, ever touched: marriage. Mike’s parents had really struggled throughout their married life (later to be divorced) and it was a subject we just didn’t broach.

On June 9, 1988 I had a dream. I dreamed I got married to someone (not Mike) and I was miserable. I was standing by a window looking out and I saw Mike walking up the sidewalk. I knew in my dream I was supposed to marry him. I ran out to him and told him how awful my marriage was and he said, “That’s really too bad. But you’ve made a vow to this person and a vow is for life.” I woke up from my dream and it had really rattled me. I actually told my mom about it and she said, “If Mike were to ask you to marry him tonight, would you?” I thought about it and said, “Yes, I would.”

That night Mike picked me up from work in Vancouver (a little late, “traffic,” he said) and took me out to the Teahouse in Stanley Park. We loved eating out and we celebrated our “monthly” anniversaries of “when we met” all the time and this was one of those days. I had bought him a really corny joke-gift of some kind. We had a great dinner together. It was June 10, the evening was warm and so after dinner we walked towards the steps leading to the sea-wall. He stopped at the top of the stairs and said, I bought you something too. Out of his pocket, a little box (I was not thinking “ring” as we had never discussed rings or marriage); it was a ring. A beautiful ring he had picked out all on his own.

Funny thing, that week we had been driving around talking about some of his friends who were dating and he said, “I am pretty sure if I ever get married I will date that person at least seven years.” At that point Mike and I were 13 months in. Little did I know, the ring he had shopped for, for weeks now on his own, was in the glovebox. Oh, and the “traffic” that made him late was actually the appointment he had with my parents.

At the top of those stairs, staring at that ring, I felt like I was watching a movie of my life. Everything leading up to this moment, everything that would inevitably follow if I said yes; everything would change. I think Mike actually asked me twice because I was in such a daze. I remembered my dream, I remembered my conversation with my mom; there was no doubt: “Yes.” And twenty-two years later the movie is now an epic, with more stories I remember “after Mike” than before.

One day not so long ago we were talking on the phone and Mike was relaying a story to me and even though he wasn’t in the room with me, I could see his face exactly; I knew before the story ended what he was thinking and why it was funny to him and what his response would be in the conversation he’d had. It occurred to me that I knew him and that this is what 22 years can do; it can make you known to some other human being. This makes me happy.

I know what makes Mike laugh; I know what stings. I know his eccentricities (light-nazi) and we have sayings that no one but us would understand. I know what keeps him up at night; I know what will bring a smile to his face. I know where he wants to go; I know where he has come from. He holds my hand in a certain way that no one else does (don’t even know how this started), and we have traditions that no one else has. Sometimes when Mike is in pain, I get sympathetic pain, isn’t that weird?

We are so imperfect, hey Mike? We do things that annoy each other; we have stupid habits; we disappoint each other at times. We don’t always agree. If only you thought more like me and if only I thought more like you, but we don’t; we are very different from each other on many levels and some days that is good, and some days that makes communication challenging. But the challenges are like the tip on the pen verses the miles of ink we have written together. Our “at odds” times — who can remember them? A thousand warm memories tuck me in at night.

At our wedding rehearsal, remember how I got stuck on the word submit? Yet you have become my “one another” and  “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:26) has been the obvious response, and has made the journey smooth.

We have had 22 years of being together; 22 years of almost constant contact. You’d think that would grow old, but it hasn’t; its only us growing older, together (‘course you being older than me. Ha. One-up).

Who knew, when I sold you those shoes, that I’d be the one you would be walking home to day after day, with months turning into years and here we are: 22 in the series. You made an impression on me then, and you are still impressing me.

I’m the one who ended up lucky.

Love you (T.N.T)

Trees.

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6 responses

8 10 2010
Bev Johnston

Happy 22nd Anniversary Theresa and Mike!! I loved reading this post!! What beautiful writing…perfect metaphors too. Thanks for sharing how you met and got engaged plus some of your marriage journey to date. May God give you many more years together!

8 10 2010
Barbie Stobbe

Hi Teresa,
Very well written and very touching in a non-sappy way. It is so refreshing to see a couple who are still in love and moving forward. God Bless the next 22 years!

8 10 2010
joanne

I’m crying. Such a wonderful love story. Keep on lovin’ and may thousands more warm memories keep tucking you in at night……Happy Anniversary, dear friends. I remember the dating, the beautiful wedding, the early days of marriage and all! And I remember your ensuite bathroom walls covered in love notes!

8 10 2010
chris

That’s funny that’s how I met my wife Anne, She worked at a shoe store!!! lol

14 10 2010
Crystal

Happy Anniversary to you both! This was a beautiful read and quite the encouragement to keep going in my own marriage – especially when PMS makes you want to do stupid things!

Thanks for sharing your story and for the inspiration. 🙂

Crystal

14 10 2010
teresaklassen

haha

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