Friday, September 19, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 8)

We got in the car that morning, him still refusing to tell me where we were headed. His eyes were twinkling as I kept interrogating him on the way. He, however, was resolute in telling me where we were headed, despite me performing my very own home version of the Spanish Inquisition. He insisted that it was a surprise.

Once we got several miles out of town, I lost my cell phone signal (cue gasp). Naturally, being the co-dependent individual I am on my phone, had a meltdown.

“Oh my God Jon, I have no signal and we are out in the middle of nowhere. What am I going to do????”
He laughed at me as he watched me try to “Lion King” my phone – you know, holding it up like Raffiki did Simba when presenting him to the animals – desperately trying to retrieve some type of link up with humanity.
And nothing.

He giggled at me for 45 minutes…which is right about the time I gave up.

He said, “This weekend is about us. No Facebook, no texts, no cell phones. Just us. You’ll be alright.”

“Okay. I trust you,” I mumbled, begrudgingly, resigning myself to being ‘unplugged’.

Our first stop was “The Apple Store” and not the geeky, genius bar Apple Store. A little place off the beaten path that had an apple orchard and baked goods. He ordered us one of his favorite things there, a turnover. And for a brief second, I was able to retrieve a signal and post about said mouthgasm. He laughed as I made him go forward in the car and in reverse, just long enough for me to get my post off into cyberspace.

Where he told me we were staying...
About an hour later, we pulled in to where he told me we were staying. The cabins looked like this. I said nothing. I was in shock. I mean, afterall, my idea of “roughing it” was a two star bed and breakfast. The place he took me was a truck stop/cabin I-don’t-even-know-what. I swallowed the lump in my throat and closed my eyes and he walked in the office to “check in”. I kept saying to myself, “Give it a chance, Shauna, it might not be that bad.”

He emerged from the office moments later, and doubled over with laughter. He got back in the car and said, “I’m not going to make us stay here, I just had to see what you would do. We are staying somewhere else.”

“You ASSHOLE!” I exclaimed. “I was in the car freaking out…and….REALLY????”

We both laughed for the next hour in the car, where we got to our actual destination…a little resort in deep in the Hill Country, with beautiful cabins on the mountains.

After we checked in, we sat on the porch and watched the sunset. It was beautiful and serene. We even had a little feline visitor who quickly became our friend.

Where we actually stayed...
That night, we went downstairs, had dinner and sat out next to the humongous fire pit. We ended the night in the cabin, listening to music as he tried teaching me how to dance.
It was perfect.

The next day, we got up early, had breakfast and went hiking all day in Lost Maples. It was an amazing trip.

And, that Sunday night, as we drove closer to San Antonio, we both admitted that we didn’t want to go back -- even if only part of it was in both of our heads....we got to a point where we just "understood" the other. Because when it was just us, when there wasn’t anyone else in the way, everything was perfect. As we walked back into the fire, we both said we would try and do better.

We are, however, only human….and we didn't. 

Part 9 (coming soon)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 7)

September was a strange month for us. It began in a crescendo of awesome, then sunk, then rose again. It started off with a trip to Fredricksburg that we took one weekend. And we had an amazing time. We, as we often did, planned just about everything last minute, but we spent two absolutely glorious, drama free days there. And, it was then that I noticed a few things:

1. Our talks in the car. They were always open, free and meaningful. Talks neither of us could have with anyone else. And we know this, because we admitted it to each other...finally.

2. He stared at me a lot that weekend, thinking I wasn’t looking or didn’t notice, but I did...and that comes into play later.

3. That when we were “away” from the people we both proclaimed (at the time) ‘friends’ everything was right with the world. It wasn’t ever until we came back to San Antonio that there was interference and drama from those outside our circle. 

And that was when my resentment for said people began to build. A lot.

Yet, I still attended every baseball game. I was always the first call when he would lose his keys on the VIA park and ride to the Spurs games, and he still called three times a day…sometimes more.

September also became the month that I resolved to create and work on a list of people who I loved, and to remind them every day that I loved them…him most of all. So, first thing in the morning, I would text my loved ones a personal message. Then, again, the last thing I did before I went to bed was the same.

He would rarely respond, other than a smart ass remark most days, but I kept on anyway.

It wasn’t until he sent me these that I realized how much he had started to count on those messages throughout the day:

But yet, always the interference from the outside that month. Too many people poking around, asking questions and inserting themselves like tampons in our business. Funny thing was, they all came from “his” side of the fence, not mine. There was a lot of conniving and manipulation and just outright deceit. Finally, I had it. I couldn’t take it anymore.

One night, as we were talking, I told him that I couldn’t take it. If I could have the fortitude to tell people to buzz off and mind their own business, so should he. But, I made it clear that if he was “with me”, he’d better damn sure make it clear to those self-same individuals, because continually living in what felt like eternal limbo was driving me insane.

He refused.

And I simply could not (and cannot to this day) understand why. I told him, “Why do you care about so many people who never have a conversation with you unless you reach out to them first, or unless they want a bar tab paid? Why do you hold on so tight to people who have already let go of you?” I remember telling him that night, breaking down into tears that I knew he was better than that, that I saw such greatness in him, and that his obsession with holding on to what was gone (and should remain that way) made no sense to me, as I watched that war within his own heart and mind tear him apart. 

Because the truth was that watching that, watching him wrestle with a past full of people who didn't really care about him at all tore me apart. You see, I have never had any issue with cutting people out, letting people go. Not because they are bad, but because I realized that they are bad for me; that they aren't meant to go where I am going...and that's okay. I don't feel a need to collect people, to remain "friends" (Facebook or otherwise) with people who don't add value in my life. Long ago, I decided that if you aren't making deposits in my life, you're making withdrawals, and if the withdrawals exceed the deposits, something is very, very wrong. 

As someone who spent most of her life trying to "fix" the problems for everyone else, I was lied to, used and often taken advantage of. When I saw the same things happening to him, I simply could not stand for it. I recognized those people for who and what they are, and they were (and are still all) people who continually judge others...who they, themselves, aren't even close to getting their own shit together. 

He was (is) better than that. So am I. And I had no time, nor patience, to trifle with people who wanted nothing more than to remain in the past, in their past and to bring nothing but that past to our proverbial present table. 

Not that I would ever tell him who he can or cannot have as friends, mind you. But rather, I recognized, early on, those people who were not his "friends" at all. People who would do nothing but use him or take advantage of his generous heart. People who would talk badly about him behind his back, but still come to him for financial assistance. No. Not acceptable. People who didn't give a shit about him on his birthdays or other special occasions. And people who I know did not, because for the past three years weren't around for a single thing, unless Jon or I paid for it. They did nothing; contributed nothing; gave nothing...and only showed their faces when they wanted something. 

And those who did do something...anything at all...over the last three years? Well...they
always asked me (or him) to reimburse them. Ha. Some "friends" those are. Assholes is more like it. Assholes who pretend to be successful and "balling" on Facebook, but people who still to this day are unable to cover their own bills, whereas he and I have not only been able to cover our own bills, but move forward and become even MORE successful financially and in our relationship since they have been gone. Coincidence? I think not. 

You become like the five people you hang around with most. We hung out with losers and liars. I stopped. And while he did stop hanging out with them, he wouldn't cut them out completely -- but I did, and I never felt even the slightest tinge of guilt over it. But that was where we disagreed. He wouldn't cut them out completely. He got stuck. 

My argument has, was, and will forever be the same, "When you leave the door open to the past, the past will come calling. When you answer the past, it still has nothing new to say. Let go completely. Delete the photos, delete the messages, delete the people. And if God wants them to catch up, or reunite you, He will. But holding on to anything, or anyone just for the sake of holding on to them, collecting people, takes up the space that the next person God wants to lead to you into your life." 

See, that's why I never have an issue with it. God puts in my path who he needs there, he removes people for the same reason. And, I have enough trust and faith in him to see that, and to remove people who He doesn't want there anymore, so I can clear the space for new introductions....because that's the only way to move forward. One day, I think he will understand that too.  

Not that I ever claimed to be perfect, you know, I’m not. Never have been, never will be.

And, as the middle of September bled into arguments about people who needed to exit our lives (that he didn’t see yet), at the end of September, he said, “Let’s get away from here. Let’s just go. When it's just you and me, it's perfect. And I want that again. Let's just get away from all the dicks and the drama. Pack your bags. We are leaving for the weekend, and I'm not telling you where we are going.”

So we did. We packed our bags and skipped town to a destination I didn't know about just yet. And it was exactly what we needed, because it turned into the surprise vacation of a lifetime…the one that changed everything. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 6)

August was the month I grew in love, and in patience for this man. Yet, he was a hard case. I wanted to show him that friends (real ones) and lovers (real ones) didn’t exclusively distribute time, affection or effort. 

If there was one thing I was good at, it was remembering dates. In particular that month, I remembered it had been a year since his mother passed away. He was being a particular troll that day. Finally, at 10pm, I looked at him and said, "I know today is difficult for you, it's the day your mom died. But that doesn't mean you have to take it out on me." 

I will never forget his face. His eyes widened, in shock. He said, "That was TODAY? Oh my God, I had almost forgotten. Without you, I never would have remembered." 

I sat with him and held him as he updated his profile photo in remembrance of his mother, and I held him close as tears streamed down his face. The only words he could muster by the end of the night were, "Thank you. Thank you for reminding me, thank you for being here, just...thank you." 

I knew he was getting to a place of emotional healing that he needed to be, but that still wasn't good enough for stubborn old me. As September and baseball season ebbed closer, I remember the way things went down.

I had asked him MONTHS prior, “You play baseball. Why don’t any of your ‘friends’ come and see you play?” He had no answer. 

I said, “That isn’t right Jon. It just isn’t. If people are your friends, they would support you.” 

He said, “I don’t ever tell anyone when my games are.”

 "No, you don't, but you DO post about it on Facebook, and you also check in. You wouldn't behave that way if you didn't hope that someone would care enough to come and watch you do something you love to do. Has anyone?" I retorted -- already knowing the answer.

He replied, "No, they haven't." 

So, I took some initiative. After seeing the location on Facebook several times, I knew where his games were, and knew his team name, so I looked it up online. I thought it was sad and (frankly pathetic) that his “friends” couldn’t do the same. I looked up his baseball schedule and told Jessica that we were going on a mission (to the Missions) one Friday night.

So we did. We showed up when he had a game, without saying a word to him about it prior. And never in my life have I seen a man’s eyes glow the way his did that night. Naturally, I played it cool, but he was in love with the fact that I took the time to not only go and find him doing what he loved the most, but that I also brought a cheerleading section for him. We laughed, we clapped and we had a great time. Immediately after, he didn’t want us to leave. He said, “Hey, do you all want to go and have dinner?” And we did. And these were the days that he was “playing it cool” and “not wanting to admit we were together.” And I wasn’t having it…so he spent a lot of time being mad at me. It became an interesting time….

But, as Jessica and I drove home that night, she said to me, "Love really does change a man. His eyes. it was all in his eyes. He didn't want us to leave...and he couldn't stop staring at you all night." 

I remember telling her, "Yes, it does change things. So does patience. And I'm willing to be patient as I wait for him to become something great...."

Which leads us directly to the next argument. 

He would say, “Shauna, I know how I am when I am in a relationship with someone. I’m a dick. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. I am who I am, and I can’t change.”

My reply to him was always the same, “Jon, you choose to be a dick. You said you love me. You said you respect me and don’t want to hurt me. Prove it. You aren’t who you are, you are who you choose to be.”

And, on August 19th of that year, I heard him struggle with his own statement for the first time. He began to say, “I am who I…” and then he stopped short, before even allowing himself to finish a statement that he knew drove me nuts, and abruptly and said, “Grrrr. You make me crazy.” And, making him crazy is my specialty. 

I challenged him…in a way that few people could. Often times I never ever realized how what I would say to that man would sink in, plant a seed and grow until months later. That’s just how he is.

Ah September. He was a hard case, this one. He fought me tooth and nail about being “officially” in a relationship, despite the fact that we were unofficially in one. And it drove me bonkers. One day, in September things blew up. I told him, “In or out, there is no half way. Half way, people get hurt. You need to make a decision. I’m either your friend, your lover or your girlfriend, but there is no more half way.” And man…when I stood my ground, things changed.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. He was messaging me on Facebook all day, after texting me that morning -- to which my response was very short and unyielding. I had a MAJOR event that day that I was working. I had no time to argue with him. By the time I was able to read the thesis he had sent to me, it was the last few words that really meant something...

He said, “I can’t think. I can’t focus at work. I can’t do a damn thing. This is driving me crazy. All I can see or hear is you, and all I can think about is you. I can’t do anything. I can’t function, Shauna. And that’s not like me.”

Me, resolute, said, “Good, that’s a sign you need to make a decision. If you’re coming to
me for sympathy, you’re coming to the wrong place. No more emotional roller-coaster nonsense. I have three daughters to raise, and I respect myself too much to be someone’s “fuck buddy”. You’re either in or out, I don’t care which, but you need to make that decision.” I said, “We are either lovers, friends or nothing at all.”

And oh how he “hated” me for “pushing” him. But he loved me for it all the same. And that was September…..well, part of it. 

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 5)

There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t check on me after the fire. Stubborn as I was, I went back to work too soon. He worried about me. He told me so each day. But, I will never be who I am I didn’t push myself. And I did. I pushed myself. Too hard some days. I would come home exhausted. Literally unable to function. All I could do was sleep. But I pressed on. That’s just me. I told no one of my struggle, not even him. I just did what I had to do. And every day, I got my three calls and I don’t even know how many texts.

Two weeks after I was released from the hospital, I had no idea what I was in for on my first follow up appointment. I took no pain killers that morning (I had decided I couldn’t function while on Percocet, and surely wouldn’t drive on it). But, he knew when my appointment was, and called and texted me to make sure I was up on time to make it -- even posted on my Facebook timeline that day; even asked me if I wanted him to take me. Again, my stubborn self told him, “No.” I could handle it, “I got it,” I said. I was independent and didn’t need anyone -- at least, according to me.

Boy, was I wrong.

I went to SAMMC at 9 that morning. I was there for three hours. They scraped out each burn wound on my right arm. They took tweezers and picked out the dead skin. The pain was so intense that I was sweating and felt like I was going to pass out. But yet, I powered through. I always did.

When it was over, still not a painkiller in me, I got in my car and drove to work. Everyone there immediately noticed that I was pale, shaking and in terrible pain. I was literally about to pass out. But, stubborn as I am, I wouldn’t admit it. I kept saying, “I just need to sit down.” I drank water, and knew it was only a short amount of time before I was going to close my eyes and fall. It was two in the afternoon, at this point. I felt it, I knew I couldn’t handle being at work that day, and I was trying to figure a way out to go home….without letting anyone know how bad it was; how much pain I was in.

I saw the concern on everyone’s face as they passed by me that day. They knew I wasn’t okay. And, truth be told, I wasn’t. I was light headed, I was dizzy, my arm was throbbing -- wrapped from my hand to my shoulder in ace bandages with gauze and antibiotic treatment and all sorts of tape underneath. Yet I still refused a painkiller. I insisted that I would be alright.

He called at 10 am, then again at 11, then again at 12. I didn’t answer. I didn’t want him to know how much pain I was in. At 2 pm, he called the office line. I couldn’t avoid him anymore. He already knew. He said, “Go home. I know you, I know you are being a stubborn asshole, and you need to go to my house and rest, it's closer. If you need me to come and get you, I will come and get you. I am leaving work now and I will meet you at my house in 30 minutes. Don’t argue with me like you normally do, just go and do it.”

I replied simply, “Okay.”

He said, “Wait. What? Okay? You’re not going to put up a fight? Now I know it’s bad. I’ll be there in 20 minutes. Leave NOW.”

He knew me.

So, I left. I made the 15 minute drive to his house, sweat dripping out of each of my pores because of the pain. Totally unable to realize where I was, and lucky to have made the drive at all. I had never experienced such massive pain in all my life.

When I got there, he was waiting for me. He took me to the bedroom, and laid my on the bed. He kissed me on the cheek and told me to rest. Said he was going to go and get us something to eat and that I was not to move from that spot until he got back. He wanted me to sleep.

So I did. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. He didn’t wake me up for dinner until 8.

But when he did, he was incredibly sweet. He had gently shut the door when he left, so I could rest, but when he returned home, he opened it, jumped on the bed, kissed my cheek and said, “Sexy ladies need to eat. I have Whole Foods pizza downstairs.”

He grabbed my hand and took me downstairs and watched as I was only able to eat about half a slice of pizza…the pain still gripping me. He tried to get me to eat more, he fought with me vehemently to do so, but I couldn’t. And when he realized how much pain I was still in (because I never complained), he just smiled at me, took my hand, brought me upstairs and tucked me in. He never pushed me, even though I needed a good ass kicking at the time, he just made sure I was okay. He put me to bed at 9pm. He came to bed shortly after, and when he did, all he did was hold me and kiss my forehead.

And that was our August that year. That was all we did. And those are still my favorite times.

There are no photos here, because I wouldn’t allow them. He has some, in his private stash, but those are ours, not yours. At least, not yet.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 4)

After telling the world about our house fire, the response I received from friends, family and even “fans” was nothing short of amazing. However, those who knew me personally were also given a very specific set of instructions, “Do NOT tell him,” I said. “He is on vacation and doesn’t want drama and he doesn’t need to know about any of this until he gets back.”

But, someone let it slip on Facebook, two days after the incident. I didn’t realize it. I thought nothing of it at first. I didn't think about him seeing it or not, or even caring if he had seen it. At that point, I expected nothing from him at all. I guess that was my first mistake.

After two days in the hospital, I remember laying on my sofa, in a Percocet coma after I was released to go home. I was out of it. I had been out of it for days, after enduring a burn shower, physical therapy and a morphine drip…I was the furthest thing from myself that I could remember. My phone kept ringing and beeping, interrupting some very much needed sleep. On that second day home, however, I noticed that I kept missing calls from an international number. I didn’t think much of it at the time, so I continued ignoring the calls. The only thing I was interested in doing was sleeping anyway. The pain medication and neural inhibitors made me nearly worthless. I couldn’t drive, function or do much of any
thing else.

But the number kept popping up…several times a day...relentlessly.

Finally, on the third day home from the hospital, I answered. It was him.

His voice was fuzzy and sounded far away. He said, “I have no cell reception here. I checked Facebook the other day and heard….”

He started crying. I could hear him trying desperately to choke back tears.

“That you were in a fire. Are you okay? Please tell me you are okay….”

I told him I was fine. That there was no need to worry about me and that he should enjoy his vacation (I told you I was stubborn).

He then proceeded to say, “I don’t know what I would do if anything ever happened to you. I come home tomorrow. Can I come and see you?”

I replied, “Sure.” Thinking he wouldn’t show up anyway.

But, true to his word, immediately after he landed, he called me, picked up dinner for me and came straight from the airport to see me.

And, the second he saw me, he cried. He hugged me. He wouldn’t let go. He made sure I ate and that I was comfortable and he left saying, “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

And he did call me the next day, after texted me several times that night. He said he was happy I was okay, that he could never lose me, that he wouldn’t know what to do without me.

“Finally,” I thought to myself, “It took all of this for him to ‘get it’ but he finally gets it.”

And, for the next few weeks things began returning to normal. At least, as normal as what was "us" back then...and as normal as it could be for awhile.

I was impatient back in those days, and refused to understand how it was so hard for him to be in a relationship, forgetting that he had been by himself for nine years; forgetting that I was the first person he had “let in” in a very, very long time.

As we ebbed toward the beautiful, neither of us saw what was brewing underneath all of that. At least, not yet. It wasn’t time. So, for the next few weeks, we enjoyed each other’s company. He didn’t even mind that I had no eyelashes and had lost a lot of my hair. We went right back to being inseparable. Right back to our comfortable spot. And, it was the best place for both of us to be.

And, for those of you who are wondering about the trip, the ex-girlfriend didn’t go. She "flaked" she often has, does and will forever do. His friend, Leonard went, instead. And they golfed a lot. Even when we were “fighting”, he never wanted to let go of the idea that I would get over it and find my way back home. And, I always did. Despite the fact, that even after the fire, all he wanted to do was show off photos with vapid, vacuous children, I let it go. At least, most of the time. I, as I found out later, was one of the few who did. He made people livid at his posts, his vacation photos, his commentary about "gorgeous this or that", even moreso than I. It was at this point, may people unfriended him and approached me, asking, "How can he do that to you? It's so disrespectful! You were fighting for your life and all he seems to care about are some stupid 20-year-old tramps on vacation." 

And while I have never disagreed with that, that is a part for the next segment of the story...

Because, for him, Facebook was a fallacy...whereas for me, it was an extension of who I am. And it still is. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 3)

In April of 2013, things changed. We became more than friends. A lot more. I remember it vividly. It was April 25, 2013 when he told me that he loved me for the first time. He said, “I love you, do you love me?”

I cocked my head to the side and said, “Of course I do.”

“But why?” He inquired.

I replied, “Because you are you.

He grinned the grin that I came to crave over the next few years. And…all was right with the world.  
It was then that things got better, than worse, than much better and then much worse and then…suddenly became fantastic. But, I am getting ahead of myself…

We progressed as normal during that month. Two weeks later, he threw me a birthday party. The night before my birthday, he dedicated this song to me. Of course, I swooned.

That evening, quite the gentleman, he picked me up at 7pm, on the dot, despite much bitching about it beforehand. All night, he made sure I was taken care of, cared for, and he would often sneak up behind me and plant a kiss on my shoulder, or on my neck. When we drove home that night, it was the first time I caught a glimpse of someone I didn’t yet know….the ‘scared’ him. 

He said, “I haven’t been in a relationship for nine years. I haven’t let anyone get close to me. I don’t know how you have done it, but you have, and you scare the hell out of me.”

It was at that moment, I knew I had a place in his heart….a place no one else could take away.

We carried on as normal for the next few weeks, but now there was a new element to our relationship; one that neither one of us quite knew how to handle. And I remember our first fight. It was because of that first fight that I came to realize just how deeply I was in love with that man. And that was June. 

As most things do, it began thanks to someone on the outside -- someone from his past, that I didn't even know was in his past -- conniving their way into our relationship. Asking me what appeared to be “innocent” questions on the surface, only to find out that person was quite jealous that he chose me over her. Funny how that works.

I remember giving him a verbal tongue lashing that night that would make a sailor blush when I found out about their interactions prior, and when I found out why she did what she did. I remember hanging up on him. Then, I remember getting trapped in my own garage….and of course the first person I called was him. And, of course, he laughed at me. Which, in turn, made me laugh at myself.

It was June 12. And it was that night that I was so mad at him (for nothing) that I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized, it was because I was head over heels for him. But, of course, stubborn bull that I am, I wouldn’t admit it.

A few weeks after that, we went to a formal event. And he, being the dunce he was, allowed himself to get manipulated by yet another “friend” and yet another argument ensued. "Hold my purse," became a joke between us years after. 

And the moment he realized I was miffed, he grabbed my hand, kissed it and said, "You look beautiful. I should tell you that more often."

I responded with a smile, "Yes, you really should." As I walked away, feeling like I had a win.

Despite the tension, the night ended with both of us, laying in his front lawn, in full formal attire and laughing at midnight, under the full moon. He laid there and said to me, "What do you want from me?" 

I replied, "I just want YOU, stupid." 

And then we cars pulled by and rubbernecked at the obstacle in the front yard. It was the perfect ending to that night. As were most of our nights, despite the interference we encountered.

So, we kept on, as usual over the next few months. Although, we started spending even more time together during that time. We would see one another nearly every night. He still called at least three times a day. I could nearly set my watch by his texts and calls throughout the day and through the night.

We began getting comfortable… He would grill and leave me a plate in the microwave when I worked late. We would cook together on the weekend and I would pack enough for him to eat throughout the week – for the times I wasn’t around. He, however, was still so difficult that he drove me insane. It was clear to the world that we were together, an item, a couple, but he wouldn't allow it to happen. 

Even though we were already planning on spending the holidays together; even though we ended up hosted a Fourth of July cookout, we still managed us throughout it all. We wandered the world, and everything seemed fine…that is, until the “vacation”.

He was planning a vacation to Cancun that year, toward the end of July. I had no vacation time at my place of employment at the time, so I couldn’t go. When I found out he had asked someone else to go in my stead, someone who was an ex-girlfriend, I was livid. I was so hurt...I just didn't understand. I couldn't understand. Why on Earth would he want to spend so much time with me but yet still be pursuing his past? I said nothing to him about my knowledge. In fact, to this day, I have said nothing...but I knew. And that knowing broke every shred of my heart. He was so insistent upon us staying friends, but yet still wanted me around so badly, but still couldn't let go of something so long gone that I found my heart torn into tiny pieces. In fact, to this day, it still is. 

The night he was scheduled to leave, I was so livid, in fact, that I blocked him and deleted him from Facebook. It was July 31, 2013, at 10:42 pm. I remember, because I did it moments after his last post, “Tomorrow I will be on a beach and away from drama.”

Naturally, I gave him my final…well, saying that I use often that is a word beginning with the letter “F”.

He was scheduled to leave the county at 3 in the morning. And, while he was in line at the airport, getting ready to get on a plane, my house caught on fire at 12:42 a.m. on August 1 – that same night. And, by 1:30 a.m. I was in an emergency room getting intubated for smoke inhalation, with second degree burns up and down my arm, most of my hair gone, my eyelashes burnt off and blisters all on my face. For all intents and purposes, as he was boarding a plane to sandy, “drama free” beaches, without a clue as to what was going on with me, I was dead to the world until 11 am the next morning.

For more, you'll have to read Part 4.

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 2)

From January of 2012 to April of 2012 there wasn’t a single day he didn’t call me three times a day. Not a single day he missed a call. And there were a million texts in between.
If I was sick, he was there, if he was sick, I was there. He had surgery on his hand during that point, and asked me to pick him up and take him home. I will never forget how adorable he looked -- even if I never told him so. There he was, in his little hospital gown and socks, with the cap still on his head, all dazed and confused. When I got there, he said (as if he were surprised), "There she is!" 

I got him in the car, took him to pick up his medication, got him something to eat and kept smacking his hand away as he toyed with my hair the entire ride home. He still would not cease with the picking at me like a little kid. But, he did make me laugh....often to the point of tears. I took him home and told him I would check on him later, because I had to leave -- I went back to work. And, of course, I checked on him later. I worried about him. And that has never changed either, not for three full years. 

He always reciprocated, though. Each time that I was sick and needed medicine…he was there too. And he never asked anyone else for help, never reached out...but with me, it seemed different. 

We suddenly became tight; the best of friends. I would take him to get his car fixed, I would drop him off, pick him up and we would just hang out three or four times a week. We became (suddenly) inseparable. People began to tease us and accuse us of being attached at the hip. And the truth is, we were. Wherever he was, I was…and visa versa. Everything just began to click. We did NOTHING without the other. We went hiking, we went everywhere together. And even when we weren’t together, we were talking and texting all the time. The separate you and I, started to become “us” -- long before either of us wanted to admit it.

We would have the dumbest and most random conversations. One night, he texted me that he didn't think I had knees, because he had never seen them. So, to be a smart ass, I took a picture of my knees, which I sent to him, and I, like a dumbass, posted it on Facebook, as his "trophy" because he "won" and made me take a random photo of my knees. 

Of course, that wasn't the only thing about me he began posting at that point -- our text conversations, our check ins....he would always ask me, no matter where we were at the time if I had "checked us in" -- his cell phone never did have good coverage -- so I always did.

And even though other people outside kept interfering, even though there was massive drama from a bunch of immature asshats, we found our way back to the other all the time. 

And yes, you know who you are, and you should be utterly ASHAMED of yourselves, for your behavior. But, you should also know that despite it all, it changed nothing between him and me at the end of the day. Nor will it ever.

We had enough problems on our own at the time; our own challenging waters to navigate, and those on the outside were only making things more challenging. For instance, I would go to his home and see birthday decorations from the year prior for some ridiculous bimbo still put up. I remember how hard I rolled my eyes that night; how utterly disgusted I was. I remember how seeing them hanging there drove me insane every time we were watching movies or grilling. I also remember the night that I tore them down. And, I remember him dying of laughter as I became (what he called) "Hurricane Sauna", ranting around the house as I yanked down each streamer and (with pride) and put them in the trash. 

The only thing I left up was one single red light bulb, the beads on a light fixture and what I dubbed "the slut tape" outside; this ridiculous gold bullshit. And I remember telling him one night that I wasn't going to change it, out of spite. Of course, he said he wasn't going to change it as long as it worked, because he didn't want to spend money to replace it, so he'd just wait for the light bulb to burn out -- cheap ass. And he didn't give a rat's ass about the beads. And the slut tape? Well, it made for a great wasps nest. Interesting how creatures of destruction would be so drawn to the slut tape....but that's another story for another day. 

And I swear to God, that damn lightbulb mocked me for over a year, because it simply wouldn't die. 

Yet, aside from the bulb, he began to dispose of other things that irked me, because he knew it made me nuts -- all on his own. Things he put away so I would be happy. People that (he already knew were bad for him) started to fall by the wayside -- at least a little. Things began to change. 

This was the time we would be together and then jump in the car the next day and explore the world. We went everywhere. We went nowhere. We wasted gas and time, but we sat in the car for hours…just talking. And we spoke about everything. We talked about fears, challenges, changes, failures, success…and everything else.

We spent hours discovering places we had never been to before. We picked out cottages and houses where we want to live as we grow old one day. We went to mini Stone Henge. We ate on the river.  It was glorious.

There are a thousand places we went and found that we discovered together for the first time; places he grabbed me to start dancing with me in the middle of nowhere or places where he would just lean over and kiss me that no one will ever know but us.

There are drives at midnight where it was raining and we were listening to a CD he made for me where he pulled off the road just to kiss me as I was leaning on his shoulder, half asleep from being out all day.

There a million stupid arguments that ended in me siting on the end of his worn out couch, stroking his face, waking him up and him leaning in to kiss me. Nights he yelled at me for one stupid reason or another, and me sitting on the porch in the backyard where he would come down and kiss me passionately. Calls in September, where he said things like, “I’m in Las Vegas with my son, and I can’t think about anything other than you. This has never happened to me before. When can I see you again?”

Through it all there were calls he never had to make, but he did…to me…calls he won’t make to anyone else. There were things I said, and calls I made that I wouldn't make to anyone other than him. For what reasons I don’t know, but that’s the God’s honest. I guess sometimes two souls meet and just click.

When it matters, men go to the women they love, not the women they lust. But, of course, there's more....

And for that, you will need to read Part 3.

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (Part 1)

The following is a series...what will likely be a lengthy one about the past several years of my life; a life that slowly became "our life". And it's a delicate, behind the scenes look at what everything (and everyone) thought they saw, but never really came into focus. Well, at least for them. It's something that I hope brings joy to many, realization to a few and education to all. Because when two broken people try and navigate the already complicated waters of falling in love, they really don't need any "help" or "inference." So, without further adieu, I give you the Greatest Love Story, never told....

It all began innocently enough. We became Facebook friends in 2009. We were part of the same political discussion groups at the time; both of us staunchly conservative. We commented on each other’s threads, we always had eachother's backs (and nothing has changed in three years). 

As was most things with he and I back then, it was meaningless, harmless fun. I respected him, he respected me, even though I hated his grammar and he didn't find me the least bit attractive at the time -- and I wasn't. It was simple enough. We nearly crossed paths (in person) a million times, but missed each other at each turn. Fate, it seems, wasn’t ready for us to meet. Not just yet. He was too busy messing about with bimbos – yes, I said it. And I was too busy shutting everyone out. 

In late 2010, he began messaging me with real estate questions. I sensed that there was something more under the surface, but I never pushed; never asked a bunch of questions. I always figured if he wanted me to know what was going on, he would tell me. We chatted on and off back then, nothing more than hellos and how do you do’s; a little political banter and a few things here and there. And it was that year that fate decided we should meet in person. Albeit fate choose (in her way at the time) to make it a short meeting….

My first impression was, "This is the guy with the bad grammar on Facebook? Hmmmm. Interesting." 

His first impression was, "She's just like she is online -- crazy."

And, of course, it's fair to mention that there was no mutual attraction at this point. Not at all. I hadn't the foggiest notion that he would soon become the largest part of my idea at all. 

I never even noticed when he started taking photos of me at events we both happened to be at, when we were there at the same time…how he began making them a focal point of his life. How he phased out the past, slowly, in favor of potential. That is, not until later in the story. How my photos, slowly began to creep up and replace photos of those now long gone in both of our rear views still baffles me. I cannot to this day pinpoint his "when". And I don't need to. All I need to know is his "why". 

In 2011, I was in crisis. He knew it. And he was one of the few people who checked up on me every day, to ask me how I was, to make sure I was okay…and that was when we began talking on a level deeper than the surface. Suddenly, we were becoming the best of friends, without either one of us realizing it. I admired him for his intelligence, and he for mine. But he wasn't done partying yet, and I wasn't done shutting people out yet. Fate began gently pushing us together, but also giving us enough distance to self-discover everything we needed to. 

Then, more of 2011 and 2012 happened. It all began with a night at the Green Lantern. He had been at some Fiesta events with his son, and we happened to (once again) be at the same place at the same time. He remarked, “Oh my god, you look fantastic, I would have sex with you!” I laughed and blew him off, as I did everyone at that point, but he hung around, chatted it up a bit and then disappeared…as he often did that May. But, there was so much more to the story than that…so much more than I could even have ever seen back then.

In November of 2012, I had some major changes…catastrophic ones. Instead of running for the hills, he ran closer to me. He checked on me every day. I would always get a text asking me if I needed anything; asking if I was okay. Again, I (as I did to everyone back then) pushed him away. But he refused to quit on me. That’s just who he is. In December of that same year, we started hanging out a lot. He would always find reasons to invite me to wherever he was, whatever he was doing…I guess he just wanted me around. Maybe he just felt sorry for me. I don't know. I never asked him to. And, suddenly, I always found a reason to be where ever he was. Being around him just felt good. Neither of us had ever laughed so hard as when we were together. And he made a point of keeping everyone he thought might do me harm or upset me far away. I didn't know it at the time, but he was protecting me...even from himself. 

And it was long ago, back then, that our banter began. He began behaving like a third grader with a crush. And it drove me insane. It was so easy for him to toss around compliments to other people like, "You look great," or "I miss you," But me? I was the one with the giant head, I was the pontificator, I was the one he did so love to pick on...and at. And, I didn't see it at first, but he behaved like that back then -- and still now sometimes -- because for me he felt different, and he didn't know what to do about it. (Of course, the stubborn old goat that he is wouldn't admit this until much further in the story, either.) He drove me crazy. And, I in turn, did the same to him. And, three years later, nothing has changed a bit. 

Yet, from watching (or listening to) our banter for several months to a year, the funniest began happening. Everyone, mostly strangers, that we came across started to ask, “How long have you two been married?” At the time, we would both immediately look at each other, smile, laugh it off and explain that we weren’t even together; we were just friends. But…that was also when the seeds began to be planted. Even though I was “in to” someone else at the time, and so was he, it was then, I think, that we both began to wonder. 

Suddenly, I found myself getting phone calls from him on his way to work, on his lunch and on his way home. Every day. He was famous for one line, “I’m driving by your office right now and I’ve waving at you!” I’d always say, “I’m waving back.” And each time, we both smiled. And, what became twice a month hang outs began to morph into weekly...then twice a week...and just about always, just the two of us. 

In February of 2012, he created a Valentine’s Day party he knew I would attend; one that was very "me" because he knew I had always approached that day with utter loathing. He pitched it to the place he chose as “Bitter Bash”. Because he knew I wouldn’t show up to any sort of “lovey dovey” event. He made an entire event palatable…just for me…just because he knew I would show up if he did. So, of course, I did. And, once again, we found ourselves alone at the end of the night, after everyone else had gone home…just talking. Our bond continuing to grow as we sat on the patio until round about 10 pm that night...

I guess it's funny, the way we remember things, but I remember that night, him and the look in his eyes as we spoke...almost as if it was yesterday. 

Oh shit. I was developing a massive crush. So, what now? 

To find out, what happens next, you'll have to read Part 2.

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