1999: After high school, Alex and I kept in touch. He did not invite me when he spoke in church before leaving for Ireland, which I thought odd. But I was busy at college dropping out of the Secondary Education program, finishing my English degree, and not dating much.
2000: I studied abroad in England, a mere puddle jump from Ireland. I sent Alex a post card informing him that I was there, and that he should write to me, but I included no return address. Here I'll point out another of my flaws. Sometimes I forget things, even when they are important. Fortunately during "live-in" one of the BYU girls ran into him, and he told her that if I wanted him to write me a letter, he would need an address. So I wrote to him again, and we exchanged letters.
2001: Alex, home from Ireland, again did not invite me when he spoke in church. He did email at some point after that, though. And when I came home for some holiday, he asked me on a date. We went bowling with his brother, Nic, and his wife, and his sister Brittany and her future husband, to whom she became affianced possibly later that evening.
Alex and I talked late into the night after our bowling. At this point I realized that Alex had grown up into a mature and very wise individual whom I could not dismiss quite so easily as I had in high school. That night we also saved my parents' neighborhood from a fire, because the local church youth had made a bonfire earlier in the week and failed to fully extinguish it. I still think this entire incident was rife with metaphor. A flame rekindled, and Alex and I immediately got a bucket of cold water and extinguished it.
Late February 2002: One evening I was sitting in some fireside where the Spirit said to me, "GO ON A MORMON MISSION," in an extremely clear and unquestionable way. This was a complete surprise because I had decided I would definitely not be serving in that capacity when I had turned 21. So I went home and called my dad to see what to do about papers. Within minutes of hanging up the phone with my father, the phone rang again. It was Alex, to whom I had not spoken for at least a month or two.
That's weird. I thought. Alex had also been told by the Spirit, in an uncommonly clear way, that he MUST call me, and it MUST be Sunday night when he did so. Why would God tell Alex to call me at this time? Maybe God must want Alex to move on with his life and find someone to marry while I am gone? At this point I think I was making mental progress, because although my deep rooted need to never commit to anyone still prevailed in rearranging the sentence, at least I thought the words I, Marry and Alex in the same sentence this time. Some of us are very slow learners, but progress is progress!
So despite my desires to keep my decision a great secret for awhile until it sank in, I told
Alex of my plan. He was kind and supportive of my plan. He is pretty much always wonderful in every way.
I still had to pray and ask if it was right several times over the next few months. I kept getting these weird answers like, "If you want to go, you can go, but if you want to stay and get married, you can do that." To which I would think, Marry who? Because I was unconsciously terrified of marriage, and I was also a complete Ninny!