Part One.  Part Two.  Part Three.  Part Four.   Part Five.

You might have thought the last entry said it all, but as with any good story there was one more wrinkle that needed to be ironed out.  Spring Break.

Just after school started I made plans to go on a big trip, a four day cruise and three days in Florida, with J and 10 other people.  Fortunately, during the planning J and I were in one of our “off” periods so I would be rooming with another girl.  Unfortunately, after the way he acted about my sister I was extremely annoyed with the thought of putting up with seeing him almost non-stop for a week, but a non-refundable deposit that I’d saved and saved for stood in the way of me canceling. 

TTO also had spring break plans.  We agreed that what happened on our respective trips would stay on those trips.  We’d figure out the rest when we got back.  I was still very unsure of where we stood and I wanted to make sure we both hadas much fun as possible.  It’s possible that I sensed it might be our last “fling”. 

The first night J followed me around liked a sad puppy.  I was so annoyed.   He tried really hard to say and do all the right things, but it came across as weak and immature.  When I didn’t respond to that approach he started accusing me of things that I hadn’t done.  He told me that if I chose TTO over him I would be ruining my life.   I knew that if I was going to have any fun on the trip I had to prove to him that we were over and that it didn’t have anything to do with TTO (while it might seem that it did, my relationship with J was long over before TTO came along.  TTO just gave me an out).  

So I kissed a random guy.  Right in front of J.  On purpose.  I know that probably sounds extremely mean, but by this point I was really angry and thinking unreasonably.  It backfired on me of course, it turned out that said random guy was only 17.  I was only 22 at the time, but it was still pretty embarassing. 

On our final cruise stop, Key West, I left the group right after getting off the boat.  I hit up the first pay phone I could find and called TTO.  I was disappointed when I went to his voicemail.  Tears suddenly sprang up and as I sat on a nearby park bench I finally admitted to myself what I’d been trying to deny since that fateful basketball game.  I was in love with TTO.  Hopelessly, completely and probably foolishly in love. 

On the last night of our trip, at the hotel in Florida, J handed me his cell phone and said, “Call him”.  He’d given it his best shot and resigned himself to the fact that we were just not going to happen.  I saw him in person for the last time a few weeks later.  We keep in sporadic touch by e-mail.  He mainly writes to say how awesome his life is now.  I stoop to his level and respond with how awesome it is to be married.  He’s had a series of girlfriends (including one that went completely crazy.  She tried to file a restraining order against him and he asked if I would testify to his character.  I fully agreed, because while J was a lot of things, physically and verbally violent were neither of those things), but he’s still single. 

We got home on Easter Sunday and after spending some time with my family I went to see TTO.  We talked and talked, finally I got up the nerve to say what I’d been thinking for the last three months.  I looked at him, took a deep breath and said it, “I love you.  It’s probably way too soon and you probably think I’m crazy, but…”.  TTO cut me off and said, “Anna, I love you too.  It’s definitely soon, but I’ve known since that first night at your apartment.” 

Epilogue

We spent two years dating long distance.  I talked a little about that here.  Around my 24th birthday TTO and I were talking about getting married.  He said that he loved me and wanted to marry me eventually, but not right now.  Eventually.  It was a much bigger blow than I expected.  I was really disappointed because I was ready.  Plus we had a trip to Mexico with his family planned.  It would have been a great setting for a proposal.

And it was.  TTO had made up the story about waiting to get married because he wanted me to be surprised.  He figured I’d suspect it would happen on the trip and he wanted to throw me off.  After the worst meal of our lives and an argument about going back to the room to get my sweater, we went for a walk on the beach.  He hugged me and I looked up at the upside-down moon and thought, “Man, I wish he was ready.  This would be the perfect moment.”  The next thing I knew TTO was down on one knee.  I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything for several minutes.  Finally, much to his relief, I was able to squeak out a yes.

17 months later we got married during a 100 degree July day.  I had no desire for it to be the Best Day of My Life.  I just wanted our families and friends to be involved and for everyone to have fun.  Which I think they did, despite the heat.  My primary goal was that TTO and I ended up married.  We did, so mission accomplished.

It may seem cliche to say, but each day we’re together it just gets better.  I don’t know why.  Possibly we appreciate each other more because of our past or we’re just extremely well-matched.  What I do know is, that contrary to what J predicted, TTO did not ruin my life.  He made it.   

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