The Story of Us

Hans and I have an unusual story, one that our fathers take great pride in because they believe they are the reason Hans and I met, fell in love, and got married.  I hate to admit it, but had our fathers not conspired together in October 2004, there probably wouldn't be a Hans and Katie.

John and Glenn (our fathers) were seminary classmates at Concordia Theological Seminary.  They were part of the last class to begin in Springfield, IL and after a semester the seminary transferred to the Fort Wayne, IN location where it still remains today.

Never being closer than 940 miles after seminary, our families barely knew each other.  One summer when I was about 12 or 13 our family passed through Zionsville on the way to New York and stayed with the Fienes for a night or two.  Hans and I have totally different recollections of this encounter.  I remember hanging out with his sister, Andrina, and youngest brother, Christian.  We walked around downtown Zionsville, went to the pool and various other things.  I don't remember Hans being with us at all.  I remember Hans though.  I'm not sure when I first met him, but I remember thinking he was so cute.  I remember going to a church picnic our last day there and watching him in a play the youth put on, he was a king. I remember his floppy hair. I guess that because I don't remember him being around, I've just made myself recall that he spent those two days ignoring me.  Hans doesn't remember the play, or why he wasn't with us at the pool, but his story is that we spent a couple of hours talking on his front porch and that he liked me very much.  Really?  Could I really have forgotten that the boy I remember everything else about actually sat on his front porch and talked to me?  Where was I?  I'm not sure what we did the rest of the summer, but I remember being teased about Hans the rest of the vacation.

But, life goes on.  And on it went.  From time to time I would remember that summer, but to be quite honest, I don't even remember half of my boyfriends names, if I remember them at all, so I didn't spend my days or nights focusing on what Hans was doing. I can also assure you he did not spend the next 10 years pining over me either.  Hans spent the next 10 years falling in and out of love with several girls, while I spent the next 10 years getting bored with my boyfriends and letting them go after 2 weeks or so.

Now, let's fast forward to October 2004.  There was a Free Conference held in Chicago that year and my dad presented a paper.  John was also going to the conference and convinced my dad to fly to Indianapolis instead of Chicago and they could drive together using the 3 hour drive to catch up.  It was during that drive that our fathers talked about their children.  Evidently they felt Hans and I would be a perfect match.  I'm not sure what brought them to this conclusion.  I had been living on my own for a few years, going to college, teaching dance and managing a bridal store.  Hans had finished undergrad, took a year off to decide what to do, and then enrolled at the seminary.  I didn't like lovey dovey guys who called all the time and, by all accounts, that is what Hans was.  But, our dads just knew it would work, so they hatched a plan to get Hans to do a summer vicarage at Messiah, their thought being that, while Hans was in Texas for a whole summer, we would get to know each other and fall in love.

After my dad returned from Chicago, three days hadn't passed before he told me about Hans.  I then continued to hear about Hans everyday, at least that's what it felt like.  I was dating someone else at the time, nothing too serious, and I just didn't want my dad hooking me up.  Plus, and this is a big plus, Hans was in the seminary.  I've been telling myself since I was in middle school that I would NEVER marry a pastor.  I didn't really have a good reason for this, but I kept telling my parents it was because I didn't want my kids to have to go through what I went through.  Looking back, I didn't really go through that much as a kid.  It was adulthood that killed me.  My dad was usually always able to go to school function and trips, but he wasn't home much in the evenings.  Regardless of this, the last thing I wanted to be was a pastor's wife.  Besides, I was convinced the whole dating thing would be too weird.  Just a year before this, I had been asked out by another Lutheran pastor in the area.  And while I initially said yes, I called and canceled the day before our date.  I just started freaking out about what we would talk about and what would happen when we broke up and...

Hans' dad took a different approach.  I'm not sure he said anything to Hans about Texas until Hans was home for Christmas vacation.  Then, one day, John walked in the TV room while Hans was watching something and casually informed him, "So you're going to do your summer vicarage in Texas."
"Why Texas?" Hans asked.
"That's where Glenn Huebel's congregation is."
"Who the heck is Glenn Huebel?"
"You remember Glenn Huebel," John insisted.
"I'm pretty sure I've never heard that name in my life."
"Yes, you've heard of him, we went to seminary together.  He and his family passed through here a number of years ago."
Hans paused.   "Does he have a daughter my age?"
A sneaky smile creeps across John's face "Yes.  Katie."
Hans says those memories just came flooding back.  Again, I'm not sure what memories he was remembering since he ignored me the whole time.

So, Hans emailed my dad sometime in January 2005.  My dad came to me a couple of days later and told me that Hans had just emailed him about a summer vicarage and in his email he said to say hi and that he had fond memories of me.  What!?!  Fond memories?  How?  "Let me have his email, I'll sort this out."
My dad refused at first.  I think my dad thought I would ruin his whole plan in one email.  Finally he let me have it.  "Be nice, please."  My dad always told me to be nice to good Lutheran boys.  My dad would have never wanted me to marry someone I didn't love just because he was Lutheran, but I think he felt that Lutheran boys were fragile.  I never treated anyone badly, it didn't matter if the boy was Lutheran or Catholic or whatever, if it didn't work it just didn't work.   I promised my dad I would be nice and took the email address, not knowing if I'd actually write.

Despite my reservations I emailed Hans on January 28, 2005.  For those of you who know me I did not know this date off the top of my head.  I had to look it up. We seemed to hit it off and a couple of days later we exchanged phone numbers.  We still continued to email and phone over the next month or so.  Boy, did I become unproductive.  If someone would have asked me to find a couple of hours out of my day to talk on the phone or piddle on the computer I would have laughed and asked how.  At this point in time I was waking up at 5:00 am every morning to be in Dallas by 6.  From Dallas I tracked it back to Fort Worth for a 9-5 job, then school from 6-10.  When I finally got home I had studying and homework to do.  There was no time in my day for anything else, and yet I found the time.  I found myself staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning talking on the phone, still waking up at 5 to start my day.  For those of you who know me, having a guy call on a daily basis was a sure sign he would not make it past a week and a half.  I wasn't and am still not the romantic type and I just didn't have time for any fuss.  But somehow talking to Hans everyday didn't seem draining.  I actually looked forward to his calls.  I sure as heck wasn't getting anything productive done, but I sure loved talking to him.

In early March Hans told me he had the whole week before Easter off.  He asked if it would be okay to fly down to Texas to see me. I was so excited I could hardly wait.  When you spend so much time on the phone and writing emails to someone you get to know a lot about them.  This was really our whole dating portion of our relationship, phoning and writing.  When it is impossible to go to movies, parties or other social functions together and all you can do is talk and write you are forced to talk about everything.  We probably talked on the phone for about 3-4 hours a day, everyday, thank goodness for Verizon's In-calling plan.  We knew almost everything about each other by the time he came down to Texas for a visit.  I think the visit was to make sure we were compatible in person.

The week before Easter was just wonderful.  We spent the whole week together and in one trip Hans met me, my parents and my grandparents.  I knew he would pass the test of my parents and grandparents, but I didn't know about my roommate, Kelsey, or the most important 7 year old, Emily.  Kelsey is a wonderful friend, always has been and always will be.  She is very protective of me and wanted only the best.  Besides, if some guy was going to come and marry me and make me move so far away, he'd better be perfect.  I'm not sure when it was, but Hans finally got the OK from Kelsey, and that truly meant a lot to me.  Emily just loved Hans from the start.  Hans is fun and goofy and wonderful with kids.  We spent a lot of time with her over that week and they seemed to get along perfectly.  I think Emily had some second thoughts later when she realized how far away I'd be living, but that transition was also very hard for me.  I'm getting ahead of myself though, because there was no talk of marriage the week he was in Texas.

So, things in Texas went well, and Hans flew back to Indiana the day after Easter.  That was a very sad day.  With tear-filled eyes I drove home from the airport.  The whole way home and for a couple of days after I was thinking I was crazy.  How was this going to work?  I lived in Texas and he lived in Indiana.  He was in school and I was committed to teach 5th and 6th grade for Messiah Lutheran Classical Academy.  I was so unproductive during the short time we'd known each other so far what was I going to do for another year, or two!?!

I didn't have to wait long to get my answer, because a month later I flew up to Indianapolis to visit Hans and on our way to his house from the airport Hans played a sweet proposal song he'd written and recorded himself.  I was so surprised and overjoyed.  The next part is the funniest to me, after he proposed and I said yes, we went to his parents house and I met his parents.  Kind of backwards.

Hans and I took all things into account, school, work, Texas, Indiana and decided to get married in August.  Messiah had approved Hans as the summer vicar, so at the end of May Hans moved down to Texas and we spend the next few months, working and planning a wedding.  Well, I didn't actually do much planning.  My mom did almost all of the planning.  I'm sure my mom's favorite words that summer were "It doesn't matter" or "I don't care".  We ended the summer with a big bang of a wedding.  It was a great time had by all and I do mean all as there were over 300 people in attendance.  On August 19, 2005 I became Mrs. Hans Fiene and we started the rest of our lives together.

So, when we tell people that we met in late January and were married by August it seems really fast.  I'm sure it seemed really fast for our parents and siblings too.  But, if you think about it, Hans and I got to know each other so well those first few months and we lived so far from each other that the timing of everything seemed just right.  And, if you really want to think about it, none of this would have happened if two old seminary buddies hadn't gotten together to catch up.


angi haney said...

I love your story!!!!

Kristi said...

Best. Story. Ever! I got to hear it directly from your parents this last weekend when they were in Austin for a wedding. So glad you're doing well. Can't believe you're all grown up!!