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.

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