The story starts with a boy. (The same way that many stories begin.) I met him two years ago at an event that both of us were thisclose to not attending. I met a bunch of people that night and was like, new friends! And then I saw the boy and was like, look brain! We can be friends with a boy, too. And my brain laughed maniacally like a mad scientist and said, riiiiiiiight. Not this one you don’t.
My brain was right. And while I struggled with the idea that maybe I just wanted to date him because I wanted to date someone, and he happened to be available and convenient, my brain pouted in the corner and said, no. I want this one. And my heart said, this one understands you. Then I got a seasonal job offer to work on a boat — something I’d wanted to do since I learned you could — and the start date was in two weeks. I took the job.
Not that this was an easy answer, because my heart had joined my brain in the pouting corner, and both were yelling at me, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?? I said I was following my dreams. My long term ones. The ones I wasn’t going to give up for anyone.
But I made a compromise with my brain and my heart (and the boy of course). I promised that if he would wait for me, I would come back.
So we clicked the buttons on Facebook and turned ourselves into an OFFICIAL RELATIONSHIP. (Because of course nothing is official without Facebook anymore.)
Then my mom found out and got mad at me. Because of course she had already told me “not to be hasty” with this boy. And “don’t tie yourself into anything you can’t get out of.” Telling me all this despite, or perhaps because of, all the evidence that we had been rolling downhill towards an exclusive relationship. Because if I got into an exclusive relationship with him, then I couldn’t meet real boys. Boys who were the same religion as my family. Because the other ones don’t really count.
I got mad back and said I didn’t want any boy, I wanted this one. I didn’t care if he wasn’t the same religion. It wasn’t her life, it was mine.
I mean, really, who in their right mind would start a relationship when they’re flying across the country to live there for at least five months? A long-distance relationship is something I never wanted to try. But I tried anyway.
Lo and behold, after everyone advising me that it was going to fail (all right, not everyone; those of you I can thank for being supportive — you know who you are), it didn’t fail. I don’t want to say it thrived, either, but it survived. We talked on the phone, on Skype, and the boy even took a week off work and flew across the country to visit me.
I fell in love. And I fell hard.
Like jumping out of a plane with your parachute strapped to your back and you wait to pull the string until the very last possible second when you might go splat and hit the ground. Then, when you’re back on your feet and all the adrenaline is coursing through your veins, making you shaky so the world feels like it might be having an earthquake but you’re not really sure, and the open parachute is dragging at your back you’re like, oh, the grass is really green down here. But man that sky was blue when I was falling through it.
Home became a person, not a place.