I’ve had a really cool day today. It’s just been fun and pleasant and happy. And exhausting! I’m not meant for napping during the day. It totally throws me off, but ever since the surgery, I find myself exhausted every day around 4:00 or so, and I end up napping. It kills me. I’m still trying to wake up.
This morning, I woke up and wrote my brother-in-law a letter. I don’t think I’ve really talked about him here; he’s in prison for a truly horrible and sad crime, and because of the nature of his crimes, he has been more or less ostracized. It’s a sad state of affairs for sure. About six months ago, I felt the prompting to start writing him letters. I’ve found him to be a pleasant and open person, fully confessing his crimes, and doing what he can to make amends. He is, all things considered, a good person who has done something truly terrible and stupid, and he’s paying–and willing to pay–the price for what he’s done.
After writing the letter, I went to save it on my computer as I always do when I came across a really old journal from 2002 – 2003. This journal covered pretty much the entirety of my courtship with Courtney, and while it talks about a lot of things aside from that, there are some precious gems. I read through the journal this morning, delighted at the discovery, and I wanted to share a few of the discoveries I made:
March 23, 2002
These last two days have been fun and full of activity. Yesterday I went swimming, saw a basketball game, played ultimate Frisbee and finally watched a movie with the singles branch. I really felt a strong connection with Courtney . She is a girl that I first liked when I got up here and have always wanted to get to know better. I try to get to know her but sometimes I just don’t know how to act around girls.
March 26, 2002
Tonight I went to a Swing Dance class taught by Tyson. There, I danced with Courtney who is the girl that I am currently interested in. Afterwards everyone told me that we looked really good together and that I should pursue her. I would like to but I’m so nervous and silly about dating and things like that that I wouldn’t know what to do. I’m definitely interested though.
March 31, 2002
I went on a walk with Courtney on Friday. We went out into Brotherhood Park and just walked and enjoyed each others company. It was so beautiful. The park is very much a rainforest with moss everywhere and big gorgeous plants. I would like to see it in the summer in full bloom. It was especially nice just to get out and try something with Courtney. I really like her and feel that she is returning the interest. I don’t know if it will be more then that or not but until then I might as well enjoy it.
I sat by her tonight at the Temple Preparation Class. I’m not sure if she is doing it for fun or because I’m there or because she feels ready but I like her being there. She is extremely spiritual and has a strong testimony. That is something that is so important to me because I have always struggled in the very basics. Having someone like her as a companion would help me be more spiritual. I can stand on my own two feet for a good time but I always seem to trip and it’s the little things that trip me.
I may be taking her to an Opera soon. I heard that she enjoyed one in particular and Heidi and Dave are going and asked if I would like to go as well. I would, I like Operas and I would really like to get to know her more. I’m almost fascinated by her. Not in love or lust, just fascination. She is an amazing person.
April 25, 2002
She still is, perhaps, one of the most unique and individual women I have ever known and that is intriguing if not downright interesting. She is still very compatible and, on a plus, beautiful. She is certainly one that I would consider a possibility for marriage. I guess the downside is, as always, as soon as you start to move forward you start to look for the bad things, the differences. I haven’t noticed many bad things. She is intelligent, loves to read, and artistic. She is also a very capable and independent woman. She is sometimes anti-social, although I am not too sure about that last one.
[At this point in the journal, most of my entries deal more with the sudden increase of all the single members that moved up to Alaska over the summer and the busyness of work. I also glance over the long winter back in Utah for school and the things there. I stopped writing in my journal and note that my letters back and forth to Courtney took the place of my journal. When I moved back up to Alaska the next spring, I picked up the journal again.]
May 24, 2003
My relationship with Courtney is weird right now. It’s good but weird. We’ve gone on a couple dates since I’ve been back (date is a very loose term) and I really do like her more and more but I can’t say that we are any closer to marriage. Our Branch President breached the marriage word for us though. I wasn’t even going to say that but he jokingly looked at us both and told us that he was going to excommunicate us both if we didn’t get married by the end of the summer. Not bad considering that Courtney and I have never even once spoken about dating let alone marriage. I’ll give her a call tonight though and watch a movie or something, play games, I don’t know.
June 24, 2003
Courtney and I are doing well. We are constantly inching towards marriage and although I keep finding things that do bring in doubts they are always so extremely minor and I can just feel Satan behind each one of them. There is nothing that I know of that could possibly cause second doubts. I’m living in a happy little dream world right now that I don’t really want to end anytime soon.
August 23, 2003
I proposed to her on August 3rd. We went out to the glacier and standing right before the bridge on the photo trail I took her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger. To be honest with you, I wanted to throw up. I was so nervous and scared even though I already knew the answer. We’ve set the date for December 30th. We’ll wed in the Manti Temple and then go on a honeymoon to Temple Square. Mom and Dad are giving us the honeymoon as their wedding gift. We’ll spend three nights at the Inn at Temple Square and then start school again.
I leave for Utah on Tuesday and that has both Courtney and I thinking a lot and wondering. I think it will be very hard for her; I’m actually looking forward to it in some ways though. I will miss her terribly but at the same time, I have very fond memories of writing letters back and forth and I think that being away from each other for some time will actually help us grow stronger. Besides that, it always tends to be easier for the one who leaves. They go and see new things and get caught up in a new life and new things happening where as nothing changes for those who stay behind except for the fact that they lost something or someone.
I don’t really worry about Courtney; she is strong, that’s why I love her.
October 22, 2003
Courtney and I are falling more and more in love. I miss her so much. Not a moment goes by where my mind doesn’t drift to her in some form or some way. I don’t know how I stand to live sometimes without her right here beside me. It is frustrating to watch Justin and his bride, Kenzee, talk and laugh and giggle while I am forced to merely think about Courtney. I wish I knew how to tell her how much I loved her, but I don’t. I dream about her often, and I can hear her voice speaking quietly to me.
I reread all of my journal entries about her tonight and I can see now, looking back, that I was a scared kid back then. I have always known that Courtney was someone that I could marry although I didn’t always believe that she was the one. Looking back, I see my stupidity. I see where I failed her and I promise to myself, as I have a thousand times, that I will never fail her like I did then. She has become the one for me.
I was talking with my roommate Randy on Sunday and he mentioned that I just didn’t seem to be myself this semester. When it comes right down to it, I’m not complete. I’m not whole down here in Utah without Courtney. I really do feel like a huge part of my life is missing because she is not here. I would beg her to elope if I thought for a moment that that was the right choice. I miss her so much.
October 28, 2003
I love her and I care for her. I’m sometimes asked how I can possibly live without her constantly by my side and what it comes down to is that I am so secure in my relationship with her that I don’t need to have her constantly by my side. We are both very independent people and I think that will help us in our transition into marriage. We won’t be like many other couples that can’t breath without touching one another, not that we won’t love each other deeply and passionately. We simply won’t need to have the constant touch and caress to know that we love each other. I miss her everyday and think about her constantly. She is my salvation right now.
November 30, 2003
The wedding announcements are done and on their way to wherever they need to go and I feel like there is nothing left to do. I’ll see Courtney again in only three weeks and then the wedding is in four.
And that’s pretty much where the journal ends. It was fun to go back and read my thoughts from that time. I remember that time well. For me, it was the beginning of really learning who I was and that I could be strong as a person on my own. Until that first trip home to Alaska, I felt like I was always in the shadows of others, and my journal talks about that feeling of coming into my own, of coming alive. I don’t think I remembered, though, how integral Courtney was in that growth and that transition for me.
In the LDS faith, it is generally expected that the men will serve missions (two years away from home to proselytize and serve). Most Mormons seem to talk about how that is the key growth and coming of age experience, but my mission never really was. It was a wonderful and strengthening experience for me, but it has nothing on this stretch of two years in Alaska and courting Courtney.
The journal covers tragedy and joy; heartbreak and laughter. In the pages of that journal, I watched as old friends went away and new ones were forged. I watched my testimony grow from a soft shell to a firm foundation. And I found memories of a person with thick red hair and thicker glasses (she’s going to kill me when she reads that). And a beautiful smile. And oh man… those glasses…. :-)
There’s a reason we keep journals. I’m glad to have found this lost one.