Friday, October 2, 2009

A Decade Together!!!

Ten years ago today – October 2, 1999, to be exact – Erin and I went out on our first date!

During the Fall of 1999, I was a Branch Bark – one of the sophomore student leaders at my home away from home, the Georgia Tech Christian Campus Fellowship (CCF). I had the coveted weekly job of helping the great Mary Lou Miller make her wonderful cinnamon rolls, which were given away to students every week. This put me at the CCF house every Monday afternoon. It just so happens that during that same semester, Monday afternoon was also the time slot when, based on her class schedule, Erin had chosen to spend several hours hanging out at the CCF house. And, though we had met the year before (another story for another time – quite entertaining – I made her cry the very first time I spoke to her!), those Monday afternoons in the Fall of ’99 were where our friendship began to grow.

One day, Erin and I found ourselves standing around chatting there in the CCF house when a mutual friend and fellow CCFer named Anthony Zayas came up to us and said, totally out of the blue, “You know, you two would make a great couple.” Awkward!!! We laughed it off, but it got me to thinking… You know, I think Anthony might just be onto something there! And without going into another long story, let’s just say that Erin and I were both in a place where we were NOT looking to get into a dating relationship. (And she was certainly not looking to start dating a guy who was nearly three years younger than her!) So, in one of the most mature and surprisingly wise decisions of my life, rather than acting on Anthony’s advice immediately, I vowed to think and pray about it for two weeks before potentially asking Erin out. A little over two weeks later, there was a huge 40th birthday surprise party for our campus minister, Rick, down in my hometown of Fayetteville. After the party, a big group of us went to the movies. I believe the film we saw was “Double Jeopardy”. Erin and I gravitated toward each other in the group, and after the movie was over and everyone was heading their separate ways, I asked Erin out in the parking lot of the little Baptist church down the road from Rick’s house (and about a mile from my high school). One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Which brings us to October 2nd. The date began with a Georgia Tech home football game, which we attended with dozens of our friends from CCF. I don’t remember who Tech played, or if they won or lost. I remember hanging out with my buddy Craig, as Erin hung out with her buddy Trasie – two good friends of ours who were also in the early stages of a budding romance. From there the two of us parted ways with the multitude and headed to dinner in my blue Ford Taurus station wagon (RIP!), with one side trip to the CVS pharmacy to pick up some photos I was having developed. I believe that they were photos of my annual trip to Myrtle Beach with my merry band of cousins and close friends. (Little did she know, Erin would attend the next several of those beach trips with me.) Erin later commented that she thought this was rather odd, that I was so casual and comfortable even on our first date that I would say “You mind if we stop off and pick up some photos first?” Apparently people are usually quite nervous and intent on impressing people on their first dates… I was probably equal parts very comfortable with Erin (since we had already been friends for a while before we went out on our first date – highly recommended!) and too clueless to know that it might be seen as a negative to swing by the drug store on our way to dinner. (“Formal” and “nervous” are adjectives that will seldom be used to describe me.) But Erin, of course, took it in stride and even found it kind of endearing.

From there, we headed to dinner … but first we had to decide where to go. No, I didn’t have a specific place planned – which could be interpreted in a variety of ways; we’ll go with “spontaneous” to put a positive spin on it – so we had ourselves a decision to make. In what seems now to have been a major omen for our future together, we decided on … Mexican food! So off to Uncle Julio’s Casa Grande on Peachtree we went. After a lovely dinner together, we headed back to my off-campus apartment to watch a movie (VHS, baby! Remember, this was back in the 1900s!). We decided on what would soon become one of my all-time favorites – The Shawshank Redemption. According to Erin, I apparently held her hand and even laid my head over on her shoulder. Her defenses were on high alert, but that’s (of course) as far as any of that snuggly. touchy stuff went on that first date. My mama raised a gentleman! After the movie, I gave Erin a ride back to her on-campus apartment, and our first date was successfully in the books.

The rest, as they say, is history. Date number one was followed by date number two, during which we headed down to Fayetteville on a Saturday (one week after date number one, I guess?), attended some Harper youth soccer games, and swung by my grandparents’ house. Erin learned about scuppernongs and met Grandma and Pappy. Erin made a strong impression on Pappy, because he was ready to marry us off right then and there. Date two led to date three, and so on and so forth, which eventually led to such events as my proposing marriage to Erin at Panther Creek Falls on July 15, 2002 and to our marriage on July 19, 2003.

Which brings us to tonight, a little over six years into the marriage, and a little over a month into the life of our little Elsa. Tonight, to celebrate, the three of us headed to Erin’s and my second-favorite restaurant here in Puebla (Mi Ciudad) for a nice dinner. We thanked God, smiled, laughed, reminisced, chatted about a dozen different things, stared at the baby, enjoyed some tasty Mexican food, and toasted ten very blessed years. As soon as I post this blog, I can’t wait to get upstairs to snuggle with two of the three great loves of my life (Jesus being the other) and partake in one of our favorite weekly traditions – not setting the alarm on Friday night. Tomorrow will be some combination of hanging out with Elsa and each other, cleaning the house for the upcoming grandparent visit, sermon writing, toilet fixing, watching football, studying biblical Hebrew, playing with the Cooper kids, and dinner with friends. God willing, it’ll be another day in a life that, with all of its ups and downs, we truly love and are more grateful for than we know how to express.

All praise and glory and thanks be to our great God, the One who knew me even better than I knew myself and who saw fit to, in His great love and mercy and grace and provision, allow my path to cross with Erin’s over a decade ago.

I love you so much, Erin! Here’s to the next decade of living, working, playing, loving, and learning together!


  1. what a cool story! nate, look at the personal style journey you've made. (is that a tank top and a denim hat?) i'm gonna assume erin helped since even in the old pics she was looking great. jesse and i are really glad about 10/2/1999 because yall have menat so much to us as a couple. even if we were too busy in 11th and 12th grade to realize it was going on.

  2. oh my gosh, partner...that long hair!!! i had completely forgotten about that! :) happy anniversary! we missed y'all at the bagwell was soooo fun! hope to see you soon.

  3. haha! k8 - tank top yes, denim no - it's a hawaiian print. we were at the jimmy buffett concert, all decked out. so it's excused. partner - thanks for the kind words. we sure missed being at the "fall shindig and wedding", too.