Twenty Years Later

Twenty years ago today, I took a photo just seconds before one of the most important moments of my life.

I was in Lubbock, Texas, and I was with a group of students I didn’t really know out on a service project. After being scattered for an hour or so, we were scheduled to meet up at a certain time on a certain street corner. Some of us returned sooner than others, and while we waited for the rest of the group, I took a candid photo of those who were milling around.

After I took the shot, I walked up and introduced myself to two of the girls from our group who were sitting on the curb. As it turned out, they were both named Katie. And, as it turned out, one of those Katies became my wife.

The two of us hit it off right away and we stuck close to each other the rest of the day. After returning to the apartments where we were all staying, a group of us walked to CiCi’s Pizza. Katie and I talked, she joked, and I laughed.

We walked from CiCi’s all the way to the Sunset church building for Wednesday night Bible class. We talked, I joked, she laughed.

After Bible study, a group of us headed to Daybreak Coffee on 19th Street and we kept talking, we kept joking, and we kept laughing. I was so struck by her love for God, her sincere faith, and her wonderful sense of humor. I was smitten.

The next day, everyone was headed home. (It’s crazy to think that I very nearly missed meeting her at all.) We exchanged our email addresses and home phone numbers. We both traveled all the way to Texas to learn we only lived a couple hours apart from each other on the west coast.

I thought we had said our goodbyes, but we both ended up at the airport at the same time and, as luck would have it, her flight was delayed. We sat in the airport and talked some more. And joked some more. And we laughed a lot. A month later, I took that Katie to prom with me. Four years after that, I married that Katie.

Unfortunately, I lost that photo in a hard drive mishap a little over a year later. The archivist in me has never quite gotten over the loss. But the real magic that day was what came in the seconds and hours after that photo was taken. I will cherish those memories for always.

Last night while the two of us were lying in bed, we reminisced together about that life-changing day. We should have been sleeping, but it was too much fun remembering that day, the people we met that week, and how we never could have imagined where all that would eventually lead. Twenty years later, we were doing the same thing we always have: talking about life, making jokes, and laughing out loud. I’m still smitten.

And I do still try to take her picture every now and then too.

Katie's high school graduation, two months after we first met
Katie's high school graduation, two months after we first met
The two of us this January, 238 months after we first met
The two of us this January, 238 months after we first met