The Meeting (part 1)

When N and I met, I was in a serious relationship. Very serious. I was engaged. And guess what? N was too. It wasn’t planned, but that’s how it happened.

I got engaged (the first time) Christmas Eve, 2003. R got down on one knee, after church, in my family’s kitchen in Pittsburgh while we were home for Christmas. I had never been more excited. I think I cried for an hour. So, fast forward to May, 2004, and I flew home to Pittsburgh from Portland to start wedding planning. Every girls dream, right?! While I was home I bought my wedding dress, chose the venue,  planned the bridal shower and asked all my bridesmaids. The date was set for almost one year later.

But after all of the planning, I wasn’t ready to go back to Portland. R was going to be out of town for a week when I got back, and I really wanted to spend more time with my friends and family back home. So I called the boyfriend, but he didn’t think it was a good idea. He wanted me to come home. Fine. I leave. I arrive back at our apartment early evening to find it an absolute mess. Clearly he had had a party. Clearly the authorities had shown up. Clearly I was pissed. So when I call him to ask him about what happened, he tells me he’s done. He wants me out of the apartment by the time he gets back or he’s going to hurt himself. Fine. Done.

You may be thinking something like, “Wow! I can’t believe that! He ended their engagement over the phone, just like that?!” But, he did this before. He had been drinking and he really did say things like this all the time, and then the next day apologize and send flowers, etc. And it was getting really old. This was the first time he had done anything like this since we were engaged, and I was really upset but ready to follow-through this time. I mean, I had just planned our wedding! And my mom was going to absolutely flip on me. But, this was what I had chosen. I knew that he could be like this, act like I didn’t matter, and say things that were almost unforgiveable and I still stayed. This time was different.

After I cried for another hour or so, I looked at myself in the mirror and said this was the last time I would cry over this relationship. The last time. And I meant it. And then I asked my grandmother to send me a sign that this was how my life was supposed to be. I was alone in Portland, OR. I had just left the most important people in my life and went back to an empty apartment and a relationship that had reached its ending. I needed to talk to someone! And I believe she was listening.

After I pulled myself together, got a shower, put my clothes away, I called my girlfriend to come over and help me clean up the apartment (and lets be honest- my life). She made me feel a little better and told me that I couldn’t sit in the apartment all night, I had to go out with her and her boyfriend and their good friend, E. I politely declined, finished cleaning, said goodbye, and laid down on the couch to try and forget the day. And I started thinking about how I was going to tell my parents that I wasn’t getting married anymore.

And if they’d get their money back from all the down payments.

And where I was going to live. What part of Portland should I look in?

Who was going to help me move?

What did I get to take?

What were my friends at home going to say?

Do I just leave the ring?

What’s he going to say when he comes home and I’m not here?

OMG I had to get out.

I jumped up, called  J, did my hair and make-up and walked down to meet her and her friends.

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The Meeting (part 2)

You may be wondering how I got here- walking around Portland, Oregon, with my family and friends across the country in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s not an uncommon story.

In high school, I saw a boy walking down the hall. He had light blue eyes, eyelashes for days,  a handsome face and an athletic build. He was always smiling and laughing, except when he looked at me in the hall that day. He stopped laughing and just stared at me walk by. I was new, having come from catholic grade school, and super intimidated, so I just stared back and walked by.

A year later, in mid-fall, he asked me if I wanted to go to a party with him.

“Sure,” I said.

I decided to bring a friend. He showed up alone.

We went to the party, spent some time together, and really had fun with other people who were there. After that night, he called me to hang out a lot. So I would go, because he was so much fun, and hang out with him and his friends, sometimes both of our friends, sometimes just us. We went to the park, we went to the mall, we drove around, he attempted to take me four-wheeling (I got out of the car and refused, as he laughed), we went to lunch. We had a lot of fun just going places together and hanging out with each other. It was really fun. This went on for months, until summer rolled around and he kissed me. I didn’t know what was going to happen after that, and I was really nervous. But, everything just kind of stayed the same, but became more romantic. We were a couple. And we started doing things as a couple, not just as friends. I introduced him to my family (as my boyfriend now), I met his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We went to family functions with each other. My siblings and cousins grew up with him there as part of the family. Our first official Valentine’s Day together, I had to work, and he filled my car full of pink balloons and left a bouquet of pink roses on the drivers seat with a note that said, “Can’t wait to see you later.” And when I did finally see him, he had a HUGE box wrapped for me. And he just stood there grinning and said, “Open it!” Inside were a million little things he knew I liked, like make-up, cd’s and clothes. He loved to spoil me. And I really enjoyed it. We spent more and more time together. I was now in college, so it was easy to forget about friends when he was around. And we got really serious.

But the following Valentine’s Day, he did something different. He had wrapped ten, individual boxes for me. He told me to open them in order, so I did.

The first box held a single rose, three pieces of red ribbon, and a page with three holes punched down the left hand side. It read, “R and H” in magazine cut out letters. I was confused. I laughed, and so did he, then he handed me another box. In the second was another rose, and another page, but this time, it said, “Our First Date” and he had written the story of our first date (which he claims is the day I showed up with a friend because I didn’t want to be alone with him). It was written from his perspective, how nervous he was, and how he would never forget it. I was shocked. It too had three  holes punched down the left hand side. Then he handed me another box, which held another rose, and the story of our first kiss. Each box held a page of our relationship together. And after the last box was opened and the final page placed behind the others, he tied them all together with the three pieces of ribbon. He had made me a book.