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Friday, June 1, 2012

my life: College Part 3 - Graduation


Currently doing a auto-bio series, hoping to reflect, learn, and grow...and for you to get to know this blogger better!  To catch up read:
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So I gave the ring back.  Some may call me heartless or selfish.  A man eater, perhaps.

I call it doing what I thought was the best decision for both of us.  Marriage is kind of a huge deal...and I didn't want to enter into something I could not, at the time, fully commit to.

The thought overwhelmed me...and I didn't want to feel that way when I thought of being engaged.  It should be an exciting and beautiful part of the relationship.  (Paul has since said he wasn't quite ready for marriage then either.)

So after the camping trip in which I tearfully returned the ring to Paul, we parted ways.  I had no idea what to expect now.  We were still together, technically, but as you can imagine after such momentous heartache...things were different.  Paul needed space.  I needed to graduate and figure out what the heck I wanted from our relationship.

Not long after our engagement ended we took a weekend trip to Chicago, where both us of had close friends living.  There were some fun moments, like eating oysters at the little joint where my friend Rach worked, as well as some enjoyable sushi and exploring the city.
But the trip was also really, really hard.  Paul and I got into a huge fight, there was lots of drama, there was lots of questioning if we should even be together.  At the end of the weekend, we still loved each other, but it was strained, to say the least.
I became an auntie during that last semester!

Fall semester started back at my college, my final semester, and I threw myself into my last few classes.  I even asked for a demotion at my job at the shoe store, from my salaried assistant manager position back down to an hourly keyholding manager, complete with a paycut,  just so I could concentrate more on school and less on work.  I am very fortunate my boss was really, really understanding and flexible with my schedule and needs at the time.  He even transferred me to a less-stressful, lower-volume location when I shared it was getting to be too much.

So I moved from my beautiful one-bedroom to a more modest {yet, still my style} studio in the same building,  and hunkered down to finish my degree - to graduate, at long last.

I barely had a social life those last few months.  I just worked, studied, and, of course, ran/worked out - my ultimate stress-reliever and "happy place."

Paul and I still talked on the phone, but half of the time we argued or it was stressful.  We weren't really together.  I was living my life, and he was living his.  He was preparing to move to Cincinnati and start a new life and role within his company there.  What was I going to do after graduation?  How did I fit in to his life, and vice versa?   I still hadn't decided.

One thing we did decide during that semester?  That he would come to Minnesota the weekend of my graduation.  I was happy...it wouldn't feel right if he wasn't there, as I considered him to be one of my best friends -- basically part of my family. They all adored him, too.

I graduated December 15th of 2005 with my BA in English Literature.  I managed all A's that final semester, ending my undergraduate education with a respectable 3.4 GPA.  I was pretty proud, considering I had flunked out my freshman year, what seemed like ages ago.  Oh, how life {and I} had changed dramatically.

While many in my class ditched the ceremony altogether, I walked across that stage with a huge, proud grin on my face.

I didn't have any big graduation party, but something more my style: a big Italian dinner out with my family and Paul.  We dined at the nearby downtown Buca diBeppo and drank {as a family}an enormous bottle of Chianti.  Which, by the way, I display in my dining room even today, reminding me of that special night.

Paul and I continued my graduation weekend having a really amazing time together.  There was a sushi dinner at one of our favorite places on Grand Avenue, Saji-Ya:
sake bombs!
this is why I don't do shots.
We even went out to a sports bar and watched a UK basketball game together.  I marveled at how passionate he was about his alma mater's basketball team.  I didn't know how much I would need to embrace it someday!

During that weekend we talked about the possibility of me moving to Cincinnati, now that I was done with school.  I still wasn't sure.  It was a huge step that would completely uproot me from my home state of Minnesota, causing me to leave a city I loved, my family that I was extremely close to, and possibly lose my job, which had slowly become a career.  I enjoyed being a retail manager, while making enough money to support myself and live a comfortable life.   I loved the company and everyone I worked with,  and really had no plans to quit.

Was I ready to leave all of that to pursue a relationship that had been on-and-off, up-and-down for years?  We weren't engaged and had no plans to be.  Could I really leave everything and move to Cincinnati for Paul alone?

The answer?  No.

I couldn't move just for him.  It was too crazy, even for me.  I needed a plan.  I needed to do things my way.

So I called up the district manager for the Ohio area of the shoe store I was working for.  I had met him once.  Basically I said, "Hey, remember me?  Any possibility you could get me a job in Cincinnati?"

Well, he did remember me, and he did get me a job.  A promotion, even!  I would go back to being a salaried manager.  A huge relief came over me.  Because I would have a job, I could then support myself financially in Cincinnati, so if for some reason things didn't work out with Paul, I would at least have my own apartment and some sort of life besides him.  I wanted my own apartment there, and my own career, and my own life.  Just in case.

With "get a job" off my list, I was willing to take the plunge and move across the country.

I told Paul -- who was ecstatic!

I told my family -- who were not as ecstatic...but they were supportive, none-the-less.

At Christmas I made another change -- I chopped my hair into a bob!  My first time ever with hair above my shoulders, and I loved it!  It felt more "me" than the long hair I'd had my entire life.

Then, for NewYear's Eve I flew to Louisville to spend it with Paul.  We went out with several of his good friends and their girlfriends and had a really fantastic time.  This photograph pretty much sums up the night:

January of 2006 was spent hammering out the details of my move, saying goodbye to friends and loved ones in Minnesota, and packing up my life.

Goodbye to Minnesota, my home for twenty four years.

Hello to a new city...and new adventures yet to be written.


Next chapter:  Cincinnati
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