August 1, 2002.
It was a typical summer day. I’d just turned 17 and was working at Wal*Mart as a cashier, it was a good job for a high school kid. That week was the Fair, which in Wyoming is a huge deal, so not many people were shopping so I was being a good girl and standing in front of my register waiting for customers. Bored, I did one of my favorite things, people watching. I spotted a really cute, really tall guy walking through the store. He disappeared from my sight and I didn’t think much of it till I saw him heading towards me a few minutes later to check out. He was buying a few random things, including a Sponge Bob calendar. I decided to chat with him since he was cute and I was bored. He told me he was excited because he was going out of town. I asked where he was heading and he told me he was going to a Christian camp in Arizona. A bell went off in my head–a cute Christian guy?! Up to this point I’d heard that they were rumored to exist but had never seen one for myself! I casually commented where the Christian camp I went to was and we chatted until I finished ringing him up. Then he smiled, said, “Thanks! You’re my hero.” and walked away. He was the only guy who came through my line who seemed interested in me but didn’t hit on me at all. For some reason that really impressed me.
That night I went to the fair with an friend I’d known since elementary school but hadn’t hung out with in a very long time. We ended up hanging out with some guys who she knew. I was not impressed with them at all. They kept making comments about my butt and just being obnoxious. In the midst of all of that–there he was! I told her about him as a way to get away from the other guys and we casually followed him around for a little bit, but he was being completely oblivious. After a few minutes I felt stupid, he probably didn’t even remember me! So we stopped.
About 30 minutes later I looked up and saw him walking towards me, right towards me, smiling. “Hey,” he said, “I know you!” He was hanging out with his little brother so introduced me to him and we ended up hanging out all night.
Two things impressed me about him that night. First, he didn’t once try to ditch his younger brother, although it was obvious he was interested in me, he talked to him all the time and made sure he was having fun. The other thing was when me and my friend went on a ride I asked if I could set my purse by him on the ground. When we got off he was wearing it. LoL! He told me, “I didn’t want it on the ground getting dirty”. When the night ended I did something I’d never done before-I offered to give him my phone number. I knew I couldn’t lose this guy!
We had one “date” date and after that we were constantly together. Before I’d even known him a month I knew I wanted to spend forever with him. However, when you fall in love when you’re 17 it means you’ll have to wait!!! He was my first love, my first kiss, my first everything! No one thought we’d make it, at the time I was so mad but looking back, who believes a 17 year old that their high school boyfriend is the man they’ll marry?
He bought me a promise ring for my high school graduation. I knew our life was perfect and I was the luckiest girl in the whole world.
Then, suddenly, everything fell apart.
We went from never disagreeing once to fighting constantly. We wanted such different things in our lives. I wanted to get married, stay in Wyoming forever and have a family. He wanted to join the military and move around for the rest of his life. I discovered we had very different opinions on so many different things. Underneath it all we still were desperately in love so we stayed together, even though we were making each other miserable. I was a wreck, I was unhappy when we were together and fighting, I was unbearably miserable when I wasn’t with him. We continued this for a year when we finally reached the breaking point. While we were fighting on the phone in the middle of a bad fight he told me it was over. He had already enlisted in the Coast Guard and was heading to boot camp in just a few weeks. I told him he was just saying that because he was upset, but that I knew we had to do something. We wouldn’t be able to talk while he was at boot camp, so I told him we could just really think about us during it and come to a decision during that time. He agreed.
I thought a lot about everything, I prayed, I asked for advice from everyone. I came to the point where I decided that if we were both making each other miserable it just wasn’t worth it. He wouldn’t be in Wyoming anymore, and it was over.
Then I got his first letter from boot camp.
It was everything I’d ever loved about him. I instantly caved. Ok, we won’t break up, I thought, but we’ll just slow things down.
Then I got his second letter.
Ok, I thought, we’ll be what we were before, but we won’t get married or anything rash like that for a long time.
Then I went to his graduation.
While he was on leave back home he called me up and said, “So do you think your parents will let us get married in December” (note: it was currently September) “or do we have to wait till you graduate college in May?”
Guess what I said?
“I think we better wait till May.”
June 10, 2005 at the age of 19 I became Mrs. Elliott. Moved from the house I’d lived in since I was born in Wyoming to Washington DC where I didn’t know a soul but my Coastie husband. And started my life as a wife and military spouse.
It’s been a wild ride! 7 years from when we met we’ve been married for 4 years, have one beautiful daughter, moved 4 times, and are more in love than ever!