Part 2 of 6.  You can read Part 1 here.

In order to tell the rest of the story I think it’s necessary for me to tell you a little bit about the relationships I had in between TTO Version 1.0 and TTO Version 2.0.  One of them plays a critical role in our eventual reuniting and another was almost The One.  The third?  Well, we’ll just chalk that up to bad decision-making on my part.

Chronologically, the third that I mentioned actually came first.  I started dating S not long after breaking up with TTO.  We went to junior prom together.  I’m not sure how we ended up as a couple.  I can’t even remember if we referred to each other as boyfriend/girlfriend.  He was very “arty” and I most definitely was not.  I think he thought I was kind of ditzy even though my ACT score was higher than his.  Our relationship only lasted a few months.  I had one of my good friends warn him that I was planning to break up with him when they returned from their band trip.  Obviously I was not good at confrontation.  Or commitment.

That changed when I agreed to go out with Mater (oh yes, he really did have a produce-inspired nickname, but I’m not using the real one here).  We got together in the usual way.  His best friend, Snake, came into the drugstore where I worked and asked if I wanted to go to a movie with Mater.  I agreed, but brought my best friend along just in case.  It was a good thing.  I didn’t bring any money because I figured it was a date.  Mater had only enough to buy himself a ticket.  My best friend saved the day by paying for me.  After that I never went anywhere without being prepared to pay my own way.  Mater was a good guy, but very odd.  He would start singing LOUDLY whenever we were out in public.  He liked to talk about getting married and how much he wanted a wife (we were TEENAGERS!).  He’d been in a long-term relationship before me so I felt a little like the rebound girl, but I figured with my track record (remember, my longest “commitment” up to that point was roughly two months) it wouldn’t last long any way.

Mater was the perfect boyfriend for me at that point in my life.  We had fun together but he gave me a lot of space to spend with my friends knowing it was my last few months with them before graduation.  I’ll also note here that I have only once dated someone older than me.  All of my significant others have been younger.  TTO is one year, two months and six days younger.  I get reminded of this often.  Anyway, when Mater and I made it to six months I felt like I had really accomplished something.  He was convinced that as soon as I moved away we would be over.  I kept trying to convince him that we could do it. 

We made it work for the first month that I was gone.  Then I came home to be his date for Homecoming and broke up with him.  We both saw it coming so it was a pretty easy break.  Mater is the only ex that I have remained friends with.  He would call me often for help with his girl problems and we attempted getting back together a few times but it never panned out.  It was definitely better that we stayed friends.  If it weren’t for that friendship there would be no Anna and TTO. 

I spent the rest of my freshman year of college earning the affectionate nickname of “Hoochie Mama” from my girlfriends.  I never did anything more than make out with (several) random people, but they were all kind of prudish so it seemed like a big deal.  This was a lot of fun until I ended up falling asleep in the dorm room of a hockey player at the end of Christmas break and had to make the walk of shame the next morning.  Nothing happened, but I couldn’t convince anyone of that.  Then a particular hockey player showed up in my second semester English class.  And we were paired up for the first month of assignments.  Basically I had to write really bad poetry with a former not-so-stellar hookup.  It was humiliating, but I managed to live through it.

I stayed boyfriend and hookup-less for the rest of the spring and the entire summer.  Then I went back to school early for student leadership training.  I met the guy that would become almost The One the first day.  We had apparently met the previous spring, but I only vaguely remembered him.  In less than a month we were a hot item.  He was unlike any guy I had ever dated before.  He was 100% Italian, from Chicago, a major technology nerd and short.  If there is such a thing as a student leadership power couple we would have been it.  He was the dorm association president and I was a respresentative from one of the dorms.  We would eventually be accused of trying to “overthrow” the student government by a particularly vicious ex-friend.  We didn’t.  I don’t even know if something like that would have been possible. 

We spent all of our free time together.  I started sleeping (JUST sleeping) in his room every night – highly against the rules of my Catholic university.  Things started out great.  We treated each other well and had a lot of fun.  It was my first “adult” relationship.  We were good for each other.  At first.  Unfortunately, the longer we were together the less I recognized myself.  I left my friends behind and started to latch on to his interests.  J was a great guy in so many ways but after awhile our relationship became extremely co-dependent, something I had never experienced before.  We made it through a year together and then began the rocky cycle of being on-again/off-again for the next year.  I should say a lot more about this relationship and I probably will at some point, but it’s not really relevant to the story I’m trying to tell here. 

What is relevant is that on New Year’s Eve 2001 after a long, emotional phone conversation with J, I asked God to please, please give me some kind of a sign that would let me know what to do about our relationship.  I was completely tapped out and I knew that I couldn’t take the up and down anymore.  I had been lost in a really dark place for a quite a while and I needed desperately to get out.  I don’t think I have ever prayed with more passion or sincerity.  God was my last hope. 

And boy did He work fast.