Monday, November 4, 2013

Made in America

My parents were high school sweethearts.  I mean, my parents are high school sweethearts.  I grew up knowing that love was the most important thing in the world, and that honesty and trueness to one another can be a beautiful thing.

I feel the number of lasting high school sweethearts in this world is dwindling.  It's sad to me, because I have seen this kind of love and I know the power of this kind of love.  A love that starts with complete innocence and wonder... it is the stuff that dreams are made of, the kind of love we all long for.

Last week, I had the privilege of standing by one of my best friends as she married her high school sweetheart.  Their love was just as true and innocent as it was 10 years ago... when he was too afraid to put his arm around her on the couch during their first date.  ;)  -- sorry, Mike!

Flash back 9 years...

It was spring, and I had waited until the last minute to decide I would be attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for college in the fall.  I was planning to try collegiate gymnastics.  After two ACL reconstructions, I had no idea if I could hack it in college gymnastics.  I had no idea what was expected of me, and I had no idea if my body could handle it... but I couldn't wonder about it either.  I needed to know for sure.

Freshman Year at UWW. After we
received our competition leotards.
So, Whitewater it was.  I had made my decision to travel 2 hours North of my little bubble and give it my best shot.  One day, as I was working on homework, I got a phone call from a girl named Angel.  She was also planning on trying out for the gymnastics team, and wanted to know if I'd like to be her roommate.  We talked for a grand total of about 2 and a half minutes... and decided... what the hell? Let's be roommates!  I remember my mom asking me afterwards, "That's it??  Just like that, you're roommates?"  And I said, "Well, it's either Angel, or a random... at least I've heard her voice!"

And so it began... a friendship that would quickly turn into one of the tightest bonds I have ever known.  Very quickly we latched on to one another.  Angel introduced me to scary movies... and a social life, while I was there to remind her that we did have homework to do every once in a while.  She taught me a lot about life... and while I didn't have a very successful dating life in college, I had the lucky circumstance of watching her develop hers.  She and Mike went through hell and back together... LITERALLY...

Mike came to college with us, then went home, then went to bootcamp, then came home, then went to Iraq, then finally came home.  Seriously... he went to hell and back.

I've seen them together and I've seen them apart.  And I can honestly say that they are much better together... :)

I have watched them become parents and overcome one obstacle after another.  They are incredible parents, by the way.

I have been on the giving end of advice to both, and on the receiving end of advice from both... and I
can honestly say, I've been so blessed to have them by my side and on my side... and also to let me know when my side is a little off.

I guess what I am trying to say is that Angel and Mike are some pretty wonderful people, some amazing friends, and some inspiring parents.

Their wedding day was remarkable.  A beautiful, October day, with gorgeous fall leaves (thank you, Jesus) and the sun shining bright.  I have so many tremendous memories from that day... but I'm going to share just a few of my favorites.

Our 7am hair and make up call was definitely early, but the girls in red found a way to make it a blast.  Angel, Ashley and I had some fun taking selfies in front of the mirror, proving that we will never get over our college quirks, and that the roommate bond is way tighter than anyone gives it credit for!

I couldn't see Angel as she emerged to walk down the aisle.  I could, however, see Mike's face as he saw his bride at the end of the walk.  The look on his face, that grin... is something I will never forget.  I could literally see his future flash before his eyes... and it looked good.

Watching Angel's dad, Greg, give her away was also priceless.  As I expected, he was bawling... handing over his only daughter, his beautiful princess, to the man of her dreams was a moment I know he had been anxiously waiting for.  Mike has been a part of the Simonini family for years, but the beauty in this moment, watching the little girl become a wife, was truly touching.
Celebrating my beautiful friend on
the day her dreams came true! 

The rest of the ceremony, the photo ops, the dinner, the speeches, the singing (yes... we sing at Simonini events), the dancing were amazing.  Angel and Mike were simply glowing, and Dylan was having a ball celebrating his mom and dad.  But it was the last song that final knocked me over with emotion.

As Mike has spent a great deal of the last few years of his life in the Marine Corps, you can imagine the amount of patriotism that was buzzing about the room.  Decked out in his Dress Blues, the groom was the perfect image of the Corps.  When we knew it was the last song, the entire group on the dance floor huddled around this couple, showering them with love.  The DJ played "Made in America" by Toby Keith, and I lost it.

Standing there, with one of my best friends, her high school sweetheart - a US Marine- and their beautiful little boy, I couldn't help but think... This is what life is all about.  This is what it means to be blessed.  This is what it means to be loved.  This is what it means to live the American Dream.

Congratulations to my forever friend, my wonderful roommate, teammate and sister.  I love you more than I can say, and I am so happy you have found your "Happily Ever After."

Love True-
Angel, Mike and their beautiful son, Dylan.  Congratulations, Campese Family! <3

"He loves his wife and she’s that wife
That decorates on the Fourth of July
But says 'Every day's Independence Day'
She's golden rule, teaches school,
Some folks say it isn't cool
But she says the Pledge of Allegiance anyway.

He's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain't prejudiced, he's just made in America

Born in the Heartland, raised up a family
Of King James and Uncle Sam

He's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain't prejudiced, he's just made in America" <3 ya, Mikey! 

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