ACU has changed a lot since I was in school here. The short, skinny trees from back then have grown up and filled out and now shade the campus. Evidence of technological updates is everywhere. But emblems of the school’s history remain. Most of the original buildings are still here, including McKinzie Dorm. Built in 1929, the building was old long before I got here. It was already aging when my aunt lived there in the late ’40s. But there it still stands, grand and stately in the face of the progress that surrounds it.
The Bean is still here, too. ACU’s cafeteria has undergone a number of facelifts over the decades and looks nothing like the Bean I knew as a student. Today, as Jenna and I were eating lunch, I pointed over to the west side of the cafeteria.
“Daddy and I met for the first time right over there,” I told her.
She seemed somewhat impressed. This is the girl who thanks God regularly for “Mommy and Daddy getting married” in her prayers.
I can’t come here and not reminisce about choices I made—and events that came about as a result—while I was a student here. After first meeting in the Bean one day at lunch, Chad and I dated one fall until I ended it after a couple of weeks. He was the right guy at the wrong time. Which made him the wrong guy at that particular point in time. I avoided him for several months. I wanted him to forget me and move on to someone else. One Friday morning that spring, I got up early and headed to the Bean with my stack of newspapers. I had an 8 a.m. news reporting class, and we were quizzed every Friday on that week’s current events. I liked to leave the dorm early on those days to walk under the canopy of a usually-stunning sunrise (one good thing West Texas scenery has going for it) and study the week’s newspapers in the Bean. On this Friday, I had made it to Wednesday’s headlines when I heard a voice. “Is it OK if I sit here?”
It was Chad. The freshman who had tried to date me a few months back. I gave my consent and he set his tray on my table. But I was annoyed. Then he showed up the next Friday. He had strength training class at 8. He had to carb load, he said. I was still annoyed. I have an important class to study for because I’m majoring in something important—mass communication, doesn’t that sound important? I’m going to have an important job and an important future and I have no intention of including him in it, I thought. Can he not see this?
Seemingly by coincidence, Chad and I kept meeting up every Friday morning. My irritation began to fade. If I wanted to avoid him that badly, I would have avoided the Bean on those mornings. But I found myself stepping out of the dorm into the brilliant Friday sunrise, wondering if he would be there.
Now I picture the two of us sitting at that table in the Bean on a Friday morning during the spring of ’91. I freeze the scene in my mind and consider all that hung in the balance during those moments. My future, his future, and the very existence of our children sat suspended in the air around us, breathless and waiting. Waiting to become reality or vanish into nothingness.
I want to lean over to the ear of that other me. I want to tell her that he’s the one. He’s the one she’ll spend that cozy beach honeymoon with. He’s the one who will be her constant. He's the one who will wrap their daughters in the kind of love only a godly father can give. He’s the one who will hold her in strong, comforting arms as she loses yet another pregnancy. He’s the one.
Today in the Bean, with Jenna staring at me quizzically, I whispered, “You chose well.”