It had been a long and bizarre year. When my nearly four year relationship ended on a rainy Tuesday night in the span of 20 minutes I spent the next year putting the pieces of my ego and my heart back together by acting out in every way I could imagine. Some friends were supportive as I dated strange lunatic after even stranger lunatic, and some openly worried about me — But all the time knowing this was simply something I was using to fill the hurt and loneliness I carried with me.
I went home for Christmas, saw old friends and felt supported and fulfilled on one hand, but having recently been passed over by my most recent loser, I also felt the sting of cliché holiday loneliness. I tried to quiet my mind with a packed schedule and cute strangers. But still, at the end of the night there was no one I was connected with, no one who I knew I could count on no matter what, even with a cute face standing next to me, telling me I was beautiful, holding my hand, I was ultimately still alone.
Christmas break ended and I boarded my plane from sunny California and returned to Seattle. Thankfully my best friend would be retrieving me from the airport. I remember that was one of the first things I thought about when my college boyfriend walked out of my room for the last time, I no longer have someone that I know will pick me up from the airport no matter what. Who could I count on now that he was gone?
She knew I had suffered through a strange year, and being the sort of friend who can always read your thoughts, she knew the only thing I needed was to have fun. They (at the time I remember thinking how rude it was that she was picking me up from the airport with her stupid new boyfriend) threw my bags in the car, told me I had 20 minutes to freshen up because we were headed to the bar.
The bar was dark, loud and nothing to write home about, but I enjoyed the prospect of a night free from my thoughts. My friend's boyfriend told us he'd asked friends to meet us at the bar, and suddenly I forgave him for tagging along. Before I knew it I was being instructed to sit HERE, no not there, RIGHT HERE. Next to this guy.
I didn't notice him at first beyond the simplistic. Cute, dark hair, friendly smile. As the group chatted I thought he was funny, and when we all decided to head to a bar across the street and he joined us instead of leaving with his friends I was glad. He was fun. Up for anything. Danced even though people were watching and sung along to the songs I was already belting. Hmmm. He's actually a damn good time. We snapped pictures together, those drunken red faced pictures you're always ashamed you took the next morning, and when my friend pulled me aside and said he'd told her that he thought I was beautiful I smiled.
It was a whirwind of a weekend and even though he lived 20 minutes away he seemed always there. The second night I ever hung out with him I was wearing my red high school prom dress. We'd planned a princess party, did he want to join us? He seemed completely unfazed that this stranger he'd just met was greeting him at the door in her prom dress and a paper crown. He stood around sipping his beer while the three lunatics in prom dresses snapped fake prom photos and broke out the bubbly. In that small apartment kitchen he grabbed a kitchen knife and a bottle and showed us all how it's done as he sabered the top right off the champaign bottle. Hmm, he really is a good time.
Before I knew it there were calls on his drive home from work, every weekend he was there, and for the first time in over a year instead of rolling their eyes my friends were smiling at my choices. I was drawn to his spontaneity. Sitting on the kitchen counters in our underwear sipping beer just talking. Let's call this our underwear party! Impromptu guitar sing-a-long sessions, a day at the aquarium, driving 30 miles for beer flavored ice cream.
After only four months he asked me to join him in Bend, OR for a long weekend. Meet his parents. We'd got along so well up till this point, he was now officially my boyfriend, yet I was nervous. Six hours in the car loomed before us. Would we get tired of one another, would he hate my music, would we run out of things to say after the first 60 miles, what would his parents think of me?
Three hours in, the iPod on shuffle, a Blink 182 song came on and without thinking we were both signing along at the top of our lungs, cutting each other off as we proclaimed how IN LOVE we'd been with this silly band back when we were in high school, "That's it, we're listening to the whole cd!" For the next hour we hardly said a word, just singing along to these songs we had at one time thought were everything. He reached out and held my hand.
In the dark, heading closer and closer to the terrifying prospect of meeting his parents, Blink 182 blaring, I knew he was special. I was so terrified of the idea of being "in love" again, of letting someone hurt me yet again, but something felt safe, different, right. I knew I couldn't tell him this, in the car, in between Blink 182 lyrics, but I knew I couldn't ignore it. He was so different from anyone I'd ever met before and I didn't ever want him to leave.
It would take me months before I could say the words. Fear kept them locked tightly away, both of us having been so brutally hurt in the past, unsure about trusting. But when they finally came I knew this was different, he was different, we were different.
Years later, after moving from Seattle to Olympia, buying our first home, getting a dog, then another, then two years later moving to Alaska and enjoying all this crazy state has to offer my original hunch was confirmed. He was special, we were special, and when he asked me to marry him you better believe there wasn't a hesitation in my body.
Get ready you guys. The Adam and Ashley show is heading to Legal's-Ville.