Act 1, Scene 2: Cindy
Act 2, Scene 1: A Chance Meeting
Act 2, Scene 2: Summer of Love
Act 2, Scene 3: "Tuesday's" Night
Act 2, Scene 4: Reunion
Act 3, Scene 1: The Campbell Connection
Act 3, Scene 2: "God Bless the Broken Road..."
Act 3, Scene 3: "...That Led Me Straight To You"
A Love Story in Three Acts: Finale
What happened to all?
I talked to Cindy not too long ago... I actually got in touch with her, just to catch up, mostly because I wanted to know what to say about her in this posting. She's living in South Alabama still, out of the Air Force, and dating a guy named Mike who lives in Ohio. She's been to several Duran Duran concerts, which was her favorite band (I do remember that from when we dated) and is happily in her early-30s. I don't expect there'll be much more contact between the two of us.
As for Amy Wible, she got married. When I said that her going-away party was the last time I'd seen her, I wasn't trying to be poetic or melodramatic, I was being serious. I really haven't seen her in going on five years now.
I've heard from her a few times over the years, though I can count them on one hand, and they were all on email. She got married in the fall of 2005, and lives in Mississippi where she and her husband both work at a church. I'll be honest with you... when I read that she had married, it made my heart smile. Though the book had been closed on my relationship with Amy for years, the book has now been picked up and put onto the shelf... it had come full circle somehow, and was now finished. What started as friends via the 'net turned into a five year love for me, and five years later, I'm married to the love of my life, and she to hers.
I told her I was going to do this column, so it'll be interesting to see if she reads it. God used her to have a major impact on my life and who I am as a person.
As for the love of my life, it all came together in the early winter of 2002. She said from the time I revealed my interests in her, around September 2002 to the time I finally committed, I waffled a bit. I don't doubt it... but I knew what was going to happen.
And it did. On February 3rd, 2003, I took a job with Starbucks, and began training at the Mtn. Brook location. I also did some work at the Crestline store, and at the Galleria (will never do that again) before I helped to open the Vestavia location, which was the first drive-thru store in Alabama.
By early summer, I had worked to pay off a couple of credit cards and was starting to save money for the "ring". I had planned on asking Steph the big question in early July, but the ring didn't work out like I wanted to. Tommy proposed to Amy that same weekend, so it was good to let them have all the attention.
I went to visit her parents, and asked them both if I could take their daughter's hand in marriage... the same family that Steph said probably wouldn't like me just smiled and said "Welcome to the family."
So, on a particular Saturday in late July, Steph came in from Atlanta, GA, where she still lived... she almost didn't come that weekend, but I convinced Jennifer Pritchett (who also was living in Atlanta) to come back to B'ham, so Steph would have someone to ride with. I told Stephanie to be ready by 11am on Saturday, because we were having a BBQ lunch with Jon Paepcke & his lovely wife Jennifer (who just became a mom... congrats!) It was entirely plausible, having already made, and then broken, plans with Jon & Jenn several times before this.
As Stephanie is coming down the steps of her parents house, she glances out of the glass that frame the from door... and instead of seeing me, she sees Michael Nipp peering into the house. She opens the door and sees both Michael and Sean Hall there, telling her I'm not coming, but that she is to come with them. Before she leaves, her sister Angie is there shoving a basket and a camera into her hands. She gets into Sean's minivan, where she is treated to sparking apple cider, and is given a notecard. The note card contains the first line of The Proclaimer's song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" and a greeting.
From there, she began being taxied from one place to another, each a different place that we frequented or that had special meaning to us...
- Michael & Sean took her to the Vestavia Rave Theater, where she met Tom Johnson & Jill Berthon (now Johnson). Tom & Jill gave her another note card that continued the song (as all of them would) and the letter (as all of them would.) They also gave her a certificate guaranteeing that I would take Steph to see the new Freaky Friday.
- Tom & Jill took her to the Alabama Theatre, where she met Tommy McLeod and Amy Vos (now McLeod), who gave her a copy of "Singing in the Rain" on dvd... I wanted "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", a movie we had seen there recently, but I couldn't find a good copy of it. Incidentally, Amy told me later that Steph had commented how she didn't know when I would propose, and how there wasn't any way it would be soon. Amy just smiled.
- Tommy & Amy took Steph back to Vestavia, to Bath Junkie, where she worked part time. There she met Katy Scott (now Sexton) and Ashley O'Neal (now Nipp), and the owner, Stephanie Cedillo (now Cedillo). She got a little Bath Junkie gift basket.
By the way, the entire time I'm at the Deuce. After each person finished, they came back to the Deuce to hang out... Michael even cleaned the bathroom. Well, you couldn't say it was a deep clean, but he tried. He wiped, anyway.
The whole time, I'm sitting patiently. Each "duo" would call our Deuce Command Center, with Ty Coffey at the helm, and report that they had picked her up and were on their way to their next stop... they would say stuff like "the vanilla is in the cream pie" and "8-ball is in the corner pocket" and "the rabbit chose the blue pill", all letting us know everything was going swimmingly. They would all report later that when Steph saw the next duo, she would claim excitedly "oh, are you my next leg?"
And bear in mind, she had no idea I was proposing until late, late in the day. Anyway...
- Katy and Ashley drove her down Lorna Road to the Tropical Smoothie, where she met The Wookiee for lunch. He gave her two Tropical Smoothie cards for free lunch, which Steph commented "He must really love me to give these up." She also thought it was strange that Wookiee wouldn't make eye contact with her the entire lunch (he would tell me later that it was because he was so nervous he might say let something slip)
- The Wookiee then drove Steph to Sybil Johnson's house, where she was given a Disney ornament, and met up with Daniel Powell and his girlfriend, soon fiance then wife Jennifer.
- Daniel & Jennifer took her to the Disney Store in the Galleria, where she met Drew Morris and Tammy McLeod (who just got married... not to Drew, though). I had gone earlier that day and purchased The Lion King on dvd. The cast members at Disney were all excited to help, so they held the prize until Drew & Tammy got there.
- She left with Drew and Tammy, and went to Common Ground, the college and career ministry of Valleydale Baptist's old campus, to meet with Tad Roose & Shawn Sharp, who gave her a CD I had made full of fun songs.
- Tad and Shawn took her to Ken & Lynn Nipp's home (parents of Michael) where she met up with Stephanie Nipp (now Rector) and Sarah Hasha. They gave her a 50s and 60s CD collection I had made (18 CDs, over 300 songs!)
- Steph and Sarah drove her to the Summit, up to April Cornell (which is now closed) where I had earlier made arrangements for her gift. A hat stand for one of her many fashionable hats she likes to wear. I had talked to Lee, who apparently just luuuved Justin Glenn. Justin was there with his girlfriend Jennifer Pritchett (now Glenn) to meet Steph.
- Justin & Jennifer took her across town to the home of Darryl and SuLyn Wine, our Sunday Scho... er, Life Connection teachers at the time. She met with SuLyn and Leisha, wife of Sean Hall, who took her to the bedroom and prayed with her. It was at this time that Stephanie began to suspect something out of the ordinary. Then they drove her to Books-a-Million in Hoover to meet Earl Salser.
- Dr. Earl gave her a copy of Vicki Thompson's "Nerd in Shining Armor", a book that she had joked about possibly reading a few weeks prior. (She actually did read it, like, two months ago). Earl took her to Starbucks in Vestavia, where she met Ty.
- The Good Reverend Ty Coffey presented her with a Starbucks gift card (one that she just told me she still has never used) and then brought her back to The Deuce.
Okay, so everyone, with the exception of Katy Scott, came back to the Deuce and was there when she walked in. She came in, saw everyone and was a little surprised. Then, some people in the room (I know Steph Nipp, Lynn Nipp and Sarah Hasha took part) read the lines to the song "After All", which described our relationship to a tee. And I came out, smiled, got on one knee and said "Stephanie... I'm not asking you to be my wife. I'm asking you for the honor of being your husband. Will you mar..."
"YEEEESS!!!!" she screamed, before I could finish. Everyone cheered, Wookiee got teary eyed, there were hugs all around, and Lori Smith had arranged for all of us to have dinner at Ruby Tuesday's down the road (it was the only place we could find seats for 20 people).
So, there were about 27 or so people involved in this, and everything worked perfectly... I've often said it was probably because everyone had the mindset of "If this is getting screwed up, its NOT going to be my fault".
By the way, there is a framed collage of the day's journey in our apartment, if you ever want to see it.
And on February 28th, 2004, with Ty Coffey officiating his first wedding, with Tyler Campbell, Jason Demastus and Justin Glenn ushering, Michael Nipp, Shawn Sharp, Tad Roose, Tom Johnson and Tommy McLeod as groomsman, with Meredith Quintana, Jenn Pritchett, Ashley O'Neal and Delisa Smith as bridesmaids, with The Wookiee as my best man, with Susie as the Maid of Honor and her sister Angie as the Matron of Honor, I said my vows with Stephanie Campbell.
I am truly blessed and honored to be married to the love of my life and my best friend in the whole wide world, in a marraige that I don't think would have worked with Cindy, Amy Wible or anyone else for that matter. God truly knows what He's doing in matters of the heart.
Oh, and we had the coolest weddding program I've ever seen. I'm just sayin.
And that's my love story in three acts. Stephanie has said I missed a few parts here and there, but nothing important enough to the story for me to change it...
Thanks for indulging me.