Warning: This is a ridiculously uber-long, half a novel of a post, which is now even longer because I had to tell you how long it was. I will probably not post for two days so you have a chance to come back and read if you wish.
Today, I am continuing the story of Brian and me and all the miracles that have surrounded us from meeting and marrying to his diagnosis and God’s provision in our lives through our good and bad times. I wouldn’t call this week’s post a miracle, rather our relationship story. All relationships are a bit of a miracle. The obvious miracles in our lives started occurring after Brian and I were married. This week is a necessary filler to get us to that point. Last week, I summarized how life’s circumstances brought Brian and me to the same small university in the middle of Missouri. That is where our paths would first cross.
I don’t remember the first time I met Brian. I met him my freshman year sometime, but didn’t take much note. He didn’t either. We didn’t have very many common friends at the time. He tells me he saw me in the cafeteria at our dorm. He and his buddies had a nickname for me that I will not repeat here, but it had something to do with my overall short height, yet ample bosom. Brian and I wouldn’t hook up until our junior year. We both dated others and partied with different people until then. University of Missouri at Rolla, being in such a small town in the middle of nowhere, is neither known for its campus events, nor its nightlife. There isn’t much for going on dates, etc. The dating scheme at UMR falls more like this: You meet at a party somewhere, you hang out more and more at the same parties, you “hook up.” Very romantic, eh? That is what we did. We eyed each other our junior year as we started to have more and more mutual friends, hung out at more of the same places, until eventually, Brian declared his undying love for me. HA!!! HA!!! HA!!! Anyone who knows the Brian and Angie of college know this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We just ended up together after a while. Then together more. Then more, until it was pretty obvious we were a couple.
Brian and Angie Hermann, MO winery 1995
Brian always had great summer internship jobs related to his field of study. He was great at interviewing. He has always had amazing confidence, communication skills and people skills. Brian and I spent our summers and our Christmas breaks apart with quick visits occasionally. I was in St. Louis doing crap manual labor work to eek out a measly $6/hour on my feet all day (my justification for higher education, yet not meant to offend anyone who chooses this as their profession). Summers were hard, but when we would spend a weekend or two together, he was so confident, so funny, so sexy, so responsible, so fun, so charming, so witty, and so into me. It was those summers that made me realize this man could be in my life seriously. Then the school year would roll around again. Did I mention we went to an engineering school? I think I did last week. Well, schools specializing in engineering are usually associated with male-dominated campuses. Our small campus in the middle of Missouri in a town with not much to offer and a campus that was 70% male, left the young college men to creatively fend for themselves. Brian and his friends were very into being GUYS, hanging out with each other, drinking, and partying without obligation, care or attention to the female influences in their lives if it existed (well Thursday night through Sunday morning anyway, the rest of the week, he was a sweetheart again) I was jealous, probably jealous more of his friends than girls, but jealous of anyone. (Pretty crazy given the 70% male to female ratio.) Brian and I broke up and made up lots of times over the 3 years until he graduated in 1995. Nevertheless, for the greater part, I liked myself with Brian. I liked how he gave me confidence, believed in me and loved me, yet was a good friend to his buddies.
Brian and some buddies in college at his frat house bar
I graduated in 1994 and got a job in Paducah, KY for Lockheed Martin in project management. I liked my job. I hated the town. (I don’t hate it now, btw) Small town life was not a suitable match for this St. Louis girl. The only thing I liked about being single and in my early 20’s in Paducah, KY was a couple of good friends I made (but sadly don’t talk to anymore) and my brother and his family in the same town. Brian had another year of college. We drove to see each other about once a month. He was so busy that 5th year of college because he had a heavy course load to meet the requirements for his May graduation. He was also all over the country on interviews. We had so many deep discussions about where his first job would locate him and what this meant to our future. I truly thought once he graduated he would ask me to marry him, rescue me from Kentucky and move me wherever he was. He started talking about taking some job at Caterpillar in Illinois in a division that would move him every 1-3 years for a while and possibly transfer him to another country some day. WHAT?!?! How was this fair to me?! What about my education and my career?!? The fact that Brian was considering this job made me feel as though he didn’t value me or my education and opportunities. He took the job despite my protest and hesitation. I remember meeting some of his new co-workers one evening and talking to one guy’s fiancée.
Me: What are you going to do about your job when you get married and move?
Me: That’s not fair.
Her: Yeah, but with this job, that’s the way it is.
Me: Well, it shouldn’t be.
Her: Maybe, but when I said, yes, I knew this was going to be our life.
Me: You sound like Brian. It’s still not fair.
Her: Doesn’t matter to me. You should probably think hard about how much it matters to you.
I didn’t know the answer. I didn’t know how much it mattered to me. What I did know is Brian wasn’t proposing and I wasn’t loving Kentucky. I had met a co-worker that started training me in some new things at Lockheed during this time - one of the few co-workers at that facility that was not FROM Paducah and had actually transferred from a different part of the company. God put him in my path. He introduced me to the intra-company job listings and helped me with my interview skills. He actually wanted to see me succeed and he believed in me, which was not something I felt from my boss. He helped me get an interview at the Lockheed Martin facility in Denver. I rocked the interview, fell head-over-heels in love with Denver and got the job. I told Brian.
“I got the job in Denver.”
“Good for you. You’ve got MAD skills, Babe. I knew you could do it.”
“They want me to start in a month or so.”
“You’re taking the job?”
“I think so.”
“I didn’t think you would really move.”
“Why else would I go for the interview? Do you not want me to take the job?”
"I think you should go. I think it will be great for you.”
WRONG FREAKING ANSWER, BUB! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY, ‘DON’T LEAVE. MARRY ME. I LOVE YOU.’ “Oh. Well, I will probably move in November. I don’t really know what this means for us.”
“We will figure it out.”
Brian was living in Chicago at the time. I was about to move to Denver. I knew no one. I had never lived away from my family (except for the 1-1/2 hour trek between home and college). It was 14 hours away from them. It was 17 hours away from the man I loved, but it was THE MOST EXCITING TIME OF MY LIFE SO FAR!
Denver was good to me. I met great people. I loved the lifestyle. I loved how outdoor-oriented and healthy it was. I loved roller-blading 10 miles a day from the parking lot of my complex along the Platte River and back. I loved waking in the morning, looking out my apartment window and seeing MOUNTAINS. I had only seen mountains ONCE a year before when Brian and I took a ski trip to Utah. I LOVED DENVER!! I loved my job. I started doing accounting and finance work. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. I worked hard and long hours at it, but I didn’t care because I LOVED IT! I was really happy, Happy with myself, with my job, with my confidence and my abilities for the first time in my life. I felt like everything that was going well for me in Denver was because of ME for a change. Turns out there were discount airlines flying between Denver and Chicago knocking down all airfare between the two cities. We saw each other about once a month - Friday night to Sunday afternoon. Those were the best Fridays and the WORST Sundays of the month. We had a blast. We skied, hiked, roller-bladed, and went to concerts and ballgames when Brian came to Denver. We went to clubs, restaurants, hockey games and downtown when I went to Chicago. But where was this going? How long do we keep doing this - spending a couple hundred bucks on parking, entertainment and airfare to see someone once a month? I started approaching the question with Brian. A little at first, then A LOT! The discussions didn’t get very far.
It all makes sense now: the immaturity of our relationship in college, the jealousy I needed to outgrow (and could only be tolerated by someone as laid back and confident as Brian), the reprioritization Brian did of his own life his 5th year of college, the 1-1/2 years in Kentucky so Brian and I could continue to see each other and develop our relationship and our long-distance skills (we were good at it), the job at Caterpillar which would eventually be one of the biggest blessings in our lives, the transfer to Denver – for my own growth and development and the implications it would soon have on Brian’s health. It was all working according to God’s purpose. We had no idea. We didn’t give Him the glory or the credit, and at the time, we really didn’t seek His guidance for these huge decisions in front of us. He loved us anyway, and worked all things together for His purpose in our lives.
Proposals and weddings