Friday, July 15, 2011

Our Story, Part XI: Ya Gotta Break-Up to Make-Up

There seems to be this stigma associated with breaking up with your spouse-to-be, or at least I thought so.  As if somewhere along the line you made a mistake, but were fortunate enough to catch it, and get back on track.  But I no longer think that's the case.  After I ended things with Jon, numerous people came up to me and told me their own stories about breaking up before getting back together.  I'm sure they meant it to be an encouragement.  And in some ways it was.  But, at the time, I secretly hoped that the whole experience hadn't been a mistake, or a hiccup, but a deliberate, well-thought decision for the better.  Six years later I think it was.  And six years later I still maintain that you can't "break-up" with a person you were never officially "with."  I rest my case.

I called Jon the day I got back to the States to wish him a happy birthday.  We didn't talk too long because he was about to hang out with some friends.  But two days later he stopped by my house to visit on his way back from a ski trip.  Just two old friends, catching up.  He stayed for dinner, we rented a movie with my family.  On the outside it was like nothing had changed.  But on the inside we were both wondering just where exactly things stood.

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Christmas was a little lonely that year.  And for Jon too, since he spent most of Christmas Eve by himself because his parents were at someone else's house for dinner.  I wanted to invite him to hang out with us, but knew it was important to spend quality time with my parents and brothers too.  Plus tongues were already wagging about Jon's one visit earlier that week. 

Our family has a few little traditions on Christmas Eve where we have dinner out, attend church, drive around and look at lights, and then come home for sparkling grape juice by the fire and open one gift.  Each year we do a toast.  In 2004 I toasted to "the last Christmas with only us 5."  Jared chugged his entire glass of juice to that one.  Ironically, with two single brothers, the toast has stuck.  Each year we toast to having a new family member around the tree the following Christmas... and each year I seem to be the one bringing home the new person!  But not that year. 

December 24, 2004
"It's so frustrating, especially during the holidays, to like someone and not be able to show it.  To want to be with someone and have to avoid opportunities to do so.  I really don't know what I'm doing but I hope it's the last Christmas I have to do it."

At one point I was cleaning my room and realized I couldn't find my box of "Jon pictures" anywhere.  I had a mini panic attack, thinking that maybe I had thrown them all out in a moment of delirium after the "break-up that wasn't".  I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I discovered them a little later in the wrong box.  Phew!  Potential historical gap averted!  Jon and I did get a few more visits in over the break.  Skiing on New Year's, a game night with my family, bowling with his parents.  I didn't bowl very well.  According to G'Ma, my butt, which had grown considerably while in England, was throwing off my game.  Thank you G'Ma.  If Jon noticed, he didn't say anything.  Actually, I found out a few years later, he did notice.  But still didn't say anything.  What a nice guy.

We had plenty of time to catch up.  And finally, right before the New Year, we sat down and had "the talk."  You know, the "lay it all on the line and find out where things stand" talk.  Turns out, we both still cared about each other.  We also both didn't feel like right then was the time to make things official.  And we both agreed "the break-up" had been good for us.  When all was said and done, we felt like our friendship had grown and stabilized to a point where, if we didn't have a future together, we knew we'd always have a good friendship.  God had answered all my prayers from that fall, and it finally felt like we were both on the same page.

Jon went back to the Academy soon after that. A few days later he had surgery on his broken nose, and then came home for a few days to recover. I got to see him for a total of one hour and then was headed back to school myself. I had been hoping that Jon would get stationed at Cape May after graduation so that we would be within an hour or so of each other, but it was starting to look like that wouldn't happen. And it was also starting to look like we wouldn't be seeing each other at all that spring. The semester was looking bleak and within a few days I was already missing Jon.
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Wasn't I such a cute quasi-girlfriend??

February 8, 2005
"I think I'm starting to understand Jon's frustrations a little more.  It's like something just zapped our relationship, took all the fun out of it.  It's stressful enough now, I can't imagine how it will be several months from now."

It was another tough semester.  Jon was finishing up his career at the Academy and I was overloading on classes to catch up from a few months abroad.  We got a quick visit in over President's Day Weekend and went another another ski trip together.  Then it was back to school for a few more weeks before Spring Break.  After thinking and fretting over where Jon would go after graduation, we finally got the news -- Portsmouth, Virginia!  Soon after, I confirmed my acceptance at a grad school just minutes away from Jon's new home.  And at the end of Spring Break Jon sat down with my parents and asked if he could date their daughter. 

March 12, 2005
Well goodbye single life - hello future.

In March 2005, at the age of 21, I got my first real boyfriend.  I would have never guessed where we would be standing together just one year and two weeks later ...

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