Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Story: Part 4

Christal was just as miserable as I was, caught up in a love triangle that was not in her favor. She had a crush on Josh, Josh had a crush on me, and I was just a depressed lump forever waiting on Jared. We would all hang out and go to local shows together, and she would get upset that Josh wouldn't pay attention to her. I was utterly conflicted because part of me ate the attention up with a big spoon, and the other part of me felt like an awful person for letting Christal get hurt and having feelings for Josh.
Josh and I started hanging out even more, and my mind was black and blue. You had never met someone who was so hard on herself as I was. I wish I could go back and tell myself you can't help having feelings, but I probably wouldn't have been able to hear over my mental torment. I made myself miserable, and not hearing from Jared after he said he'd call hurt terribly. Rachel would call thankfully, and listen and help me sort out my thoughts and feelings. Sadly though, I'd just miss her too and want curl up with her in her bed and listen to the crickets chirp outside her window in the fields surrounding her home.
October 13th, 2007. I finally gave in. There was a sweet, caring, funny boy right in front of me asking me to be his girlfriend. There was a the guy I was crazy in love with 3,000 miles away who wouldn't call, write, or walk to the library to get online. So when he asked, I said yes. It seems like such a short span of time, but living it and counting the days since I'd seen Jared felt like watching sand fall through an hourglass one grain at a time.
I thought maybe I'd feel better, or less conflicted, but it only seemed to get worse. I hid it from everyone for a week, not because I was ashamed of him or anything, but because I didn't want to deal with anyone. I didn't want Christal to be upset or to hate me, and I didn't want Jared to find out, and I didn't even feel excited enough to tell anyone. I just couldn't really grasp the reality, but I figured it was best to suck it up and move on with my life and try to be happy and make the best of it. Jared didn't care enough to fight for me, and I was too tired to fight anymore.
Time passed and things got easier. Christal seemed to become happier, or at least pretended to be. I started to fall for Josh because of his sweet sincereness. He reminded me a little of me in how I'd felt for Jared, the way he was just so unbreakably happy when he was with me. He would beat himself up sometimes the same way I did. During a show we went to, he was brooding and quiet, not his usual silly bubbly self. No matter how many times I asked what was wrong though, he wouldn't budge. When the show was nearly over, he finally broke down and said “I just feel like I ruined things between you and Jared”. I had to reassure him that I wanted to be with him, which was also me trying to convince myself I was over Jared. Still, the more time that went by, the easier this became.
Then the dreams started. He found me, and like a deer caught in the headlights I could not get away. The first didn't make much sense, and was mostly just a manifestation of my guilt. He was in a car crash, and I flew back to Ohio. I was on the phone with Josh while standing at the gas station in Lewisburg. Jared was suddenly there and was explaining how right before it happened, he realized how much he liked me. Josh asked if it was Jared, and I just said “Yeah...I gotta go,” and hung up to talk more with Jared. While it wasn't anything, my emotions weighed heavy when I woke up. I was confused and angry.
November had finally come, and it was time to go back to Ohio. Strangely though, I was almost dreading leaving. I had grown very attached to Josh, and we'd gotten used to seeing each other every day, even on weekends. I was also afraid as to what would happen when I came face to face with Jared again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Our Story Pt. 3

I headed home right after to my Grammy's because obviously she was worried sick, and was afraid my mom would find out and get angry. I still don't think I've ever let my mom know about that little detail... sorry Mom! The next day was spent at King's Island with Rachel. In the long lines to ride rides, I explained everything that had happened with an unending smile. I was still on cloud nine, and being at the theme park just Rachel and I, was keeping me up there. She was so happy for me, and together we plotted to help make it happen again.
That night she drove us back to Eaton, and the plan was to drop me off at Jared's to spend the night, but if I couldn't and the plan fell through I would just spend the night with her. She's always been the perfect wing woman. I'm enternally grateful to her. As we were getting closer to town, I started to get more and more nervous. My mind was running rampant with every worse case scenerio it could create. I was launching myself in to a full forced hyperventilation. My heartbeat was thundering out of control and my lungs were drawing in fevered gasps.
“You gonna have a panic attack on me?” Rachel asked when she noticed my breaking state.
“Yes!!” I cried back at her, but she just replied “Good.”
We entered Eaton and I started to tremble. I asked Rachel what to do, and she said exactly what I was already thinking. To go up to his door, knock, and ask him if I could stay. So I did just that, ever so apprehensively.
“Yeah?” called Alanah from inside. This was not expected, and I didn't know how to reply.
“...Do I just come in?” I called back quietly, with the voice of a feeble mouse.
No reply came, just the sound of her footsteps coming closer. She opened the door smiling and let me in to the staring faces of the Stephens clan. I turned to Jared, slightly mortified I had to ask him in front of his whole family.
“Is it okay if I stay?” my voice was barely audible I'm sure.
I noticed everyone's faces were just kinda like “why are you even asking? Of course, duh.” and I think Jared said “...yeah” with the same “um obviously” tone. Happy they didn't think I was an ass for imposing, I told them I had to grab my things.
I turned back around and ran to Rachel's car to grab my dinosaur backpack, and excitedly tell Rachel goodbye. I reemerged into the home, sat down by Jared's dad, and asked “How are you?” boldly. He took a long drag on his cigarette and stared at me for a moment, making me wish I hadn't said anything.
“How am I?” his eyebrows raised.
“Yeah..” I was melting into the seat cushions.
“Oh, I'm really tired,” he said with a sigh.
“Oh me too!” I chirped, my voice and confidence coming back to me, “We've been at King's Island all day.”
At that the family launches into conversation with me about the theme park. I instantly felt welcomed and included. They were all so nice to me, even though I was probably this weird girl who seemed to have come from nowhere and was suddenly staying the night with their brother/son. I was bubbling with happiness that they seemed to like me.
I think Jared had called Dan during the convo, because he showed up a little time later. So then the three of us left, and we went to find Jon at his house around the corner. He wasn't there so we went to find Zach. Zach had summer school in the morning and couldn't hang out so we went to find Ryan. Ryan was playing final fantasy 7 and we teased him about it until he decided to turn it off and come to Walmart with us.
Dan bought us some tea and drinks, and we went out to the parking lot and ran into Stephen. We all talked to him for a little bit, then somehow they figured out Jon was at Mike's. So we then went to pick him up to go to Steak 'n' Shake. On the car ride there, in the back, Jared is between Jon and I. Oh so slyly, he put his arms around both of us, but after a moment took one arm off of Jon, so it was just me and him. I was grinning like an idiot the whole time.
We hung out there for a couple hours because Jon, Dan, and Ryan could smoke and we all could drink coffee. Jon was asking me about Alaska, and how he wished he could go. I told him I would gladly trade places with him and we agreed to. If only that had been a real option, I thought to myself. I didn't want this night to ever end. The next day I was to get on a plane and head home.
When they finished getting their caffeine and nicotine fixes, we headed back to Jared's to watch Momento. At this point I was so hungry I got the shakes, but I was too afraid to speak up. Jared showered through just about the entirety of the movie, and I was fighting so hard just to stay awake. The movie finally ended around 5am, and the guys got up and started talking. When they noticed I wasn't standing the looked down at the couch to see me in my zombie-like state.
“Tired?” Jared chuckled.
“Mmmyeah” I murmured with drooping eyelids.
“Go to bed!” he directed as if it was my own bed to sleep in whenever I wanted.
A few moments later the guys left and Jared and I trudged upstairs. We cuddled and talked about stuff we were afraid of. Me- bugs, and him- roller coasters. He'd creep a tickling hand up my back and say “Oh no, its a bug!”, so I'd pounce tickle him and yell “Oh my god!! Its a roller coaster!!”. Soon after we started smooching, so I'll save you the gory details.
The next morning, Alanah called up to tell me my Grammy was waiting outside. I quickly grabbed my things and kissed him goodbye. His hair was hanging in his eyes and I didn't want to stop and linger. I ran from the moment, like ripping a band-aid off of skin, it was short and sweet. Of course it was pouring rain outside, as if the weather was mirroring my mood. Grammy kept asking if I wanted to go back in, that I had a little more time, no need to rush. Part of me wanted to, but the band-aid was off, no need to pick at the wound.
The plane ride home I buried my nose in my journal. I was determined to write down every moment, every feeling, every little detail I could remember. It was all so terribly important to remember.
When I arrived back home, Christal was gone on a trip visiting her origins in Utah, so there wasn't anyone to talk to. So of course I did what I do best, I wrote more. I wrote a big long xanga post(which is an old school blog for those who never had one) about how I got my first kiss. I was proud of my work, then made the mistake of showing some people I thought I could trust to keep it to themselves. Instead they passed it around to everyone, so I learned the hard way who I could trust and who I couldn't. I wasn't ashamed of what I'd written, it was just deeply personal, and I knew I was being ridiculed by the readers.
Word spread quickly that I'd finally gotten my first kiss. Rumors spread back to me even quicker that suddenly three of my guy friends liked me. Even though I rarely saw them because I was at home babysitting my little brother most of the summer, I was still highly annoyed. All these guys wanted me, and all I wanted was to be back in Ohio with Jared. Or for him to come up to Alaska.
For a few weeks I was pretty lethargic. I lazed around the house playing video games with Duke or sitting at the computer refreshing Jared's myspace page every 5 minutes, hoping he would log on. I was constantly thinking of Jared, trying to hold every detail of my time with him in my mind. Yet at the same time, thinking about him just made me realize how much I missed him and how lonely I was.
July finally rolled around and Christal called the night she got home. We talked for hours about a guy she'd met before she left for Utah, and I spilled everything to her about Jared. We were so happy for each other, and my spirits were lifted just being able to talk to my best friend about everything I was feeling.
Half way through the month I went in to the orthodontist to have surgery done.. I had had braces for 2 years at that point, and they were going to cut my gums open to attach a gold chain to my bottom right canine to pull it out since it wouldn't grow out on it's own. It was terrifying because I had never been put under, and I had never had a needle in me that didn't come right out like a shot. I was panic attacking into hysterics, crying and pleading at my mother in the office as soon as I saw the i.v. I felt the cool liquid go into the veins in my hand, then slowly spread to my wrist and I was out cold.
Some time later, I awoke in my bed to a puddle of blood on my pillow. My Dad and Duke were enlisted to take care of me while Mom went back to work, but they were nowhere to be found and the house was empty. I went to look in my giant sliding mirror doors to my closet. I pulled back my lips and growled at myself, my teeth tinted red-brown, and the space where that tooth should have been had all sorts of unnatural things going on in it.
I waddled out into the kitchen, looking for relief of the immense pain in my mouth. On the counter Mom had laid some aspirin out for me. The clock on the oven said it was 2:35 pm, and the fact that I hadn't eaten at all sent my weak little body to my knees. I pulled open the fridge and grabbed an apple juice box. I slurped it down, then grabbed a go-gurt and the pills, and went back to my room and lied down to write in my journal.
The pills started to numb the pain, and when I was finished writing I went out to the kitchen to get online and see if anyone was there to cheer me up. Who should be on but Jared. By then I was used to one word answers and no way conversations with him. That's just how he was online most of the time. It was also part of the reason I thought maybe he didn't like me back for so long. I would type up a mini-paragraph to get a three word reply.
Yet this time he didn't give me short answers. We chatted on msn all afternoon since I was home alone with no one to limit my online time(my parents would only let me on 2 hours a day). He made up a story about a moose and a bear coming up to my backdoor, and it was the sweetest thing. I was instantly cheered up.
In the weeks that followed we started to talk online more and more. I would tell him that my time limit was down to 10 minutes and he would say “Nooooooooooooo”. Or he would say “I've got to take a shower” and I would say “Okay well hurry I have a lot to tell you!” and he would be like “No I can wait”. The little things like that meant so much to me. I could finally tell that I was important to him, that my presence mattered.
At the end of July, he logged in one day and I started to say hello to him. He didn't reply for a long time, and I figured he was busy so I logged into Myspace. All of a sudden that familiar msn chime came through my speakers and his name lit up on the bottom of my screen. 
“This isn't Jrody”. 
I said “Ah okay”, but was super curious as to who it was, and why they were logged in as him. 
“This is his mom”. Ohhh man. I didn't respond because I could see that she was still typing. “So I hear you're his lady” I about fell out of my chair laughing. 
“Where did you hear that?” I replied. “Elijah and Katie” Jared's older brother and sister(Alanah's middle name is Katie). I was cracking up again. I explained to her the Alaska predicament and how confusing Jared could be with his mixed signals online. 
“Yeah he's good at that. Well I think you're cute and Katie says you're cool so I approve”. I was giddy with happiness, I had made a good impression despite how weird I thought I'd been. They were accepting me before Jared could accept his feelings for me!
Through the next month though, the mixed signals got worse. The convos would get short again, and I could tell he was talking to other girls on myspace. He also didn't seem too enthused about his family approving of me. Then unexpectedly the convos would get long again and he would send the little heart emoticon at the end. It was a roller coaster for my emotions, and I would really beat myself up about it.
Did he really like me, or was I just a summer fling? Why wasn't he talking to me like he did when I was with him in person. What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me?! When I was beating myself up I was down and nothing could bring me back up. When the convos were great I was on the highest high, and nothing could bring me down. Nothing could touch me, I was invincible.
Summer was over the day before school started. I had spent the night at Christal's house, and two days before had been a gloriously warm summer day. We stepped outside the next day and it was instantly a chilly fall. I was convinced Ben Gibbard wrote the song summer skin about us. Jared's internet connection was cut off, and so I was left alone in the 49th state. School was about to begin, and I was interviewing for my first job at the local grocery store. It was nice to see my friends again, but all my senior friends had graduated, and school didn't feel right without them.
The leaves began to change and the snow crept down the mountains into the valley. I was distracted with my new job and school. Seeing as my parents never got to come to Ohio and were missing home, they made plans to fly all of us as a family down to visit right before Thanksgiving. I kept a countdown from 80 days downward in my agenda, and the days could not have passed any slower. It was like each grain of sand was dropping, one at a time, single file. Still I tried to stay positive.
Staying positive started to prove to be too difficult, as the longer I went without speaking to Jared the heavier my heart became. That cloud was back, and there was a constant gloom over my head. More rumors came to me that another boy had a crush on me, a freshman I'd met over the summer, and I grew more frustrated seeing as Christal was interested in him.
After speaking with my Grammy, she plotted to go and visit Jared. He too had gotten his first job, at the Arby's behind his house, which was less then 20 minutes from her house. She logged into msn the next day to tell me about it. She talked to them for a while, but my favorite part was when Dan mentioned talking to me and Jared had apparently blurted out “You talked to her!?” I enlisted another spy to keep my spirits up. A messenger who went to school with him, our mutual friend Kate. She too would tell me little things he'd said to brighten up my gloom.
The aforementioned freshman and I had a couple of classes together, and we started talking a bit. His name is Josh. He was really funny, and really nice to me, and it was painfully obvious how he felt about me. The attention really made me feel good, and we had a lot in common. When feelings started to grow for him, I would beat myself up inside. 'It's just a crush' I'd convince myself, 'you love Jared'. He'd walk with me to work after school every day and we'd talk more and more. I told him everything about Jared, our whole story up to that point. I thought that might help fend off both of our feelings.
I was down to 50 days by the time mid-September. The matriarch's in my family were giving me advice when I started an all our war in my mind. They knew how I was in love with Jared, but he wasn't making an effort to contact me. They knew I was starting to have feelings for a freshman I was hanging out with. They advised to have fun with Josh for the year, and not to worry about where it goes. I could go home to Ohio and be with Jared after I graduated if that was what I really wanted. I thought they were out of their minds!
I was beginning to sink into depression. Boys were coming between Christal and I. Kids in school were complete assholes. My Mom and Grammy didn't seem to understand how I felt, or to be able to give sound advice. One night I came home from work and my family was sitting down for dinner.
“Someone called for you,” my Dad's stern voice said to me as I approached the kitchen table.
“Who?” I knew better, I knew it couldn't possibly be Jared because he hated the phone. Even knowing this, I couldn't stop my heart from leaping up into my throat
“I dunno. Some boy,” he didn't sound interested even though I was hanging on his words with bated breath.
“Well did he say his name?!” I was practically shouting with excitement. Could it really be?
“I think he said it was... Jared?”
I'm pretty sure I let out a squeal of excitement. My heart was pounding.
“Really?!” I cried with glee filling every inch of my soul. He missed me! He cared enough to ca-
“Nah, I'm just kidding. It was Christal.”
My heart stopped and came crashing back down, punching through my stomach and into my organs. Adrenaline had started to rush through my veins from excitement and nerves, but now I was just trembling. How could anyone be so cruel? I instantly burst into tears and ran into my room. How could he play with my emotions that way? Didn't he know how much I was hurting from missing Jared?
He came in a few minutes later to see me, I was sobbing into my pillow. He said it was silly to be this upset about it, and if I really missed Jared that badly, why didn't I just pick up the phone and call him. He might have apologized, but I was too busy being an emotional wreck to notice or remember. Mom came in after and convinced me it would be cute to call him at work and ask for 1,000 curly fries.
I called him at work, and forgot the joke, so it wasn't cute, it was just awkward. I was horribly embarrassed for bothering him at work, and he was embarrassed that everyone at work was in his business asking who had called for him. Still, he told me to call him at 1 am time.
I was shaking again with nerves as I dialed at 9pm that night. It had been 6 weeks since I'd head from him directly, and 3 months since I'd heard his voice, save for the brief call earlier. When he answered, relief flooded into my veins, the sound of his voice soothing all the wounds I'd gained in his absence. We talked for an hour, and it was a wonderful conversation. He told me about his brother getting married the following weekend, and how he was going to be the best man. He told me I shouldn't have felt dumb for calling him. I told him about the Shiny Toy Guns concert I went to. I told him how a guy at school had dumped a bottle of water on my chest. We talked about how our two favorite bands we getting married(the lead singer of mcr, and the bassist of msi).
When I hung up an hour later, I was feeling much better about everything, despite my Mom being pissed about me being on long distance for an hour(I told her beforehand I would pay for it, so who knows why she was pissed). Even though it made me miss him even more, I was willing to wait for him. I would have waited until the earth froze over and thawed again for him, if he had just given me something to go on. Just a real spoken word that he was committed to me like I was to him. He said he would call me back, but that was the last time I heard from him.

Friday, June 7, 2013

What I Wore: Airplanes and Blue Skies

Dress - C/o Modcloth
Jacket - Forever 21
Shoes - Golden Ponies

I don't think I ever did an actual outfit post with this dress! No idea why, but here we go now. I love this dress, its so cute and classy. I'm definitely gonna wear it the next time I'm in an airport. Its casual, yet it can be dressed up real easily.
Don't get my started on that jacket or the shoes either! Oh man. I'd been eyeing that jacket for a while, but I kept talking myself out of it. Finally on a trip there with my friends Corinne and Chyanne, they talked me into it. How could I not, really. 
The shoes came from a googling session after my tumblr friend Leah posted a pair of cute holographic flats she got from forever 21. I stumbled upon Golden ponies on etsy, then found their website. A day or two later, Kaylah of the Dainty Squid posted about buying a pair herself and I was sold. They're so rad! They hand make them and ship them out from Mexico. Well worth the wait. They're not ~perfect~ with minor imperfections with sizing. One is a little wider around the opening than the other, but if I just lace it tighter you can't tell. I would recommend sizing down a half size because they're a little big. Other than that I'm really happy with them! I've gotten lots of compliments already.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Story pt. 2

I held onto the hope that he would show up at my Grammy's doorstep in the morning to give me one last hug. Just to know he was as desperate to see me one last time as I was him would be enough for me to hold onto for a long time. But he didn't show, and neither did Rachel. I got onto the plane, sick and numb. Crying hysterically the whole way.
When I first moved up I was sick with grief. I cried myself to dehydration. My mom says I wouldn't eat, but I don't remember that part. I got my period within two weeks of itself, I'm sure just from the sheer intensity my sadness. I would spend most of my time editing old photos on photoshop, learning new things on the program daily. I'd stay up late into the morning online just hoping to talk to anyone back home. I wrote incessantly in my journals, cataloging every mundane moment to try and get the thoughts and feelings out. How could my parents take me away from him when he was just starting to care, after all this time. How could they sequester me from everything I knew in my life. It was exshasting to be that miserable.
I tried to contact Jared in any way possible. I tried letters, myspace, and msn. Not a whole lot was received back on my end, though a lot was sent from it. It felt like my absence wasn't something greatly affecting him and that hurt. Still I looked for stars and dandelions to wish upon. Any chance to bewitch him into realizing that he loved me. If I just knew that he loved me, that could carry me through everything.
Rachel would call and write, and she'd send glimpses into how life was moving on without me in Ohio. It hurt too, but at least she cared enough to fill me in and check in on me. Especially after she found out I was trying to hurt myself for attention. The stories of Jared were what I cared about most, and they were always too short. Lyzzy supplied me with a few as well.
The summer was spent exclusively with my family. At age sixteen, that was definitely not ideal. I was dragged along many camping trips(I hate camping), to all sorts of deserted places across the state. I saw eagles, I saw rams, I saw bears and moose. Nothing peeked my interest though. My headphones stayed glued into my ear canals, and I listened exclusively to either Mindless Self Indulgence(Jared's favorite band, and quickly becoming one of my own), or sad sappy mope music. I won't lie though, I did enjoy four wheeling.
When we weren't on mini-vacations into the wilderness, it was just my Mom, my little 5 year old brother and I. For weeks straight, every day we would go to the library then the grocery store daily. I think she just couldn't stand to sit in the house all day with the angsty teenager, or maybe she was trying to bring me out of my mope. I drove my family crazy but I couldn't help it. Neither of us could understand each other. They didn't get why I coudn't just get over it, and I couldn't get why this had happened at all.
I tried desperately to get a job. When that failed due to my age and inexperience, I went online selling dolls I made. Rachel would also send me funds from time to time from her job at the chinese restaurant. I wanted nothing more than to go home, even if it was only for a week. It was fated not to be. Summer finally and suddenly came to and end, and within a week the leaves changed and the air grew cold.
I dreaded the first day of school. I was terrified. I got no sleep that night, and got rained on waiting for a bus that never came. I got lost, and sat alone at lunch. When I got home that day, my mom asked “How did it go?” and I instantly burst into tears and ran into my room.
My junior year and I knew no one, like so many times before. Something would happen to me in class and I would go to find them in the halls to tell them. Realizing they weren't there and that I was alone would crush me every time. So often I would see dopplegangers of him and Rachel, I my eyes would light up. I'd go to call their name, but it would stop upon my lips as I remembered they were 3,000 miles away from me. My heart felt like it would crumple up to dust. I'd never felt so alone.
Most of the fall and winter passed by slowly and in the most forlorn way. I made some aquaintances, but no one I really connected with. No one I could really be myself around. When I finally did make a friend who got me, her dad passed away and she moved back to the states. I really started to think there was a higher power out to make me miserable for a while. All I had was my music, and I clung to it desperately. I was especially thankful my favorite band put out a new record that spoke to how I was feeling. The songs quickly became my anthem.
Then it kind of dawned on me in December, that all this had to be happening for some reason. I knew I wanted to be a stronger person, and I figured that this was the experience to change me. I finally sucked it up and kicked myself in the butt. If I had to be here for an undetermined amount of time, I had to make the best of it, because being miserable was clearly not working. There were a handful of kids I'd seen around school. Ones who wore band shirts that I loved and had rainbow colored hair. Ones I admired from afar but never had the guts to talk to. I decided to fake it till I made it.
I pretended I was confident. I pretended I was cool, and that everyone wanted to be friends with me. I walked with my held held higher, and quit looking down at my feet. I followed those kids out of the classroom and into the hallway to talk. I befriended them all, one by one.
Suddenly everyone thought I was cool! Suddenly I had lots of friends and was being invited to hang out. I had things to look forward to, and people to talk to. They thought I was funny and interesting and best of all, they liked my taste in music. They even admitted they had seen me around school in my Mindless Self Indulgence shirt(take a wild guess why I bought that one) and wanted to befriend me too! All the while I was gaining my new attitude, here and there from time to time, little notes from Jared would pop up in comments on myspace and msn. Always boosting my confidence. He would just say hello but sound sound so excited to be speaking to me. He was always in the back of my mind.
Other boys took the foreground, because they were actually flirting with me(something that I was definitely not used to coming from a town full of farm boys and useless jocks). Yet there was always this nagging voice in my head that screamed “but what about Jared!?”. Any feelings brought about by possible new beaus were met with utter conflictions. How could I feel such loyalty to a boy 3,000 miles away, who'd never come out and said his true feelings to me. Still none of them were serious enough to return all of my affections, and the end of the year drew near.
I was a new woman. I had grabbed my teenage angst by the balls and taken it for my own. I had made the friends I wanted and had flirted with boys I wanted. I was cute and I knew it. I finally had the confidence I wanted. I had a new best friend named Christal, who could make me laugh until I peed my pants(which actually happened once). I was on top of my world for once.
My Grammy came up as summer 2007 began, the first time I'd seen her in a year. The plan was that she would come up to visit, then take my little brother and I down to vacation in Ohio for two weeks. I could barely contain myself the whole week she stayed with us. I was restless, with school being out and the trip hanging over my head. No boys had lasted into summer, and my mind was dripping with 'what ifs' and Jared. Would I see him? Would he want to see me? Had we changed too much? What if my friends and I don't have anything in common anymore? I wrote in my journals incessantly to try and get the thoughts and feelings out of my brain and onto paper.
Finally we flew down. It was quite a trip down too, seeing as we got stuck in Vegas and had to spend the night. Upon arriving at last, the first few days in Ohio were spent catching up with my girlfriends. I had no was to contact Jared other than the internet as he had no phone line. Rachel and I stopped by his house one day and knocked but received no reply. I was starting to worry I wasn't going to see him at all. 
Then Zach called and we planned a picnic. Zach and I drove to Jared's in his hot shit red camero(seriously, that car was the coolest). We knocked on the door for a while but no reply, just as Rachel and I had. I began to lose hope, but still we kept knocking determinedly. Finally he came to the door. I was stunned, mesmerized just like when I saw him at Derby Days. He looked mostly the same but he'd grown his hair out. We hugged and he invited us in.
After he ate some Arby's, he decided to ditch his plans with his mom to come hang out with us and go on a picnic. We picked up Ryan and headed to Fort St. Clair. We goofed around there for a while and then we went into Richmond and wandered around the mall and Hastings. We went back to Ryan's and watched awkward animes(some of which were pornographic and being the most innocent 17 year old I had my face in Jared's chest through most of it. Which obviously was much more enjoyable).
It was well past midnight, probably off into 4am. Zach brought Jared and I back to Jared's house where we all spent the night. We were all in Jared's bed, Zach against the wall, Jared in the middle, and me on the outside. Being sleep deprived and wired, we all got a bad case of the giggles and suddenly everything was hysterical. We laughed and talked for a while until we finally got really tired.
Zach rolled over and fell asleep, but Jared and I were still pretty giggly. We were going on about nothing when all of a sudden something wet touches my cheek. I recoiled in horror, when I realized he licked me. “Gross!” I whispered hoarsly. Of course I had to get him back! I slobbered up his cheek then he got me again. I went in again spitting as I did, then he went to lick me again then our tongues touched. Again I recoiled, this time in shock.
Thinking quickly, I realized this is actually when I want to be happening. This had to be a what he was intending. Slowly I leaned back in to where we were and out lips met. I had no utter idea what I was doing, but I just tried to follow his lead and be fluid in motion. It was a little clumsy, and not quite what I'd always imagined, but still perfect to me.
My head was swimming, just trying to grasp the moment. I was so tired yet desperately clinging to consiousness. The kiss only lasted a few moments, and then we cuddled up really close to each other. I had never been so happy in my entire life. That unattainable kiss that had been hyped up my entire life was finally mine. All the waiting had been totally worth it. It was with him, with Jared. All those feelings that had never gone away were growing more rapidly than ever.
We curled up together and fell asleep. Around 9 am, Zach left and we kept sleeping. At some point in the night someone opened the door but I was too afraid to look and find out who it was. I buried my head in Jared's chest and pretended to be sleeping. Jared just said "...Hey!" with a smile in his voice, to which there was no reply except the door shutting.
Some hours later, we woke up again and started talking some more. Evenutally we got tired again and he pulled me close and wrapped his arm around me. Then he took my arm and draped it over his chest. I drifted off to sleep again.
"WAKE UP LOVE BIRDS!!!!!!! :D!!!!!!"
I dove my head into a pillow, to hide from the buring ceiling light. After a second we both sat up startedly to see Mike and Jon making faces at me like "ooooohhh YOU GO CADY!" and pointing and snickering excitedly. They tell me it's 5 in the afternoon to my complete astonishment.
"It's FIVE?!"
"It's FIVE o CLOCK?!"
We hurriedly got up and went downstairs.
I then experienced my first walk of shame, though there was really no shame to bare. It was just extremely awkward.
Mike, Jon, Jared's older sister Alanah, his little brother Seth, and his dad were all down in the living room, watching us come down the stairs. I sat down and tried to avoid making eye contact with anyone, especially Mike and Jon's giddy faces. Jared's dad emerged from the bathroom, waltzed over and sat down in front of me. He looked me dead in the eye as he lit up a cigarette.
"So what exactally are your intentions with my son?"
My heart stopped cold in my chest. I inhaled sharpley and tried to control my eyes from getting to wide from shock.
".....Ummm..." I was terrified and had no idea what to say. Was this the moment to spill my guts about my undying love for his son?
"Because I walked in on you two all snuggled up this morning, and I've never seen him snuggle with a girl like that before." he smiled with a sideways glance to Jared, who like me was trying to avoid any eye contact. He was milling around in the kitchen, probably embarrassed enough to keel over.
"..." I didn't know what to say and could only muster a nervous smile, even though him saying that made my insides explode with even more happiness.
"The last person I saw him snuggle with was either Zach, or Ryan, or Mike"
I couldn't stiffle the laughter that followed, and neither could anyone else in the room, save for maybe Jared.
He finally stood up to walk into the kitchen, allowing me to breathe at last, and as he ambled past Jared he muttered loud enough for all of us to hear, "I was gettin' worried about you for a while there...".

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Our Story Pt 1.

Since our anniversary is this Saturday, I wanted to do a special set of blog posts. Though we've only been an actual couple for 3 years, Jared and I have a long history. This is my side of the story. While it might be heavily romanticized on my part, Jared doesn't remember a lot of it, so this is all you've got to put the pieces together with. Blame my hopeless romantic life on growing up watching movies like Moulin Rouge. Either way, it means a lot to me, so I hope you enjoy this personal glimpse into my memories.

Nine years ago, if you would have told me I was about to meet the first boy I'd ever fall in love with, I probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend what you were really telling me. With this knowledge you’d granted me, I’d most likely just smather on more overly glittery chapstick. Nonetheless, I did, though I was completely unaware for quite a while the great potential he and I had.
I was eleven years old, and about to start middle school. Sixth grade, knowing absolutely no one. My fourth school. Needless to say, by this time I was starting to gain a lot of my anxiety that I'd carry through life. I was becoming more and more quiet and less outgoing. I was thin as a rail, and everyone I met liked to tell me so. My teeth were crooked and I was becoming more and more aware of them and my body's other meaningless imperfections.
His name was Jared Dean Stephens, and I would fall head over heels in love with him. But not right away.
That first year was uneventful in the way of us. All I can really remember of him is that he sat somewhere behind me in homeroom, and in music class, he huddled in the back of the room with some other boys. I think he even gave me a piece of gum once-big red, a kind I didn’t even like because it was too spicy, but remember keeping regardless. I was too enamored with a boy I hardly spoke to, to notice the one for me was always behind me. Its funny, the last picture taken of our class that year, he’s directly behind me too. He's being me in a lot of pictures in fact. I wonder if that's significant.
Last day of 6th grade. This is me in the grass and Jared is right behind ^  me.
One weird notable coincidence was that I ended up going to the same theater as him one night. Upon exiting Pirates of the Caribbean I realized he was walking next to me. Shocked to see him, I asked what he was doing there. Of course he replied that he was seeing a movie with his sister. I realized it was a stupid question and just kept walking and that moment stuck with me. How weird it was that we'd been in the same room in a different town than our hometown, and hadn't known it.
The only other thing that I remember is accidentally pushing him down the stairs. We were talking and about to go down, and he said something cheeky. I don't remember what it was, but I gave him a shove, not really thinking about the fact that we were on the steps. He tripped backwards a couple steps but had the right of mind to reach out and grab the railing, thankfully. He gave me that bewildered look I have learned to induce on purpose because I love it so much. We laughed it off and kept going.
 Seventh grade…that’s when I suddenly saw him in a new light. I only started to notice him in a new way because I thought he looked like Harry Potter. That alone spawned a little crush. I can remember sitting in the bleachers at lunch and gazing at him sitting down below at a table with his friends. I would moon at him all the time, him in his harley davidson shirt and swishy pants with the oval glasses to top it all off. I would purposefully run into him in the hallway, my failed attempt at flirting blowing up in my face when he shoved me back so hard I fell into someone. Still the event was exciting enough to me that I wrote it down in one of my journals.
We rode the same bus that year, and one day he sat behind me, and decided he was going to pester me. I think at that point I might’ve been crushing more on someone else because I didn’t get as giddy about it as I normally would. Anyhow, there he was, leaning over the seat, continually poking at me. Which, in reevaluating this memory, we’ve both concluded he probably had been crushing on me and was unsuccessfully trying to flirt with me. Unsuccessful because I began to warn him if he didn’t stop picking on me, I was going to spit on him. He must not’ve believed me, or known I’m one who sticks to her word because a few pokes over the top of the seat later, I had a mouth full of saliva, and turned around and spat all over him. The wind from the open windows caught it, and it was a real mess.
Both of us were shocked that I’d actually done it, and sat gaping at each other for a moment. Then he began to protest “You SPAT on me!” in disbelief, and shaking my head girlishly I replied “I told you to quit poking me!”. He turned his attention to the bus driver to tattle on me, but she did not even remotely care. I think my friend at the time, Katie Davis, was laughing. Still, my conscious kicked in- and also a bit of the fact that I didn’t want my bus driver to suddenly care and get mad at me-and I felt bad. So I got out my gym shirt and gave it to him and he used to dry himself.
Fate could see we obviously needed help, and set into motion a chain of events so perfectly timed, I don’t think the results could have turned out any sweeter. Whoever created this intricate design this should pat themselves on the back.
The summer after seventh grade it happened again. I was at Derby Days, which is like a small carnival Lewisburg has. Lewisburg is the town I lived in from age 5 to age 7. Then I went on to West Milton from 8-10. 10-11 was Preble Shawnee. Finally at 11 and on I was in Eaton where he was. I moved a lot. I think I was up to my 13th house my senior year.
Anyway, there I was, meandering around, at the time alone for some reason. Maybe I was waiting for friends or maybe they left and I was on my way home. Either way, there I was, walking about and I saw him. Jared. His back was to me and he was staring up at the Ferris wheel. I made my way over to him because back then I still had that childish bravery. “Hey, what are you doing here?” I demanded in a friendly way. He turned around, somewhat stunning me with his looks. He’d grown out his hair into this lady killing shag. I was not expecting to see him, let alone see him looking so good. I'd spent the beginning of the summer again mooning over a boy who'd never noticed I existed. “My mom lives over here,” he explained. At this point I think he’d dazzled words away from me, because all I could muster was “oh cool.” and maybe a “see you later”. He turned back to the Ferris Wheel and I stole another long glance before I headed home. That’s an image that still sticks with me pretty well. Him leaning on the fence with the lights dancing over him. I held onto that all image in my mind all summer, and that feeling of being mesmerized.
Eight grade started. At first I was distracted by other boys. But then every time I saw Jared I couldn’t get him out of my head. I got a “boyfriend” that year. I had spent the previous summer crushing on him, so it was such a nice feeling to have this guy. Yet, I found myself gazing after Jared. I got embarrassed of my new boyfriend, who liked to grab attention of our peers by carrying me to my locker after lunch every day. So after only a week I broke up with him, and we became just friends. All seemed well.
Little did I know how long and heart wrenching this path I took would be. I began to really crush on Jared, full fledged uncasually. He was “going out” with a girl I was sort of acquainted with at the time named Ashley. They broke up after oh, I don’t know maybe a month or less. Then silly little Cady came along, and decided to go to her of all people for help. I confessed to her that I liked him, and she agreed to ask him out for me.
I was sick with anxiousness that day, waiting for the verdict. I remember she found me in the hallway after a class and gave me the news. Just a “he said no” was all I got. I was pretty crushed. I think I even had to go to my next class with him in it. He claims now that she never asked him, that he doesn’t remember any of this. But he also didn’t remember me spitting on him until a month after I told him the story. He also said it was probably because I didn’t ask myself. Which is unfair, in my humble opinion, because no one at that age does that!
Anyhow, a week or two later I got my record breaking second boyfriend, in an attempt to make Jared jealous. Just kidding. I mean…come on I thought the guy was cute and wanted to get to know him. But upon doing so I found his hands were too big and hurt mine because he wanted to hold them all the time, to the point I couldn’t even eat my food at lunch because he was demandingly holding them. And that we didn’t have a lot in common…whatever, I tried it but after a week it wasn’t working for me so I broke it off.
Then, I went back to having a crush on the first boyfriend, because I couldn’t have Jared, and the way he treated my friend Lyzzy seemed so lovely. That’s all I really wanted. Someone to treat me nice. My whole middle school experience was people making fun of me for being flat chested. Girls being jealous of my freakishly fast metabolism and calling me anorexic. Being left out and not being invited to the slumber parties everyone else was going to. Not to mention still getting used to the fact that my mother had married and had a child with a man who had no idea how to treat a pre-teen girl. It was a lot easier to have a hopeless crush than nurse a rejection wound.
The last day of 8th grade.

The rest of the year slid by with silly parties. They weren’t by any means “parties”, just all of us meeting at a friend’s house, getting a little hyper on soda pop and potato chips, maybe even pizza if we got lucky, and running around like little maniacs. A chance to hang out and really get to know each other. For the couples to make out, because a lot of these parties were unsupervised. I'd always feel so guilty, because I would get lied to about that, so my mom would let me go. I'd show up and feel so conflicted. Ultimately they'd always convince me nothing would happen, and nothing ever did. We'd watch movies and and talk, and goof around, and laugh until we cried. Well that was usually Olivia's specialty, and I was good at getting her to.
Moon Mist aplenty! My hands in the foreground, Jared in the center.
Freshman year was more of the same stupid heartache. I decided not to get my hopes up about Jared that year, after the previous years's let down. None of the boys I liked were savory good fellows, and all broke my heart with rejections. I lost a best friend because she was stealing from me and lying about it. However, there were good things, like my group of friends became more solid as we banded together. Jared was just kind of floating around in the background at this point, and all I remember is aimlessly flirting with him, making myself feel good because he’d flirt back, and I didn’t care if it went anywhere or not.
Freshman weeniers.
Summer before sophomore year I received life changing news. My family was moving to Alaska the next year. I was completely devastated. That summer was shortened considerably because the previous summer lasted forever. They were building the new high school and it was taking them eons to complete, so we couldn't go back to school.
A heinously hilarious photo of Lyzzy, Jared, and I at a party at Rachel's.

Still, more parties were planned, but at this point since we’d gotten older some of our group of friends were trying on new vices. I was always terrified of weed, and resolved never to touch the stuff. There was a whole class on why we shouldn’t do it in the 5th grade, so I knew better. I also had never needed anything to make me have a better time, or more fun, or be more happy. I could do that on my own, and saw no need for something to do that for me.
That was the thing about Jared. While everyone else was smoking weed, or cigarettes, trying to look cool, and fit in, or feel good, he was politely declining. In my mind, he was always that one person, my partner, who made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Like I wasn’t a freak, or weird, or closed minded, or stuck up, or innocent and pure, or whatever else everyone thought of me. That made me like him so much more. In my mind, in that way, it was like we were already a couple, because we were the two who didn’t.
So sophomore year started, and there we were, he and I in the cafeteria gathered with the rest of our class for an orientation of sorts. Our group of friends sat down and all that was left was one chair. One…chair. Instantly we started fighting for it in a musical chairs battle royal sort of way, until we both sort of flopped on it together, each with just a cheek on the seat.
Mike and Rachel, two of our closest friends, and couple that had been together for a year at that point(and still are to this day), sat behind us watching the whole thing. They watched and plotted, making faces at me when I turned around to see them. I knew what there were thinking, what I’d always known…
“You guys would be so cute together!” she was giddy, going on about how her and Mike were going to fix us up. I knew that, I had always known we’d be perfect together. He would just never give me the chance to show him. I brushed her off, saying no, no we were just friends, because I thought he didn’t like me that way, and didn’t want to go through rejection again. Yet against my better judgment, and all my instincts, there I was, falling for him like I always did, but oh, it was so much harder this time.
Still, I tried to deny it. I became obsessive over the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, and tricked myself into believing I was in love with him, so I didn’t have to face reality. I could just live in my daydreams and fantasies, and not come out and face reality. I stopped caring about things, and became depressed. Didn’t get up as early in the morning to look good, just threw on that mychem hoodie and left my hair in a fro or ponytail. I moped alone with my headphones in, yet still put on a mask for my friends. I knew no one would want to hang out with me if I was sad all the time, which would just make things worse. So I had to pretend that nothing was wrong, when I had that storm cloud hanging above me always.
Jared, Rachel, and I! Yes that's Jared's nipple.

THEN Suddenly! Halfway through the year, things started to change. All sorts of little incidents began to give me all this hope. The first semester of school ended and I was assigned to take speech class. I walked into the mostly empty classroom and sat down near some girls I knew well enough. When the bell was seconds from ringing, guess who waltzed into the classroom. Fate likes to watch me squirm doesn't it? Or did it just feel sorry for me and want him to finally notice me.
It was the tail end of winter, and my family was taking a trip to a place they called “The Holidome”. Its torn down now, but it used to be this fantastic little hotel with an arcade, put-put golf, and a pool. The perfect little get away for the winter blahs the whole family could enjoy. This year, they were allowing me to take a friend, and of course I took Rachel. We went to the Sandusky mall(I think?) and of course to Hot Topic. While there and looking at the buttons I found a Mindless Self Indulgence one, which just so happened to be Jared's favorite band. And it just so happened that his birthday was a week or two away.
When I gave it to him in speech class, I made him close his eyes and hold out his hand since it was too small to wrap. He looked so happy and surprised, I felt so good. He said “Wow! I've never seen this before! Thanks! Where did you get it?”. Then he attached it to Kendra's old decrepit carebear sweatband that he wore every day so he'd “never have to take it off”.
Speech quickly became my favorite class because I could stare at Jared. I loved when he got up to give a speech because he always looked right into my eyes. Those bright blue eyes could melt butter, and I was always a puddle by the end of his speeches. I'd smile because just the fact that he was looking at me was enough to make me happy, and he'd smile back.
His pancake speech was my favorite. The other speeches he would kind of look around the room at the rest of the class. But the pancake speech, I was the only person he looked at. I have to wonder even now if our teacher noticed and docked him points for not looking at the classroom, or if she secretly shipped us. He'd look down at what he was reading. Then at me.
And his smile. Oh his smile is more contagious than the flu.
Then he passed out the pancakes he made. I was extremely full from my breakfast at home that morning, but I ate that damn delicious little pancake. I thought I'd explode from over-stuffed-ation, but I ate that pancake.
There were days when we'd have free time and I'd always pray he'd come talk to me. He always did. One time I remember especially well is when I was reading and Jared came and sat in someone's seat in front of me. He looked through some of my drawings and I almost poked his eye out(he claimed) trying to keep him from seeing a special one I was drawing for him. 
Skipping his math class to hang out with Ryan and I in our photography class for a bit.
Spring was just around the corner, but it was still a chilly March. Rachel was desperate to see her best friend get the first kiss she so desperately desired and would make obvious set ups for us to be alone. There was a night she had Jared, Stephen, and I over to watch movies. When the Saw dvd didn't work, they decided on Gremlins. Halfway through, they decided to take Rachel's little sister to something at the YMCA, and left Jared and I alone in the dark. Nothing happened, much to my dismay, but we did talk a tiny bit, which was nice. They came back a short time later and saw that we were exactly where they'd left us.
A sorry looking lot to be sure!

However! When that movie ended, we headed up into Rachel's loft to watch another movie. They picked Half-Baked and I was kind of indifferent about it, so I curled up in her bed, and Jared sat on the floor in front of me(her mattress was just on the floor up there). Halfway through the movie, Jared sat up on the bed in a way that I was curled around him and I started to get a little giddy that he was getting closer to me. When the movie ended he flopped back and laid his head on my belly, and Rachel curled up by my head somewhere near Stephen. That's when I started to wonder if he was finally starting to have feelings for me.
There was another night when Jared, Rachel and I, were hanging out at her house watching Jackass. On the way to take him home, he and I were in the backseat, she and her mom driving up front. It was a freezing January night on those cold ass leather seats. Suddenly, arms are surrounding me and swooping me up. The ‘this is too good to be true’ flag waved in my mind, but I looked up and there he was, holding me close to him and shivering. A big stupid smile graced my face as I instinctually snuggled into him a bit more the way I’d always wanted to.
I think we were giggling and talking or something, because Rachel noticed and turned around to see the magic happening. She squeezed through the center console and on the other side of me(such a great friend). I am a picture fiend, I love pictures. I’d had my first digital camera for a month and gingerly whipped it out to photo document this wonderful occurrence. It’s an adorable set of pictures. In one you can see me clearly gazing up at him. In another, Rachel looks tired in the foreground, and in the background he and I are resting our heads on each other and look like we’re sleeping.

In April, something monumental happened between us. It was the night of the 7th, and it was another snuggle party at Rachel's, the same four of us as was the Gremlin's get together. It started off with the movie Boondock Saints this time, and after it was over, me and Rachel were laying our heads on Jared's chest and talking. After a little while he got up and laid down on her bed. I instinctively followed and laid down next to him without any thought or hesitation. Rachel and Stephen followed, but Stephen was trying to put moves on Rachel who was not into it. She was trying to get over Mike because they had broken up, but didn't have feelings for Stephen. Stephen was just hoping for anyone to give him a chance. For a little while, Jared and Rachel kind of had all of us in a bear hug. Then they let go and Rachel sort of fell asleep with Stephen being all up in her grill.
I lied there, being semi-spooned for a while quietly, just soaking in the moment. Then I realize how close his hand is to mine, and my mind starts screaming at me. “Do it Cady! Grab his hand! Do it do it do it do it do it DO IT!!!!”. Slowly I inch my hand until I touch his, and feebly wrap it around his thumb. He accepted it though, and for the longest time he'd wiggle his fingers against mine in a rhythm, and I'd do it back.
He was sick that night, and super tired. He also fell asleep, and started breathing out of his mouth, heavily into my ear, which caused me to giggle and wake him up. This happened several times, but I don't think he minded. Then Rachel starts mumbling in her sleep. The boys try to get her to say more, when she suddenly cried out happily 'There's a dolphin parade!'. We all burst out laughing and woke her up.
We all talked for a little while, and Rachel reached over to grab my hand. I had no time to react and she caught us holding hands and mentioned it out loud, and even in the dark I could tell she had a wry grin on her face. We let go and I held Rachel's hand for a while, but Stephen wanted to put the moves on Rachel though and they ended up floating away onto the floor somewhere nearby. I felt bad, because Rachel was floating away to try and escape Stephen, but he wasn't taking a hint. Still, I knew Rachel was really tough and would mess up a guy's face back then if he got too fresh with her. She was taking one for the team for me to be close to Jared for just a little while.
Suddenly Jared wrapped his arm around me tightly, pulled me close to him and held my hand again. I could've melted into a happy puddle right then and there. My mind was going berserk. He was holding me, I was in his arms, I couldn't believe it. My palms were sweating, and my heart was about to pound its way out of my chest, cracking ribs as it went. I kept staring out the window at the stars and just felt like for once, everything was right in the universe. All the while he would take my hand in his, and gently touch each of my fingers with his. I felt like I would die right then of complete bliss.
Soon though we all realized what time it was, and that the boys were supposed to have left three hours before. Someone said they'd better get going, and I really didn't want him to go. I squeezed his hand tightly, and he squeezed mine back. We reluctantly got up and walked them out. I hugged him goodbye, and they left. Rachel then promptly demanded I dish out the juiciness of my romantic life blossoming before her.
The happiest 16 year old in the world.

A week went by without contact, for that night was the first of spring break, and we had no other plans with our friends to meet up. In speech class the following week, our teacher just happened to partner us up. Our task was to tell the other person what we'd done over our spring break. I couldn't look in his eyes when I smiled sheepishly and said “Well... you know about Friday, you were there”. When it was his turn he too grinned bashfully when he started off with “Well Friday...”, then skipped on to the rest of his week.
Seeing him in speech class wasn't enough after a while, especially with my kidnapping to Alaska being just around the corner as May had rolled around much to my dismay. I decided to start skipping study hall to enjoy the company of Jared and Rachel on their lunch break. We had a lot of fun times with all our friends together there, but one of my favorites was when it was just him and I alone talking about food for about fifteen minutes straight.
School ended about two weeks in, and all too suddenly for me. My Mom and Rachel helped set up a surprise going away party for me at Rachel's house. I was so confused about why there was even a party for me, I was in that much denial. With all the excitement of the possibility that Jared might like me back, I couldn't bare to think I was going to have to leave him for an unknown amount of time.
The party was just like all the others, wonderful and silly. We ran around with squirt guns and roasted food over a bonfire when it got dark. I think there were too many people around, and both of us were too nervous to flirt. It was stupid, it was as if there was this delicate balance of flirting, where we didn't want anyone to know, as if it would scare the other off like a deer in the woods. Still when he left in a friend's car that night, I could see it on his face he was sad to leave. Especially when he hugged me.
I knew then. I think everyone knew, despite our silent games. I don't know why I tormented myself with it for so long. Everyone told me, especially my Grammy. We all knew why, but since I hadn't heard it from his lips, I couldn't bring myself to believe something so wonderful could be true. It was too good to be true.
He did like me back, but knowing I was moving was the deal breaker. He didn't want to put both of us through the hurt of getting attached and then me leaving. But I was already attached, because even though he didn't say he liked me, his actions gave him away. It still hurt just as bad, feeling it but not knowing it as a solid answer.
After that party, Jared, Rachel, and I got together twice more. The first lasted into the evening, playing with puppies Rachel's dogs had parented. Just he and I outside with several puppies. The way he was so sweet and cutesy with them was enough to melt the hardest heart, and I was smitten. Rachel watched from inside the sliding glass door, urging me with violent hand gestures to make a move, but I couldn't. I didn't want to be the one to do it. I thought I'd made myself obvious, and I just wanted to know he wanted me badly enough to kiss me himself.
The last day was the hardest. It was sweltering hot by then, and we chased each other around Rachel's house with icecubes. After that ended we watched Ace Venture, then showed Jared and Stephen(who'd given him a ride out that day) the painting Rachel and I made together. But before we knew it, it was time for the boys to go.
He hugged me once, then we hugged again. I held him tightly and nuzzled my face into the crook of his neck, my lips resting boldly against his bare skin. He hugged me for just a moment and then pulled away, as if I were transferring feelings with the hug, and they were all too much to handle. He waved goodbye with sad blue eyes, and I was crumbling inside.
We walked out onto the front porch and I stood with Rachel as he got into the car with Stephen. I wanted him to look back. Just to look back at me wistfully. Just give me the signal and I'll come running. But he didn't. Rachel could see the ache coming through in my face, I was like a caged animal.
“Go to him! Hurry!”
But my feet stayed glued to the concrete.
My teeth formed his name but my vocal cords lay silent.
“Go!” she urged.
The car began to roll over the rocky pavement of her driveway. Still he would not look back at me.
The car was out on the street, and finally he turned one last glance back at me. Brief and heart wrenching. The car disappeared around the bend and I collapsed into the ground. Disappointed in myself for not calling out his name and ever getting that damned kiss. Disappointed that he never made it easy for me. Terrified of the thought that I didn't know when I would see him again.