And with that, I give you Part 10 of our story (not too many more to go). Not sure how much you all have appreciated it but, I sure have enjoyed writing it. Nothing like reliving some of the most exciting times in your life.
Part 10-A Big Decision
The rest of the school year passed pretty quickly. Many weekends were spent together going all over San Luis Obispo County from hitting up local beaches to finding favorite hang-out spots in downtown SLO. But once the summer came again, Steve was staying in San Luis Obispo for summer school and I was going to be a Counselor at Camp Hammer. It had almost been a year. And now we would be apart for the whole summer.
We had plans to see each other for our 1 Year Anniversary but, other than that, we'd simply be writing letters. Email was pretty sparse up at camp so, we stuck to the old fashioned way-handwritten. Letters flew back and forth and every once in awhile we squeezed in a phone call or two. I was enjoying my summer up at camp but, definitely missed Steve tremendously. Steve was back in SLO having fun with friends and going to school, but I could tell he missed me too. It was going to be a long summer.
Our first anniversary was on the horizon and I was so excited to see Steve for the first time in weeks. He said he had something important to talk with me about and I was pretty intrigued as to what it was. When he showed up at Camp Hammer, he seemed a bit frazzled. He said he'd had some problems with his bank account and only had enough money for gas to make it up to camp. He wasn't sure we could go out and do anything until he figured out what was wrong. Because I was young and stupid, I was pretty upset about it. I thought he was being irresponsible and I was unhappy that he had "ruined" our 1 Year Anniversary.
Some of our friends from camp found out about Steve's predicament and decided to do something about it. They were a couple that had been together about the same amount of time as us. In a stroke of extreme generosity, Kenny gave Steve his ATM card and said, "Hey, take Nikki out on me this time. Go and enjoy your 1 Year Anniversary." We were both floored. They even suggested a place-Pearl Alley Bistro located in downtown Santa Cruz. To this day, we've never forgotten that act of kindness. Once I had gotten over my own selfishness and realized what a selfless act this other couple had done to bless us, I dried my silly tears, pulled on my favorite, long black gown, that I had worn as Homecoming Princess two years earlier, and got ready to go.
We had a great night out and talked about many things, one of them being our future plans. While we were apart Steve had been thinking that we should get married the next summer. I was totally shocked. I thought we would wait until we were graduated, which wouldn't be for another two years, because that's what "everyone" did. But he was pretty adamant that we at least think about it and see if it was possible. He didn't think there was any real reason to wait longer than we had to. So we started hashing it out and thinking through all of the possibilities. By the time he left to go back down to SLO, we both knew it could be a real possibility.
There was just one major hurdle left.
We needed to go and talk to our parents.
* * * *
The first conversation hadn't gone very well. Two sets of eyes stared back at us quizzically as we tried to explain our desire to marry the next summer. "But how will you support yourselves?" Steve's Dad asked. "How will you pay school tuition? Will you both finish school? You need to finish school." These were all very good questions to ask of us youngsters. For we certainly could not live on love. But, in our minds, if we could make it work, there simply was not any real reason to wait. Of course we were going to finish our degrees. That was our first priority. We'd get married and then finish school.
We had drawn up a little budget that estimated what our costs would be, how we would attain grants and the school loans that would be available to us. We also explained that we would both get jobs too, but it all seemed pretty incredulous. My parents weren't much different. They asked the same questions. So we went back to the drawing board and asked God to help us all get on the same page if getting married the next summer is what He wanted us to do. We definitely knew we wouldn't proceed without their blessing. They had to be on board.
After various conversations and us explaining that we didn't really care if we lived on little and had very little, both parents relented. They saw we were serious. We argued that we didn't need to be financially set before saying, "I Do." We knew we wanted to marry and if we waited until both of us were in full-time jobs, then it would be some time. What was the point of that? More money? We didn't care. Marrying young would allow us to grow up together and we both knew we were committed to living on what we had, no matter how small our income. So, we weren't worried about racking up a bunch of debt. We just needed money to pay our rent, buy groceries, pay our utilities and provide for school. I would only have two quarters to go until graduating so I'd get a full-time job after that. Steve was changing his major so he'd graduate a year after me.
Everything was in place. After much discussion, the parents had come alongside. We knew what we had to do to make it work. We'd be poor but we could do it. By Fall Quarter 2001, we knew we would marry the next summer.
Now all I had to do was wait for the ring.