Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an installment of Our Story here, but we’d come to a point that seemed like it would make a pretty good ending if it needed to, and life circumstances dictated that it did need to, at least for a while. So, I took a break to focus on the present instead of burying my head in the past. And then we moved. And then we didn’t have internet for a month. And then work started to come in. And taxes. And you know how these things happen. All of a sudden I felt completely overwhelmed trying to keep up with the present and plan for the future, let alone diving into the past.
A couple weeks ago I read this post by the author of one of my favorite books about that “itch,” you get when you need to write. And while I totally resonated with it, because she really hits it on the head- you don’t always know what you have to say, you just know you need to sit down at the computer with an open heart and let it all flow out- I also thought to myself, “you know, I must truly be done writing Our Story because I just don’t feel that itch anymore.” Well…wouldn’t you know, I woke up this morning feeling extraordinarily itchy. It’s time. I’m back. So here we go.
WARNING: This posts includes kissing. Lots of it. If that embarrasses you, well, feel free to avoid eye contact the next time you see me. I’ll know why.
This post is part of an ongoing series about how Taylor and I met and fell in love. To get back to the beginning, click here. And thanks for following along!
Last we checked in, I’d been dramatically kissed by a boy so determined to plant one one me, he hadn’t noticed I wasn’t wearing any pants. It was just before Christmas and we had exchanged our first gifts as a couple, both feeling a little awkward about the whole thing. He gave me a Thesaurus (pure romance in the eyes of an English major), the second season of Gilmore Girls and a gift certificate to Powell’s. He already knew me well. And I’d spent most of my Thanksgiving break making him a fleece blanket for basketball roadtrips, and a Photoshop masterpiece with the only photos of us I had, complete with the lyrics of his favorite Johnny Cash song. After swapping presents, we parted ways, each going to our respective homes for the holiday, which, thanks to the fact that we both played basketball only lasted a few days. Before we knew it, we were back on campus and back where we already knew we belonged, together.
He’d picked me up at the airport, a big relationship step at the time, and taken me back to his parent’s house before I had to head to Newberg for practice. We’d spent the day with his family, playing games, cracking jokes and enjoying a spaghetti dinner- my least favorite food of all time, though I didn’t let on- before Andrew, Melissa, Taylor and I all piled in the car and drove to the gym. The boys, who lived in dorm style housing, were locked out of their place so they decided to crash in our living room for the night, which felt totally scandalous at the time. A bunch of us watched a movie together, Chocolat I believe, and then the crowd scattered, leaving just the four of us. According to my journal we stayed up until 5:30 a.m. I’m not sure what Melissa and Andrew were up to all that time, I think they went on a “walk” somewhere, but as for me, well…
We hadn’t kissed since the door throwing incident. Part of me was kind of insulted, you know? Who wouldn’t want a piece of this? But part of me was relieved. All I had to do was a little bit of math and I quickly realized too much kissing, too soon, would not be a good idea. I mean, we were young. I had every intention of making it to my wedding day without letting anybody up in my business, if you know what I mean. But that day was a long way off and since I practically turned into jello anytime the guy reached for my hand, I knew if he started in with the kissing business, who knows what would happen to my resolve.
Well start in he did, in fact. As we sat on the floor talking late into the night, he made his move. I was no stranger to being kissed, I’d done my fair share of what the kids call “making out,” in my day. But something about kissing this boy was so very different. I felt simultaneously thrilled to my core and terrified. I’d prided myself on kissing for sport in my former life, but with him, I felt like a southern belle one step away from needing some smelling salts. It wasn’t that he was the best I’d ever kissed, or the most experienced. In fact, I’d later find out he’d only ever kissed one other girl. It was the terrifying fact that one month into this brand new relationship, I knew I loved him. And I’d never been kissed, really, properly kissed, by someone I loved before.
My journal entry from the next day is full of all sorts of hesitation about all of this happening too fast. Too soon. Terrified of where it might go. But I remember shortly after writing it, hearing a knock at my door. One look at that gorgeous face and all my worries were instantly washed away. I was whisked off to the store to buy ingredients for dinner, which we made together, dancing around the kitchen talking about our futures and who we wanted to be. It was every bit as casual as the night before had been serious. And as terrified as I was to admit that I was madly in love with a boy I really barely knew, everything about being with him felt perfectly right. Something in me knew a relationship with this boy would be a wild ride, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted in.
Despite the fact that I’d stalked the guy for over a year, I’d managed to play it pretty cool so far in our relationship. Hadn’t showed too many cards. Taken things in stride. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to last. One day in mid-January, after a particularly rough week of basketball practice, and a long tearful call with my parents, I was feeling pretty blue. I set my AIM status as “Grrrr…” and naturally, Taylor texted me to ask what was up. I tried to brush him off, saying I was just upset about basketball and I had to head to class, but shortly after I sat down in my classroom, completely drenched from the walk and still choking back tears, my phone began to ring. I rushed out into the hallway to answer, kicking myself for not setting it to vibrate. Taylor was on the other end.
“Where are you?” he said.
“I’m in class. Why?”
Ten minutes later he showed up at the door of my classroom, soaking wet, rain dripping from his nose, holding a steaming Starbucks cup. He had the biggest grin on his face and was looking at me with such care and concern. It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen, and it took all my willpower not to burst into hysterics in front of the whole class. Blushing as everyone looked at me, I excused myself from class and followed him out of the room. We sat down next to each other on a bench in the hallway and tears streamed down my face. He didn’t say much, he didn’t have to. He held my hand as I drank my coffee, and with every sip I felt just a little bit better. It was a bittersweet moment; I lost my facade of “having it all together,” of being cool, calm and collected, but I also got to experience the sweetness of having this guy in my corner. And suddenly, I couldn’t think of anything that could trump the fact that he was mine.
The rest of January is mostly a blur of basketball practice, games and trips. We went on another group date, and Taylor brought me the first of many bouquets of flowers, but before we knew it, we’d arrived at our next really big relationship milestone, Valentine’s Day. I’d never had a particularly good experience with the holiday. In fact, I’d only made it through the many February 14th’s of childhood thanks to the annual heart-shaped ice cream cakes from Baskin Robins my Mom “surprised,” us with every year (thank you Mom). All that to say, I had no idea what to expect.
I remember waking up that morning, realizing what day it was and taking a deep breath. Reminding myself not to get my hopes up, laying in bed attempting to reason with the crazy expectations that seemed to pop into my head every year. I readied myself for the slight taste of disappointment I always had in my mouth at the end of the day. And then I stepped out the back door, and very nearly on to the bouquet of red roses and goofy little poem Taylor had written and left on my stoop. My heart exploded.
I daydreamed through my classes, and most likely basketball practice, counting down until our date that night. We had dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s, a local steakhouse, before heading to our top secret destination. He’d told me were going to dessert, and I figured we’d hit Rose’s Deli, who served our favorite chocolate orange cake. But when he drove past the restaurant with a smirk on his face, I was puzzled. Half an hour into our trip he asked if I knew where we were going, and I confessed, much to his delight, that I didn’t.
Smiling, he said, “What are those lights up ahead?”
He pulled off onto a side road and quickly turned around to back up to a fence that lined the area with the lights. I remained confused until I heard the undeniable roar of an airplane landing very nearby.
“Are we at the airport!?” I asked, craning my neck to see the giant, roaring plane.
He just smiled, hopped out of the cab of the pickup and began to set up a dessert picnic in the bed of the truck. He’d brought our favorite cake, hot chocolate, sparkling cider and an array of other sweets and treats. He spread a couple thick blankets and we climbed in the back, cozying up under a few more. I can’t remember a moment in my life that has been quite as perfect as that one. Even still. Every disappointed Valentine’s Day I’d ever spent was redeemed in that one night. My hope was restored in humanity. Something about all those planes coming in, people reaching their destinations and the people they loved, was so terribly romantic. We sat in the back of that truck, watching planes, talking and snuggling until 11 p.m., and it took all my willpower to tear myself away.
While the night had already been pretty incredible, it wasn’t over yet. Jaime and I had spent a long day the weekend before filming a pretty hilarious Valentine’s Day video for our boyfriends and had planned to sneak into our team room with sparkling cider and chocolate covered strawberries to celebrate it’s premier. Once Taylor and I got back to campus, we snuck into the gym and all sat together, cracking up over our crazy antics and ridiculous impressions. As we walked back to our apartment, re-enacting our favorite scenes, I thought to myself that Valentine’s Day should always come to an end surrounded by good friends.
The early months of our relationship are so fun to remember. So sweet and easy. Our innocence, our awkwardness, our ignorance of each other. Learning how to be ourselves when we were together, celebrating little milestones and sending each other increasingly sappy emails. It was a pretty special time and I lived in a daydream for a solid three months. Though we’d passed each other’s tests, and I’d even gotten the thumbs up from his family, he hadn’t yet met mine. And all bets were off until we visited them in March.
To be continued…