A few months prior to a Christmas banquet during my freshman year of college (thirteen years ago...gulp), I met this cute, curly read-headed girl.  We had mutual friends and went to the same church.  At that Christmas banquet, they were offering free dancing lessons in between dinner and the dancing.  When it came time to chose a partner for the lessons, the girl I really hoped to dance with was taken, so I glanced across at the cute red-head and asked her if she wanted to dance.  She obliged.  Little did I know that the guy she had hoped to dance with was also taken!  We hit the dance floor, learned to tango (well, sort of), and had a blast the rest of the evening pretending to know how to ballroom dance.  Throughout the next few weeks, we spent more time together and got to know each other a little better. Over time, I began feeling as though it was time to step it up a bit with this red head and Valentine's Day was rapidly approaching.  I didn't have a lot of experience in the romance department.  My three or four short-lived relationships I had throughout the school years had come about either through the quintessential passing of the note or the awkward, "will you go with me?".  This was college and I knew that stuff wouldn't work.  So I devised a plan.

I did what any well-intentioned boy would do - I asked her out for Valentine's Day and told her we were going to the Monster Truck Rally with some friends.  I pretended to be so excited about it (which wasn't difficult because what 18-year-old man doesn't love a monster truck show?) and she did a good job of pretending to think it was a fun idea.  Let me just stop here and say that this was a risky move as I later found out as she was considering calling things off once I announced our plan.  All along, however, I had no real intention of going to the rally.  Instead, I was creating a master plan that was sure to win her heart - at least it was an impressive plan for a couple of broke college freshmen who didn't have cars!

The evening of Valentine's Day arrived.  I strolled up to the red-head's dorm room.  On our way out, I "accidentally" left my jacket on the couch (comes in to play later).  We stopped by our friend's room a few floors down to borrow earplugs for the monster truck show.  We headed back to my dorm to meet our friends.  Meanwhile, the friends who lent us the earplugs were feverishly setting up an indoor picnic in the red-head's dorm room with all of the supplies I had dropped off earlier in the day.  When we got back to my dorm, I "realized" that I had left my jacket back in her room with the tickets to the show.  This, too, was risky, because if you know me, you know that I obsess over things like having tickets and such and you know that this would never happen in real life.  Thankfully, the red head didn't know me that well then and she just laughed and walked with me back to her dorm (probably hoping this might mean we'd miss our ride to the show).  We got back to her room and BAM!  There was a picnic spread across the floor of her room waiting just for us.  We dined on croissants, fruit, and some other things that I can't quite remember.  Then we watched a movie on her dorm-sized 13" TV followed by the fireworks on campus that night before we said goodnight.  That was our first official date.

Now, fast-forward thirteen years, that red head is upstairs sleeping, fighting a fever and the remnants of the flu.  Our three kids are fast asleep (at least for now!).  In two weeks, our oldest daughter will turn seven.  A few months after that, we'll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary!  Our son will turn one a few weeks later, and our other daughter will turn five one month after that.  A few weeks later, we'll fly out to Paris for a week and then travel to the French countryside to photograph a wedding!  These thirteen years have been a wild ride!  We've moved from Richmond to Los Angeles, from LA to Charlotte, and from Charlotte to Charlottesville.  We've experienced amazing moments and devastating losses.  Through it all, though, I've had an amazing friend beside me every step of the way.  I've had an incredible cheerleader and a supportive fan to keep me going when there seemed to be no clear path.

Valentine's Day has always been special to us because of this anniversary, but this year amazes me.  Because of sickness in the Davis house, we'll likely have to cancel on our babysitter and we've been running so hard for the past few months that there are days when we hardly get a chance to speak to each other.  But I have never before in the past 9.75 years been so sure of the fact that I married my soul mate.  Happy (13th) Valentine's Day!

PS - the above photo is courtesy of Paul Kim taken at our friends' Dave and Amy's wedding.  We still love getting out on the dance floor to show off our moves!  I thought about posting a picture from thirteen years ago, but thankfully, I couldn't easily find any on my computer.  Let's just say that I was rockin' some huge, geeky round glasses and a shaved head!

PPS - yes, we really are heading to France this summer to photograph a wedding!  We're booking the plane tickets this week - can't wait to share more details!

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