There is a moment right before you make a major decision when you have a “Ohhhhh man.. I hope I know what I’m doing” freak out. You squeeze your eyes shut..cross your fingers..hold your breath and take your leap off the cliff. At some point you have to give in and trust that the water below isn’t hiding any unseen dangers. You give yourself over to the fall and hope for the best…..
Let me just start off by saying that packing for a trip in which you could possibly be meeting a man you could fall in love with is WAY more difficult than it sounds..ok..I guess that does sound pretty hard now that I think about it. I mean, that’s a LOT of pressure people! I was a ball of nerves that entire week. I barely slept..Jim texted me every morning at 5 when he was getting ready for work and my head would pop off the pillow at the little ding of the text message as if someone had blasted a fog horn in my ear. He sent me the sweetest messages I’ve ever gotten from anyone before. He was so sensitive and expressive with how he felt. I never once had to guess and girls, you KNOW how rare that is. I could barely stay in my own skin the next few days..and finally it was Friday. That morning he sent me these texts:
Jim: Only a few more hours! 🙂 🙂 I want you to jump into my arms
Me: Flying leap! So much has happened..it just feels right though. I’ve never ever done anything this spontaneous before..ahh
Jim: By far the most spontaneous thing..but I feel good about it. I always follow my gut and my gut says take the leap.
Me: Mine does too…one little email. I almost didn’t send it because you were so far away.
Jim: I’m so so glad you did! 🙂
My sister dropped me off at the airport and gave me a huge hug and wished me luck. I had a little time to kill before my flight so I found one of the little restaurants inside the airport, pulled out my book, popped in my headphones and I swear I read the same sentence ten times. Finally it was time to board and besides a connecting flight in Charlotte, NC where I got on the smallest plane I have EVER been on, it was a smooth trip. So smooth in fact that when I finally landed in Florida, I was a good 45 minutes early. I sat there in the baggage claim area watching as loved ones reunited and the room emptied. Soon I was the only one left.
And then he was there..striding through the glass doors..filling up that room. I dropped my stuff and I ran..took that leap right into his arms just like we had talked about and this time there weren’t even inches much less miles between us.
He walked me out to his truck, took my bags for me and grabbed me for a kiss. I felt like I had always known the feel of his arms around me. All those nerves were gone.
The next morning he woke me up with a kiss and a “good morning beautiful.” I felt like I had pinch myself. It was Saturday and he had made plans for us to go to the beach and hang out with his friends. He took me to Waffle House for breakfast and we spent the entire time talking and grinning at each other. It is hard to eat pancakes when you are holding hands across the table but we couldn’t seem to let go of one another. Off we went to the beach and it was a GORGEOUS day. The sand was white and the water so bright and blue it hurt my eyes. We met up with a big group of his friends and I have to say, I was a little nervous. They were nice though and I lay on my blanket and watched him play beach volleyball, throw the frisbee and every once in a while he would run back over to me for a quick kiss. I felt like I was on cloud 9. Afternoon turned into evening and we started to get hungry. It gave me a slight twinge of disappointment when he invited his guy friends along with us to dinner. We hadn’t gotten a lot of alone time that day and I wanted to spend some time just talking and getting to know each other better. It worked out that his friends didn’t end up coming, but the whole time at dinner, he was strangely quiet..he told me he liked people watching and that’s what he was doing. Sometimes silence can be nice..can be comfortable..and it wasn’t bad, but I thought we would have a million things to talk about. It was my first hint of what was to come…
Sunday he told me that he always goes to the grocery store to get ready for the week. I thought it would be nice to do something normal and homey with him and as we walked around pushing the cart, I felt like we were a couple. It was nice 🙂 I started to wonder though if he had thought about the fact that I would be at his apartment all week and would need some groceries of my own. I can have a hard time speaking up and it never seemed to cross his mind. He had told me that he would leave his truck for me during the day and ride into work with his roommate so I figured I could make a grocery run of my own the next day. Second hint. We got back to his place and he immediately put the groceries away and plopped on the couch. I thought maybe we might go out to a nice dinner but he had to get up at 3 am for work the next morning so he usually went to bed around 7:30 or 8. Keep in mind that there is an hour time difference and a 7:30 bedtime for him, meant a 6:30 bedtime for me. This was going to be tougher than I thought. We ate a frozen pizza and watched a few episodes of Mad Men. It wasn’t exactly the romantic evening I had wanted but I tried to just enjoy spending the time with him.
Over the next few days, things steadily started going downhill. A sweet kiss and a “good morning beautiful” as he left for work, turned into a hasty kiss and a “see ya.” Eventually it was a “could you get the laundry out of the dryer and maybe fold it?” I couldn’t talk to him all day because they weren’t allowed to have their cell phones on and to make matters worse, I was trapped at the apartment because he ended up taking his truck. I ate leftover pizza for lunch as the only groceries he had gotten were cereal, spaghetti, some fruit, cans of tuna and powerade. He was on a serious health kick and his cabinets were pretty bare. I tried to make the best of it and spent my days at the pool and watched the entire first season of Gossip Girl on Netflicks. I made friends with a really sweet girl named Alanna (thank GOD I had her or I would have gone totally bonkers) and we went to the pool and took her dogs for walks. I told her about the situation and she was almost as pissed as I was. Jim would get home, and immediately leave for the gym. He’d get home..eat leftover spaghetti (not even asking if I wanted anything for dinner) and would promptly pass out on the couch. I swear I saw this man asleep more than awake. To say that I was starting to go stir crazy would be putting it mildly. I was starved for any kind of human interaction. He went from being super affectionate and expressive to a couch potato who barely seemed to notice I was there. I began to have doubts about how he was feeling and so one night before bed I asked him.
Me: Hey, are we ok?
Jim: What do you mean?
Me: Well, you haven’t been very affectionate and we don’t really talk all that much. I’m kind of wondering if you even want me here.
Jim: Of course I want you here. If I didn’t want you here I would tell you. What…do you need more attention? <– (Third hint.)
(my mouth dropped open at this..and I felt a little stab of hurt)
Me: No, I mean but it's just kind of hard to tell how you are feeling. You don't even kiss me anymore.
Jim: That's just how I am..some people think I'm cold but I'm just really focused. I have a hard day and I'm worn out when I get home. If you don't understand that's how my job is then you are just like all the other girls. They wanted more attention too and I just can't give that. You're either in this 100% or not at all. I don't do anything halfway (oh really? cause this feels like a half-assed attempt at a relationship) so I need to know if you are committed to this or not. If you are the least bit unsure it's not going to work.
Ok…wow..he certainly put me on the spot. I wasn't 100% sure and in fact was getting less and less sure with each passing day. And how could he expect me to commit like that when the whole purpose of going down there was to see if it was something. So far, I hadn't seen anything that made me want to commit to that relationship. It got worse. One night I slept on the couch because I felt such a distance between us. That next Friday, I thought we would do something fun…go out..have a good time. He got home from work and I was so excited to see him. He promptly changed and went to the gym. He didn't get home until 7. I was so hurt and disappointed. I was leaving early Sunday morning and we had barely spent any time together..you know…besides sitting next to each other in silence on the couch..oh and did I mention every night he asked me to rub his legs for him..he was just SO tired. Anyway..he got a shower and told me that we were going to go out and have some fun. FINALLY! I thought.
We went to the movies. and sat. in silence. Then he took me to dinner..at Waffle House…took our food home..ate on the couch and promptly went to bed. it was the worst date night in the history of date nights. He woke me up the next morning to tell me he had to go to some ceremony for work. They were giving a veteran, who had lost his sight from an IED explosion, a brand new house. Jim told me he would be back at noon. He didn't get home until 2. The worst part? It wasn't even required that he go. Plus, I could have gone with him and he never even thought to invite me. To say that I was upset and disappointed and honestly a little (ok a lot) pissed would be an understatement. It was our last day together and it was almost over. I think he could tell I was upset but didn't care enough to ask why. He suggested going to the beach and asked if I wanted to go just the two of us or to the beach where all his friends were. I said that I just wanted to spend time with him and so off we went. On the way there he mentioned that he needed to get cash for the toll over the bridge. We pulled into a 7-11 and he sat there looking at me expectantly.
Jim: I thought you were going to jump out and go to the ATM.
Me: Are you serious?
Jim: Yea I thought I mentioned needing cash for the toll.
Me: wow..sure Jim..I'll run and get that for ya.
Jim: I mean is that ok?
Me: (hopping out and slamming the door) sure..it's fine.
I couldn't believe it. I was furious. I went to the ATM, got $20 out and when I got back in the truck, threw it on his lap. "You can keep the rest," I told him.
It got even better. And by better..I mean a whole lot worse. We got to the beach..walked a good ways through the dunes and set up our blankets when he suddenly realized he left the water bottles in the truck. He lay down on his beach towel and handed me his keys. "do you mind?" he asked and closed his eyes. I stood there..stunned. Who the hell did this guy think he was?! I walked all the way back to the truck, grabbed the water, stormed back through the sand, threw them on his towel and kept walking all the way down the beach. He was fast asleep and didn't even notice. The walk on the beach calmed me and when I got a text from him saying "where are you?" I turned around and walked back, ready to explain how I was feeling.
Let's just say that conversation didn't go well. We both realized (ok he realized, I already knew this days ago) that we were not a good fit for one another and this was clearly not going to work.
The next morning he drove me to the airport in Pensacola and we sat in silence for the hour drive. I swear he drove 10 miles under the speed limit and when we got to the airport I was in a panic. My flight left at 6:30 and it was 5:45. He gave me a hug goodbye and got into his truck without looking back. I hurried to security check in and my heart sank when I saw the massive line ahead of me. There was no way I was going to make my flight.
and I didn't.. I missed it by 5 minutes. The next flight didn't leave until 11 and I was on standby. I called Jim crying and he was barely sympathetic. "Wow..that sucks." he said. "It will be ok though. Call me later."
I curled up on the floor of the airport in a quiet corner and cried myself to sleep. I caught the 11 am flight into Atlanta, GA. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any worse..it did.
3 pm – flight overbooked by 24 people. Bumped to the next flight.
5:30 – flight overbooked again (I hate Airtran)
5:31 – called parents sobbing hysterically.
6:00 – Ate airport food and watched planes taking off.
6:30 – Called department heads and let them know I would probably be sleeping in an airport that night. They were amazing, talked me down off my ledge and got me a sub for the next day.
7:00 – wrote sub plans and called my sister in Wilmington.
8:00 – 10:30 – bought a book…finished the book..wandered around the airport. Felt as far from a badass as possible.
10:30 – Sat by the gate..my flight was supposed to leave at 11:15 p.m. but I was still on standby and the flight was overbooked AGAIN. Unless people missed the flight, I was going to be sleeping there. They started making annoucements that they would be giving away two tickets to anywhere AirTran traveled, plus a hotel room and meal vouchers for the night if people bumped their flight to the 5 am flight the next morning. You better believe I started praying. At this point, I had been in the airport so long that I had met a pretty huge group of people. They were sympathetic and sweet and said prayers and crossed fingers for me that I would be able to get on this flight. Finally, one family of four went up to the little podium to take advantage of the free tickets. I sat..holding my breath..the lady next to me grabbed my hand as they came over the speaker to call out names. The first one called was mine. I promptly burst into tears and walked up to the ticket girl. "Is it ok if I give you a hug?" I asked her.
As I boarded the plane, applause and cheering broke out from some of the passengers. "We're so glad you made it!" One man said. "We were hoping your name would get called." Another lady added. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and I've never been happier to get on a plane in my entire life. I got the very last seat, all the way in the back of the plane, the third seat in, up next to the engine. I could have cared less. I leaned my head against the side of the plane..listened to the roar and fell asleep.
I told you it was a long story. And one in which I learned that it is ok to take chances, to put yourself out there in the hope that your leap will pay off. While mine didn't go how I had planned, I was proud of myself for taking the chance. At 2:30 that morning, I finally climbed in my own bed, was snuggled by two sweet dogs that had missed me so much, and my house no longer felt like a trap..it felt like a safe haven. And I like to think that getting that feeling back was worth all that I had gone through.