Where it all started for us...

Valentine's Day will always be special for Ryan and I.  This is our 8th together (where does time go?!) and every year on February 14th, we celebrate our first and favorite Valentine's day (V'Day 2002) - where it all started for us.

A lot of you know our story, but on Kelly's Korner, people were sharing favorite Valentine's Day memories and not only did I think it would be fun to join in with mine, but I also thought it would be a good excuse to write out "our story". It's a little long, but it's a fun one!

It all started in 10th grade...I was the "new" girl to Buford High School, having just transferred from a small Christian school along with my younger brother, Matt, who was in 8th grade at Buford Middle and Kyler Case, a close family friend who transferred at the same time as us.  I'd never cheered before, but tried out with two other new girls in a make-up tryout and after making it, had to attend picture day for the football program along with the entire cheerleading squad and football team.  Picture Day was a couple days before school started so I went not knowing anyone, but meeting everyone at once that day.

Afterwards, I waited on Kyler in the field house because his mom was picking both of us up. While I waited, Coach Wood, the Football Coach and Athletic Director (and my future father-in-law...little did I know) who had taken my parents, Matt, and me on our tour of Buford back in the spring, walked up and started talking to me, asking how I was liking it so far and if I had met a lot of people in my grade that day.  I remembered he had told me he had a son on the football team that time we'd first met him, but thought he'd said his son was a Senior.  As we were talking, his spitting image walked around the corner from the locker room and Coach Wood introduced me to his son, Ryan, who he said was a sophomore and might be in some of my classes.  We talked just briefly before we left, but I left thinking he was really cute and really really nice.

The next day, I saw him again at open house and we talked for just a couple minutes as we found our lockers and then made our way to a covered dish dinner with the rest of the football players and cheerleaders.  A lot of the football players were cute...and flirty...but something stood out to me about Ryan.  He was very level-headed and mature and I could tell he was respected by the other guys on the team.  I left that night excited about my first day at Buford the next day and on the ride home, I asked my parents... "You know who I could see myself liking?"  And my mom turned around and looked at me with a smile and said "Ryan Wood".

Over the next couple of months, Ryan and I spent our mornings in the back hall sitting on the floor with the early crowd of kids because we got to school so early.  He rode in with his dad to work and my dad dropped me off on his way to work, so we were always early and killed the time sitting on the floor talking.  Meanwhile, my interest in him grew, but I couldn't tell how he felt.  I didn't admit to liking him, but I guess some people started to pick up on the fact that we were getting to know each other and a couple girls told me not to waste my time on Ryan Wood.  Several girls had been interested in him, but apparently he was too focused on football to notice or give a thought to being in a relationship at that time.  So I purposefully didn't get my hopes up and meanwhile, almost went out instead with one of the two other guys that were more aggressive with their interests and a lot more flirty (both of which ended up being in our wedding).  It came down though to me thinking I didn't want to date just anyone and I really liked Ryan...and even though I never would have been one to make the first move or call him or express interest in him, I guess I did have some kind of hope that even though he hadn't dated the other girls, MAYBE I'd be the lucky one.

After some time, people started to pick up on the idea of us dating...including his football coaches, and started the whole "will y'all just start dating already" stuff.  Guys on the team would ask him about it in the locker room and he played it cool and never gave them answers to any of their questions.  Meanwhile, those guys would come up to me and tell me "Oh, he's going to ask you out.  I heard he's just waiting til you turn 16 to ask you".  Then, my birthday came and went.  Then it was "Well, really I think he's waiting til his birthday so it's not weird that you're 16 and he's still 15" (our birthdays are only 13 days apart).  Then, nothing.  At that point, I was thinking nothing was ever going to happen - he must not be interested and I kept talking myself into not getting my hopes up - even though I really liked him at that point.  So when those guys kept trying to pry and find out what he was thinking with still no answers, they started saying "He must be waiting for Valentine's Day".  Even a couple of the coaches started giving him a hard time saying "what are you waiting for - you two are perfect together"

So, the day before Valentines Day, after Ryan and I had gone through the lunch line and then gone our separate ways with our lunch trays like we did every day...he to the football player table, and me to the table with the rest of our class, I went back to grab a fork.  When I did, Coach Simpson, one of the coaches who has known Ryan his whole life said, "Erin, I have a great idea.  Tomorrow, you and Ryan are going to sit at this table right here all by yourselves and have Valentines lunch together!".  I laughed and was like no way, that's not going to happen, but he kept convincing me it was a good idea and kept asking me if I'd do it if he set it up, finally saying, "well, if Ryan agrees to it, would you?".  So I said, "fine, because I know Ryan would not agree to that anyways."  Then I walked away laughing at Coach Simpson's tactics.  Ha, even the coaches were trying to push things along now.

Sure enough though, just a few minutes later, I saw Coach Simpson and his buddy Coach Snell (another coach that had known Ryan since he was a kid) over at the football players table talking to Ryan.  All the guys were laughing and some of them were looking my way and Coach Simpson made eye contact with me and just grinned and said "yep". And then I saw him go over and talk to the lunchroom lady, pointing to the table he had said we should eat at.  Ryan looked over at me from the football player's table and just grinned.

After lunch when we met up out in the hall while waiting for the bell to ring before heading to our next classes, I asked him if he had agreed to Coach Simpson's idea and he put his arm around me and grinned and said "I sure did - he said you agreed first though!". 

So, the next day on Valentine's Day, Ryan arrived in the back hall with a rose for me, which Mrs. Maltbie our math teacher gladly put in a vase and kept in her room all day for me.  Then we went about our classes.  I had somehow forgotten about Coach Simpson's plan or just didn't think it was going to actually happen...until I started hearing about it from people in all my different classes.  In 2nd period, a couple guys were like, "Hope you're excited about your Valentine's lunch today because Coach Simpson sure had us making table decorations for it instead of lifting weights during his weight-training class this morning".  A couple senior guys told me the same thing between classes.  I was thinking, "oh no, what has this turned into?".  Then again, in 5th period, the class right before lunch, a couple other football guys, Darius and Drew, started asking if I was ready for lunch with big ole' grins on their face.  So as soon as the bell rang, I headed to lunch not knowing what to expect.  As soon as I walked in, everyone was looking at me like they had been waiting for me to walk in.  I walked by the senior's table and they were all watching me - it was like the whole school knew about mine and Ryan's "Valentine's lunch date".  I looked over to the table Coach Simpson had suggested and it was decked out in Valentine's decor - a dozen red roses, heart confetti, stuffed bears, etc..., but no Ryan, who always beat me to lunch because his class was a lot closer than mine.  I walked up and Coach Simpson pulled out the chair for me and told me he had sent Ryan through the lunch line to get our lunches, so I waited awkwardly at the table while everyone in the lunch line went grinning by me.

Finally, Ryan came through the lunch line and sat down at the table with a big smile.  I guess his arrival was the cue because as soon as he sat down, all of the football guys and Coach Simpson and Coach Snell gathered around our table, linked arms, starting swaying and snapping and started singing "I've got sunshiiiiine on a cloudy day.  When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May...".  Ryan stood up and linked up arms with the guys behind him and joined in the snapping, swaying, and singing when they reached the chorus of "My Girl".  He smiled down and sang to me as I turned bright red - my face matched the color of my shirt I was told afterwards.  Some people in the lunchroom joined in singing and at the end, people clapped.  It was so embarrassing, but does make for a great memory after the fact.  I found out later that some teachers let kids who had been in 1st lunch out of class to come see the whole event.

(Thank you to Carrie (Creedle) Wolfe...childhood friend of Ryan's / my high school BFF / my college roommate / my bridesmaid...for snapping this picture to record the moment!  This picture did hang in my locker for the rest of the year.  And this was taken late at lunch when a lot of people had already cleared out, so there were a lot more in there when everything happened.)

After the singing ended, people went about their lunch.  A couple people came over and snapped a picture of us, but after it died down, it was just he and I at the table.  I don't think I was able to eat anything because I didn't know what he was going to do.  After a couple minutes, one of the senior girls walked by and said "So, I guess it's time for the DTR talk then, huh?  Ya know...Defining The Relationship."

Ryan took the prompt after she walked away and began by saying "Well, I wanted to do things on my own time so you didn't think it was because of prompting and prodding of other people, but since we're here with all of this, I guess I'll go ahead and ask you the question I've been wanting to ask you for a while now...".  (ha, sounds like a 10th grade proposal, huh?).  And that's when Ryan asked me to officially be his girlfriend.

Two high school years, four long-distance college years (me at Georgia, him at Duke on a football scholarship), a total of 6 years later and still together, he did ask me to marry him on Sunset Rock in Highlands, NC on December 23, 2007.  And after a year and a half of awesome marriage to this amazing guy, today is our 8th Valentine's Day together!

On our wedding day, as part of my "something old", I carried down the aisle a "my girl" heart candy that someone gave me after lunch that day and I had kept all these years in my "Ryan" box.

Then at our wedding reception, all of the guys who were there that had been a part of the high school cafeteria scene on Valentine's Day 2002 once again serenaded us with a fun rendition.

Here, Joseph is telling the crowd the "background" behind the song, My Girl, that they are about to sing to us.

Joseph and the guys called Coach Simpson in from outside for the song.  He's still pretty proud of his match-making skills. :)

The singing, swaying, and snapping begins...

"I've got sunshine on a cloudy day..."

It was so fun to relive the memory of how our relationship started with so many friends who had either been there in high school or knew the story...

Sing it, Zach!  

And I'm so thankful for such an amazing husband and the fact that at age 24, we've already had 8 fun years together full of special memories.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Hope you've all enjoyed your day with someone special!


3LittleByrds said...

What a sweet story. Something great to tell your kids oneday. I found your blog through your sil Rachel. We've been online friends for awhile. Yall make such a cute couple.

sterling said...

Beautiful, What more can I say? Beautiful!

Julie said...

That's gotta be one of the most romantic stories I've ever heard! So glad you wrote it down to share with all of us! :)

Becca said...

aw so so fun! Thanks for sharing your story :-) you guys are so so cute!

♥ sarahbeth. said...

aw such a cute story! and great pics! happy valentine's day! xoxo

Rachel said...

I'm glad you wrote it all down! You are a good storyteller! Loved all the pictures too:)

loveisaction said...

hahaha some of those pictures from the wedding.... enough said. I shot on a canon 40 D . My lens is a 28-135, but I shot some of those on a 10-22 lens, wish it was mine.

A lot of them aren't edited... some are. I use adobe light room for quick edits and slight touch ups, and photoshop when I have more time and feel more ambitious.

Some are also shot on my indestructible Olympus stylus tough, point and shoot. It's does underwater stuff, is drop, dust, and about other type of proof there is. My big camera just messed up, so I'm shipping it home and will be shooting on my point and shot for the rest of the trip. It will be challenge to get good pictures, but should be fun to try.

What's new with ya'll? Tell Ryan I say hey.

Design A-Peele said...

LOVED reading this post. I sadly wasn't in that lunch and didn't get to see it, but have heard about it lots. Glad I got to "re-live" that moment. you definitely have a winner. So thankful that God knows what he's doing. Glad y'all are doing well! Also on a side note. When you come home to visit I have a lady who is amazing at hair. She's in suwanee. let me know if you want her info.