The other "Our Stories": Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII.
You knew it was coming. The "bumpy road" part of Our Story. Every relationship has one. Or maybe not. I can think of a few couples I know whom I quite positive have been on an 8 year honeymoon. But that wasn't us. I'll explain.
I held down a handful of jobs while in college, one of them was with the admissions office. My boss liked me and offered me a summer job, full-time, decent pay, free room and board. And since the campground where I had previously been working my summers had just been sold, I took it. Jon was hoping to get a summer deployment in Baltimore so we would actually get to see each other occasionally. Instead he got sent to Miami ... and Panama, Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica, etc. While he was working on his tan down south I was giving campus tours and getting carpal tunnel from competing for data entry records.
We had a few days together before he left for the summer. Jon came out to visit me at school and we decided to take a day trip to Cape May, which is one of the places Jon was thinking about putting in for after graduation. We got to spend the whole day together and then the whole drive back to Central PA - which is a lot of face time for a couple who averages about 5 visits a year.
That early summer was glorious. I was in love with "the most wonderful man" who was "so perfect for me." I "loved every minute we spent together" and was ready to "skip the next two years and just marry him!" And a lot of other goobly gook I wrote in my journal that I won't mention here. But after that things started to get hazy. We knew we both liked each other and wanted to be together. But we also didn't know what the future held, when we'd see each other again, whether we should make our relationship "official" or continue to (try to) keep things at a friendship level. We would spend fantastic weekends together and fall more in love, and then I'd go back to school/work and we'd argue, miss phone calls, go days without speaking. I went from wanting to jump ahead to a wedding to realizing that maybe there was a chance Jon wasn't the one for me after all. And feeling torn every minute of the day. And that's pretty much how things went the rest of the summer. Except after Jon left for Miami we couldn't have these kind of discussions in person. And after he got underway we weren't even able to talk on the phone. And after he got really involved with his patrol the emails grew fewer and farther between.
It truly was a pitiful summer. I wrote in my journal, "Maybe someday I'll look back on this and laugh at how it all plagued me. Maybe someday I won't." Well 7 years later and I'm not laughing. But it certainly is a good reminder of how far we've come. Sometimes I get to reading old journals and thinking about our past dating days and I miss all that fun and anticipation, the excitement of falling madly in love for the first time. And then I remember the Summer of 2004 and I'm so relieved I don't have to live with that that kind of stress anymore. Don't have to wonder if the man I love is going to call me back, don't have to worry that I'm making the wrong decision, don't have to constantly second guess what's really on my heart ...
But back to then. We weren't the only ones confused. Rumors started going around our little circle that we were engaged, or broken up, or I had changed my mind. Everything. I mean, I had no idea where we stood, but everyone else seemed to know exactly what was going on. And they were all wrong. By mid-summer things were just plain frustrating. Jon said I had him in a "holding pattern" and I didn't know how to respond when someone asked me about my "relationship status." It got to a point where I stopped telling Jon how I really felt because, either way, I didn't want to reget it a few days later. And eventually opportunities stopped arising. We went from "thinking about you every day" to "forgetting to return your phone call."
Jon got back from his deployment and had a few days at home before heading back to school. We hung out a little but it wasn't quite the same. A few days after he left I realized I didn't miss him as much as I used to. A few days after that I finally worked up the courage to do what I should have done months earlier. I called Jon up and told him it was over, we couldn't be together, we couldn't even be friends since we weren't very good at that anyway. It was a long conversation and Jon didn't really agree with what I was saying, we'd argue more, then agree on one thing, then argue again. I cried a lot. And a few days afterwards. Okay I cried for a few weeks afterward. It wasn't until it was all over that I realized how much I really did love the guy. But I felt it was for the best. I canceled my plans to watch him play football at the Academy the following weekend, told him not to expect to hear from me again for a long while, and hung up the phone.
A few weeks later I was on a plane bound for England.