Wow! I didn't realize how long it was going to take to tell mine and Darby's story. I'm getting kind of bored with it, so I'm going to condense the rest of our story into a timeline. Even condensed, it's still pretty long, so you might want to get comfy.
July 25, 2001 - Darby and I officially become "boyfriend and girlfriend"
November 5, 2001 - We have our first kiss after watching Shrek at my house. (Yes, almost four months after we started dating; Darby was a little shy).
January 31, 2002 - We say "I love you" for the first time. I actually say it first.
February, 2002 - We start talking seriously about getting married in a few years. What were we thinking?! We were 16!
2002-August 2003 - We spend countless hours together - eating Frostys (Frosties?) at Wendy's, going to the fountain park downtown, watching movies and playing games at each others' houses, talking at Starbucks, riding bikes on the dam, jogging together after church, wandering around Wal-Mart because we had nowhere else to go.
August 2003 - I leave for my first year at ACU. Being apart is hard. I go to Waco a lot, and Darby comes to Abilene. We see each other about every other weekend. At first, these weekends are wonderful, but we begin to fight increasingly frequently.
December 8, 2003 - We break up. Even though I kind of saw it coming, I am crushed. My friends and family are very supportive, though, and I have a good Christmas in spite of the situation.
January 1, 2004 - We get back together after spending time together at the church New Year's Eve party. I like this line from Seinfeld. "The first break-up never takes. It's like shaking a vending machine. You have to hit it again and again." (my paraphrase)
Spring and Summer 2004 - Darby and I are kind of in a holding pattern. Our relationship has improved enough for us to hold on but not enough for us to be really happy. Not that there weren't good times, though. Darby sent me tons of sweet cards and e-mails letting me know how much he loved and missed me. I went back to Waco for his senior prom, and we had a great time.
August 18th or so, 2004 - After an emotional summer in Waco, we break up again, this time for good (or so I thought). It is a less emotionally wrenching experience than the first break-up because we both realize how toxic our relationship has become. We agree to remain friends, and Darby assures me that he's still happy with his decision to start ACU. We leave separately the next day.
September 15th or so, 2004 - Darby and I meet on the benches outside Moody Coliseum "just to talk." We confess that we still love each other, and we both admit the mistakes we made before. We begin to get together secretly because we're embarrassed to let people know that we're back together again. We spend way less time together than we did before, though. Both of us are cautious; we know that this is our last chance to make it work.
Thanksgiving, 2004 - Everyone knows that we're officially back together. Actually, most people figured it out long before that. We weren't too sneaky.
2005-2006 - We rebuild our relationship, and it's way better than high school. We spend even more hours together walking around campus, playing Scrabble at Starbucks, hanging out with the Westgate college group, doing homework together, cooking for each other, watching Flip That House marathons (oh, the good ol' days when we had cable).
June 11, 2006 - Darby proposes while we're walking in Nelson park.
July 7, 2007 - We get married. Finally! It was quite a six years, but definitely worth the wait. Because we had already been through so much together, the transition into marriage was pretty smooth. Of course, we have our fights, but it seems that we got most of the kinks worked out in high school and college. And we definitely didn't go into marriage with the illusion that the other person was perfect :) Looking back, Darby and I sometimes can't believe that we actually made it. We were both so immature when our relationship began; when we got back together the second time, it was basically starting a new relationship because we had changed so much. I think we are lucky to have already spent such a big portion of our lives together. There were things we might not have had to go through had we been more mature when we met. But, I don't think we would have grown into the people we've become without each other. Each of us definitely tempers the extreme qualities in the other. I can't wait to watch the rest of our story unfold; it will definitely have twists and turns, but we know that we'll face them together.