When he fielded a call from a woman named Laila just before Labor Day of 2002, Trent Tribou's initial response was more telemarketer than smooth operator.
Trent, now 28, assumed, wrongly, that this Laila was just another one of his medical sales clients. It took a minute for him to realize who was on the other end--that Laila, Laila LeGue, now 25 and also in medical sales, the woman he'd met the previous summer.
You can't blame Trent for his forgetfulness: The two hadn't talked in a year. The previous summer, when Laila came to West Linn, she'd been the "girl next door," a blond-haired stranger helping her mother move furniture and boxes into a new house.
Laila and Trent spent that first summer together, but not together in a John Travolta-Olivia Newton-John sort of way. Laila, then a stranger in a strange town, says she appreciated having someone to hang out with. "We were just friends," she says with a lingering Midwest accent.
Trent, on the other hand, was thinking about a summer romance. Ultimately, though, he let geography dictate the course of the relationship.
"I knew that I liked her," Trent says. "But I didn't let her know. I think it was because I knew she was going back [to Michigan]."
After that visit to Oregon, Laila decided that a western migration would bring her closer to her mother and sister. It didn't take long before she realized the move also brought her closer to Trent. After that phone call, the two resumed spending most of their free time together, but now the dynamics had changed. "We just sort of fell together" is how she explains it.
The couple's relationship, which had already been stalled by distance, suffered another roadblock last August when Trent's company transferred him to Seattle. Laila saw the occasion as a test.
Due to their religious beliefs--which they label as "old-fashioned"--the couple decided they wouldn't move in together unless they were married. So Laila stayed in West Linn and the couple spent weekends commuting up and down Interstate 5.
Laila didn't expect a night at the Space Needle on New Year's Eve 2003 to be the occasion of a proposal, partly because Trent's mother had warned her not to expect any surprises that night. In retrospect, Laila says, "She knew Trent was having a ring made and it wasn't ready."
Trent's mother may have been well-intentioned, but she was misinformed. The real story, Trent says, is that he was indeed having a ring made, but after receiving a pep talk from a co-worker who used the Nike adage "Just do it" as a rallying cry, he'd decided to find a different ring.
As the clock struck midnight, ringing in 2004, the couple's relationship entered new territory. Trent proposed, pulling out the ring from where he had hidden it in his sock.
Last month, on a Tribou-family trip to Kauai, the couple sealed their relationship with a Hawaiian wedding ceremony.
Upon their return, Trent and Laila crossed the final boundary in their often geographically challenged relationship. Just last week, Laila finished moving her belongings up I-5 to Issaquah, Wash., where she now lives with her new husband.