On December 29, 2004, my darling husband and I met for the very first time. We were working on staff that post-Christmas week for a Terra Nova Student Conference in Nashville. You could pretty much say it was a "he'd never like me/she'd never give me the time of day" love at first sight. The two of us were smitten almost instantly. Yet, there was a tiny complication to the relationship that was quickly evolving... Even though born and raised in Music City, Alec was pursuing a film career in Los Angeles, California, at that time. He flew back to LA less than a week after we met.
Even though there were thousands of miles between us, Alec and I continued to pursue our relationship daily via phone and email. We didn't know if/when we'd see each other again...
Then, low and behold, a dear family at my church came up to me one Sunday night that January and offered me access to any and all of their frequent flyer miles. Yep. That meant I could fly to California any time I wanted. OMG!
My first trip was booked and a few short weeks later, I was on a jet plane headed to the City of Angels.
Needless to say, the trip was more wonderful than I could have ever imagined... I had found the man of my dreams and nothing could keep us apart ever again! Oh wait... except for that whole we-live-and-work-a-whole-country-apart thing. Hmmm.
So, the weekend finally ended and on February 13th, with giant alligator tears running- no, GUSHING- down my face, I got back on a plane to fly home to Nashville. My Mr. Right was staying in California and I would spend another Valentine's Day
sulking alone. To make matters worse, my 2 hour layover in Denver turned into a 24 hour camp out in the airport terminal. For a 26 year old single girl, I had arrived at my pinnacle of hell. Woe, woe, woe was me.
When I finally arrived at my Nashville apartment on Valentine’s morning, there was a delivery guy standing at my door with a large bouquet of gorgeous roses. I could feel the corners of my mouth stretching out into a big, goofy grin. I grabbed the vase and went inside to call Alec. But as I was standing there admiring the flowers, I began to count each rose. One, two, three, four........ nine, ten and eleven..... Eleven? Seriously? Tell me this guy isn’t too cheap to pay for a full dozen roses on Valentine’s Day!! GEEZ!
At this point, I hadn’t even bothered to read the small card that was attached from the sender. Finally I took it off and began to read. There wasn’t a name anywhere... just a riddle. It instructed me to be dressed and ready at 4:00 pm sharp, because a limo would be picking me up for a hunt to find the twelfth rose.
That night, I journeyed all over Nashville hunting for the missing flower. The hunt took me to several familiar places that were significant in our first few days together:
Carrabba’s in Green Hills
Wildhorse Saloon on 2nd Ave
and a Starbucks kiosk in Opry Mills Mall.
At each stop, my instructions were to find an employee and say, “Hey, I’m Carmen!” And they knew every time what to do. They’d hand me another piece of paper on which was written the next clue of the hunt.
The final destination of my quest took me to the beautiful Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
The message card from the Starbucks barista had a map drawn on it, letting me know the location of the last rose. My job at that point was simply to hunt it down. Although a little bit confused, I followed the map as best I could down the halls of the hotel (it’s a BIG place). The route eventually took me into the Garden Conservatory, to this little gorgeous nook:
There, at the rocks of the waterfall, was not only Rose #12, but holding it was my Mr. Right. (Insert loud round of the Hallelujah Chorus here.) It was the best Valentine's Day a girl could ever ask for.
Today, five years and two children later, he's still the man of my dreams. Happy Valentine's Day to my dear husband and best friend, Alec.