Thursday morning was different. It was official.
We loved each other.
We both knew it.
We both said it.
We went out for breakfast after Otey got back from doing chores at the barn, and then right after lunch we headed to the college rodeo. I was staying that weekend at the Sankey’s house in Branson (30 minutes south of Nixa) mainly because I was too tight to buy a motel room if I could get out of it and secondly their house was home away from home for me. They were out of town for the weekend, so I pretty much just slept there and spent the days in Nixa with Otey.
The college rodeo at Nixa was pretty uneventful. Otey’s parents came again to watch Ben but since I was driving back and forth to Branson all weekend, I didn’t really visit with them much. Saturday night after the rodeo Otey and I headed back to Marshall. The thought of me going home to Indiana seemed absurd to both of us. My place was with Otey. I wanted to be with him 24/7. We got back to his house really late that night… actually really early on Sunday morning. I slept in Sunday while he went to the barn to take care of all the team’s practice stock and check on things after the weekend being gone. When he returned home it was nearly lunch time and I of course was still in bed. He came in and woke me up. We laid there in bed talking about how easy everything was. How we were both sure that this is how love was supposed to be. We had now been together a little less than a month and it felt like we had known each other for ten years. It was so easy. There were no complications, no stress… no worries. As gag-me-with-a-spoon as it sounds… it was simply….. in one word…
That morning (noon) laying in bed. Me still with morning breath, him fresh from the barn… we decided we wanted to get married.
You read that right. A few days shy of one month together… we decided we were ready to make it official…
We laughed about what people would think. My parents had met him once, and I had met his parents twice. My VERY best friend in the whole world… Julie? She didn’t even know I had a boyfriend. We were just consumed with each other and all that stuff didn’t matter. We were both positive. Positive that being together was right.
Otey: “How long do you think we have to wait to get married so people don’t think we’ve gone crazy?”
Me: “I don’t know….. six months?”
Otey: “Sounds good. Let’s pick a date.”
Me: “How long do we wait until we get engaged? We have to have time to plan the wedding.”
Otey: “I don’t know. I guess that means we have to buy a ring, huh?”
Me: “I say a few more weeks and we’ll start shopping.”
Doesn’t that sound crazy? That is exactly how it went. And there were ABSOLUTELY no reservations for either of us. We were sure we wanted to be together forever and the rest? It was just silly details.
We had one more college rodeo that spring. UT-Martin. My alma mater. We spent the next week like the weeks prior. I took entries on Monday, trades on Tuesday, and we left for the rodeo first thing on Thursday morning. I always love the Martin rodeo. It’s like going home. I spent four and a half years of my life there and it’s just familiar. In college I lived behind James and Barbara Davis and after I graduated and became the Regional Secretary, I continued to stay at their house when I would come in town for the rodeo every year. This year was no different. I stayed at their house while Otey drove back and forth to a neighboring town where is entire rodeo team was staying. When I say ENTIRE rodeo team what I mean is about 50 eighteen to twenty-three-year-olds that he was solely responsible for. Do you know what keeping 50 eighteen to twenty-three-year-olds in line is like? It’s just a touch harder than herding cats on horse back. Being responsible for (and surrounded by) that many kids also makes it difficult to date. I remember driving Otey back to his hotel on Friday night after the rodeo. We sat out in the parking lot and talked for a few minutes while fifteen kids on the balcony giggled and tried to act like they weren’t paying any attention to us. There might as well have been a flashing strobe light on the hood of my car. Imagine kissing goodnight in front of your Grandpa and Preacher. That’s about how awkward those first few months of public dating was. It was so odd, because everyone looked at us as a new relationship… just dating for a few weeks… they had no idea that we were really just months away from getting married.
On Saturday we had all day to kill before the evening performance so we drove to the closest big town (Paducah, Kentucky) to have a nice lunch and goof around for the day. You’ll never guess where we ended up?
Okay, you probably can guess where we ended up….
Jewelry stores… shopping for engagement rings.
WHAT? Is that not crazy? I was not THAT girl. I wasn’t the little girl who dreamed of a puffy white dress or babies or picked fences. I had never been engaged. I had never looked at engagement rings. Heck… I had never even THOUGHT about engagement rings and here I was… a month deep in love with Otey McCloy, looking for that “rock” that would make it official. And I did learn a very important thing about myself that day… I did want a ROCK. I would like to think I would have been one of those girls that said “a 25 cent bubble gum machine ring would be enough” but that day… that day I learned I wasn’t that girl. I was the superficial girl who wanted a big ol’ everybody look at my left hand rock.
We didn’t get a ring that day. But we did get quite the diamond education. Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat.
The 4 “C”s.
We were now experts. Confused, poor experts… but experts none the less.
Saturday night after the rodeo Otey headed to Missouri, and I sadly headed to Indiana. We decided that we weren’t going to tell anyone until we got a ring. All of this seems crazy as I type it, but it really just seemed logical and completely normal as I lived it. I had NO doubts. Looking back now, the only thing I would change is thinking we had to wait to get married because of what other people would think. We should have just done it. Just done it that very next weekend and started our lives together the second we knew it was right.
I spent the next week in Indiana. My days filled with work and working out, my evenings filled with talking to Otey on the phone. Everyday just confirmed what I already knew.
I COULD NOT WAIT TO BE HIS WIFE.
I loved that we had our own little secret. We were going to get married.
We were going to get married.
to be continued…