Before I can tell you how I surprised My Man, I must give you some background.
My Man and I "met" in May 2005. That is to say, we found out about each other via our parents who had been approached by a pastor friend who thought that maybe, just maybe, we should meet. Our parents asked us if we would like to email and get to know each other. My Man said, "Sure, why not?" I said, "No way!" I was not interested in writing to a strange guy clear across the country. It was too weird. It was kind of like online dating and kind of like being set up by my parents. I couldn't wrap my brain around it and I was NOT INTERESTED. My Pops wisely said, "Think and pray about it for a day or so. You don't have to do it if you don't want to ... but I think it would be a good idea." I did think and pray about it but ultimately the only reason I agreed to do it was because Pops thought it would be a good idea. We started emailing at the end of May. It was very, very weird to me but I will admit that when Pops initially told me about My Man I thought in my heart, "this is probably The One."
We emailed for a few weeks and then My Man asked Pops for permission to call me. Once we started talking on the phone we talked every.single.night. without fail. In August of 2005 My Man and SIL3 flew out to Washington for a week so we could meet in person. That was also very, very weird. The first three days were spent figuring out how to actually be around each other. It's one thing to talk on the phone but it's another thing to spend time in the same vicinity! It didn't take My Man long to tell me that he loved me. I knew he had wanted to say it for a long time but I hinted that I preferred to hear it in person as opposed to over the phone. When he went home to New Jersey he told his parents that he was sure I was the girl for him, and we were officially "courting."
Can you guess how I realized I was in love? I never had been before. I lost about ten pounds over that summer and my clothes were falling off of me. I lamented to my mom, "I don't know what's wrong with me! I have no appetite and I'm losing weight. What's going on?" She answered, "Well, that's what happens when you're in love." Isn't that funny? It was true but I didn't want to admit it to myself and had to have someone else point it out to me. :) I think more than anything I wanted to be positive that My Man was The One God had for me before I gave my heart away.
In October I flew to the East Coast to visit. My Man and his parents met me at the airport and a few hours later I had a diamond ring on my finger. We had known each other for five months and had spent a total of nine days together when we got engaged. I spent a week in Jersey then and another week right after Christmas. My Man planned to come to Washington for a weekend in March and our wedding was set for April 22, 2006. But January to March was a long time to go without seeing each other so I decided that I would surprise him with a visit in February!
MIL and I conferred secretly and made our plans. I bought a ticket to Philadelphia for the Friday before Valentine's Day (which was the following Tuesday) and my return flight was on Monday. My flight out of Seattle left early in the morning which presented a major problem: My Man and I talked on the phone several times a day. Sometimes he called me on his way to work, around 4:45 a.m. for me (three-hour time difference.) We always talked at 7:00 every morning which was My Man's morning break at work. We talked at noon which was my lunch break and his afternoon break. We talked every night around 8 pm and we texted each other throughout the day. At 7 a.m. I would be on the plane with my phone turned off. If he couldn't get through on my cell phone he would call my house looking for me. If no one answered he would worry. So I came up with an elaborate plan. While I was on the phone with him on Thursday night my BFF called me and left me a voice mail. I told him she was calling but that I would call her back later. According to plan the message she left me said, "I need to talk to you and will call you tomorrow morning at 7:00." According to plan I didn't listen to her voice mail until after hanging up with My Man. The next morning I was up and getting ready to leave at 4 a.m. so I called My Man and said, acting sleepy like I just woke up, "BFF is going to call me at 7 so we can't talk on your break so I thought I would call you now." Then I made a fatal error. I said, "If your break isn't over when I finish talking to her I will try to call you." I never, never, never should have said that, as you will see.
My travels went smoothly and I arrived in Philadelphia a little bit before 3 p.m. This was where my carefully-wrought plans began to go awry. Because My Man had his afternoon break at 3:00, I figured I could call him from the airport as if I were on my lunch break as usual. However, when I turned my cell phone on I had numerous voice mails and multiple text messages. Most of them were from My Man. They ranged from "Hi, I'm thinking of you," to "I miss you," to "Where are you?" to "What is going on? Why can't I reach you? Why don't you call/text me back?" One of the voice mails was from my sister Vee who said that My Man had been calling everywhere trying to find me, my cell phone, my house, my work! My coworkers were in on the surprise. I truly thought he wouldn't call there looking for me but asked them to cover for me just in case he did. After listening to all the voice mails and reading the texts I called my office manager who said that every time he called (which was multiple times) they made up another reason why I wasn't available to talk on the phone. I began to feel sick. I never intended it to go this far! I hadn't wanted anyone to actually have to lie for me. I didn't want to make him mad! And oh my, he was very mad.
MIL and FIL met me at the airport. I told MIL what was going on and she saw the funny side of it, and then I began to as well. I didn't dare call My Man from the airport because he would hear all the background noise. I sent him a text message that said something like this, "I'm so sorry I haven't been able to get back to you." This was true. I couldn't use my phone on the airplane! "I can't call you right now but I will explain everything when we talk." His response was brief and to the point, "I am not happy. At all." By then I was really seeing the funny side of it. MIL and FIL took me straight to My Man's work. BIL1 worked there as well and was also in on the surprise. He sneaked me into the computer server room and then asked My Man to get something out of that room for him.
I will never forget that moment when he walked into the room, those few seconds before he saw me. His whole body just radiated irritation. His head bent and his face was just plain angry! He was so mad that I had been ignoring him all day ... or so he thought. Then he realized someone was in the room and he looked up at me. His face suddenly cleared, his arms dropped to his sides, he said "Oh!" and turned around and walked right back out of the room! Of course he came right back in and we made up. :) It was the best surprise EVER. It's one of my favorite memories, him walking into that room.
We had a great weekend. We made our first annual trip to the Philly Auto Show. We had a huge snowfall which actually caused church to be canceled Sunday morning but melted in time for me to get home on Monday. The best part, though, was that MIL and SIL1 planned a surprise bridal shower for me, that Friday night -- that meant the entire church and several relatives knew I was coming and no one let it slip to My Man! I thought that was amazing. It certainly was a weekend to remember. It taught me a lesson, too. Sir Walter Scott said, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!" I don't think I'll ever go to such lengths to surprise someone again!