Like With Most Things I’m Moving On

To say I’ve had a rough year so far would be an understatement. By all accounts I’ve had one of the hardest years of my young-ish life. From battling depression to losing my grandmother. From personal disappointments to just staring blankly at a wall for hours. I’ve struggled. Then my dog went missing in March. I took it hard. I had him for over a decade. This dog was my version of a ride or die. He loved me so much and the guilt that overtook me when he was gone was unbearable.

What guilt? The guilt that I should have spent more time with him. Should have spent more time petting him. More treats. More walks. More drives. Just more of me to more of him. He deserved it. I got him shortly before Stephany had Haylee. He grew with her. He loved the kids. He dealt with an obnoxious amount of hair pulling and sticky fingers. He had a sneaky way of just wiggling under your hand. He was a stealer of food and a master at escaping. He liked to sleep in and snuggle close during thunderstorms. He barked a lot and hated the ex.

It was awful to lose him and the fact that I never found out what happened to him makes it harder. I still have pictures of him everywhere. Like with most things I’m moving on. I adopted a dog who desperately needed another chance at a family. She’s a three-year-old dachshund. Her name is Annie. I wasn’t ready for another dog when I adopted her but as soon as she was in my car I knew there was no way I could give her back to the shelter and condemn her to that life. After all, we all just need a chance. She’s currently thriving at my house. It’s a great environment for her and having her in my house has calmed me down. She was what was missing and I need something living in my house.

Even though my life has been rough in patches I have been happier with myself this year more than any other year. I’m happier with my appearance and who I am. I’ve forgiven myself for a lot of my past. I’m still struggling with the culture of Christianity and the severe divide I feel between politics and faith. I don’t doubt the existence of my Creator. I don’t doubt his love for me. I am just having a hard time with His people at the moment. The politically-charged environment in America doesn’t help much. It’s been tough to say good-bye to people that were family for so long but at the same time I cannot support inserting personal faith into general government. I know that if things were flipped and the majority faith here was something different that I would have a problem with that doctrine being forced on me as guidelines to how I live my life. I also believe wholeheartedly that we are meant to love as He loved and at the end of the day I just cannot look at another person and say, “you don’t get the same rights as me.” What makes any group of people get a say in who does and doesn’t receive rights? That went further off course than I intended. You may not agree. That’s okay, it’s my blog not yours. Turns out if you disagree you can just stop reading and move on. No hard feelings here.

Essentially. I’m trying. It’s not easy. I didn’t expect it would be.

Can I Not Just Be In The Moment?

A couple of weekends ago I sat in the back of a 4,000 women worship service. While being surrounded by amazing music-with the entire goal to draw you into a place of worship-I couldn’t help but notice the amount of women holding up their cell phones. I couldn’t stop noticing it. It was suddenly everywhere. Women filming the worship service. Women taking selfies. Women taking pictures of friends. During. Worship.

Then I realized-we’ve lost the ability to be in the moment. How many times have you been at dinner with your friends and you pick up your phone. For nothing. Not because you got a text or an alert but just because you might have. I do it all the time. I’m bored, I pick up my phone. I’m in the middle of work, I pick up my phone. I spend so much time on it that I forget to look around. I forget about my actual human connections. Do you do this too? I’m betting yes. I’m betting that the little notification light on your phone drives you just as crazy as it does me. To the point where I have to turn my phone upside down at night so it doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night-because it will. As I type this, my phone is right next to me-plugged in. Just so I don’t miss a text. It’s just crazy.

As a population have we lost the ability to just be present in the day? Maybe asking people to be present in the day is too much. Can we at least be present when people are talking to us? At meals. During meetings. During presentations. While we are just sitting as a family.

You know what the problem is when you spend most of your time communicating via text/instant messaging/facebook? You only view the conversation through one lens. You only know your part of the conversation. You only know your tone. You only have a reference of previous conversations. You are missing the nonverbal cues. I fully believe that is why so much miscommunication happens when talking online.

My friends live so far away that I rely on my phone to keep up on their lives. I love my phone. I love the instant communication opportunities it gives me. I don’t love what it has done to me. I don’t love changing my day around the damn thing. I have left things early because my phone is dying. I just want to do better.

Raspberry Filling

Let me tell you about a date that I went on a couple years ago, not the full date, you just don’t need that many details about this instance. I’m not even going to tell you where on the internet I met him. Just that I met him on the internet. I’ll start from the time we exchanged phone numbers.

I’m not a phone person. I don’t like talking on the phone. I’m leery about giving out my phone number-especially to strangers. My phone is almost always with me and if someone has my number they can reach me everywhere. It’s not like when my phone was attached to the wall. Now they can reach me at Wal-Mart, the gas station, work, and the gym. It just seems so much more personal than giving them a landline. I gave him my number. I even programmed his name in. You’re laughing but I am not the attachment type. It takes a lot to get me there and normally your name doesn’t get programmed in unless I think you’re going to stick around. I programmed it in anyway.

He called. We talked. I was a fan. As much of a fan as I could be you know? Intelligent. Holds conversation well. Good at arguing. And that was just what I brought to the table. It was going to be a good time. We decided to meet. I was so nervous. Like, couldn’t control myself nervous. It took me three hours to get ready. He was going to take me to a steak house franchise and I wasn’t concerned about being over-dressed.

I have to interrupt this story. I’ve done some really really dumb things in my life. Things that are unsafe. Things that should have led to murder. I’ve lived to tell. Please do not do these things. I don’t do them anymore. It’s a terrible idea and dumb. You’re not dumb. Don’t do them.

I met him in a parking lot. He got out and opened the door of his truck and I got in. (see? Dumb. So fucking dumb) We were going to a neighboring town. He said I looked nice and we started talking. On the way there he put his hand on my thigh and I didn’t move it. He asked if we could go to Denny’s instead of the original plan. I agreed. Disappointed. And a little angry if we are honest. I had spent three damn hours trying to get ready and look nice. Nope. Denny’s. I could have worn pajamas. Sigh. Oh well. I tried so hard not to stare at him. He was unbelievably attractive. This made me nervous.

You know what I remember about that night? How he helped me across the parking lot because it was icey. How he never made me feel unattractive. He didn’t flirt with or stare at the waitress-no matter how hard she tried. He didn’t stare at other women when they walked past. He looked at me. He kept as much eye contact as I would allow him. He helped me into his gigantic truck. He held my hand for a bit on the way home. He brushed the hair out of my face. He learned things I liked. He made fun of me and didn’t act like I was dumb. It was one of the nicest feelings another person has given me.

Sometimes you just need to reflect on the people who have made you feel great in your life. I have a lot of amazing people in my life. People I admire so much and stalk relentlessly on Facebook. My dating history is all over the map. Most of that is my fault and some of it is because modern dudes are douchebags. This is a happy memory. The fact that I wasn’t murdered is just the raspberry filling in that cake.

February

February was a rough month for me. I turned 30. Which had nothing to do with the month being just terrible but instead had everything to do with how the family didn’t react. They’ve made up for it and some part of it was probably my fault. I’m a planner. I always have been and this year I planned nothing. I assumed changing decades was big enough to warrant someone else doing the planning. I was wrong.

I was also sick quite a bit. Had a realization that I do not look how I want to look and my health has taken a toll because of life decisions. I’m working on that.

The roughest part was my grandma dying. I’m not sure where to begin. For the vast majority of my life I was pretty certain she didn’t like me. I can’t blame her. Well I can a little-I was a kid. I’m fairly certain neither of us formed attachments to other people like others wished we would. That makes it difficult to like one another. She came to live with us when I was in elementary school. That didn’t cement a bond. I’m mouthy and sarcastic. She was no different. We both liked to read though. That was something we always had in common.

She was a Cubs fan. She grew up in baseball heaven and lived miles from the greatest team to play the sport and remained a Cubs fan. She liked an underdog. That says a lot about her as a person. She always wanted the underdog to win. Fortunately, most of her other teams were already the underdog.

Most people in my life would call me blunt but that’s because they didn’t know my grandma. She had an opinion and you were going to hear it. Nice or not. Appropriate or not. Tactful? Yeah. Definitely not. She wasn’t afraid to make you mad or tell you that you were being dumb.

In the last couple years, she changed. She reached out more. She called me. She was excited when I would stop by while in St. Louis. She wanted to go to lunch or dinner with me. She wanted to talk to me. And not just to tell me what I was doing wrong or ask about the rest of family. She wanted to know about me. She wanted to hear about work and hobbies. She wanted to know me. I even drove to St. Louis to pick her up and bring her to my parent’s house for Christmas. Which we never thought she would agree to. She spent 4 days with us. We drank coffee and watched cat shows. She hung out on the couch with my dog. She told stories and even played Cards Against Humanity with us. She called my sister a prude. I think it shocked her that I wasn’t one.

My grandma and I had a lot of differences when I was growing up. It was difficult to not be liked. Those last years though-those are the ones I’m going to remember. The times when we got to bond and I felt like she really liked me-not just loved me.

A New Decade Approaches

In exactly 11 days I will be 30. It’s kind of a big deal to me-but not for the reasons you would think. I mean, I don’t mind getting older is all I’m saying. I’ve practically been old my entire life. I was born with the personality of an 80 year old grandmother. But one of those grandmas that lived through the depression-not the fun ones.

I’m excited though, you know? My life isn’t exactly what you would call hard but I had some definite rough patches. I don’t have to tell you-you’ve read this blog. But not just that. Not just him. I almost died in my 20s. It was a really hard time not just for me but for the people who love me. I imagine the ones who don’t care for me didn’t have an opinion. I lost my dog, my grandpa, my uncle, some friends, and made reckless decisions.

My 20s had some perks. I met my best friends. I graduated with both my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I found a career I adore. All of my nieces and nephews were born. I traveled to India. I let myself become attached to a person. I watched so many baseball games. I discovered my voice. I reconciled with my body (mostly). And I fell even more in love with my Savior.

The world is a scary place right now. And I’m not sure what my 30s hold. But I do know that I’m going to continue growing as a person. I’m going to try to consistently put myself in the place of others and understand their views. I’m going to be kind. I’m going to read more about everything. I’m going to continue working hard for what I want. I’m not going to allow others to make me jaded. I might even start cleaning my house and doing laundry on a regular basis-but if you look at my list you can see my plate is already pretty full. I mean, being kind is a full-time job for me.

I’m ready for a new decade of my life. I’m ready to heal. I’m excited.

On Being Stood Up

I will never understand “ghosting” or just not showing up. There is no amount of reasoning that will ever make it okay. I know that most of the time the term “adult” doesn’t mean much. I mean, just look at how certain “adults” in our government system behave. I know this and honestly don’t expect a whole lot out of my prospective suitors. People being what they are and all. But ghosting? Unacceptable.

I hate everything about first dates-and first dates from the internet are no different. I don’t know what specifically it is but I hate all of it. I think what I really hate is the getting ready-I get all worked up about it. I spend hours getting ready and not because it actually takes hours for me to look like I belong in society. It takes me hours because I spend most of that time sitting on my bed, half-dressed, trying to convince myself that I’m a freaking adult and can attend a social function damn it. (I’m rather hard on myself at times) So you see, if I can convince my eternally realist self that I can attend a damn dinner for 2 hours and be polite why the fuck can’t these guys get their act together?

Ghosting doesn’t bother me as much as not showing up does. If you have ghosted on me you’ve typically not responded to text messages and I’m not even worried about showing up. The ones that really bother me are the ones that have made me go through the entire process to get ready and instead of being a decent fucking human let me show up and sit there. You know what that feels like? No. Good. I hope you don’t. Those of you that do-you know where I’m coming from. It’s awful. Humiliating. The hostess keeps asking you if you want to wait or be seated. Thank God I didn’t want to be seated. And this isn’t even an isolated event. Four times. Four guys. Yeah. You read that right-four times. I don’t even like to put myself out there that much and it still happened. And the kicker is that each time the guy asked me out. This wasn’t initiated by me. Why bother asking me out if you don’t want to show up?

So the next time you decide you want to ask someone out and then later decide you no longer want to see that person-tell them. Be the good person. I promise you that the minute of anger that comes from canceling at last minute is nothing compared to the awful feelings you will cause when you just don’t show up. Let’s be adults people.

Dating Sucks

I’ve decided to try dating again. I mean, I don’t want him back so what am I waiting for? Though I wouldn’t turn down an engraved invitation from the dating world acknowledging they accept me.

Dating has never been my thing. I don’t hold a lot of stock in zodiacs (it’s cool if you do but it’s just not my life) but I am the exact definition of an Aquarius. I’ll recap for you:

  • Progressive
  • Independent
  • Humanitarian
  • Runs from emotional expression
  • Temperamental
  • Uncompromising
  • Aloof
  • Frank
  • Imaginative
  • Detachment
  • Curious
  • Affectionate personality (maybe…but not always)

You see those italicized traits? Yeah. Those are my main personality flaws. This makes me hate dating and all things associated. So you would think that I would be thrilled with the “new” dating right? Wrong. Because it sucks. For those of you unaware of how “new” dating works it goes something like this:

Person 1: It would be cool if we did something at some point.

Person 2: Yeah it would.

Both die waiting for the other to make plans. It’s like we both have to pretend we are not interested in the other to avoid being labeled as “desperate” or “clingy”. Why is it so awful to show you are interested? Yeah. Even I said that. Honestly. I hate when guys are over interested in me. Part of that is my insecurity and belief that when they finally get to know me they will just be disappointed. But I still want him to be interested. Because if he isn’t who in the relationship is going to be? Because it sure as hell isn’t me. Have you met me? I refer you back to the list. Runs from emotional expression was literally written after doing a study on me.

If it doesn’t go like scenario one, it’s like this:

Person 1: God you’re so fucking sexy.

Person 2: Um. Thank you? (Seriously. How do you respond to that?)

Person 1: We should hang out soon.

Person 2: Uh. I guess that could be a thing.

Person 1: Tonight. Come over.

Person 2 now has to decide if they want to be found chained in the basement or not.

So. Death or sitting at home waiting for the other person to care more. That’s how dating is going for me so far. And I’ve already promised my family and friends that I would be more cautious since they’ve read this blog. Sigh. Do better society. Demand better from the people trying to date you. Show others you care and you are interested. I mean, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? You sit at home alone like you are already doing.

Yeah I know. I’ll take my own advice too.

I’m Not Taking That Back

He. Cheated.

Insignificant.

Small.

Alone.

Just. Awful.

 

It was the best thing he could have ever done for me. Now before you decide to have me evaluated for a mental health crisis, I mean it. Him cheating on me was the best thing he could have ever done for me. It hurt so bad. It made me feel awful. But. It made me realize that I would never want him again. I would never fall for his act again. And as I started to heal I was able to see just what he had done to me.

This is what a manipulative relationship looks like. I’m an example of how a smart, confident, independent, supported woman can be manipulated and isolated. How she can be taken and hollowed out to the point where she doesn’t recognize herself. My friends knew-they even warned. My poor parents sat by helpless as I dug my heels in. I clung to every promise he made. I held tight to each kiss. Each time he called me beautiful was proof he wanted me right?

It was like dating a roller-coaster. I became someone I never thought I would be. I was so nervous all the time that I would set him off and he would need to be alone for weeks to gather his thoughts and decide if he wanted me. When I discovered he had a son and I told him so he would stop lying to me, he had the audacity to claim this was a violation of his trust (yeah. You read that right. I violated HIS trust because he lied to me and I caught him) and he needed time to decide if we could work. Lo and behold he decided we could.

Notice that I didn’t have a say? I didn’t have a say in anything. I couldn’t even leave in the morning when I wanted to. I had to stay until he left because it made him feel bad when I didn’t. Never mind it completely destroyed my morning schedule-controlling much? It’s amazing how I couldn’t see what was happening. Maybe I didn’t want to.

You see, as terrified as I am of commitment, I’m incredibly loyal. Once I decide-I decide. And I put the same amount of effort and worry into choosing a person as I do a brand of nail polish (OPI). So when I chose him- I wasn’t backing down. I knew from the beginning he would have to be the one to end it.

So what did I learn from this? Boys suck. I’m not taking that back. Boys do suck and I refuse to date them. From now on only men. And if they don’t like Harry Potter (or at least understand my obsessive passion) they are out.

Space? Really?

The butterflies are a funny thing you know? It took me some time to feel them. I liked when he touched me. I liked when he kissed me. But the butterflies-they took a while to recognize.

In March he stopped talking to me. This was my first panic attack with him. I didn’t know how to handle it. Honestly it was the first red flag that I should have turned around and walked away. I should have thrown up my hands and screamed that I quit. That I quit so hard. Because my sanity would have thanked me. But I was attached even then and I had no idea. He told me he needed space. Which is the worst fucking thing you can say to a person. Space from what? We don’t live together. I barely see you once a week. How long does this space thing last? Do you tell me or do I give you a day or so and then you’re fine? I still don’t understand space if we’re honest-and he needed a lot of it.

Eventually he didn’t need space anymore and decided he still wanted me. You’ll notice I appeared to have no say in this decision. That’s because, like with every other situation where a decision needed to be made, I didn’t. He made those. I was expected to go along with it. And I did. But at this time the only thing I knew was that I liked the way he looked at me-like he had never seen anyone prettier and couldn’t believe I was looking back at him. It made my knees buckle. I had a hard time looking back at him when he stared at me. Those were my butterflies. They never stopped for me. They did for him if they ever started.

That’s what I don’t understand. Why work so hard to keep me when I wasn’t wanted? Why put in so much effort and I mean some serious effort. I told you how many times I tried to break up with him before he was even here. When he got here my worries may have subsided a little but the massive fear of commitment and the overwhelming trust issues I have did not flutter away. With every bit of space he needed without explanation increased my panic that I wasn’t good enough.

Yeah. That’s right. The entire time he would have me believe that I wasn’t good enough for him. Now he would say things like, “you could do better” etc etc. But I never felt like he believed it. I always felt like he thought that I wasn’t good enough. I was constantly trying to prove my affection. I was constantly trying to show how attracted I was to him. Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? How old it gets trying to reassure myself that I’m good enough? Of course I’m good enough. Have you met me? I’m fucking fantastic.

My friends knew. They knew that I deserved better but I was settling. And part of me was settling because I was terrified that nobody else would ever look at me that way. I still freak out about that. I still panic that this will be the last time I will ever feel like someone finds me completely attractive. Not just physically. Not just finds me funny. Not just. But all of it you know? Like appreciates the intensely nerdy qualities about me as well as how odd I sleep and the fact that I’m always cold. Someone who when I show them a picture they grin and go, “of course you did”. I’m terrified I won’t ever have that again. I’m terrified I won’t ever feel the same way about someone. That I want to consume all of them-I want to know and store all of the information I can about them. I want to be the reason they smile.

I’m not ready to feel that way again. I’m just not.

Put On Your Non-Judgey Glasses

Memories are the hardest part of this because they weren’t all bad. Not every moment that we spent together was awful. Actually every time we were together we had a great time. He was attentive and super sweet. That’s what made everything with the break up so hard-I didn’t see it coming. Since I’m still not ready to tell you how it ended. Let me tell you how it began.

You know those girls that have this great story about how a simple coffee date changed their life? Yeah, I’m not one of those girls. In fact, if statistics show us anything I really should have been murdered by now. My past behavior has been nothing short of reckless but that’s not really the point of all of this. The point is to tell you my story-and maybe give some vindication to the girls who don’t have a ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’ story. The girls that have to make something up when asked how they met their significant other. I’m speaking to and for them right now. For you to really understand I have to take you back. So while this all may seem self-indulgent I promise that it has a purpose. There is a plan. So tape your jaw closed, put on your non-judgey glasses, and let’s roll.

I had been dating this guy-Matt. We had an open relationship because I don’t form attachments like others wish I did. He also lived in Tennessee at the time so really why bother with monogamy? Turns out he was a total tool. We would make dates and plans and he would cancel. He’d promise to call and wouldn’t. He’d call days later. He’d disappear. These were all reasons I refused to be monogamous. In August of 2015 I had had enough completely. I was done. I decided to break down and purchase Match.com (3 month subscription on groupon!) and utilize the free service POF. Did you know that both of these things are awful? Human beings are awful. I received every comment from how to take care of my body better to exactly where I needed to put those luscious lips of mine (so many dudes are proud of really tiny dicks). I hated every minute. I hated the way it made me feel. I hated how much I depended on strangers’ opinions of me. Nothing is worse than some dude saying he is interested and then not responding to your message. Like, okay asshole, I can see you are online. I know. Am I some hideous beast that needs to be shoo’ed away from the good decent folk so as not to scare them? No. I’m pretty. And when I remember that there are supposed to be two eyebrows I’m really pretty. I have killer blue eyes, lips that form the perfect kiss shape, and a sense of humor that makes you wonder how the fuck someone hasn’t snatched me up just so they can hear my commentary on life daily. I cried. I pouted. I went on “dates” that were not dates. It was awful and I always felt worse. So I created a craigslist ad.

Oh. My. Goodness. Stop. Just wait. You know I lived. Just let me tell it. I thought about what I wanted. I wanted someone to do fun stuff with. I wanted to go to the movies, themeparks, festivals, cuddle nights, netflix, dinner, and coffee. I want affection on my terms. I wanted no strings (that’s not a real thing BTW). I wanted to be able to walk away when I wanted to walk away (also not a real thing). So I wrote an ad. It was simple. “SWF seeks FWB. Interests include all things nerdy. Promises really cool conversation and a curvy body to cuddle with. 28, 5’3, brunette with blue eyes. Requires you to be under 34 because we all have our hang ups. If you aren’t interested in chubby girls then I am not for you”. I had almost 200 dudes respond. Most were over the age limit. The others were married. I had it narrowed to 10 normal sounding dudes. I met all of them but 2. Those two creeped me out hard when we were texting and the voice over stated, “Jessica didn’t know it yet but this is how she would die”. I couldn’t have that. Too many people depended on me. I had too much left to accomplish. So I talked to 8 different guys. Weeded them out. Two remained. One came over for a movie and the other was in Japan.

The movie date did not go well. Well. I mean the sex was fine. But he made me feel weird about my body-which is never okay. He legit said to me, “you know some guys wouldn’t be attracted to you but they are missing out. I like that you have some meat on your bones”. At face value he is trying to give me a compliment. At the base of this he is reminding me that I’m lucky someone is attracted to me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but at the end of the day it is my opinion that counts and not yours. He also hated Jack-which is not cool ever. So I dropped him. Then there was one. The problem? He was still in Japan. Yeah. Hard to cuddle with an ocean between us.

I didn’t want a commitment. I told him that he could date whoever he wanted to in Japan. I didn’t care-he wasn’t here. In turn I would also be able to. He told me he would rather wait on me. He’d be here in January/early February. Well damn. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? This guy who I find mildly attractive but so enamored by personality wants to wait for me? Ugh. Is he already attached? “Good morning beautiful” “Sweet dreams” “Have a great day” fill my text messages. I smile when I see the green light on my phone. Which is probably why I’ve never stopped using KIK with him. I love that green light. I love that he’s thinking about me. I sigh. I groan a little. I complain and talk about it. A lot. My poor friends. They knew I wanted him before I did. I sent stupid pictures. He did the same. We talked about stupid things and things that were important. He asked me to be his. Not in that weird “it puts the lotion on its skin” way. But the “m” word that terrified me. It made him nervous too. But he wanted it. He asked for it. I thought about it. I agreed. We would put a label on this thing. We still hadn’t met. He decided on our anniversary date-November 13. Though we weren’t actually dating until December. It was the date he knew he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. Now all I had to do was wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And worry.

What if he met me and didn’t find me attractive? What if he didn’t like the sound of my voice (as if)? What if my hair was too dark? What if my eyes were too light? What if I was too pale? What if he hates Harry Potter? What if he doesn’t like Jack? What if he doesn’t like my friends? What if I’m too short? What if I’m too tall? What if there are no butterflies? What if he doesn’t like how I dress? What if he doesn’t find me funny (again, as if)? What if. What if. What if. They filled my brain. I couldn’t take it. I tried to break up with him 8,000 times. He fought me each time. Every worry he was, “I like you.” “I think you’re beautiful.” “I think you’re funny.” “I like dogs.”

I worried.

I waited.

I waited more.

February was here. I was so nervous. What if I didn’t like him? February 4, 2016. He was in his house. He hated it here. The apartment wasn’t what he wanted. He wasn’t sure about the clinic he was placed in. The soldiers were going to be a problem. He was going to go ahead and get paperwork done the next day. So we wouldn’t be meeting for dinner like we had originally planned. Hashtag devastated. So bummed that I cried. Then a “you could come here if you want. I’m just unpacking.” I knew that meeting at a practical stranger’s house was like the worst idea ever. What if he spent the last 3 months preparing to kill me like some sort of sick thrill? What if this was his game? What if he wasn’t actually even in the Army? I never checked. I barely hesitated in responding though. “What’s your address? I’ll be there in 30 minutes. Do you need anything?” “Could you bring some bottled water? The water from the tap is gross and I didn’t pick up any.” “Absolutely.”

I stopped at the Family Dollar. I bought: leggings, a tank, pullover, white cheddar popcorn, two big bottles and one small of water. I drove to his house and parked. I took a deep breath and pulled off my dress and changed into the sweats. I wanted to be more comfortable for a night in. I grabbed the water and popcorn. I tried to remember what he looked like. I texted that I was here and knocked on the door. I prayed that he wouldn’t kill me, that he looked like his picture, and that he liked me. I bit my lip as he answered.

He was shorter than I expected. Stockier. It was something completely different. I held out the water and he invited me in. I took off my shoes because he wasn’t wearing any. I sat on the couch and watched him. He talked. I listened. I offered reasons for how things were. I told him I understood why he didn’t like the apartment-because it was actually an extended stay motel. I watched more. I admired how fluid his movements were. I watched his fingers count and put things away. I appreciated his build. He came and sat next to me. He took my hand as if he had spent months doing it. We watched the discovery channel. I took the pillow, placed it on his lap and laid down. Then he did the sweetest thing that had ever happened to me-as naturally as if it was something he had been doing all of his life-he brushed my long hair out of my face. His fingers making light contact with my cheek then reaching down to grab my hand again. We sat like that and laughed at the show. I made commentary. He laughed along.

It was late. I needed to leave. I still wasn’t sure about him but I really wanted to be. I stretched and hugged him after he walked me to the door. I told him to stay in the house-it was freezing outside and I didn’t need him to walk me to the car. He held my face in his hands and kissed me. Not passionately. Not long. But sweet. His lips light against me. His eyes closed. I relaxed completely and kissed him back. I took a step towards my car and then kissed him again. Harder. More urgency. Desperate to feel something. I wrapped my arms around his neck while his held my hips to him. I smiled. This is what I wanted. He was who I wanted. He watched me get in my car. He waved as I drove past. I grinned the whole way home thankful that he didn’t want to kill me but was real. No butterflies-those would come later.