True to my word, I called her on Sunday and we set up a meeting/date at the home of her friend Dana’s mother. As I recall, we had some dinner and then spent the rest of the evening talking about life, love, marriage and everything in-between. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with her right there in Shirley’s living room (and I wrote about it in a journal that I was trying to keep at the time. I even used the M-word in that journal entry). That same night, I met Chad. He was her 5-month old son and I fell in love with him too.
Over the next five weeks, Christi and I saw each other several times in a variety of settings, at friend’s houses, parties, and I even helped her move into her first apartment. It was during one of the days that I was helping her move that I first met her dad. That was a pretty chilly reception to say the least. Her dad is a former Army soldier with the 101st airborne who held a somewhat dim view of Marines. This of course, was not helped by the fact that Chad’s biological father was a Marine who had totally abandoned her and had never made any effort to contact her since finding out she was pregnant. Her dad helped me load her stuff into the truck, but other than the introductions, we hardly spoke a word.
Christi and I hadn’t spent as much time together over these weeks as we would have liked, so in late July we decided to spend a whole weekend together. Christi and I had discussed taking some sort of a trip away from the area, and had decided we would go into Northern California to see the famous redwood trees and enjoy one of the national parks. We left her apartment on August 2nd and almost immediately, stopped for drinks at a local restaurant. Having had one for the road (yes we know it was not wise, but we were young and stupid) we then headed north on the 15 freeway in the direction of highway 395 and the Kings Canyon/Sequoia national park. Somewhere along the way, we passed a sign that noted the mileage to Las Vegas which is along the same freeway. Christi looks over at me, and I think, only half-jokingly says “We could just go to Vegas and get married. This was followed by a strange but not uncomfortable silence as some gear inside me seemed to fall into place. I’m not sure that I really knew what I was doing as I exited the freeway and we found ourselves in the drive thru at a Del Taco restaurant, I just felt as though I was being directed by something bigger than myself. There, in the drive thru, I knelt outside the open passenger door and said
“Christi Sanders, will you marry me?”
You could have heard a pin drop, or at least in my head all the other sounds had fallen away, as I waited for an answer. It was really only a few seconds, but it seemed like forever when she answered “yes, Dave Cason, I will marry you.” I kissed her, and without any further fanfare, we got back on the freeway and headed for Las Vegas. Did we have a plan? Hell no! But we were surely headed on a strange and wondrous journey.
We had no idea…