Saturday, September 26, 2009

Jon and Amanda: When love makes you crazy

"My heart was closed for a long time, and she reopened it."

The story of Jon and Amanda's love, which culminated in their Sept. 19 wedding in Wilmette, IL, is one of unexpected stops and starts. As they told me in our pre-wedding interview, they met, dated, broke up, tried to find something right with someone else, couldn't, and spent some time apart and alone.

After breaking up in 2007, they remained friends and always texted each other. It gets interesting in late August 2008.

"The second time around, Jon swept me off my feet."

But he had to do it with a little caution, since he had an ankle brace at the time.

Both bride and groom are competitors, and in the summer of '08, Amanda asked him about running with her in The Human Race in Chicago. Jon agreed, but on a training jog, he sprained his ankle.

The injury was severe enough to require a brace. Jon did not tell her about it until the met the morning of the event, after she asked what that thing around his ankle was. As he told me, he knew that if he backed out on her, for any reason, she would call him a wuss. If you doubt that, read on.

(Logan, the uber-photogenic flower girl)

Jon made it through the entire course, though he did have to walk a few spells. Both found the slower pace surprisingly enjoyable, as they spent the entire time talking like they had been seeing each other every day.

They reached the finish line — and Jon was feeling something he had not expected at the start line. He wanted to kiss her.

He didn't. That was Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008.

(Immediately following the first kiss: the first high-five)

The next day, Jon sent her a text: "I told her I wished I would have kissed her."

She texted back: "I said 'What are you, chicken?'"

By Tuesday, Jon was going insane. He called the Starbucks where Amanda works and asked what time she would start the next day. Amanda was opening the Starbucks in Skokie at 5 a.m.

Jon lives in Hoffman Estates. He left at 4 a.m.

"You're so stupid," she declared as he walked through her shop's door, "what are you doing here at 5 a.m.?"

He had come to collect that kiss.

"Who's chicken now?" he said before leaving his once-again girlfriend.

During our interview, Amanda confessed to being a little tough at times. She needs it: She coaches the Evanston Wildkits softball team.

"I'm on overdrive 24-7. Jon's the laid back, observant one."

(Jon and Amanda walked into their reception to the Notre Dame fight song, then did a victory lap around the head table)

And she made clear her gratitude for his patience.

"Nobody has ever treated me the way Jon has treated me," she began. "It's an unselfish love. I'm not always easy."

(Toward the end of one of the liveliest dances I've ever photographed, Paul the DJ played "Friends In Low Places")

But, as Jon made clear, she will now always be his, regardless of whether she makes it tough or easy.

"I told myself if I got another chance, I would just go all out," he said. "That's what I did."

"Everything has fallen into place.

"Every time that I see her, I smile. I wish it had happened a lot sooner."

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