My parents called me shortly after I broke up with Shawn. He had called to inform them that I had broken up with him and that they should have a talk with me. Instead my parents, who had no clue I’d called things off, told Shawn that if I had broken up with him, they respected my decision and said he needed to let me go. Hearing this from my parents (who called me together on speaker phone) was such a relief to me! My mom told me how she had been praying that I would break it off with him. She was trying to let me find my way and instead of opposing the relationship and risking me running closer to him, she prayed that what was meant to be would happen. My dad told me how proud he was of me. I nearly cried knowing that not only were they not disappointed in me but they weren’t mad about already buying me a wedding dress or a hutch. I would get married eventually right? I’d also need dining room furniture!
Joseph and I hung out almost every other evening. Days we didn’t see each other we talked on the phone. He followed me home most nights we worked together because of the time Shawn was waiting for me by my car when I came out. Joseph knew I was nervous about confrontation with him, so his presence kept Shawn away.
One night that Joseph followed me home, he asked if he could hug me before he left and I said okay. I have never had a better hug in my life. I am 5 foot 4 (and three-quarters) and he is 6 foot 2. He completely enveloped me up in his arms. I felt so safe and it made a lasting impression.
My mom warned me not to get involved with anyone for a while since I was just in a serious relationship and yadda-yadda… I said, ” I know mom…” It wasn’t until 2 weeks after I ended my relationship, did Joseph and I have our first official date on Valentine’s day. That was the last time Shawn tried to get in touch with me. He had showed up at my sister’s house unannounced, 30 minutes before Joseph was to pick me up. He asked if I was going out with “him” and I said yes. I wore a long black skirt with red roses on it and a matching top. I did my hair… Shawn told me his parents and grandparents wanted to talk to me and tell me I was making a mistake and to give him another chance.. and I said, “I don’t want to talk to them. It’s over.” He finally left and told everyone at school I had cheated on him. Convincing him otherwise would only mean further engagement from me and I wasn’t willing to give him that. Joseph and I knew the truth. That’s all that mattered.
My Valentine’s date with Joseph was sweet. He even brought me flowers. We sat on the same side of the booth at the restaurant near a cozy fireplace. He was dressed in khakis and a long-sleeved white shirt with a button up vest over it. I sort of smiled to myself thinking how preppy he was compared to everyone else I’d ever dated. I liked it though. I liked him. He had the tough guy exterior but with a marshmallow center. He had the long hair and the earring. (My eyebrow ring had been long gone.) He was a genuine good guy and I was finally ready for that. One night when he followed me home he stopped to help a mom whose mini van was stuck in the snow on the side of the road. He always held doors open for me and while he was protective of me, he was confident in me. He didn’t get jealous or want to beat people up for looking at me.
By the time we were seeing each other for about 3 weeks I said, “Sooo… are we exclusive?” And before I could finish the sentence he said “Yes.” Not a day went by that we didn’t see or talk to one another. So I knew I was the only one he spent time with but still I wanted to know what “this” was.. I was absolutely on board with calling him my boyfriend. Elated.
By month one he told me he had some breaking news for me. We were hanging out at my sister’s house in the living room. Knowing his personality by now, I thought he was going to burp or crack a joke of some sort because he looked so serious all of a sudden. Whatever he said was going to be funny and I was ready to laugh!! But instead he cleared his throat and told me he was in love with me. I was caught totally off guard! How could this be, I asked? I was in complete denial. Astonished that he could be in love with me… already!? He was taken aback of course and he told me that it wasn’t easy for him to profess this and that he had never told anyone that he loved them first.. this was a leap of faith for him.. This wasn’t what he does, he said. I didn’t know what to think of it. He told me again that truly he meant it and he would still feel this way in a week. I was to ask him in a month from now or years from now, and he would still love me. By this time I was thinking he fell off the crazy train. He also told me to please not respond if I didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t know what I felt. I knew I was crazy about him. But this was so soon. He left that night giving me much to ponder. I felt bad for not reciprocating but he said, “Don’t say it, if you don’t feel the same way.”
For the next week I reflected. I was used to following whims. “Sure why nots” were my thing. Joseph was amazing. I really needed to discern what this relationship meant to me. He was too important to decide on a whim if I loved him. He’d call me in the mornings to wake me up for school. I had an alarm but he would call because he knew I was eternally running late. He’d say “Hey Spring, are you up?” Yes. “Put your feet on the floor. Are they on the floor?” They are. “Ok. I love you baby. Have a good day. Don’t go back to sleep.” And I would respond with, “Thank you.. have a good day too.”
Every time I saw and spoke to him for that week he’d tell me he loved me and each time I would respond by saying “thank you”. Finally I decided, not on a whim, but after much consideration of what love really meant to me, that I was going to consciously love him. I already knew I had fallen for him but this was a decision I wanted to make purposefully. The day I told him I loved him too, he cried. He was so happy. I was so happy!
Joe knew that I suffered from depression and ADHD and was on meds for both even though neither really did their job. It was more of my “feather” like the one that made Dumbo the elephant fly. Being with him and the newness of the relationship; I didn’t feel sad often. He did not share my love of music that’s for sure. He called it “depressing man hater music” and said, “No wonder you get sad, this music makes me want to jump out the window!” He still graciously took my mixed tape I made him, and made me one a week later.
By month 3, I was ready to finally sing for him. I never sang for any boyfriend before. This was terrifying for me and I was beyond nervous. So I did what any wussy does in that situation. I opened a door and stood behind it while gathering up the courage for 10 minutes to belt out my best rendition of Jewel’s “You were meant for me.” When I was done he said, “Babe! That was beautiful! Come here!” I felt like a 4 year old running to their parent after doing a good job at something! I had a huge smile on my face, giggling like an excited kid as I ran over to be hugged and kissed by him. He couldn’t stop me from singing for the rest of our relationship.***
I graduated college that May after 2 short years. Joseph was there to see me get my diploma. I was the first one in my family to have a college degree. Even if it was just art school. I was going to get paid for doing what I really loved! It was mildly cool. I had a new job at a different restaurant waiting tables. I had been fired from the Steak House for complaining about the crappy sections the manager gave me, probably because I was not an awesome waitress. The only thing I liked about it was serving the families with all the little kids. I wanted to be on the other side of that table one day with my own family. They made it look glorious!
I moved out of my sister’s home to my own apartment becasue she was getting ready to be remarried. Joseph moved out of his parents house to his own apartment. I went furniture shopping with him once and told him to pick the blue couch because it matched my hutch. We both smiled and played it off like I hadn’t just said what I said. I couldn’t believe I said it out loud! We spoke a lot with our glances. He ended up buying the blue couch.
Joe asked me while out to dinner one night, if I had ever thought about marriage and when I figured that time frame in my life would be. And I said, “Yeah I want to be married someday but I’m in no hurry. I’ve just come out of an engagement.” And he said he wasn’t in a hurry either.
The first time he met my mother wasn’t until 3 months after we were seeing each other. I played it off to her whenever we talked on the phone, like Joe and I were just really good friends. When I introduced them and she offered to take a picture of us, he kissed me by surprise and she said; “Looks like you’re more than friends, Spring!!” We all had a good laugh. She adored Joseph from the get-go and I know she liked that he was raised Catholic.
Joe was Catholic in name just like I was. We thought there was potential there for growth because of the way we were raised, but we were in no hurry to step into a church together. We were Catholic in name, but were pretty apathetic about all of it. I unconsciously chose Joseph over God. If commandments told me I was wrong, I didn’t want to listen. I had no clue how much more powerful things could be letting God be God. I did not trust Him…yet. Neither did Joe.
We went to the mall once and “happened” upon a diamond store. He wanted to look inside just for fun and see what types of rings I liked. We had chit chatted about marriage here and there. We knew we were pretty serious but neither of us felt any pressure to be anything other than what we were; two, annoyingly in love, young adults.
The first time Joseph met my dad was when we met them in Colorado for their 40th wedding anniversary. I was the only kid that could make it out there from my family and Joe was thrilled at the opportunity to visit Colorado again and offered to drive showing me where he lived in Keystone on the way to my parent’s campsite in Glenwood Springs. I had a clue that he wanted to talk to my dad about his intentions for me. Joe wanted my dad’s blessing regarding our relationship which I thought was cool.
I remember my dad being worried that I was driving to Colorado with some guy he had never met. What if he was a serial killer?? He was worried that Joe was a dirt bag and the fact that we arrived hours later than we should, made him suspicious of him. We all had a good laugh about it because my dad told Joe he didn’t look like a dirt bag and that maybe he’d give him a chance.. And when dad and Joe walked around the camper out of sight while my mom and I were inside, I cranked open the windows to try to hear what they were saying. “Spring! You’re a sneak! What are they talking about?” I had no idea. I was just super nervous for Joseph! I was hoping my dad would be easy on him. Mom and I giggled like little school girls at the prospect of what they could be discussing.
That trip was amazing. Joe got to know my parents, realizing that my dad’s humor was similar to his own and that he was rarely serious. We went rafting with my dad and Joe and I hiked this amazing trail my family and I have been on numerous times. Hanging Lake in Glenwood Colorado. A mere 1200 feet straight up the mountain on switch backs. We took a picture underneath the waterfall at the very top. I don’t even know how we took a selfie on a 35mm camera! But it worked!
We were in our zone. We even drove up to Utah on the way back to visit my older brother and his family. Joseph never told me what he and my dad talked about. We’d only been dating 5 months… so surely it was nothing huge like I’d hoped.
We continued to talk about the possibilities of getting married now and then. I even bought a new cat to befriend my other one, because Joe said that if we ever got married I couldn’t get a new cat. Well, we weren’t married and I wasn’t engaged to him so I bought this little white and black kitten. Joe looked at me annoyed then proceeded to name the cat Scrappy and fall madly in love with it. I couldn’t help but think about what kind of dad he’d be. He was a good “cat dad”.
One day I came home from work to find that Joseph was in my apartment using my bathroom and yelled at me through the door to put on something cute because he made reservations at the restaurant we went to on Valentine’s. My heart sank because I had actually eaten dinner at work. But I didn’t want to disappoint him because he seemed abnormally excited to eat this restaurant’s prime rib. It was the best? Well, okay! I never liked passing up a fun date with him. So we went.
Joseph seemed to have to go to the bathroom quite a bit that night. He went once before we were seated and once again after we ordered salads. I was used to his bladder which is the size of a thimble, but this was ridiculous! There we were sitting close on the same side of booth like usual. This time we weren’t near a fireplace because it was August, but we were secluded with book shelves around us. Super romantic. I looked over at him and jokingly patted his empty pockets. I said, “So when are you ever going to propose to me?” Hahahah! I had a great laugh. I thought I was hilarious. But he suddenly had to go to the bathroom again! By now I’m totally annoyed but, “Hey look I’ll have a bite of his steak while he’s gone. That will teach him to keep leaving me here”. Sheesh.
I cut myself a big ol bite of prime rib, dipped it in au jus and took a bite. I had barely started chewing it when out of nowhere lights were flashing in front of me and over walks Joseph looking guilty or nervous or not himself… I’m chewing this enormous piece of meat unbeknownst to him and he kneels down in front of me! I look up in shock and see his brother Keaton snapping pictures and it dawns on me what’s happening! My face turns 10 shades redder, and I have a huge wad of steak in my cheek and I can’t just say: “Stop!!! Let me just spit this meat out elegantly in a napkin.. Now you can proceed” No. I’m housing prime rib in my mouth like a chipmunk when the love of my life kneels down and tells me he wants to spend forever with me, as he opens up this red box and asks me to be his wife!!
Eventually I spit my food out in a napkin before I choked on it and I told him, “Yes, I would love to marry you!!” We had been together a whole 6 months…
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