A few weeks after our trip to Connecticut I was talking to my best friend Melody on the phone. She asked me about Jon and the trip. And she kept prodding me for information. I must have finally admitted I kinda liked the guy because all I remember is her yelling into the phone: "Ahhh, What day is it? November 7! I'll never forget the day you finally admitted you like him!!" Thanks to her performance, neither will I.
For his birthday, Jon's parents were taking him to New York City to see "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway. He asked if I wanted to come along, spend the day in the city with them, and then sleep at his grandparents in New Jersey that night. I was skeptical. It all sounded a bit too serious. But "Phantom of the Opera" ... how could a girl refuse?! It wasn't until later that I found out "spending the night at his grandparents" meant partaking in the annual Family Christmas, the one where 50-some of Jon's mom's relatives get together for dinner and a gift exchange. Going to see a show on Broadway with a guy and his parents is one thing, but attending an exclusive, once-a-year family holiday get-together was seriously pushing the "just friends" line a bit. But it was too late. I had already agreed to go and tickets were in hand.
It was a fantastic day. I remember thinking that traveling in the car with Jon's famiily didn't feel any different than another road trip with my parents. And as if seeing my first (and so far only) Broadway show wasn't enough excitement for one day, we also decided to splurge and go ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It was quite unforgettable! And "Phantom of the Opera"? Totally, unbelievably amazing. I tell ya, the guy scored big points with that one.
The next day was Family Christmas, which was just a tad intimidating. I've talked about this side of the family before. They're a big group, and so much fun. But slightly overwhelming at first. Especially to a girl who comes from a family with a whopping total of two cousins, that I rarely see. Plus, you don't bring just anyone to the Annual Family Christmas. So I was immediately dealing with everyone's expectations. It seemed like every aunt and uncle I was introduced to started out with, "Oh, I've heard so much about you ..." Then there were the more bolder cousins who just came right out with it, "Are you Jon's girlfriend?" But my favorite was cousin Brittany, who later confided that she was planning to duct tape me to a pillar if she didn't like me or if I was "prissy."
Thankfully I managed to survive Brittany and the rest of the family, and thoroughly enjoyed the festivites. Although I do feel a bit more sympathetic to each new person who's slowly trickled into the family these past six years. Dude, I've been there. I know what it's like the first time around!
Jon and I exchanged our own gifts when we got back home that night. I had just learned how to crochet that semester for a service club I was in. So I crocheted him a scarf. He was very appreciative. I've never seen him wear the thing, but I think he liked the gesture. He got me lots of things, but the one I'll never forget, and that I still have, is a little box of trinkets that reminded him of our time together. Seriously the sweetest thing I've ever gotten. And I think it may have been the box that pushed me over the edge.
We talked for a long time the night before Jon left to go back to school. We talked about us and where we were headed. I finally admitted to the poor guy that I really did like him and was genuinely interested, just not in any rush. Which was apparently a good move on my part because he claimed he was about to give up at that point. So I don't know what we "were" by the start of 2004. But I do know that Jon's mom called my mom the next day, in the middle of a holiday party we were having with some friends, to share some very important news: Jon had told her that he could spend the rest of his life with me.
As exciting as that sounded, I was more concerned about getting through the next four months without seeing the first, and only, boy I had just professed my affection for ... and figuring out this whole Coast Guard Ring Dance that was coming up in April...