July 27, 2012

adventures in dating

My dad has the weirdest dating philosophy in the history in the world. I don't really know how to adequately describe it ... lots of dating, lots of traveling, and lots of variety. If that didn't cut it for you, my mom wrote about it here and here. Just know that it isn't the norm, and sometimes it is a little frustrating ... but most of the time my dad's weird thoughts translate into wise thoughts.

For example, my dad has been setting up dates for me since before I was sixteen. I've still got a pretty good line up of dates from this pre-planning. Some of these dates have been incredible, and some have been a little questionable, but all have been SUPER fun and I learn something each time! When we went to Utah this April, I dated boys I had never, ever met. And strangely enough, I think that it made the trip worth it for my dad. I am so grateful to my parents to are totally willing to make insane trips like this so I can spend time with stellar people.

With that as a preface ... I had a pretty awesome weekend with Heath (remember him, guys?). I don't think I can put it into words how fun and crazy and awesome it was all at the same time, so I apologize in advance, friends.

Enough with the rambling. Without further ado:

Top six places we ate at in no particular order ...

1. The Sushi Shack -- It wasn't actually called the Sushi Shack, but it definitely defined hole in the wall. The servers were so nice there and the sushi was INCREDIBLE (okay, maybe not the eel sushi). Even though we might have annoyed the heck out of the people that were sitting next to us ... and even though we got waaaaay more sushi than we needed ... and even though it was pricey it was still the best sushi shack I've ever had the pleasure of eating at.
2. PF Changs -- Heath and I really got our chopsticks fix for the day. PF Changs had the BEST Chinese food that I've had since actually being in China, and that is saying something. Ahhhh, it was so good -- and the company wasn't lacking either!
3. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream -- I used that because I can't remember to save my life what this Ice Cream Shop was called. It was a mix between awesome and sugar heaven. I seriously looked at the menu, closed my eyes, and pointed ... hoping of course that I didn't land on something mocha flavored. Whatever I got (I can't remember that either! AHHHHH!!) was so delicious, and so was Heath's. We ate on a wall by the street and then stopped petty crime by picking up litter.
4. Haagen Daaz -- We obviously got our fix of ice cream as well! Thank you to the lovely lady at Haagen Dazs for not getting mad at me when I asked for eight samples. And again for not yelling at me when I didn't buy anything. And for making Heath a random smoothie, even if it didn't taste fantastic. You were a complete doll!
5. IHOP -- And if you thought I couldn't fit anymore into my belly, you were wrong! This was a totally random choice ... well actually, it wasn't random because it is one of the only awesome places in Indiana that is open 24 hours. Once again, Heath and I were blessed with a forgiving waitress who put up with our random requests. It was so fun to sit in the booths sideways and make sugar/salt art and write insanely slap-something awesome poems on napkins. Definitely a satisfying way to end the day.
6. Home -- It was so fun to eat at Heath's house for dinner on Sunday. The pizza was so delicious, and the crust was hands down the best crust I've ever tasted. I also tasted Raspberry Ice for the first time, and that was pretty life changing. The people were pretty stellar, too. I actually think eating at Heath's house was one of my more favorite things we did. They are such a fantastic family!

Top seven adventures that weren't supposed to happen ...

1. McDonalds -- Well, actually ... I guess that this was supposed to happen. So, picture this. We have been driving since four in the morning and I decide that I would like to stretch my legs a little before we get to Heath's house (this was about five hours into the car ride, but still an hour and a half away from his house). My mom nonchalantly suggests that we should stop at a McDonald's while passing through Brazil, Indiana. By the way, Brazil sounds exotic, but if you haven't been there you're not missing out. I hop out of the car ... and who else would I see but ... Heath? I thought about five thousand things at once and probably had 4 heart attacks. "Could this be a coincidence? I thought he lived further away! Ahhhhh! It's Heath! What the heck?" I looked to my mom for wisdom, but she and Heath just shared a handshake and said, "It's nice to meet you ... in person." At this point, I was starting to catch on that something was up. It turns out that they had been planning this for at least a week and I had no idea. Very sneaky (and well played) Heath and Mommy. Veeeeery sneaky.
2. Indianapolis, the first time -- At first sight, Indianapolis is super cool. There are like, 10 or 15 high rises and a ton of impressive buildings. We had two options when driving by ... go through downtown and take a little longer to get home or go around the city. Living on the edge, Heath and I decided to go crazy and see all the cool things in Indianapolis ... all two of them. The first was this crazy awesome monument that is apparently going to be the model for the steeple of the new temple that the church is building in Indiana. After a little bit of crazy driving in the circle around the monument, we decided to try and find the canal and only got lost a few times! The canal is beautiful (not to mention the perfect getaway when you are being chased by the police!) and it was so much fun to walk around it and talk about everything and nothing at the same time. The "awesome" places in Indianapolis did not disappoint!
3. Black Expo -- I giggle when I think about what happened later in the afternoon ... but it was actually terrifying when it was happening. When we went to Indianapolis the second time, it was significantly busier. Jess had told us to find cheap parking and to walk to her hotel because it was crazy, and she did not kid. We found a space at the City Center Mall, and there were people everywhere!! In the elevator, I asked the men that were with us what was going on and they looked at me like I was stupid and said, "The Black Expo." It made it a little hard to find the hotel where Jess was staying, but we managed to make it barely escaping arrest for jaywalking. Little did we know, the police had more on their hands than kids trying to cross an empty street. When we tried to ask what was going on, one cop pulled Heath aside and said, "I wouldn't be out here after 11." HOLY COW! The police were EVERYWHERE (with binoculars on the roof, in cars, on segways), and we didn't know if we should feel safe or terrified. I saw at least two people arrested ... it was like Batman in real life. So scary! I think it was on the way up that we listened to Christian rap ....... Needless to say, we didn't stay after 11. It was so much fun to be in such a crazy situation, especially when we got home and learned that there was a shooting at the Black Expo only two years ago. I guess that would explain a lot ...
4. Watching the Sunset -- Heath and I are both kind of obsessed with the sky, especially sunsets. Just look at our Instagram profiles. And the sky was just so flippin' pretty on Saturday! If I didn't love Missouri's hills so much, I would almost wish for flat land so I could watch the sunset like that. There were some places we went that were so gorgeous -- it was almost paradise. If only the waterfront lots didn't cost 645,000 dollars! I would buy that property in a heart beat.
5. A Walk to Remember -- While we were walking around the canal, Heath asked me what my favorite movie was. Of course I said Saturday's Warrior, which is the stupidest movie in the world (for those of you who aren't familiar with it's charming ways) but I love it with all my heart. When I asked him what his favorite movie was he said A Walk to Remember ... which I have never seen. When I said that, it was decided that my whole life had been wasted thus far (exaggerating), and so we determined to either watch The Dark Night Rises or A Walk to Remember after we hung out with Jess and Dalin. It turns out that we did neither. Heath looked for several minutes for the movie to no avail, (while I was falling into a giant bean bag, because I was hindering more than helping by just standing around hahaha) and when we learned that someone else had borrowed it we couldn't retrieve the movie because it was already late. So, we didn't get to watch the movie but it did lead to even more fun at IHOP. Anyways, A Walk to Remember is on it's way to my house through Netflix.
6. Finding my hotel room -- Curfew for me is midnight. After we got done eating at the IHOP, Heath and I drove to my hotel and sat outside and talked about our favorite parts of the day and the perks of dying by freezing to death. Soon, it was getting near the 11:45 mark and Heath still needed to get home, so we walked into the hotel and decided to be healthy and use the stairs. Not only was the door to my floor locked, but there was a giant scary spider that was inhabiting the window. Defeated, we then took the elevator with some of the best behaved children I have ever seen (maybe it was because it was midnight??). It was kind of scary to look at the wall where the room numbers were and to not see my mom's room. Was this the wrong hotel?! I think a look of shock mixed with confusion was our classic look for the day, and this moment was a perfect opportunity to display it. Back to the stairs, which were not locked after all, and then up another flight on the opposite side of the hotel. Thankfully, we found the hotel room. Fewwww.
7. Seeing Abby and Ashtin -- One thing that I loved about coming to Heath's town is that I knew a ton of people in the area from EFY. Two of these people were Abby and Ashtin from EFY 2011! I love these girls so, so much! They have such awesome testimonies and they are pretty much the coolest cats I know. So it was so awesome to be able to see them after church on Sunday!

Top seven things that were supposed to happen that rocked

1. Seeing Heath -- At EFY there are a lot of What Ifs. "What if we had a seven month company reunion at (insert name of popular, central location)?" "What if we got married?" "What if EFY was four weeks instead of just one?" It's all apart of the five stages of EFY depression. Buying more time is one step that shows itself prominently during the week. When Jess was telling us how she would be back in Indianapolis and "what if we go together for a group date" and Heath invited me to come with him, I obviously didn't pick up that this was a what if situation. In fact, because my dear dad has such a crazy dating philosophy, I didn't even bat my eyes twice before I was on the phone asking my dad if I could come. Because Heath and I had become such great friends during EFY this year, of course it was awesome to see him again! It made it so worth the drive.
2. Jess and Dalin -- The planning for this part of the day was so hard to do because Jess was still working at EFY and technically she wasn't supposed to be talking to us ... but I am so glad it all worked out! We met Jess and Dalin at her hotel and then we went to the mall to eat. After we ate, we went to an arcade and basically tried to fit ourselves into anything that was meant for two people and play air hockey over and over again. It was such a blast! I've said it before on the blog, but I love Jess so much! She is so much fun to be around, and so was Dalin! It makes me want to be an EFY counselor so badly when I am around them because they are pretty much the epitome of coolness.
We didn't really know what the heck was going on in the photobooth. Can you tell?
3. Heath's family -- While we were driving up to Indianapolis, I had the sudden realization that by going up here I wasn't just going to be seeing Heath ... but his whole family as well! I loved that when I walked through the door, Kirsten was running down the stairs to give me a hug. I loved that I felt this same undeserved love throughout our stay from everyone. I loved how sincerely kind and hilarious every single person was. They really made my mom and I feel welcome and I was super grateful!
4. Painting a masterpiece -- This was idea that Heath and I kicked around before we went on the date, and was actually one of the only things that happened perfectly. We traveled to Goodwill and picked up a nice painting -- the process took forever, just because it was so stinkin' hard to keep all of the paintings from toppling over onto the floor -- then to Kroger (which is pretty foreign to a Missouri gal) to pick up paint, and then back home to demolish it. The picture is pretty artsy, wouldn't you say? Near the end, we randomly started painting each others faces ... because, why not? So memorable and so much fun!
5. Mormon Bachelor and The District -- Hahaha, this wasn't really planned ... but it was still super and deserved a spot on the list. The Mormon Bachelor is exactly what it sounds like and it is hilarious! The girls are really interesting to watch, just because it has such a Mormon twist to it. I mean, when eternity gets involved ... things always get interesting. People might even hold hands and say I L-O-V-E YOU! And The District ... Oh my word. It got me so pumped to be a missionary! It was totally real, and sometimes that translated into hilarious (I want to be a blue comfy chair when I grow up too!) or heartbreaking. So much excitement, and the thing is, IT IS REAL LIFE. Watching these shows with Heath made me super happy! The only negative thing that comes from this is my new found addiction to the Mormon Bachelor. Goodbye extra time!!
6. Church -- Church was another thing I was stoked for. I love going to church and I love meeting new people, so this seemed to be a great fit! I already knew Heath (obviously) but I also knew Taylor from EFY. Remember him? It was so nice to see him! We arrived at Sacrament meeting super early and sat kind of awkwardly in the middle of nowhere, so everyone got a chance to see us -- the newcomers. It was kind of sad to see our well-wishers faces fall as they found out we wouldn't be permanent additions, but the ward members were so accepting. The Sacrament meeting was really powerful ... probably because I wasn't chasing after little kids (is it weird that I kind of missed that??). The subject was on families and I learned so many effective techniques that I can use right now. I love it when that happens! I was so prepared for optimal Sunday School participation, but Heath's class was studying something completely different from the Book of Mormon manual, so I struggled for a little bit to recoup. When I got off of my high horse and started to listen, there were so many things I needed to hear in that lesson. I needed to hear that my long term goals are just as important as my daily to-do list. I needed to know that self-discipline is a key to success. It was such a good lesson! Young women's was really good as well -- a lesson on scripture study and then a testimony meeting (they had just finished their camp). I loved that even though I didn't go to Girl's Camp I could still feel the same spirit testify to me that Heavenly Father loves me. I love the gospel! I love my life!!
7. Car rides -- Because Indianapolis is 45 minutes from where Heath lives, there was a lot of given driving back and forth and back and forth. Have I ever told you how grateful I am for cars? I'll save that for another time ... but I loved the car rides. Heath insisted that he was an awful driver, but I thought he did just fine, especially since I know I am the worst driver in the history of the world. It was pretty stinkin' fun just talk and to ask each other random things and listen to a weird mix of EFY music, Demi Lovato, Indie music and Christian Rap.

Top ten things about Heath that are stellar

1. The way he handles stress. -- I am not going to lie, posterity. Walking in downtown Indianapolis was a stressful situation. Losing the car in that stressful situation made it even crazier. Looking for a lost car in downtown Indianapolis during a violent racial meeting was infinitely insane. Now it seems really hilarious and makes for awesome stories. At the time it was potentially something that could have turned a fun day really sour. Heath kept such a great attitude! Any time we were in a pickle (looking for Jess, looking for the car, looking for somewhere to eat) he always seemed super happy and enthused. I think it was even more impressive when we were finally back in safe territory and he said that he felt super relaxed ... comparatively. And I could hardly tell the difference.
2. Treats others like they're rockstars -- One of the coolest things about Heath is the way he treats others. He is so considerate and genuine to everyone, from the servers at our restaurants to the friendly cops. At church, when I would say, "I'm here visiting Heath," the ward members would get a knowing look in their eye and say, "You'll be okay, then." Watching him interact with little kids was one of the cuter things that happened throughout the course of the date. Really it was only Diego, who you might be interested to know is officially the cutest boy in the world, but I could see how much Heath cared about Diego and how awesome Diego thought Heath was. After all, because he treats others with so much respect, that pretty much makes him a rockstar, too.
3. Loves his family -- This isn't a tough to gauge. As we were in and out of his house, Heath obviously cared very, very much for every member of his family. Not only did he say how much he loved them, he found little ways to serve and show his love. That is a pretty impressive feat, especially when teenagers can fall into a rut of generally not caring.
4. So much fun to be around -- Sometimes when I go on dates I expect to have a great time and then am let down. It's more my fault then anyone else's. It is not very often that I feel like I am completely me on a date. Usually there is always some sort of angle that I am going for and that affects how I act through the day. With Heath, it was so easy to just go with everything and be myself ... and to have a blast! I didn't have a strategy or a plan to have the loveliest time ever, but ended up being more fun then I could imagine. I wrote about the moments that were planned and unplanned that were fun, but I loved the in between moments just as much. Even when he was dead tired, it was hilarious to be around him. A trip down the stairs became a jumping contest. We would coin flip to choose between two options and then would choose something totally different on a whim. It was crazy and awesome and fun!
5. Makes crazy cool noises when he's excited/scared/etc. -- I don't know if this is a character trait, but it is so stinkin' funny to listen to Heath when something crazy is happening. If a bug was flying by, there was a noise for that. Similarly with ducks and other animals. Merging in traffic? Yup, there was a noise for that too. As a random noise maker, I thought that this was pretty awesome. It certainly made normal a little more interesting.
6. Hipster -- Does this sound strange? Okay, I admit, this one is pretty weird. But Heath is seriously the epitome of well-rounded cool. I enjoy his taste in music ... pretty much his taste in everything. Some things are a little questionable, but I guess that's the price you pay for liking things before they're cool. Sometimes it takes a while for the mainstream (cough, me, cough) to catch up. For example, I still don't know about the watermelon froyo, but y'know.
7. Such a solid testimony -- At EFY, it is hard to judge how spiritual people are in their real life. Actually, I think in any situation where you are in an unfamiliar situation with people, it's hard to judge what they think or feel. I don't claim to know anything about what Heath thinks or feels, but through his actions I can just tell that he has a testimony. Not only does he have a testimony, but I think he loves having one. He is always sharing the gospel, just through the way he acts. It's pretty awesome to see just how much the gospel means to him in his life.
8. Random questions -- "What is your favorite shape, Laney?" is probably the most random question I have ever been asked in my life. The most thought provoking, besides the big "future" question that I always get, was probably, "What has been your greatest trial?" Heath is pretty good at squeezing random information out of others. He is actually pretty good at starting conversations, period. Strangely, even when the questions were completely out of the blue and didn't make much sense, it never felt like talking to him was forced. That should be a super power.
9. Gentlemanly -- Is that even a word? I guess it doesn't matter unless someone wants to translate this post into a different language. In that case, good luck, friend. Heath was so kind to me during the whole weekend. He was always opening doors and paying for things (PS. Holy cow, Heath. Holy flippin' cow.) and making sure I was comfortable. And that was super cool. What I think was even more cool? Definitely how he treated my mom. There was really no obligation for he and my mom to interact at all, but he made an effort to learn more about her life and listened. I appreciated this so much!
10. Awesome, period. -- I feel like I can't even properly describe how awesome Heath is. I've only known him in real life for ... 14 days. Only two fiscal weeks. But he has impressed me and has taught me so much through his character and his actions. I think he is really trying to be good and it's nice to know that I am not alone in desiring that!

When we were sitting out in the parking lot of the hotel talking, Heath and I were kidding around about our favorite parts of the day and our favorite parts ever. I'd say this weekend is somewhere on the favorite parts ever list. Things were so imperfect in a perfect way. When my mom asked me what Heath and I had done on Saturday, my description was eerily similar to this (even the Spanish accent!) ...

And for the best date ever, I am totally willing to travel.

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