It was probably when I offered to drop by her house with a cowboy hat that she figured out something was up. But to be honest, it was probably earlier than that.
We were at a rodeo in Wyoming (I’m pretty sure that’s all they do in Wyoming–Still-life photography, pottery, and rodeos), with a bunch of friends. I had just met Jacqueline, but didn’t let that stop me from totally hitting on her at every opportunity. I had it in mind to purchase a cowboy hat… because we were at a rodeo, and that just felt right. Jacqueline mentioned that she could buy one, but that it wouldn’t fit in her luggage to fly home.
So, naturally, I offered to go about 6 hours out of my way on the way home to drop off her cowboy hat. It’s the least I could do, really, for a girl I just met and had not even taken out on a date.
She didn’t buy the hat. I didn’t (yet) have a reason to stop by South Carolina on my way to Tennessee from Colorado. But I had made pretty clear the level of commitment and gas money I was willing to invest in this thing.
A couple of days after the rodeo I took that girl on a 14-hour lunch date.
3 days after the rodeo I made clear to her that I wanted to date long-distance after we got back to our respective homes.
4 months after the rodeo I gave her a diamond ring and asked her to marry me.
9 months after the rodeo we stood on the porch of a plantation house in front of God and our friends and made some very serious vows.
5 years and 9 months after the rodeo, our two-year-old son rounded the corner in our new apartment with no pants on, and a cowboy hat that I bought in Wyoming on his head, grinning from ear to ear.
Happy anniversary, Jacqueline. If the next 45 are as fun as the first 5, we’ll have some pretty serious stories to tell. It’s exhilarating being on this crazy mission with you. You make me a better human.