Sunday, August 8, 2010

Part Two : Courtship

Due to popular request, I, Devin, will complete the next section of the best love story ever. This “something” mentioned by Karina was indeed our second date (the first being when we smashed pumpkins together, which was planned (moments before), paired off (even though Karina insists that another of our friends was there) and paid for (I got in trouble for smashing the pumpkins!)).

I drove up to Holladay from American Fork, where I was living with a mission buddy (Skylar Haws) and picked up Karina from her house, that I had visited 6 years previous to that date for the first time. Karina was completely overwhelmed with my dashing appearance…just kidding. We drove to Temple Square, it was December 6th, 2008, to see the Christmas lights there.

We saw a lot of lights, but more importantly we spent the whole evening talking. I asked Karina a hundred questions about school, work and her life. I was absolutely enthralled with her. As we walked from Temple Square back to the car, I struggled to resist taking Karina by the hand, but lo, I resisted. I pretty much decided right there and then in the shadow of the temple (although there was no shadow, it was evening), that Karina was special; there was something inside her that I needed. My deep love for her really began at this moment.

Now, Karina stated that I fell in love with her while seeing her in the performance of Savior of the World - that is not completely true, but indeed my interest was perked. A miracle actually happened to allow me to see her that night. I showed up to the theatre expecting to be able to purchase tickets, but alas, this was not the case. Dejected and unsure of what to do, I stood a little bewildered when a man approached me and asked if I needed tickets. I said that indeed I did. He told me that he had planned on bringing his family, but that his wife and son were sick, so it was just him and his daughter and they had 2 extra tickets! I shrunk as I realized that I had no cash on hand and explained that to him and that I wouldn’t be able to purchase the tickets. He sighed to himself, looked at his daughter then back at me and said “Merry Christmas,” handing me the tickets. I thanked him and actually had a great conversation with him during intermission as our seats were right next to his. Thus the Lord saw fit that the tickets should be laid in my hand having taken no thought beforehand what I was to do to obtain tickets. My good friend Carl once said; “It is going to take some miracles for us to get married!”

Back to our second date…having not yet dined that evening we drove to Café Río for some good Mexican food. Our conversation was very pleasant the whole evening and I took her home after being filled with intrigue at the treasure of a friend I had so neglected, filled with anxiety to see her again soon, filled with questions and unsurety as to what the future with Karina held, and filled with Mexican food!

Going on dates with a busy woman is hard to do, and so I found out over the course of the next month. Our next date was a typical suburban American date, ice cream and a movie. During the course of the movie, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (which Karina had never seen) we ended up cuddling! After the movie, while we talked we ended up holding hands! Things were moving quickly and felt so right.

A few days after that encounter - excited about Karina and seeing her more frequently - the following impromptu date took place… Carl and Tracey Leder were in town and in need of a ride to the airport, really early in the morning. After I took them to the airport and was driving home I thought that I needed to pass Karina’s house to head home and I couldn’t stand passing by her house without stopping and seeing her, the complication was that it was 5:00 am! I made a bold move, that could have gone horribly wrong, but it was worth the risk! I drove to Karina’s house and called her hoping to awake her and I heard a groggy “Hello”. I invited her to breakfast. After a few seconds of silence she agreed and came out her door in a hoodie and sweats. I was impressed and we had a fun morning together, breakfast at Dee’s.

Christmas break was fast approaching and I was to travel home to Texas for the break and holiday. My desire to see Karina was unrestrainable so I called her with the intention of not hanging up till I had another date lined up with her before the Christmas break. To my dismay her time was completely filled with work, Savior of the World performances and other “commitments” (probably dates with other guys). Before hanging up she mentioned casually that I could come to the Flegal family Christmas party, which was the day before I left for Texas. “You could see Ali there!” (since Ali married Andrew Flegal and thus was now one of Karina’s cousin) she exclaimed with a tinge of laughter. I thought momentarily of the awkwardness of attending someone else’s family Christmas party and that Karina and I were not at all serious (at least in her eyes) in our relationship. I declined the sarcastic invitation having lost hope that I would see her before January. The next day I called Karina after having received help emotionally (I don’t remember from whom) and asked if I could accept her offer to the Christmas party. Very surprised, she consented to have me come along! The party was indeed awkward at stages, but I was able to meet many of Karina’s family members and have candid experiences with them where we could laugh together, sing Christmas songs together, and eat good food together.

I went to Texas happy with the progress that I had made with Karina and eager to see her again. I fought with myself whether to call her each night or not. The spirit constrained me and I called her only twice while I was in Texas although I desired to talk with her every day! Turns out that it was good for me to listen to the spirit, for Karina, in that time with little contact from me, pondered her future with me and saw that I was what she had been waiting for in a companion and spouse. All the while I thought I could convince her, but really it was her that needed to convince herself and I had done as much as I could do at that point.

Early January 2009 Karina and I started dating seriously; twice, thrice a week. One Saturday after we had spent the morning together we sat in my car outside her house and I begged her to allow me to spend the evening with her as well. She very suavely let me know that it would be better for me to do something else, that she was busy. Finally, after defining our relationship as steady dating, she admitted that she had a date with another guy that evening! I thought it was funny, but I was sorry for making the situation very awkward for Karina on that date that night. See, turns out that Karina didn’t know how serious I was about pursuing her so she kept accepting offers for dates from others all the while I was dating no one but her. That was the last date she went on with anyone besides me!

We had a wonderful courtship after that moment. Karina was still very busy and took on the task at work to repaint the interior of the building. I, seeing an opportunity, jumped at it. I told Karina that I loved to paint (which is true) and convinced her that she should let me come help her. We spent many evenings painting Turnabout Stillwater Academy.

One of the moments that defined Karina as my future wife was when I was heading to her work for the second time to paint. I called her and asked if I could bring her dinner to eat at her work before we started painting. Karina said, “Well, how about you pick up a Hot-and-Ready from Little Caesar’s or something”. That was the deal clencher! A woman of my own heart! If she would have said, “Bring me leg of lamb with goat cheese” I would have been excited, but a Hot-and-Ready!? It was true love.

Another evening after painting I treated Karina to a bottle of chocolate milk from the local grocery store. We drank the milk in her dad’s Buick and I serenaded her with Elvis’ love songs. At this point Karina had no power to resist falling helplessly in love with me.

One date was to the Clark Planetarium where we together enjoyed a program about the Utah Sky in January, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. It was fun seeing the exhibits there and learning with Karina. I loved her thirst for knowledge.

This story can go on forever, and actually it will! I’ll try to be brief here and leave out the boring details from here on out.

Karina came with me every other week or so to my institute class in American Fork and everyone was impressed by her beauty, which made me feel good, of course.

By this time (end of January) things were getting serious and Karina and I had talked about marriage and the prospect of us being wed. On Martin Luther King Day I took Karina engagement ring shopping to see what kind of ring she had always dreamt of. Turns out Karina wasn’t one of those girls that toiled over what her ring would be like someday! We went to Zale’s and were the only ones in the store that morning. The sales people were excited to see a cute couple come walking in the door, got us hot chocolate and began quizzing Karina. After she had seen a few hundred different options, she narrowed them down to her top 10 and she had had enough. She and I talked about what it was she liked, but her experience there had been long enough. We thanked the sales people and went to the car. I felt good because I now had an idea of what Karina wanted, and I had just got free hot chocolate! Karina turned to me and said, “Take me away from this awful place”. I said, “Sure, Jared’s is just down the street, should we go there next?” I actually took her to the Training Table for some comfort food: cheese fries and ice cream.

One of the choice experiences was going to the Draper Temple open house in mid January. It was so peaceful to walk through that sacred building with Karina’s hand in mine. It felt so right to be in a place that I loved so much with someone I loved so much. Sitting in the sealing room at the end of the tour was spiritual and I think we both had confirmations there that what we were doing was right.

In early February Karina traveled to Minnesota to visit a friend (Sarah Herrington) and I took the opportunity to contact a little business while she was gone. I have a friend in the diamond business in Rexburg, Idaho, so I drove up there to get a ring for Karina. I also had friends up there that I visited. I secured a ring that I was sure Karina would love and headed back to Salt Lake City. My big mistake was calling Karina while I was on the road back to Utah and I talked to her for hours, and she deduced that I must be driving (from back ground noise) and determined that I was driving from Idaho with a ring for her. She was right. That weekend I also called and scheduled an appointment with her dad for “The Talk”. He laughed when I said that, but agreed. The Talk was actually an involved discussion…two and a half hours later I had his permission to marry his second daughter.

One of the hardest things for me at this point was that I knew that Karina wanted to meet my family. The problem was that it was the middle of the school year, she was working and my family lives 24 hours away from Salt Lake City, Utah! I was ready to proceed and ask Karina to be my wife, but I knew of the need she had for meeting my family…I didn’t know how to do it. Miracle number… oh who knows, keep reading.

I was shopping in Ross one day and I called my mom to ask her what birthday presents my siblings wanted (hoping to find them at Ross, discounted). She gave me the answers I had suspected and then asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I thought for a second and responded that I could use a new white shirt for Sundays. She then said excitedly, “How about we fly you and Karina down for your birthday weekend?” How could I reject that offer and answer to my prayers?! Mom told me that she had suggested the idea to my dad and he said, “If that’s what you want for your birthday, we’ll do it” (my mom’s birthday is the day after mine). I was super excited and planned to surprise Karina with the trip. After consulting with male and female friends about whether to surprise her (not tell her where we were going, just “on a trip”) or to let her know we were going to visit my family, I decided to let Karina in on the secret, but I did hold out on her for a week or so.
We flew down to Texas, which was a fun thing to do together. It was a surreal experience walking down the airplane breezeway with luggage in hand with the destination of taking this beautiful woman home to meet my family.

While in Houston we went to the Temple, drove past downtown and went to Galveston and the beach. I had thought that proposing to Karina on the beach, on my birthday (Valentine’s Day) would be awesome! But I also thought it would be predictable, so I didn’t do it, even though I took her on a walk all by herself to give her the impression that it might be coming! I had to build some suspense right? After my family had also fallen in love with Karina, I knew the time was at hand for history to be made…

After waiting as long as I could after we had arrived back to Utah from Texas I decided to make the plunge (one day after we got home). I had originally planned on proposing to Karina on top of Mount Olympus! Epic right? I mean, what better place than atop the mountain of the gods?! Well as you might or might not know, February in Utah is cold and there is a lot of snow on the tops of the mountains… but I decided that it must be done nonetheless (the proposal, not climbing to the top of the mountain). I told Karina that I was coming up to Salt Lake and went to her house. I begged her to come to the trail head with me at Mt. Olympus to see how much snow was on the trail (we had talked about climbing Mt. Olympus a lot at that point). She decided that we could go, even though she was feeling a little sick. We hiked up the mountain probably only 5 minutes or so and found a nice spot to sit, overlooking the Salt Lake valley. We had a nice chat and then the conversation moved onto geology. Karina had taken a geology class at BYU-I and I one at BYU and we were discussing rock formations (romantic I know!). After discussing the origin of some of the surrounding rocks, I pointed down to one that didn’t quite fit in, it was a round white rock that in the darkness contrasted the other formations. I asked Karina what she thought it was and she said that she had no idea. I picked it up and eyed it for a minute and said, “I think it’s a geode!” Karina was not convinced, but I prodded her on to try to break it open and see. Casually she tossed the rock onto the ground and it did not break open. Eager to change the subject Karina mentioned the stars or weather or something (I wasn’t really paying attention, because I knew that rock was a geode). I picked it up again and suggested that she bash the rock against a sharper rock to break it open, I showed her how and felt the rock start to crack! I handed it to Karina and told her to rip the rock apart, she did and looked inside. At that time I knelt down and took her hand and asked her to be my bride! She looked at me and said, “YES!” She said yes!

Turns out that inside that geode was a diamond ring, a very rare occurrence. We reveled in the moment of being newly engaged and having a secret that nobody knew! It was a shortly held secret for when I took Karina home she had to show off her ring to her family. We were happy! We are happy!