August 24

I watched him from the corner of my eye for weeks. I made up silly stories about "us" with my friends. Took sneaky pictures of him at church events.

So when I discovered the message on my telephone answering machine with his voice asking if I'd go out for a date with him I replayed the message a hundred times and eventually called him back to say yes. I thought about what I would wear for days. Me, not at all stylish, wanting my clothes to make me more likeable. He knocked on the door, met my family and drove me to dinner and to Pier 39, San Francisco. August 24, 1996.

We stumbled, fumbled through dinner conversation; he a boy of few words and me, a girl of many words but too nervous and unskilled in this social situation to navigate a first date well. We walked awkwardly around in public. Young and self-conscious; worried about our hair and our proximity and our words. Careful, strange, swooning us; an us that fell away somewhere down the road, a path that I am thankful we have traveled together toward honest, loving, intimate, awkward, sloppy us.

We made lasting commitments to each other in years that followed, but oh, August 24 when the framework began and I wondered about him and me and us and I hoped for many days because he was endearing when he spilled his won ton soup and he made me feel less awkward when we lost his car in the parking garage, trapped somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle between level 2 and level 3.

Now with 4 kids and so much responsibility, the pressure of figuring out us seems thick. The foundation was established, though, and it's who we are and how we are. We made commitments to fight the thick and to win the battle of us. And he still has few words, busy and caught in the real work of love; the actions and the truth and the self-sacrifice and passionate drive.

August 24. When we opened we.

let love and faithfulness never leave you. bind them around your neck write them on the tablet of your heart