Today is Taylor’s 31st birthday and Claire’s 5th birthday. I love that their birthdays wrap up the summer. Already it seems the winds are changing and there is a slight bite in the air in the mornings. Things are starting to smell different, and fall is certainly on its way.
I titled this post “Happy Birthday Thing 1 and Thing 2” because the are the first people/things that have belonged to me. And as I don’t think this story has been told on this blog, here is how I managed to capture Taylor:
We met during the summer of 2001. We don’t specifically remember meeting. Taylor’s mom was the seamstress for the Miss Utah Organization and I, fortunately, was Miss Utah. So I spent a lot of time there during my preparations for Miss America. I remember him mostly as going to or coming home from playing basketball. And once he saw me in a strapless gown (which was later turned into one with sleeves) and I wondered what he would think of me---strapless and all. Rumor had it he had just returned from a mission to California, and I was waiting for a missionary who was serving in California (the not-dating kind of waiting). Somewhere along the line Kerry Lynn, his mom, asked me if I’d be interested in going out with Taylor. I told her that I was waiting for a missionary. And that was it.
I competed at the Miss America Pageant in September. Being Miss Utah was a lonely job. I was driving to and making appearances alone about 80% of the time. Everywhere I went I was offered male company in the form of a blind date. I politely declined for a while, but near the end of October any type of company seemed wonderful. Plus, who was I to deny all of the suitors? So I emailed Kerry Lynn and told her that my 18 month hiatus from dating was over and I was ready. I guess Taylor was seeing someone at the time and I didn’t hear from him. And that was it.
So I started dating a ton of boys. I saw a few more than I saw others. I saw my trainer a lot in the gym and out of the gym. He was kind of a jerk (ok, really a jerk) but he was fun to look at. I went to California with him over New Years to visit his family and see the sights (and mostly as a get-away-from-Rhea excuse). We drove home from California together. It was clear to me after that ride home that things were not going to work out with the two of us. He really was a selfish jerk. Taylor called the minute I walked into my house with the trainer upon our return from California. He asked me out. I accepted. And that was it.
Our first date was on January 8, 2002. We went to a dinner, a movie, and played miniature golf. I made that hole-in-one at the end and I’m sure with that Taylor knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. We had a lot in common--or so we thought. Now we know we covered about all we have in common on that first date! He kept asking me out, and I kept accepting. A couple times he picked me up at Harmon’s grocery store after I spent the evening signing autographs for the Special Olympics in the frozen foods section. He came to my long, probably excruciating, days spent delivering 4-7 presentations about organ donation to drivers ed or jr. high health classes. He was a super boyfriend---however unofficial as I continued to date slews of boys. I knew I liked him because I gave him my precious free time, but each time he called I was genuinely surprised that he wanted the relationship to continue. I was a little confused because although we went out weekly, and he made a couple attempts to hold my hand---he never kissed me. And that was it.
However, despite his inability to get the guts to kiss me, I fell in love with him. Every time I’d see him (which quickly became more than just weekly) I’d giggle to my parents on how he didn’t dare kiss me. One night, in particular, I spent 45 minutes saying good night to him in freezing temperatures and still he chickened out. A few days later on March 24, 2002 I was invited to a fireside in Kaysville. Vanessa Ballam was speaking at it, and she was my favorite Miss Utah, so I didn’t want to miss it. Taylor, ever willing to be with me, drove me to Kaysville in my truck (yes, I drove a truck back then) and we went to the fireside. On the way home I fell asleep, as I was prone to do then (I was so busy with appearances and piano that if I was sitting in a car for more than a couple minutes I was instantly out). I remember waking for a few moments on the freeway. We were holding hands. He looked at me and smiled. And I felt comfortable enough to go back to sleep. My last thought before consciousness was the strong impression that I would marry him. We watched the Academy Awards later that night at his house. I slept through most of them and realized I was coming down with a cold (likely from the 45 minutes of freezing and waiting for him to kiss me just nights before) When he walked me to my truck it was nearing midnight and very cold. I wasn’t about to have a repeat of standing in the cold, so I climbed right into my truck. He pulled me out. Kissed me. Kissed me again. And that was it. Forever.
Don’t worry. We did make out (very chastely, Mom) for about 4 hours the next day. It made up for lost time. Every time I hear the song “It feel like home” it reminds me of that night. I just felt so comfortable, so “at home” with him. And that was something I’d never felt before for anyone. And it continues. I can be more myself with him than with anyone else I know. Eight years later it just gets better every day. He is my true north, my center, my home.
Happy Birthday, T!