September 1, 2011

The prairie, part two

The hardest part of the interview was knowing the entire time that I had the job. They said they had more people to interview and I'd hear later that day or early the next morning, but regardless of when, I knew what their response would be. The job was perfect for me; everything I have done professionally up to this point would help me succeed in the position. Still, anticipating the results had me a nervous wreck. Couldn't eat, couldn't sit still. So I went for a walk.

I started walking down the street and just kept going until I had some idea of where I'd like to end up. I usually walk pretty quickly, but this wasn't about fitness. This was a slow stroll, trying to figure out what I should do next. As I crossed one of my favorite scenic bridges over the highway and some train tracks, it came to me.

I'm going to ask Bobby to marry me.

I never felt so sure of anything, and decided to go to a thrift store and see if I could find some small placeholder ring for until we could get proper ones. But first, I had to walk to a nearby library branch - there was a movie waiting for me that I had requested ("The Purple Rose of Cairo," if you believe in fate).

Walking down the streets in Little Italy, I compulsively checked my email on my phone every ten or fifteen minutes. Finally, there it was. Fall 2011 Lecturer Offer for [University] - French. I was excited - for the job and the idea of a whole new life somewhere else, but also, because I was going to be incredibly impulsive and uncharacteristically spontaneous and ask Bobby to go with me as my partner.

I immediately texted him and asked if we could get together the next day, as early as possible. Of course, he said, and we set up a time. Then I asked how his day was.

Work was tiring, but it's over. Now just nervous about the events.

I'm nervous too. But we'll work through this, we'll figure it out.

We will.

And as I fell asleep that night, I thought about how I'd say it. No tears - unless they were happy ones. No dropping to one knee - it didn't feel right for us, plus I never found a ring. It would just be raw, honest thought.

Yes, this is very much a whirlwind romance. But come with me, we'll start a life together in a new place and get to know each other a little every day for the rest of forever...

I woke up, raced out to the suburbs, and practically jumped off the train and into his arms when the train pulled into the station. A big hug and a kiss, then we got into his car.

I was thinking we'd go for a walk in this prairie near here.

Sounded good to me, and we were off.

At this point in the story, I'd like to mention that as I've tried exploring relationships since starting to live healthier, one of the qualities I've sought has been an interest in sharing healthy activities. Jon had lost over 150 pounds after a gastric bypass surgery, but rarely worked out and ate garbage still and was okay with his losses slowing to one pound a month. Matt said he had lost about 30 pounds from working out and eating better but had conveniently slipped into a plateau right before we met, and our dates quickly got to the routine of listen to music, have sex, and then go out to eat. But Bobby hadn't lost any weight, though he certainly wanted to; it felt so good to finally meet a guy who was genuine in saying that he, too, wanted to go on active dates and that cooking healthy meals together was a very intimate experience.

And so, we arrived at the prairie. It was sunny and perfect, and we held hands as we walked almost silently along the dirt paths. There were so many thoughts, but none being expressed; he kept rubbing his fingers nervously over mine, and as he did this, I just held his hands a little tighter. There was nothing to be afraid of in this moment - to borrow the idea from one of my absolute favorite blog comments, we were standing on the edge of great things.

The sun rose higher in the sky and it got warmer and warmer. The trees were few and far between, but with each one, we'd stop, he'd hold me close, and we'd kiss. There were other walkers, runners, and cyclists on the path, so the stops were brief but intimate. Finally, we reached the end of the path, and looped back around towards the car.

My stomach felt heavy with nervousness as we retraced our steps and finally, we got to an underpass tunnel connecting one part of the park to the other. We stopped, and there was an exceptionally passionate kiss. He had his arms around me, and I had my arms on top of his. I lightly tapped my fingers on his biceps.

Are you counting?

Sort of. Counting down. Building up the strength to say what I need to say.

An exceptionally deep inhale, and tumbling out with the breath came the words I had rehearsed over and over for nearly twenty-four hours, as well as a deluge of tears.

I got the job...

He frowned and bit his lip, and I continued.

... and I want you to come with me.

It was one of those don't-think-just-say-it moments, and at the last minute, I decided not to propose marriage, but just relocation. Deciding to marry is not to be taken lightly - in spite of the statistics, I still believe in the idea of forever - and cross-country relocation would be a big enough change. Asking someone I'm on my fourth date with to move in with me would be huge; in that instant, that serious of a proposal didn't feel as right.

He smiled and looked at me with tears in his eyes, and I was as sure of his answer as I had been about the one from my new employers.

The thing is...

My tears fell faster, and he continued.

No, I'm not saying no. It's just, I've got so much stuff going on right now.

Which is true. He just came back in June from nearly a year of teaching in Korea and was a week and a half away from starting pre-pharmacy classes.

I already looked into it. There's a community college in the town we'd be moving to, you can take classes there. You can withdraw from school here...

And - I'd want to be able to support myself out there.

But I'm going to be making more than twice what I made at the University of Illinois. I can take care of us until you find work out there. Don't worry about that, we'll just make it work. I ... I just want to be with you.

That day, in the shade of the overpass, we made each other promises for the future. We'll keep in touch, we'll try this thing long distance, we'll see each other as often as we possibly can. This is something that feels bigger than we even realize, and this is something worth pursuing no matter what.

We went for frozen yogurt, and I spent most of the rest of our time together crying uncontrollably. Not just for Bobby, but for everything I was about to lose and gain. For everything this past year, to be honest. I don't do change well, and for the past thirteen months, pretty much nothing has been consistent. I was moving to a new job, in a state I'd never even visited, and I'd meet people who have no idea who I am or how I used to be. It was scary and incredibly overwhelming, and my tears were full of over a year's grief.

Needless to say, a 2161 mile drive in a pickup truck feels infinitely longer when your heart is heavy and you're hoping you've been making the right decisions.


Poison said...

Oh honey I want to cry right along with you!! But change is good and you know what they say... if you love someone let them go... He's letting you go and maybe in the not so far off future things will be in the right place at the right time for you both. <3

Charlotte said...

Ahhhh, that's sad...but I think both of you made the right decision. But change is soo hard..
Take care.

Joy said...

Sounds like you have strong man in your life. A sensible guy who wants to do things right. Trust him! Your love story is not over!! Just enjoy every minute. Keep growing and learning more about yourself and continue on with your health and fitness. If it is meant to be ~ it will be!

Keep focused!

timothy said...

there's nothing i can say, my heart goes out to you and just KNOW that if you trust karma/fate/spirit things will happen when they're meant to. bright blessings xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Amy said...

It'll happen!! Everything happens for a reason, and this will make your love story all the more epic.

Unknown said...

Wow what a romance! That could have been right out of a novel or movie!

This part of the story isn't over yet of course, and when and if things do work out between the two of you this will be just part of your wonderfully romantic story.

I'm rooting for you!


Tim said...

Big hugs Mary!

Long distance relationships really can work if you two are meant to be together. Even if you are apart for 1/2/3 years yet feel that you both are meant to be with each other forever then that's only a few years out of the next 50/60+ years spent together.

Good luck to you both.

Weight Wars said...

I told you before the guy I married 8 years ago, the guy I'm still with now, and I did long distance from just 3 weeks after meeting. It worked and we loved each other forever since.

It's hard, really really hard, but it's so worth it.

Liz said...

Wow, what a strong young woman you are many young girls would let a great job pass them by in order to stay in what is comfortable. Long distance doesn't have to mean forever...just not right this minutes...hang on...

marisol said...

If teaching doesn't work out for you, you should become a writer. I would so buy your books.

Like most have said, if it's meant to be it will be.

Pirate Alice said...

Mary, what a touching story. I've got tears in my eyes for you. You've got such an adventure in front of you. I just know it's going to be awesome. I'm rooting for you!!

Jillian said...

I'm pretty sure that 2161 mile drive felt just about like my transcontinental flight out of Korea. I left a part of my heart there with an American boy. I knew when I left that it wasn't going to work--it was too far, he was too young, and neither of us are very stable (in terms of living, etc--he's in the army). I was broken on the flight home. I think I cried nearly the entire time, with my head turned to the window, you know, those tears that don't make noise but slip down your cheeks without prompting. I hope that you're story works out differently than mine, and I'm sorry you had to go through the leaving part. Getting on that plane was one of the hardest thing I've ever done.

financecupcake said...

Wow, you are an excellent writer! Just reading this has me close to tears - I can't imagine what you're going through. :(

Picking up and moving across the country all by yourself after losing 150 pounds sounds incredibly scary, but it's an incredible opportunity at the same time. I think you're going to have an amazing time. :)

Carbie Girl said...

Oh mary, how touching. Its truly a beautiful story and I hope that everything comes together for you, you deserve so much and I'm sure your plight through all this weightloss has made you so much stronger and ready for experiences such as these. Its not easy but definitely one of those, keep your head in the clouds with your feet on the ground moments. xoxo

Denise said...

My husband and I met on the internet and maintained a cross-continental relationship for 8 months before I moved to Oregon.

It was really hard. Kind of. I mean, we'd met online so we were kind of used to gchats and late-night phone calls and emails, but once we met and knew that there was something there, it became a struggle to talk to him without seeing his lips move. You can only work with what you've got, and if what you've got is Skype and phone calls and regular letters, then make the best of it. The end results will be worth all of the shit you guys have had to deal with.