I was 22 years old and fresh out of a long term relationship nursing a majorly mangled heart and a crushed spirit. I had become cynical and jaded and decided to take a break from romantic relationships. I was sick of dating. Sick of guys. I needed a break.
The day was July 4th, 1998. My friend Tarah and I were on our way to a 4th of July party that her older brother and his friends were throwing. This party had become a legendary annual event they all called Lobsterfest. For a small fee you would get a fresh Maine lobster that the guys had flown in, a huge array of side dishes and desserts, and all the drinks you could manage. It was a hot and humid day and I couldn't wait to get a cold drink in my hand. As we pulled up to the already full party Tarah immediately said, "Oh wow! Todd is here! He is a lawyer in New York. I always thought he would be the perfect boyfriend!"
My cynical mind immediately said, "Big whoop." I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Was I supposed to be impressed? I am the last person to get excited because someone is a lawyer. Who cares? He probably has an ego the size of Texas. Good grief.
As I followed Tarah's gaze I saw him right away. A good looking guy in khaki shorts and a plain white tee shirt stood next to a picnic table. He had one leg up on the bench of the table and was leaning forward with his elbow on his knee. He was surrounded by a group of people who all seemed to be enjoying whatever it was he was saying.
I followed Tarah over to the picnic table and she introduced me to Todd. I was surprised by his warm greeting, he clasped my hand in both of his when we shook and offered a large and genuine smile, but still expected the arrogance to show itself. The group of us stood and talked for a while and when I would make snarky, sarcastic comments here and there he would laugh and join in. He had an easy going charm about him and clearly did not take himself too seriously. Though I never fully admitted it until this moment I was impressed by him right away.
He offered to make me a drink and I followed him to the bar. He was funny. Really funny. I couldn't stop laughing. And he was easy to talk to, too. Soon I had learned that he was not only from Wisconsin but from my hometown. He had gone to the same high school I did and graduated 5 years ahead of me. He played football in high school and college. I loved football. He loved singing. My number one passion. We had grown up playing in the same parks, going to the same churches, and knowing the same people.
We talked all day and into the night. And although I still had no intentions of starting a relationship I had a good time hanging out with him. My hardened heart didn't even think to venture past that night or past a friendship.
At the end of the night everyone wanted to go dancing. Except for me. I had a long ride home and I was tired. Not only that but I looked like hell. All of my makeup had melted off my face long ago. My hair had frizzed out from the humidity and I had a giant zit on my chin. I was beginning to scare myself. Time to go. Todd kept trying to get me to go dancing with everyone and after repeatedly telling him I was tired I decided to be honest.
"I am so tired, and I look like crap. It is time for me to go." I said.
"Yeah, you do look pretty bad." he teased.
"I know. It is not good." I repeated.
"Yeah, you look awful. Really bad." he said again. But this time I became even more insecure.
"I know, all my makeup has come off. Scary." I said trying to make excuses for the mess.
"Yeah, you should do something about that." he laughed. I'm sure he thought we were just ribbing as we had done all day but by now I seriously wanted to hide.
"Yeah. Well. I'm gonna go. You have a good time." I tried to say casually as I ran out of the room shielding my hideous face. I was definitely happy to be leaving after that despite the confused look on Todd's face.
That was it. That was how we said goodbye. He flew back to New York and I went about my life, unaffected.
Six months later around Christmas time I was in my hometown visiting my family. I went out to a bar with my friend Jennifer and just happened to see Todd sitting at the end of the bar with a few friends. Knowing Todd was upset at the way we left things last time I marched right up to him and said, "Hi! I'm Kathryn. Do you remember me? We met at..." and before I could finish my sentence he was saying, "Of course I remember you!"
We cleared the air and again spent the night talking (he had recently moved back to town after his father had a heart attack) and laughing (did I mention he was funny?). He even came out dancing with Jennifer and I. He got out on the dance floor and twirled and spun me around like he was a professional swing dancer. I was so impressed and had so much fun. It was getting late and I told him I needed to go so that I was able to get up for church the next morning. He asked me where I went to church and it just so happened that he went to the same church, and in fact, sang in the church choir. The very same choir my parents sang in. I couldn't believe it.
At the end of the night Todd asked for my number but I was in a relationship at the time so I didn't give it to him. Instead, I told him I would see him at church in the morning and indeed I did. When I had told my mom who I had been hanging out with the night before she could barely contain her excitement. The minute Todd had joined choir she thought he would be perfect for me. A year or so later mom admitted to me that when she saw us talking in the back of church that morning it was like all of the blood rushed out of her body and she knew I was going to marry him. Luckily, she didn't tell me that at the time.
For the next few months Todd badgered my friend Tarah with questions. "Is Kat single yet? What's up with Kat? Have you seen Kat? Is Kat interested in me?" Tarah began to tire and soon dropped the act of "playing it cool" and started asking me, "Todd wants ya. What do you want me to tell him?"
Finally in spring of 1999 I broke up with my boyfriend. That May I ran into Todd again. Tarah's dad was getting married and I was invited to the wedding. So was Todd. When he again asked for my number I finally gave it to him still thinking nothing would come of it. He called the very next day and I agreed to go out on a date with him.
We went out to dinner and had a good time. Still, it seemed more friendly to me than anything else. I told him that I just wasn't ready to start a relationship and we agreed to be friends. We continued talking and getting to know each other over email (And for some reason I couldn't explain I printed out and saved all of his emails. I still have them to this day). We talked about everything and nothing. And when I was having a bad day he would drop everything, drive the 45 minutes it took to get to my apartment, and take me out to a movie, dinner, or just go for a walk. We always had a great time together.
When summer rolled around he began taking me on motorcycle rides. The first time he picked me up I remember opening my apartment door and my breath immediately got stuck in my throat. It was like someone punched me in the gut. He looked gorgeous! He was so tan, he wasn't wearing his glasses, and his hair was wind-blown and wild. He had a tank top on and when he turned around I saw the tattoo on his shoulder blade. Up until that point he had been the good little church boy, but seeing him on that Harley with the tattoo blazing on his back made me see him in a whole new light. I'm ashamed to say it, but I am one of those girls that likes a little bit of a bad boy on the inside of my good boy.
Then, early in September, I received an email from him. Todd told me that he was taking a trip to London to visit a friend and was wondering if I would like to come along. He said that he knew I always wanted to travel and this would be a great opportunity. I was a bit concerned that Todd would see this as more than friendship and as I was contemplating my answer he shot me another email telling me not to freak out. It was strictly as friends. I told him that I would love to go. I booked my airplane ticket and we left on October 3rd.
Our little visit to London turned into a European extravaganza. You really get to know someone when you spend 10 straight days traveling with them and I liked what I saw. We had so much fun together. We took the train from London to York (and he didn't move an inch for 3 whole hours as I slept on his shoulder), enjoyed walking the quaint streets of the city, and stayed in a beautiful hotel. Separate rooms of course. Then we went back to London and saw the London Symphony Orchestra and "The Importance of Being Earnest". We visited castles, walked through parks, and toured museums. He showed me where he used to live, all of his favorite spots, and took me to see Abby Road. After a couple of days in London we took the Chunnel to Paris.
And, what can I say? We were in Paris. The city of love. And I swear that is where I began to fall in love. I can actually remember the exact moment. We were inside Notre Dame. Todd had begun lighting some candles on the side alter and as he did so he said, "This candle is for your happiness. This candle is to keep you safe. And this candle is so that the Packers win tomorrow."
At that moment I had to ask myself very important questions. What the hell was the matter with me? Why had I been holding back with him? Why didn't I give this guy a chance? Anyone who can touch my heart and make me laugh in the same sentence deserves a chance.
When our 10 days in Europe had come to an end we went back home and back to work. I didn't see him for the whole week though we emailed often. We were still strictly friends but something had changed. I saw him differently. I realized in that week that I had missed him. I missed seeing him.
We had plans that Saturday to go to a Badger football game. I had never been to one and Todd wanted to be the first to take me. It just so happened that Saturday was Sweetest Day and when I opened my apartment door to let Todd in he was holding a giant box wrapped in pretty paper. I opened the box and knew right then and there I was going to marry him.
Inside the box was a globe. He bought me a globe. Months earlier I had told him how I always wanted a globe but never actually got one. Looking at a globe always made me feel giddy, excited, adventurous, and even romantic. It made me think of possibilities. He had remembered what I said months earlier and he bought me a globe.
From that moment on we were a couple. Five months later we were engaged.
Being one of the first girls in my group of friends to get married I was always asked how I knew that Todd was the one. My answer was always the same. It didn't even seem like a decision I was making. To me, it felt as though God was revealing to me the man I was supposed to be with. It just seemed so obvious.
Growing up my dad told me many times how he used to pray to God that he would find a good wife. I was inspired and began praying for God to send me a good husband. So many times I would wish that a good man was out there praying for me too. And he was. I truly believe that God brought us together, and that God will always keep us together.
I know this was a super long story, and believe me, this is the edited version. There was so much more that I wanted to write about, but who has time to read all of that? I had told Todd I was writing about how we met and that I was having the most difficult time writing it all down. There was just so much. I said, "How in the world do I tell this story?"
He said he always does a great job of telling it. So here is Todd's version:
"In 1998 I was able to get some time off of work and make it back to Wisconsin for the annual party that my buddies and I always threw. I can remember how hot it was that day and exactly where I was sitting. I can remember the way the sun came in across the grass. I can remember the car pulling up and her getting out. I can remember what she wore. And as soon as she started walking up I knew. It was love at first sight. I was smitten."
This is a picture of the "A-ha!" moment in Notre Dame.
On the way up the Eiffel Tower.
Lobsterfest 2001 right after we were married.