Just another love story in the Heartland

Posted on: February 14, 2009

Jeff and Angie Holmes on their wedding day Nov. 9, 1996

Jeff and Angie Holmes on their wedding day Nov. 9, 1996

I didn’t participate in Facebook’s 25 Random Things About Me because I didn’t think I could come up with 25 things. But for Valentines Day, I had no problem coming up with 25 things about the whirlwind journey with my husband, Jeff. This is just snippet of the first year-and-a-half of our nearly 14 years together.

  1. The week before I met my future husband, Jeff Holmes, I wrote a column for a bridal section about how hard it was to find a mate in rural Iowa.
  2. On Aug. 1, 1995, my intern Mariah (who was also one of my best friends) and I traveled to Fort Dodge to take pictures at the Iowa High School State Softball Tournament. I had never been on a photographers’ podium before and thought I owned it and stood anywhere I pleased.  Somebody tapped me on my shoulder and asked me to move over. It was Jeff. Annoying and in his way from the very beginning.
  3. Neither Jeff nor I were supposed to be there; we were both covering for somebody else in our respective newspaper companies. I was covering my alma mater Williamsburg and he was covering Independence. Ahh, fate.   
  4. It turns out he was from Vinton and I was from Belle Plaine, both in Benton County about 30 miles apart. Ahh, fate, again.
  5. On our first date a couple of days later he was on “scanner” duty, listening to the police scanner for anything major to go cover. As a fellow small-town journalist, I understood and was fine with it. Nothing major happened.
  6. Although he was cute, charming and intelligent, I thought it was too bad it would never go anywhere because he divulged he was divorced and was working at a newspaper. Oh, and he was 38 and I was 24. Too bad, he was such a nice guy.
  7. We did casually date for several months, having a good time taking pictures together at the state volleyball tournament and the bridges of Madison County. That was enough to make him my boyfriend and he first met my parents at Thanksgiving dinner hosted by my mom. No pressure.
  8. By mid-December I “just wasn’t that into him” and decided to break it off. He already had Christmas presents for me and I spent Christmas Day with his family. I never have quite deserved them.
  9. On New Year’s Eve, I went to a party with a friend in Cedar Falls and met up with an old flame. When I finally made it home the next night, Jeff brought me dinner because I sounded so pathetic (read: hung over) on the phone. Then he went with me to the office 15 miles away so I could work on the year-end review for the paper. Did I mention I didn’t deserve him?  
  10. We continued to date as friends for the next month and eventually our romance blossomed. At a Valentines dinner and dance at Tara Hills in Van Horne, I declared my love for him while slow dancing to Art Garfunkel’s All I Know.”  I don’t think I really knew until that moment. It was very emotional for me with tears and everything. Still kinda chokes me up thinking about it.
  11. While on vacation in Phoenix to visit his grandparents, I randomly walked into a jewelry store in a mall with him and started looking at engagement rings. I hadn’t really thought about marriage before that point, but the moment just hit me. The look on his face was priceless when we walked out of the store.
  12. When we got back from Phoenix a week later, I looking at a calendar to see when a good fall wedding date would be. I called him and said, “What do you think of Oct. 19?” What about it? “Do you want to get married then?” So, the story goes, I actually asked him to marry me.
  13. On Easter Sunday, he asked my parents for my hand in marriage. They said no. The divorce and age thing bothered them too (I obviously was over it by then). They also were worried that we hadn’t known each other long enough.
  14. When we convinced my parents that it was the right thing and we were ready, they then turned the conversation on me. “You know she’s a fireball, don’t you?” they asked Jeff.  I’m not sure if he did at that point, but he quickly learned about my charming temper.
  15. He planned to give me an engagement ring on my birthday, April 22. But the week before that I had been horribly sick with the flu and he wanted to cheer me up. On April 19 he brought over his mom’s homemade chicken soup and took care of me. He gave me a teddy bear with a ring box and officially proposed. He then gave me a couple Benadryl. They worked quickly as I fell asleep with a noodle hanging out of my mouth. The noodle story still remains one of his favorites.
  16. Our wedding date, Nov. 9, 1996, was based on two things: High school football season had to be over because he was a coach and Seven Villages Restaurant at the Amana exit had to be available for the reception.
  17. During the ceremony, I looked over and saw my maid of honor, Chris, all teary-eyed. I had to give her a comforting look. It was my wedding after all (I did not get teary-eyed; all smiles).
  18. We showed up late to the reception because our best man, Brad, drove us around the Holden’s Seed corn plots in Jeff’s company vehicle with a couple bottles of champagne. Long story, but let’s just say it was some sort of a tradition between my maid of honor and me.
  19. The first songs we danced to as a married couple were “Don’t Know Much” by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville and “Head Over Feet” by Alanis Morrisette. We were told that Alanis wasn’t the most romantic singer, but the song fit us perfectly.
  20. The first night of our honeymoon we stayed at the Claytonian Inn, a bed and breakfast in Clayton, Iowa. We came across the quaint place along the river in our “just friends” stage while taking pictures of fall leaves the year before.
  21. Other than going to a Bob Dylan concert in Dubuque, we didn’t have anything planned for our honeymoon.  The morning after the concert, we decided to go to Chicago for a few days.
  22. About four days into the honeymoon, I wanted to go home. Chicago was cold in November, everything was expensive, and most of all, I couldn’t wait to live the married life.
  23. In February 1997, three months after we got married, Jeff made a gasping noise while reading a help wanted ad in Editor and Publisher. It was for a job at the Daily Union in Junction City, Kan. He said he hadn’t thought of Junction City since his days in the Army at nearby Fort Riley. A month later we moved there.
  24. We lived in Junction City for three months before moving to Leavenworth, Kan., where Jeff got a job as sports editor of The Leavenworth Times. We were only going to stay six months and move back to Iowa. Seven years later, in 2005, we finally moved back to Vinton, one of the places this whole story started.
  25. Remembering all of this makes me realize how lucky I am to have found my soul mate. Our life together has been a journey full of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I love you always, hunny. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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