My Friend...My Love
It had been a rough year. I began the year once again dating J. We had a good time together but I was having severe trust issues. Neither of us knew what we wanted our relationship to look like. We had a huge fight and nearly lost a 20+ year friendship.
In the spring, we learned that my father had cancer. He chose not to fight the disease so it was only a matter of time that he would be gone.
I had been separated from the ex for over a year but was unable to file for divorce for financial reasons. We were awaiting the sale of our home and the housing market was on a steady decline. I felt like I was stuck in a state of limbo.
At least I was finally working full-time again, after 3 1/2 years of being home with the kids or working part time. I had attempted to date again but I hadn't found anyone that I clicked with. Or trusted. I learned quite a bit about myself while dating J and I knew I had some work to do.
I'd had it. My focus had changed. I decided to stop looking. I was going to not date, focus on my children and enjoy being a single girl. I told myself I would never marry again nor have anymore children. I would simply be the best mother I could be. And I'd look damn good too.
I bought the sexiest red dress I could find and planned on wearing it to the 20th high school reunion. The reunion was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. I was wondering who would I see, how would everyone look... but mostly I was curious about a high school crush. You know the one that never knew I existed?
That is where my mind was when one of my classmates pulled out our old yearbook.
"What about him?!" she said, pointing to my old friend from English class. "Remember him? He was the man among boys in our high school days. Remember how built he was?!"
Hmmm, I thought. Yes, I do remember how built he was. And I remember how we liked each other. I wonder where he is now...
"Oh yeah," chimed in another classmate, "He wanted to come but he is in Hawaii right now. He was competing in a triathlon there. You know, the Ironman?"
Whoa. Ok, duly noted.
A few weeks after the reunion and a few more online dates gone bad, I decided to email my classmate from the reunion and see if he knew the contact info for my old friend from English class and most recently, Ironman competitor.
"Here's his email address," the email said, "but you might try this one too, in case he's deployed."
The very day and nearly the hour that I emailed my friend from high school English class, he replied, "I am so excited to hear from you!!"
We were both ecstatic that the stars seemed to be aligned and we were both single. He had been married once before; ironically he married a month after my wedding. He was out of town in Army desert training and we exchanged emails over the next few days. He called the following Monday. On the phone call, he asked me if I was available for a date on September 6.
Yes... let's try this again.
It was on our second phone call that he broke the news to me. "I am deploying to Iraq in November." I was deflated and tried my best not to show it.
"That's ok," I told him in an email the next day, "I will just send love to my soldier overseas from the USA."
I had no idea...
In his haste to experience everything before deployment, he pushed a little further:
"What about the weekend of September 28? Are you free then? Would you like to spend the weekend together?"
"Yes, actually, I will put you down for that weekend."
I couldn't believe that I was making plans with him a month in advance. And we hadn't even seen each other yet.
On September 6, 2007, after 22 years, we finally went out on our first date.
I was ridden with anxiety and nerves when he arrived at my house. When I opened the door and we saw each other for the first time, I felt relief and a sense of familiarity. He stepped inside and enveloped me in a hug.
It seemed to me that hug lasted forever. I really think time stopped when I was in his arms. Neither of us would let go. It just felt like HOME. We hadn't even really said two words and that hug, well, it said everything. Then I heard his voice in my ear, "Wow. This is nice."
The details of our date are linked above but I will say this: It was an instant connection. I'm still not sure if we just needed each other as an escape to our sadness - with his impending deployment and my father's impending death. All that I knew was that it was happening and it was happening fast....
I was going to fall in love with this man.
To be continued....