Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Love Story

How We Met, etc. - hosted at Camp Patton

Two years, seven months and twenty days ago, I met my husband. We were at a New Years Day evening shindig at the house of mutual friends. The Baldwin siblings were the first to arrive, and since I was with a friend who likes to be on time, we were the second to arrive. I was introduced to Will and his sister, we all chatted, and then Will and I continued to chat. He made me his favorite Long Island Iced Tea, and we talked about every topic a person is supposed to avoid: religion, the Catholic Church, politics, history monologues (mine are usually on Calvin Coolidge), along with a smattering of stories and opinions. I thought he was smart and very funny; he thought I was different from other girls.

We talked on and off all night, ending the evening with him asking me about my family. That's when I clued in that he might be interested; also, when he said "Facebook me!" as his sister pushed him out the door to go home. We re-connected a week later when I saw an interesting article on the Church's Magesterium (one of the topics we had discussed) and sent it to him without even a note attached, because I'm a compulsive sharer when I see/ read things I think someone I know would enjoy.

I immediately regretted it, because, well, I didn't actually "know" him. But it was too late - message sent.

Two weeks later, he got back to me. TWO WEEKS LATER. A FORTNIGHT. On the plus side, he asked me out the day after his next shelf exam; we went to the Creation Museum, a nice "halfway" point between our two locations of Cincinnati and Louisville. The Creation Museum is exactly what it sounds like: a museum devoted to the Biblical interpretation of the creation of the world. While the Catholic Church does not teach Creationism, it was an awesome visualization of the Book of Genesis and provided Will and I with plenty to talk about for the first few hours. It was a really fun time.

Afterwards, he asked if I wanted to get lunch (morning dates means we can get out if it's terrible), and we went back to Cincinnati for pizza, which was across the square from my house. We took the pizza back to my house, where he met my mom and three younger siblings, and planted himself there until my dad came home. At that point, I was getting nervous. I was having a fun time, he seemed to be enjoying himself... but should I suggest to drive him back to his car? Did he want to go back to Louisville? This seemed to be a very long first date.

My mom cleared the air by asking if he wanted to stay the night. I was on babysitting duty for my younger sisters as my parents were going to a party that night, and so our fun first date continued with fixing dinner, talking, and playing cards and watching Doctor Who with my sisters until my parents came home. He stayed in the guest room, I gave him a tooth brush, and then next day, he went to mass with us. I was very comfortable with him, and he with me and my family. I drove him back to his car (still at the Creation Museum), and we sat in my car in that awkward, Well, I had a lot of fun - Yeah! Me too.

Which I promptly snapped out of when Will said, "Well, if you're ever in Louisville, just let me know."

I stared at him. "Will, I'm never just going to be in Louisville."

Our second date was two weeks later, after I got back from Georgia (visiting my dearest friend Vivian). I went down to Louisville, where he took me out to lunch and then we heard my former department chair give a talk on Christian Humanism, played tennis, ate pizza and played Pictionary with two of his friends, and watched Firefly. We stayed over at his parents' house, and the next morning, I went to mass with Will, his parents and grandfather, and then went out to Chinese with them afterwards. It was another really fun weekend. And phew! Meeting the families were out of the way.


Our third date was when he officially said he liked me and wanted to date me, which is something I prayed a Sacred Heart of Jesus novena over, because I wanted our relationship to be clear-cut as to why we were spending time together - intentionally verses hanging out. He made dinner, we played the Robison family sport (croquet - which he beat me at!), we talked about dating, watched more Firefly, had our first kiss, and then I drove home to Cincinnati.

Thus began our wonderful relationship. We were always long-distance: I was working in Cincinnati, he was in medical school at the University of Louisville. Weekends were spent at our parents' houses, so we both got to know our future families very well. He had a lot of studying to do and I always had writing to do, so it felt a bit like college - "studying" together, and then doing some sort of activity. We introduced each other to friends and favorite activities, and we talked about everything. Honesty and communication were top priority, and we sincerely enjoyed each other's company. I'm quirky and he's funny. I'm a talker and he's a doer. I'm always asking questions and he's intellectually honest. Three months in, we were talking about love in the third person; philosophically, historically, religiously, and personally. Two weekends before I left for South Korea, he told me he loved me. I loved him too.

It's strange, being in another county, missing someone you met only a couple months earlier, and wishing they were with you, seeing the sights with you, experiencing an entirely differently culture with you. When he picked me up from the airport, it was one of the happiest times of my life. Being with him always felt like being home. Two days later, he left for Portland, Oregon for vacation with his own family. He had a talk with his mother when he got home, and she gave us the book 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married (unless you're marrying a convict and celebrity who is way older than you, you will not answer all the questions), which we began to work through in July 2011. This book is amazing, and made us talk about EVERYTHING. I cannot more highly recommend it for couples, especially those discerning marriage. That summer, we became much closer, especially after the death of his beloved grandfather. That was when I knew I was welcome and wanted in the family.

My family was smitten with Will as well!

We were engaged on December 23, 2011. I should have seen it coming, but the weekend before, his Dad had introduced me as his "future daughter-in-law" and that whole weekend was me holding my breath. After losing way too much sleep over it, I prayed that God make me blind to the obvious signs. That he did! The morning of our engagement, I woke up and went to Will's room; the door was closed (it never was), and when I knocked, he talked through the door (instead of opening it). So off I went, oblivious, to get us and his sister coffee, and then went on errands with him to buy Christmas presents after I returned. After errands, we went on a hike at Mount St. Francis, the spacious and woodsy Franciscan monastery near his parents' house where we hiked nearly every other weekend.

We walked and talked and laughed and crossed over bridges and commented on how no one was out hiking with us on that cool, gray December day. When we reached the last bridge, we sat down on the bench, as we liked to do, and looked out over the lake. Will had been worried that I would notice the budge in his pocket, but I was truly taken aback when he pulled out a piece of paper and began reciting the poem he had written for me that morning. For the last two stanzas, he went down on his knee and ended with, "Marry me, Julie?" Shaking myself into believing this was real, I threw my arms around his neck, said "YES!" and kissed him.

Everyone was thrilled, to say the least!

The date set for our marriage was December 21, 2012. I think it was a nice length of time, but Will could have got married much sooner. We planned it for December, however, to accommodate his medical school schedule. He was gone for the months of May and June for his surgery rotation, and then another away rotation in Atlanta that September for emergency medicine. I was gone for most of July and his sister was married in August. His first half of fourth year schedule was packed full of rotations and interviews/ traveling. By the time the wedding arrived, we were both very, very ready.


It was another cold, gray December day, but this time, it was snowing. This prohibited a decent amount of people who RSVP'd from coming, but the turn-out was still marvelous and extremely fun. I was much more nervous at the rehearsal dinner than at my actual wedding (although the hour or so before it was impatient waiting, and wanting to see all my friends who were in from out of town!).

And so began the happiest walk of my life:

The vows and exchange of rings:

Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin, y'all!


Today is July 21, 2013. It's been seven months since we said "I do" to each other, for forever.

We combined two families; we've driven hundreds of miles back and forth to see each other on the weekends (six months of it - even more fun while married?); we've traveled;

we've prepared for our little one to arrive in a few months;

he's graduated medical school and I've transitioned from nannying to stay-at-home mama;

we've moved to the deep South from the Midwest; and now we're finally living together, as husband and wife. Here's to my better half, and to a life that is so much better together!


Engagement and wedding photo credit: 808 Studios



  2. Loved reading this!! (I think my favorite part was "He asked me out after his next shelf." Shelves get in the way of everything!!)

  3. May I ask where you got your wedding dress?

    1. I actually had my dress made using my mother's wedding dress! The dress was inspired by one I saw, and then I added my own details in (like the neckline, the cumberbund waist, the length of the sleeves - the dress I found had no sleeves!)