I had a lot of reasons, but none of them were very good. I felt loyalty to my best friend, but by this time, she was married to the guy of her dreams and we hadn't spoken more than twice in a year. I was going on a mission, but not for a year, and no one said I should become a nun until then. But I had never ever said no to a guy brave enough to ask me out, and I wasn't going to start on this hot guy I had known forever, so after "But don't you have a girlfriend?" (No, we broke up), and "Are you sure you know who it is you're speaking too?", (been burned by that one before) he repeated his question, and I said, "Okay."
Our first date was amazing. I straightened my hair, (old habits die hard) but it rained and went curly anyway. In the car on the way from the restaurant he sang along to the radio.We went to go see Johnny English, and I've loved Rowan Atkinsen since I first had a crush on Chase. After the movie, I told a slightly inapproriate joke. (So there's a pirate with a steering wheel in his pants, and I walked up to him and said, "Hey...do you know that there's a steering wheel in your pants?", and the pirate said, "Aye, It's driving me nuts.") This is the kind of joke I find hilarious, because I'm still five years old, but we both relaxed after that.
The funny thing is, when you've known someone for years, the whole first date awkwardness isn't quite so awkward. Darren saw me fall out of a tree when I was sixteen. It was the side of his car I punched when I didn't win state for my drama competition. When I said that stupid joke, it made me forget my "enough" self, the only character I ever played on a date, and was just myself.
We went out for Jamba Juice after the movie, and he started talking about his mission, and I was so impressed. I always thought he was awesome, but the mission changed him to awesome+. At this point, it was like 10:00 and we still wanted to hang out, so we went to my parent's house, and after a few minutes of my mom and dad being chatty, we went downstairs to the T.V. room, and played on my guitar, singing goofy songs until my curfew. I walked him to my door (because...Feminism). I told him I was going on a mission, and he smiled and said, "Oh, Okay," like he took that as a personal challenge and then gave me a hug. After he left, I went back downstairs and picked up my guitar, and sat there, my fingers on the frets, staring off into space, this giant grin slowly seeping into my jazz hands.
You know the whole three days rule? That's a rule that never applied to me. Guys didn't ask me out for a second date, and the one guy who did, waited nine months between dates, so you could tell he was really into me. I had zero expectations of a second date, but Darren called me the next day and asked if I wanted to go to Walmart with him to go buy shirts. It was kind of a letdown, to be honest, to go from this awesome first date to Walmart, but I can tell you we've spent far more Saturday afternoons at Walmart than we have Friday nights at dinner and a movie. And it was really fun to go to Walmart and buy shirts with Darren.
And then he didn't call me, which was okay because I was working four jobs, but by Thursday I was like...Dude what's happening, and I called him, because...feminism. He'd gone camping with his brothers, and they all teased him in the background about this cute girl he kept talking about.
This was the time I had caught that he actually "liked" me, and this was, of course, foreign territory for me. So we made a plan to go out on another date, and I prepared for it as The Date With The Guy Who Liked Me, and I was more than slightly terrified that I'd mess everything up or say the wrong thing. So I dressed up really fancy, only to find that Darren had invited our friend Josh to go with us. Now you're probably thinking inviting another dude on a date would be a bad thing, but that's because you don't know Josh. Josh is exactly the same today as he was ten years ago, which is exactly the same as he was ten years before that, and he'll be exactly the same ten years from now. He is a character stuck in time, and the fact Darren wanted to bring him with us, made me like him more. So on our third date, we went antiquing (which we've never done since) with Josh. It was awesome. Darren and I both love old things, which is good, because we're poor and our house is full of old things.
Afterwards, Darren dropped Josh off, drove me home, gave me a hug, and then told me he LOVED me.
And I was like, "um.... Thank you?"
It's funny, I had been so impatient to fall in love, and for someone to fall in love with me, but when it happened, I was SO not ready for it. I was terrified.
We hung out like this for three weeks. Every spare second we had we spent together, and he kept saying he loved me, and I'd panic every time and say thank you. I was so dumb and he was very persistant. When he kissed me for the first time, I was like, Why is your heart pounding so loud?", and he was like, "Okay stop talking for a second", and I was like "I think you're having a heart attack." And he's like "Seriously stop talking, I want to kiss you," and I was like...um...head exploding...panicking..."Okay? I'll allow it."
It was perfect. My own personal brand of perfect.
But then I had to go back to school. I loved school, lived for school, but after Darren, I dreaded it. I had the world's best roommates, and we were renting this awesome house with a real kitchen and a back yard, and a house across the street full of cute boys, and I've never been so lonely in my life. I'd watch a movie, and it's be something so stupid that I know Darren would have slept through, but I wanted to hear his snore. I'd be in the best theatre class ever, with amazing instructors, and awesome friends doing what I loved, and I wasn't satisfied. I never imagined I'd love someone more than theatre. Darren and I emailed each other all the time, like five or six times a day, and I'd call him every night.
That Friday, he drove up to drive me home. I showed him around the university, and we went into the arts office. The secretary was one of my friends, and she said, "And who's this?" I didn't know what to say. We had never talked about it. We had never made a label. So I said, "This is my...friend Darren." while Darren lowered his eyebrows and shook his head at me.
"So I'm your friend," he said as he held my hand. And I just said, "Yeah.''
That night we watched Meet Joe Black, which is an awesome movie Darren slept through, and at the end there this amazing version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World, and Darren asked me to dance with him. I'd often danced all alone to Louis Armstrong, and I didn't know I was rehearsing for the real thing. I didn't know all those heartbreaks were just a rehearsal for the real thing, that I wouldn't know where my heart was if I hadn't felt it break so often. As we danced, I was finally convinced of the thing I had known since our first date, maybe since the very first time I heard him sing that goofy solo, that I loved him. That we fit. He kissed me and I didn't panic, and I think he saw the change in my eye because he told me again that he loved me and this time I said it back.
Click play. This is the song. Our song.
It was magic in that moment. We were finally on the same page. I was in love, and I wasn't scared.
Then he got down on one knee.
And I punched him.
He said: Ow.
I said: Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh.
He looked up at me and took a breath.
I said: ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh.
He said: So...
I said: ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh
He said: Would you marry me?
I said: ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh
He fell on the ground and said: holycrapholycrapholycrap.
And then he looked at me like he was waiting for a response, and my mind had exploded, and I had forgotten what words were, and I wondered briefly if it'd be okay to say thank you and then go home. That had worked a lot when he kept telling me that he loved me and I wasn't ready for it. But I didn't think thank you would work in this circumstance. I mean it was honest. I was so grateful for this goofy handsome guy who loved me, and waited for me to not be so scared. Who was kneeling there with his head on my knee while he waited for me to tell him yes or no, knowing full well how terrified I was and that there was a good chance I'd bolt and not come back. But he looked at me with brave eyes, those same brave eyes that have told me I could do it when I was about to have our first kid or when I was about to click publish or anytime I climbed to the top of a slide and then panicked and froze at the top, and I knew that he was brave enough, and strong enough and loyal enough to trust my heart and my life to, and that this time enough mattered, because even if it failed in a burning trail of glory, I loved him enough to risk it.
I opened my eyes, and said the bravest words I've ever said.