Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How I Met My Husband

A little over four years ago, I was living in St. Louis, MO as a full time volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. This organization takes recent college grads from across the country and places them, for a year, in major US cities doing social justice work. When you are placed in your city, they put you up in a house with the other volunteers who have also been assigned there. Upon arriving in St. Louis, I met my four roomates, or community members: Mary, Alex, Justin, and Greg. They were all pretty neat. And once a week, we were asked to plan community nights, where we'd hang out and get to know more about each other. We took turns planning the nights and did things like bowling, playing board games, or working on art projects.

My St. Louis JVC Community: Alex, me, Greg, Justin, and Mary

One evening in mid-February, it was Justin's turn to plan the community night. He emailed all of us earlier in the day and said, "Surprise! We're all going speed dating!"

My insta-response (in my head) was, "WHAT?! Is that boy crazy?" I had only seen speed dating in the movies or on TV, and it was always portrayed as an extremely awkward thing. Why would I want to put myself through that?! I also had an assumption that it was only for the older crowd, as in, for folks who hadn't just graduated from college, like myself. What was he getting us all into?

Justin explained that it was for a good cause and that was why he had signed us all up in the first place. Ya see, it was being put on by the St. Vincent de Paul Society and all procedes from the night would benefit them. That made me feel a liiiittle bit better about it. Then, we also learned that the event had mostly been advertised to Catholics in their early twenties to early thirties. That made me feel even better. Maybe this night would be fun after all?

After dressing to impress, we all headed out to the event together. We arrived, walked into the room and...

I started freaking out! Ahhh! So many unknown people! So much schmoozing to be done! What if my outfit is lame? What if I have bad breath? What if I say something mega-awkward?! I knew this was a bad idea!!

My roommate, Mary, calmed me down a bit as we approached the sign-in table. We each received an individualized card that had the names of all of our dates on it, in order of the dates, as well as a name tag. 21 men's names were on my list. I was going to meet and date 21 men in one evening! Intimidating, right?

Since we had arrived a few minutes early, we killed some time by looking around the room at our "potentials," if you will. Of all the people there, the only one that stood out was a cute, tall and skinny, curly-haired, professionally dressed young man with precious nerdy glasses and handsome blue eyes. I noticed his name tag said "John" and quickly referred to my card of dates. He was near the bottom, so I knew I wouldn't be meeting him for a while, but I was happy to see he was on there. I made a mental note to be on my extra best behavior by the time my date with him came around, then nervously made my way over to my seat.

The coordinator of the event spent a few minutes going over the basics of the evening:

1.) Dates are 5 minutes long. Talk about whatever you want.
2.) When the bell rings, men move to their next date while women stay seated and wait for their next date to come to them. Classy!
3.) At the end of your date, next to your date's name, circle either YES or NO. If you circle YES, you are interested in another date. If you circle NO, you're not.
4.) Cards are collected at the end of the evening and processed by the coordinators of the event.
5.) If you get a mutual YES with someone on your list, the coordinators will send you that person's contact information. If you say YES and that person says NO (or the other way around), no contact information is exchanged.

And then she rang the bell. Dinnnnnng.

I was still nervous, but as the dates went on, the evening got easier and more fun. I definitely repeated myself a lot - "Hi, I'm Stephanie from Rhode Island. I'm living in St. Louis for the year as a volunteer. I teach science at an all-boys middle school for low income families. My favorite color is green. Tell me your story!" But overall, I had great fun meeting lots of new people and sharing plenty of good laughs.

By the time my date with John came around, I was a seasoned pro! And man, he was still looking cute by the time he got to my table. I found out he was a 4th year pediatric med student at St. Louis University about to match for his residency! He was intersted in residency in Cincinati, Houston, Philadelphia, Nashville... so many fun-sounding cities. He even asked me to help him rank his cities - a little bit intimidating, now that I think of it. Anyway, the date quickly wrapped up with another dinnnnnnng and I circled YES as soon as he left my table. Although it wasn't the best conversation of the night, I still thought he was cute and the perfect amount of nerdy. Did I mention that I lovvvve nerds? *swoon*

The next day, I found out I matched with him! He said YES to me! Yay! (And just in case you're curious, I matched with 6 other guys as well, though I never went on dates with any of them). I decided I wasn't going to email any of the guys. I wanted to be pursued! So I sat around, obsessively checked my email, and hoped they'd email me.

And they did! But I was obvi most excited when I received John's email. He asked me out to dinner or dessert or coffee or whatever I was most comfortable with. I decided on coffee/tea, since I wanted to go on a date I could easily back out of if things got weird. But things didn't get weird. It was a lovely first date (we don't consider speed dating our first date because we were sorta forced to date each other that night). I smiled so much, my cheeks hurt from smiling.

We stayed at the coffee/tea shop until it closed and swapped stories about life in general. We found we had so much in common - Catholicism, nerdiness, awesome families, taste in movies, etc. It just felt so good to find someone who lined up with me so perfectly! I even said to my mom a few days later, "I'm pretty sure I'm going to marry this man." :)

Looking back, it's so obvious that God had this plan for us all along. I would have never lived in St. Louis if it weren't for the volunteer program. And I would have never gone to speed dating if my roommate hadn't planned it. And John wouldn't have gone to speed dating if the Knights of Columbus (he was a knight in his college's chapter) hadn't sent him an email at the last minute begging the men to sign up for the event. (The speed dating event was very short on men a few days leading up to it.) That all had to be divine intervention. There's just no other way to explain it! So, thanks for that, God. You found me a good one!

Oh, and John later told me that at the beginning of the speed dating evening, he was surveying the room too and thought I was the cutest girl there. He also says that I caught him checking me out, but  I don't remember that at all. What a goof!

We just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary a few days ago. I have lots of great pictures to post from our little anniversary trip. They're coming up next. Until then, I leave you with some pictures of our dating years.

On our second official date - a night at the St. Louis Orchestra

St. Louis Arch!

A month after we started dating, John came home with me to RI for Easter.
He was able to meet my Pepere, who passed away later that year <3 

John's med school graduation! 

At a Cardinals game in St. Louis

Celebrating my birthday in Houston. His present to me - that dress!

Hahaha - little Johnny! Sorry, I couldn't resist. I love this pic.


  1. Happy anniversary, and what a cute story! :-) (I need to find my little sister one of these Catholic speed dating events lol)

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it :) Seriously, Catholic speed dating is the best way for a young Catholic women to meet good husband material. Hope your sister can find an event near her!

  2. Love this story! And I LOVE that you did JVC! My hubby and I are both FJVS. :)

    1. No way! I'm assuming you didn't live in the same community :P Though, 2 of my community members ended up dating that year - Alex & Greg. Oops! And I did a second year in Houston, where 2 of the JVs in the other Houston community (there were 2 JV communities in Houston) dated and are still together. So it's not unheard of. Sorry, random tangent. Where did you do your JV year? And when?

  3. What a great story - I love it! I did a year of volunteer service in Denver and loved it (not JVC - it was with the Vincentians). I love all your pictures too, except as a Nationals fan, I still have hard feelings about last season...that I'll put aside, although it's hard =) Oh, and happy 2nd anniversary! We celebrated our 2 year in May.

    1. Thank you :) Happy belated 2nd anniversary to you! Sorry about the Nationals... I'm glad you can put that aside. I'm actually a Red Sox fan at heart. I just like to support my husband's home team every now and then. Also, I'm pretty sure there's a Vincentian community in St. Louis. I think it was a community of 9 girls with the Vincentians in St. Louis the year I was there for JVC. What a great program! And Denver: I've never been, but I hear great things!

  4. Just getting around to reading this lovely little story. So much fun. You might inspire me to write up something similar on how I met DH soon. So neat to see the crazy squiggly lines that God draws in our lives to make things connect. From speed date to parents! :)


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