Monday, November 4, 2013

Googly-Eyed Storytime: How We Started Dating

I figure we can safely say that we've moved past "met" and can get into things like "relationships." No, I'm not hitting on you - I'm talking about Nate and I.

We left off previously with Nate practically proposing to me after knowing me for about a month and me sitting there anxiously trying to figure out how to get this guy out of my car so I could deal with all sorts of confusing feelings (feeeeeeeelings!), namely that this dude was nuts but that maybe it could work. Caught up? Good.

So how exactly DID I deal with this? In retrospect: not great. I pretty much cut off contact. There were some other things that complicated that - spring trip, my grandfather going in and out of the hospital and ultimately dying, graduation, job hunting. In fact, a job opened in Chesapeake and getting it would have meant moving about 200 miles away. That's right: part of my possible solution (unintentionally) involved running away and never seeing him again.

I would call him up or email him or write on his wall (wall, not timeline, get it right, FACEBOOK) on occasion, but not anywhere close to the same frequency as before. We hung out casually a few times: he came out to celebrate my getting a job,  he came down to visit my school, and I invited him to a Halloween party that I co-hosted, but we (read: I) generally kept it very infrequent and definitely platonic. Heck, at said-Halloween party, a guy that I was gauging interest in was there, too. Nate likes to say that every time there was a long enough gap that he started to think about asking out someone else, I'd suddenly call and get him all worked up again. It was uncanny.

All that changed with a voicemail from his mom.

I need to back up and tell two side-stories here that I promise are relevant. The first isn't quite as necessary, but it's funny and will provide some context.

C., the immediate past boyfriend, and I were still on friendly terms (while every relationship ending was hard in different ways, only one has ever left a sour taste in my mouth). We lived in dorms that shared a parking lot, and one spring day, after he had given me a lift, he said, "My mom wants to call you."

I was taken aback. "What? Why?"

"I don't know. But I told her that I would give you her phone number so that if YOU wanted to call her, you could, but that I wasn't going to give her your phone number."

"You don't have to give me her phone number. I'm not going to call her. That's weird."

"I figured you wouldn't, and that's fine, but I'm just holding up my end of the arrangement."

"Fine, whatever. I'm just going to toss it in the trash. Now, what movie did you want me to watch?"

So we headed up to my dorm and popped in a movie. After a bit, I heard my phone ringing from my room (we had swanky-swank apartment-style dorms). It was a number that was both unknown and slightly familiar. 

"Do you know this number? It's a 337, and that's your area code." 

He looked it up, and his face darkened. "That's my mom's cell. This isn't the first time she's done this, either. She probably looked at the phone bill, figured out who I was talking to the most, and figured it was you. I'm really sorry."

Well, since she had called me, I couldn't just completely ignore her, so I purposely called her back when I knew I had only a small window to talk. Within the first five minutes she asked me, point blank, "So, why did you and C. break up?"


The second story is that Nate had a heart condition (I'm not sure if that link is exactly it, but it sounds about right). Basically, he had an extra pacemaker that would just turn on randomly and shoot his heart rate up past 200 bpm. The first doctor they ever saw for it couldn't find anything. He rather accurately stated that while he didn't doubt that there was something going on, they likely wouldn't be able to figure out what it was unless Nate just happened to be hooked up to a heart monitor while it happened. Over the next TEN YEARS, Nate would see cardiologists and do various tests, but nothing was ever caught. In fact, the reason he came down to visit my school was because he was already in the area to see a different cardiologist.

So when I was walking between sessions at the VMEA conference that fall and saw that I had a voicemail from Nate, I didn't think too much of it. When I started listening to the voicemail and heard that it was his mom, I was kind of panicking that I'd gotten yet another crazy lady stalking me because of her son. What I heard next made my knees go weak and forced me to lean against a wall.

"Nate wanted me to call you to let you know that he had emergency heart surgery."

I just about ran back to my hotel room and called my best friend to have her pray for him. I started saying a rosary, then called Nate's phone and chatted with both him and his mom briefly. I was relieved to hear that he was in good spirits and seemed to be doing ok, that they'd finally figured out what it was and that he had answers and hopefully never had to worry about it again. Over the remaining days of the conference, I would call him to check on him and chat, and on my way home, I asked if he wanted me to visit and bring him a pie. There are two right answers to the question, "What kind of pie would you like?" and he gave one of them: apple. So after driving for 4 hours, I dropped off my stuff, changed, and hopped back in the car to get a pie and drive the 45 minutes to his parents' house, where he was recuperating. 

His roommate brother, coworker friend, and his friend's wife were all visiting and playing Risk with him when I showed up. They started a new game when I got there, but it didn't last long. Nate and his brother told me later that while the friend's wife is ruthlessly good at Risk, they purposely finished up quickly so they could leave Nate and I alone. They also spent a good chunk of time standing outside the house debating whether or not they should actually leave because it was either going to go well and take a while or go poorly rather quickly.

So Nate and I were alone to talk, and boy did we ever. I believe I said something about how when he told me in my car that he could see us together, I could too, but I was scared because it had only been a month and that's insane but the heart surgery really brought into focus how much he actually meant to me. He pulled me from the couch to a clear spot on the carpet and said, "Wait here." At this point, I started thinking, "Crap, I was right, he's going to go get a ring that he already has for some reason and propose (who thinks like that?!?! The answer is me) because he's crazy." Instead, he had gone to get his ipod or computer and put on "The King and Queen's Waltz/So Close" from Enchanted so we could dance. That's right - slow dance in his parents' living room. It's super cheesy, but super sweet, which kind of sums him up perfectly.

We kissed and kept speaking and laughing freely until I went home at some ridiculous hour. He met me for church the next evening (thank goodness for college kid Mass times!) and, while calling over the cars in the parking lot, we solidified that we were, in fact, dating, in maybe the least romantic, anti-climactic way after the previous evening/morning. It was November 23, 2008. He told me he loved me the beginning of December, and I reciprocated right before Christmas after going to say hi to Jesus at the perpetual adoration chapel at the church near his apartment.

And we lived happily ever after.


We've hit our share of bumps in the road (like, I don't know, him having heart surgery AGAIN 2 months later because they didn't quite fix it the first time. If you want a good idea as to what it was like, my friend Mary's 2-year-old daughter recently had a similar procedure - you should totally go say hi and send some love their way!), but we're not done. Our story has only just begun, and I really can't wait to see what comes next (and meet even more new characters!). So until the final chapters have been written....


Next time: the engagement story!

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