"I did not want a boyfriend when I met him. I had so much that I wanted to do and see and experience. However, there was no walking away from Jacob; I thought he walked right out of a romantic comedy and into my life. I told him on our first date that I was not on the market for something serious. His response?
‘I understand. But I want you to know that I really like you and I think you are beautiful. I want to take you out again.’
So he did-- the next night, and the next night, and the next night.
We had been dating for about a week and a half when I met up with him after class, took him out for hot chocolate and sat across the table with him at Hogi Yogi to explain to him just why I could not have a boyfriend at the moment.
‘I understand,’ he said. ‘Would you still like to meet up on Friday and hang out?’
Two nights later as he dropped me off at the doorstep of Snowview #2 and gave me a goodnight hug, he whispered, ‘I know you don’t want a serious relationship. Would I scare you off if I kissed you goodnight?’
Before I could answer the affirmative, he took my face in one hand, pulled me in for one soft, gentle kiss, turned around and walked away. Jacob later confessed that he thought he blew it in that moment-- that he would never hear from me again. Little did he know that I walked into my apartment, shut the door, and promptly slid all the way down the back of it until I landed on the floor while my roommates looked on in confusion.
‘He kissed me’ was the only explanation I could give. They all agreed-- I was toast.
Most women have an idea of how courtship ought to play out and what a gentleman should do to sweep them off their feet. I fell oh so perfectly into that category. Years of love songs, fairy tales, musicals and romantic comedies had filled me up with expectations. I had a coworker who said, ‘We just have this idea of how a man is supposed to act. Funny thing is that men never act that way. Dammit.”
But Jacob did. He met my expectations-- even the non realistic romantic musings of my fairly inexperienced nineteen year old mind.
The first few months were full of chats in front of the fire, flowers delivered to my house, silly notes left in my backpack and earfuls of sweet talk. I remember walking through a snowy Rexburg and Jacob stopping to write ‘Jake + Jennifer’ in the snow. When I started stressing out about school, he would calm me down and when I got anxious about roommates or family issues, he would laugh it away with me. However, although we were serious and dating exclusively, there was no talk of love or marriage or future--that was strictly taboo.
During this semester of twitterpation, I had the best roommates ever, with whom I am still very close. One evening the four of us sat around discussing those subjects that were taboo with Jacob and me. We were trying to decide who was going to be the first one of us to bite the dust and tie the knot.
‘All I know is I DON’T want to be the last one!’ Grace kept repeating over and over. She had a boyfriend that had just left on a mission.
‘I’m probably never getting married,’ was Laural’s thought. Katie thought she was going to be an old crazy cat woman.
When I announced that I was definitely going to be the last one to get married, they all threw pillows at me. Each one of them was convinced that I would be married first. Even in the newest stages of dating, something special surrounded my relationship with Jacob and they could see it. I knew it too, even if I tried to deny it then. I had even written in my journal after only a month with Jake, ‘There is something different about this one. It feels real this time. I am going to keep him in my life for a long time.’
I was right, though. Grace was the first to be married (although it wasn’t to her missionary) and Katie followed the next week. Laural lasted longer, but she too got hitched while I was still serving a mission. Even though I was already dating my future husband and none of them had even met theirs, I held out the longest.
The thing was I really was not ready for commitment-- and I was terrified of marriage. To me it seemed like I had life still to live and in my eyes, life ended when marriage started. It all seemed so dull and adult to me-- I still wanted to play. On top of that, I was stubborn. I did not want to be that mormon girl who got married at nineteen and had three babies by the time she was twenty two, who never finished her degree and never did anything with her life. Jacob knew how I felt-- I was very vocal about my feelings and he seemed to respect them. The subject was never broached.
Some memories are easier to relive than others. I can talk about the past without getting too emotional-- it is what it is and there is nothing that I can do to change it. For the most part, I feel very neutral toward our past life together. I laugh at the funny stories, I remember with fondness the good times and I sigh at the rough patches we went through. But there are some stories and some memories that cut deeper-- that still can bring tears to my eyes and still hurt to think about.
For example, I wonder if I will ever be able to remember, without feeling like my heart will explode in pain, a June night in 2012 when I felt like I was drowning in life. Nothing seemed to be going right and I was terrified of what the future would bring. I lay in bed with the emotions tucked down tight deep inside me, staring at Jacob’s back. Then he turned around, looked deep into my eyes, did not ask what I was thinking or feeling, but wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in so that my head was resting on his chest. I felt him sigh and he whispered, ‘My little wife.’ I had no idea what the coming months would bring, but in that moment I belonged there in his arms as his wife.
Our first Christmas gift exchange (in 2004) also brings tears to my eyes, even though it was much more light hearted. Part of his Christmas present (and Crystal’s present to Hugh) was a dinner that we put together for them. We decorated Crystal’s apartment with snowflakes and twinkle lights and made tomato basil soup and salad, which was quite an accomplishment as neither of us had ever really cooked before. After dinner, we all gave out our presents.
Jacob’s present to me was last. Before he handed me my present, he said, ‘Crystal, get the camera ready. You will want pictures of this.’ Confused, but intrigued, I expected him to hand me a wrapped box. Instead, he faced me and began a speech, ‘Jennifer, I know we haven’t been dating for very long, but you are like no other person that I have ever met before. I am happy when I am with you and when I am not with you, all I want to do is to find a way to be close to you again.’ About here in his speech I realized that this sounded like a proposal and I thought, ‘It can’t be! He hasn’t even said ‘i love you’ yet!’
Jacob pulled a jewelry box out of his pocket and got down on one knee in front of my chair. My whole body literally started recoiling from him and I muttered like a broken record, ‘I’m going to punch you. I really want to punch you. I am just going to sock you in the face.’ Crystal captured a great shot with Jake on his knee, box in hand and a huge grin on his face, while I am leaning as far away from him as possible and gripping the edges of my chair.
‘I have a question to ask you,’ he continued, ignoring my protests. ‘Will you accept this locket from me?’ Then I did smack him in the shoulder for teasing me-- and I accepted the locket. It is beautiful-- still laying in the back corner of a drawer in my jewelry box with two pictures inside, one of Jacob and one of the two of us together. Inscribed on the back are the words ‘Jennifer and Jacob.’
But the significance and emotion of this moment lies not in the laughs at his prank or even the beauty of his actual present. Rather, even as I contemplated punching his lights out as he “proposed,” I also thought ‘What am I going to say?’ My desires to get married hadn’t changed any as I had dated him. And yet in that absolutely horrifying moment of realization that I was going to have to say ‘No,' I also realized that I did not want to say no to the man in front of me. I was still far from being ready to marry him-- I was not even sure that I loved him yet-- but for the first time the idea seriously entered my head. To this day, I believe that even though I didn’t admit it to myself, it was in that evening when I first thought that I was going to end up married to Jacob one day."