Thursday, February 14, 2008

Weekly Story Corner – Week 1

Disclaimer: Jessica is always begging me to post some of the stories that my kids harangue me to tell. The 2-9 year old crowd is not the most discerning audience. So please bear with me. In honor of Valentines Day I am starting a blog column that will run weekly with the Everyday Romneys because I know how much my wife will love it. My premier offering will cover how Jessica and I met and fell madly in love. This is not a tale for the faint of heart (Jessica’s fault – not mine), so I will continue this in Dickens episodic style over the next few weeks. This week will be part one of the too long tale. Enjoy, or skip – you decide.

The Journey of a Million Miles Begins with a Single Step

Chapter 1: First Steps

Mine was an arranged marriage. My family met Jessica before I even knew of her. They moved to her home town of Tracy, CA while I was away serving as a missionary. After returning home, they told me we would be perfect for each other. Jessica’s family and mine had broken bread (or more likely BBQ’d hamburgers) together as I was enjoying carp jerky, kidney paste or some other Russian delicacy. It would be another 14 months before I would even hear of her from them. Their meager descriptions piqued my interest. I wanted to know more of her.




They first showed her to me at the Tracy town 4th of July celebration, which is held on the football field at Tracy High School. This in and of itself was a bewildering festival of patriotism. I grew up in Hayward, (pronounced Haytown) CA. There were no large scale 4th of July celebrations in Haytown. Cinco De MayoYES, … 4th of JulyNO.



Pointing 50 yards away someone yelled, “Ryan, look over there! That’s Jessica Sherrill.”
“Over there” were only about 5 thousand former, current and future Tracy Bulldogs.
“Where?”
“There (pointing into the masses) walking away from us”
“Is she the one in the blue shirt?”
“No! She’s the one in Jeans”
(thanks, that narrowed it down to only about 3k people)
I soon had four family members and their friends trying to point her out to me all at the same time. Everyone saw her but me. Disappointed I resolved to meet her before she returned to BYU. I missed her by a day about a week later. My next 4-6 attempts to make contact were equally successful.

I was always informed of her in-town-ness a day too late. It became a comical discussion every time there was a purported Jessica sighting. As is usually the case in the Romney house, the humor got carried away, first she was just “Jessica”, then my “Girlfriend” then my “Wife” and before long it was the “Mother of My Children” all without ever meeting her.

Finally after Church one afternoon my brother walked in and said, “hey I saw your wife at church today,” I replied “Did you really see the mother of my children?” Past experience warned against delay so I picked up the phone and called the Sherrill’s who I was getting familiar with due to numerous near misses. This time she was actually home. I could hear that this call was causing no small stir among her family as well. So when she picked up the phone, my first words were, “If we are going to get married then we probably ought to go out on a date.” She was witty and casual and outdid the Jessica I had imagined for myself.




Friday came and I picked her up. This is the part of the story where I start cheering and hyperventilating for my kids when I retell seeing her for the very 1st time, because I can’t believe how gorgeous their mom was … and frankly still is. I took her to Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco. I was worried we might run out of conversation since it takes at least an hour to drive from Tracy to San Francisco (one way). As a kid my teacher had me share a desk with the shyest girl in the entire 4th grade (Kim Chang) because I talked too much to everyone else she tried to sit me with. After talking at Kim for more than a week straight my teacher segregated me to a single desk in the back of the class. Jessica makes me look like Kim Chang. So needless to say, my main concern was completely unfounded.



Memorable moments include:

  1. Jessica wasn’t quite ready when I arrived. She came out wearing two different shoes and asked me to pick which one I thought looked best.

  2. Swapping worst-date-ever stories.

  3. Me being dumb enough to tell her about a residual stomach issue from my time in the former USSR attempting to explain why I wasn’t starving but telling her I would be happy to take her anywhere she wanted to eat. She was so open and honest that I was sure she would tell me when she was hungry. I realize now that I created an awkward situation for her – sorry girlfriend. In my defense, I did bring up dinner multiple times. Knowing her like I do now, it would have been wiser share some fried food and chocolate over dinner. The resulting endorphins are always on my side.

  4. Finding some space-age scale at a Fisherman’s Warf novelty shop and being instructed to turn around so I couldn’t watch while Jessica gauged its accuracy.

  5. High intensity laughter and talking at all night.

From my perspective the date was perfect. From her perspective … well, I will cover that next week. I did tell my sister Heather the next day that I wanted to marry a girl just like Jessica. I was sold on Jessica from that very first date. Somehow, I played my cards just right with her. That stroke of luck will ever outweigh any bad juju that comes my way.

21 comments:

Lauren said...

That was positively wonderful! I am so glad you have begun the, "Weekly Story Corner".

It is just so sweet how you describe how beautiful she was and is! Awwwww, shucks!
So...did you hyperventilate as you typed this?

Now for a really pressing question. Do you think Kim Chang remembers you?
Just so you know, I burst out laughing when I read "Jessica makes me look like Kim Chang".
Ahhh, this made my day!

Lisa-Marie said...

Very well done. Very well done! Bravo! I've been writing our love story this week too and it is so much fun. My hubby is guest posting on my blog tonight and I'm so anxious to read what he has to say! You FABULOUS hubbies are the best! Jessica and I are lucky!

Meg said...

How sweet! I will have to use this as a hint hint for my husband.

Lorena said...

I'm hooked...if this were a real book, I would read it all in one night or skip to the end (but I guess I already know the ending.)

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

sniffle.... awww that was so sweet on Valentines day!! Thank you for sharing.

Christie said...

Awww, how sweet are you? Can't wait for the rest of the story. Hurry up!

Penny said...

Well, how sweet was that. What a wonderful gift to give your wife for Valentines Day. But we all can't wait a whole week for the next installment. Hey, you need to talk to Todd about this awesome idea...

gab said...

Real love stories are way better than fiction. Aren't you glad you're getting this all down for the kids? They will eat it up.

Tammy said...

adorable story! Ryan is so cute, I love it. I remember that summer and Jessica's parents kept harrassing her to meet this "Ryan" and she was annoyed because she assumed it would be a typical parent set up, lame guy, lame date, boring, etc. But once she met him I was shocked at how quickly they were engaged and married....at the time, I was scared to death for her because the two of them moved so quickly! Clearly, they were a match made in heaven and this was a perfect set up by both parents!!!

Paige said...

Tammy is right, we were worried you'd be lame. You aren't lame.

Bridget said...

Good job. You get an A+ in the Valentine's Day -husband- blog -writing division.

crystal said...

Ryan, are you seriously from Hayward? Mike's grandmother lived her entire adult married life in Hayward. Hmmmmm....Louise Hoybjerg ring a bell?

Ok. Now I'll go read the rest of this whimsical post. Good storytelling. Better than The Princess Bride.

andrea said...

i'm thinking of having you write my hook-up story as well. you're that good. (and our story is that boring).

congrats on a great catch. she beats the story i got in my email today about the 1000 lb. oregon sturgeon. i saw a picture, it was real. but jessica is way better.

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

Yay! I wanted to clap when it was over because that is the sweetest story ever! I love how you mention your "residual stomach issue". TOO FUNNY!!! So, is this a weekly thing on THIS blog or are you creating your OWN blog? Because I'm there either way.

Erin said...

Awwww...as usual your real-life love story makes me want to hug my husband...and then pinch him on the back of his arm for not posting on our blog--ever! ;)

TexasTwinsTwice said...

so sweet! It's obvious you guys are perfect for each other. You're both definitely witty/funny story tellers too! =)

Ilene said...

Prearranged marriages are best. I plan on selling my sons on that idea. Your post will be used to back up my argument.

Carie said...

Such a great idea . . . Can't wait for next week

julie said...

I love this! What a great story to have in writing. I will look forward to next weeks addi

This should be mandatory for all husbands...

Celia Fae said...

I can't wait for the part about your wedding day. It's my favorite.

Adrianne said...

I'm looking forward to the chapter on how you had to juggle Jessica's friends, who might have been more over-protective than her family...