Paul and I broke up just after New Year's of 2002.
Before you shed a tear over the sadness of our parting - remember, we were only twenty. And, only a few months later, we saw each other again. He invited me on a spring break trip to Cancun with him...and I accepted. Weird? Maybe for other exes...not for us.
|spring break - cancun - 2002|
...but no, we did not get back together. He claims we did; however, at the end of the trip, we had to part ways. The physical distance could not be trumped by the emotional closeness, even after an amazing trip to Mexico together.
Back in the "real world" I threw myself into work and got promoted again at the shoe store - this time to a lower-level management position. I was a key-holder who could open and close the store -- but still an hourly employee. I was ecstatic to have more responsibilities, be making more money, and still be working at the Mall of America. I won't lie: I loved every little thing about working at that mall. Particularly the shopping part.
Summer of 2002 loomed ahead and I needed, again, to find a place to live. A close girlfriend of mine and I decided to rent a two bedroom apartment together in St. Paul. I found the place and we signed the lease.
This was a classic case of don't become roommates with your close friends.
I worked a lot. Barely went out. Liked things tidy and organized. Still hadn't tried weed or any other drugs. Hardly drank.
She, on the other hand, had become my exact opposite. Her room looked like a hurricane blew through, she was constantly going out or bringing people I didn't know into our apartment until the wee hours of the morning. Also, she drank a lot. In fact, when we went out for my 21st birthday that July, it was me who held her hair back as she vomited violently all over our apartment.
|one of my little kitchens|
It was that horrific experience that made me decide to live alone. Get my own apartment, which I could now easily afford. I loved the neighborhood that we had been living in, so I found a little studio just a couple streets down. One block up from the Mississippi River, a path along which I ran every day. (Yes, running still a major part of my life.)
So what if my bed and couch were in the same room, along with my tiny kitchette area? It was mine, all mine for around 525 a month. It had hardwood floors, high ceilings, arched doorways, and a clawfoot tub. Everything I could have asked for.
|pottery barn couch - my first major furniture purchase!|
Being a complete introvert and control freak, living alone was a Godsend. I was free to be as anti-social as I wanted.
I loved living in the big city and exploring on my own. I went to all the museums and galleries, ran around all the big lakes and parks, and shopped in all the trendy, boutique shopping areas. I had no qualms spending time by myself.
I did have some friends I liked to hang out with, but I didn't go out that much. In fact, I probably "went out" only twice a month.
That being said, when I did go out, I went all out. After I turned 21 I became a little more willing to drink. As is typical for many college students --
|sheer silliness at billy's on grand - a favorite spot|
|spring break - boston|
|fun times in florida!|
|creed concert with my sister and her montana friends|
|sippin' a corona - out in minneapolis|
|enjoying some vino with my sister at a wedding - I look drunker than I was!|
|trouble - ha!|
Meanwhile, future Hubby was living it up and having a lot of fun as well. He came back to Minnesota that summer to do another couple months of his internship. He was living with a couple guys only a few miles away from me. Strangely, we only saw each other twice that summer. Once was a night I was in a fight with my roommate and called him up. I really wanted to see him. To be honest, I had probably been drinking. He was on a date at the time. He simply told his date: "I need to go now" and left immediately. I should have known right then we were meant to be together: what other guy would do that?
We also went on a weekend trip to a country music festival in Wisconsin. It was awesome and, as always, we had a great time together. The chemistry was there, the conversation was easy, and everything felt right.
|WE-Fest - 2002|
* * * * *
In August Paul, again, headed back to Kentucky, and I enrolled as a full time student at a university in St. Paul. I chose it because it catered to students working full-time jobs. All my classes were night classes that met one night a week. It fit my lifestyle perfectly, and was reasonably priced.
|at a coffee shop - enjoying some brit lit|
I loved my professors and actually developed solid relationships with several of them. I felt like they "got" me, and I was kindred spirits with them. I gave 110% in my classes and easily got A's, with only an occasional B. I got some weird high from doing well in college...something I never felt in high school.
I got promoted again at the shoe store -- this time to assistant manager. Finally I was salaried!
I bought a car. I got an even bigger, more lovely, more old, apartment.
Don't get me wrong -- I dated some really great guys. There was the model. The divorcee. The pot-head guitar player. The gym trainer. The co-worker. The Parrothead. The bartender. The law student. The med student. The 'eyebrow' guy.
Oh, the stories I could tell you about my dating experiences. Some are hilarious, others are just plain ridiculous. I definitely figured out what I did and did not want in a future partner. Mostly what I did not want.
I never got serious. I didn't date anyone more than a few months...and that was only one guy. Only one boyfriend was brought home to meet my family. And it was always pretty easy to end things -- either I ended it, or I unconsciously became someone they wanted to end it with. I can be rather disagreeable if I want to be.A couple of these guys were serious about me, though. Several times I was told I was "the one." I was dubious each time I heard this. Yeah right, I would think, and would try to convince them as nicely as possible that I was definitely not "the one." Mostly because I knew that they were not "the one." I always had some excuse. The simple fact was, the most important thing was missing: love.
I never came close to feeling the way I had felt about Paul.
During this time Paul and I emailed and spoke on the phone sporadically. He even visited once, the weekend of my 22nd birthday, and made the entire weekend so special for me.
|my apartment - opening gifts from paul on my 22nd birthday|
|at the end of our weekend together|
It appeared we were done for good.
* * * * *In January of 2005 I had only one year of college left. I was fairly successful at a job I really enjoyed. I lived in a city I loved. I had a decent social life - a few good friends and always was dating someone. Everything seemed to be going fine...but...
I started to feel restless. A bit empty. My depression worsened as I started to wonder where my path was going to lead. More empty relationships with guys I had nothing in common with? More silly, drunken nights where my guardian angels had to work overtime just to protect me from myself? And believe me, they did. Many, many times. I am one lucky lady to have a God so forgiving, so protective, and that loves me so unconditionally. He never let me fall too far.
It was then that God showed me the direction he wanted me to go.That January I received an email from Paul. Very casual. He was in Minnesota for the weekend, visiting a friend. Would I like to meet for lunch? At this point we hadn't seen each other in at least six months, and hadn't spoken at all recently. I truly felt that all my feelings for him were gone. It seemed like he also had moved on. For all I knew he was visiting a girl he really liked, or had a girlfriend in Tennessee.
Getting together for lunch seemed harmless.
We decided to meet at a little sushi place in the Mall of America. His friend dropped him off -- extremely late. I was seriously getting annoyed and was about to leave.
Then I saw him walking toward me...
* * * * *
Next up: The Proposal
Sorry - the post was getting way too long! :) :)