In a few weeks Ben and I will celebrate our two year anniversary. I love my husband so much more now than when I married him and I loved him a lot then. The time has flown by and it seems like just yesterday I got the call that would change my life forever for the better.
The few years before I met Ben were crazy to say the least. I was in college and while I enjoyed the experience I definitely took a couple of turns that led me in the wrong direction from where God probably wanted me to go. The year before I met Ben was the worst year of my life so far mainly due to poor decisions that I made and finally having to face up to the consequences of those decisions. I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 years (on and off) and it was a nasty brutal breakup, I was living at my dads house, still in school because I couldn't pass Chemistry, and things just seemed to get worse as the year went by. I finally graduated in May (a year late) and was excited to begin teaching at a school near Orlando and start a new life for myself down there. Unfortunately (or fortunately now that I look back) some trouble that I had gotten into during college caught up to me and prevented me from being able to take the job. So here I am, late July, no job, no place to live (well I lived at my dad’s but who wants to live with their parents at 23), only a handful of friends and feeling about as hopeless as a girl could feel. Then as if by magic (or God’s perfect timing) a friend of mine who was supposed to teach agriscience at Newberry High School wound up taking a job at her old high school because her old ag teacher took a job at UF. This moving around left an opening for an ag teacher and I got the job. Having a job meant I was able to move out of my parent’s house and finally live on my own. I loved teaching ag and working with the students and put my heart and soul into that job. By this point I was over the break up and ready to move on. I had done a ton of soul searching and praying over the past few months and was trusting God to move me in a path of his choosing. I felt like I was finally back on the right track and it felt so much better to be a person that did the right thing rather than the wrong one. I had some sweet friends that allowed me to hang out with them and kept me out of trouble but there were no real love prospects in my life so one night in October I wrote out a list of all of the qualities that I would want in my “dream man” Some qualities were shallow and silly – he had to be handsome, he had to like the Gators, he had to be involved in agriculture somehow (preferably beef cattle) – yes I actually wrote that down – and some of the qualities were serious – honesty, good manners, gentleman, good family, Christian, kind, friendly. After making the list I prayed to God and asked him to please bring me a man with these qualities. After praying I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about dating I was just going to live my life and let God do the work.
During this time I hung out up at the golf course a lot for some reason. My dad lived out there and it was something to do. A couple of times while up getting something to eat from the restaurant I ran into a man that I didn't know but who played golf with dad. His name was Hank and apparently my dad had told him about me because Hank proceeded to tell me that he had a guy that I needed to meet. Now keep in mind that I did not know Hank from Adam’s housecat so it was a little unnerving to say the least to have a complete stranger trying to set me up. I made a joke of it and got out of there as quickly as possible not thinking anything else of it.
Fast forward to December. The Gators won the SEC Championship, I had survived my first semester of teaching, and Christmas was swiftly approaching. It was maybe the week before we were supposed to get out for the winter break and Mrs.. Shaw, a wonderful woman that I worked with at NHS and actually knew growing up, caught me in the copy room and told me that a guy had asked her about that ag teacher from Newberry (my jaw dropped to the floor). I was sooo shocked and pumped her for as much info as I could about this mysterious man who somehow knew me. He was from Trenton (who the heck do I know in Trenton I thought), he sold insurance for Farm Bureau (I like Farm Bureau) and she told him that I was a great girl (thanks for talking me up Mrs.. Shaw). As you can imagine my mind was a whirlwind that day. I couldn't imagine who would want to know about me and why they were wanting to find anything out. I called my mom after school and told her about the mystery guy….where he worked….what his name was…and out of nowhere she replies with oh my goodness I work with his boss’s daughter (another jaw drop). Yay! I thought, my mom is on the case she should be a detective because she can always find the pertinent info.
So, about a week goes by, I find out that he has blond hair and blue eyes and is taller than me (not hard to do but still a check), he comes from a great family that has lived in Trenton a long time (check) he drives a nice truck (does it make me really country that this quality was a check in my book). I knew that my number had been given to him but the semester ended, Christmas was approaching and alas…no phone call. The Saturday after school got out I went to The Fresh Market (it had just recently opened and I was obsessed with the freshness of it) to buy a few things (mainly I got a Christmas tree and some pine leaves to make my house smell festive). Leaving the parking lot on my way home my phone rang and a number I didn’t know came up on the caller ID. Normally, I don't answer numbers I don't know but I guess I was feeling cheery that day because of the time of year so I clicked the answer button and said Hello.
When I think back on this part I am always reminded of that line from “A Night Before Christmas” that goes “when what to their wondering eyes did appear but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer” except in my case it goes “when what to her wondering ears did she hear then a slow southern drawl that sounded so….awesome”
“Hello” I said and the person on the other end replied (although the written word cannot describe how amazing Ben’s voice sounded) “Hello Paige this is Ben Colson”…to be continued