Sunday, June 9, 2013

strawberry shortcake

eleven years ago, this coming thursday, i had no thoughts of marriage or commitment or children.

i was a 21 year old, (almost) college senior at indiana university.  i worked as a CNA at a local nursing home.  and i was at a cross roads in my life.

i had just ended a three-and-a-half year relationship with my high school boyfriend.  someone that, for lack of other options or for lack of pursuing my other options, i had remained with despite my constant feelings of inadequacy.  i felt, at that time, that things were as good as they'd ever be.  i thought i was going to be one of those people who constantly looked back at their college days as the glory days, the time when things were the best in their lives, and that the rest of life would be a downhill slide from that high point.  the point that i'd look at as a line on the beach, and i'd be watching the high tide recede, with only the darkening of the sand from the water to show that things had once been higher. 

at that time, i thought i'd always take a backseat to everything else.  i felt like an afterthought to that previous boyfriend.  not that i entirely blame him, knowing what i know now.  and maybe i'm just making excuses.  but we were young.  we were 21, for goodness sakes.  alcohol and bars and friends and parties were so much more important than forging a long term commitment.  and looking back, i'm not sure if i stayed so long because i was so afraid of confrontation, or if i just thought that's how it was supposed to be, or if i just relished the small amount of attention that i was paid.

it doesn't matter now.  because i learned, finally, that confrontation is not only okay, but it's not the end of the world.  it may have been the end of that relationship, but i was fine.  better than fine, really, because i finally fought for the fact that i was worth more than a case of beer.  that i matter more than a keg.  that i was smart, and beautiful, and deserved to be told that.  i deserved to be invited to things, instead of being assumed to go.  that i was worth taking out on a date, and being shown off, and that it really wasn't being high-maintenance for me to want my partner to think ahead and treat me as an equal.

so.  i spent the summer pursuing other interests.  i was having fun.  i went out of town, by myself, independently for the first time, really, as a grown person.  i visited friends, and did what i wanted to do, and didn't feel the least bit selfish.  i worked hard, and i played hard, and i found out who i was.  and i had no desire or inkling of letting someone else tie me down.

until the second thursday in june.

traditionally, indianapolis has a strawberry festival on monument circle the second thursday of june.  i went to indianapolis, just because i could without asking anyone's permission, to see my bff casey. 

casey and i were best friends for, seriously, ever.  since i can remember.  she's this amazing, audacious, slightly introverted, completely hilarious, and absolutely gorgeous girl that always seemed to know when i needed told off, or when i needed encouraged, or when i just needed a beer.  (and even though we've fallen away from one another in the last few years, i still know, and hope she does, too, that we're always there for each other, and that i treasure her in the deepest part of my heart and always will.)

casey was living with bobby, her boyfriend.  i'd known of bobby from high school, but he was like 5 years older than i was, so he'd never known me.  in high school, i hadn't been part of the party scene.  i was part of the get fabulous grades, be valedictorian so i can go to college on a scholarship scene.  (and again, looking back, perhaps that is why i stayed with ex-boy for so long.  i didn't predict my own future potential.) 

and living with them, was bobby's brother, jay.  i had grown up with jay.  jay was part of the to hell with authority scene in high school.  i've never been a big fan of long hair on guys. it just doesn't appeal to me.  so, jay having hair to his shoulders, i just sort of never noticed him.  i think it's all because i couldn't see his face!  (he does have a very handsome face).  and because i was so introspectively focused on my grades, my weird looks, my awkward body, and being self-conscious.  so, fast forwarding a few years since i'd last seen him, and given the fact that he had this short, messy hair, and goatee, and his confident gait, and his cocky attitude.....just, whoa.

anyway, so on the way to the strawberry festival, we had to drop jay off at work.  and i sat in the front passenger seat of casey's car, and was nervous and pit-sweaty.  i mean, gorgeous boy, that i used to know, that knew me back when i was completely dorky with big bangs and even bigger glasses and even bigger buck teeth.  what the hell was i supposed to say?  i tried to be all cute and flirty, but i can't remember anything i really said.  i'm pretty sure i was just dorky.

a few days later, casey came to visit me in my hometown, and as we walked around my small-town-of-origin, we talked about guys and beer.  kinda typical conversation for the area in which i grew up.  and jay's name came up, and i remember feeling flushed and thanking God that casey couldn't see my face in the dark.

 little did i know at the time, that casey was plotting. and scheming. and planting the seeds of goodness in both our brains. and thank goodness she did.

a week or so later, i found myself back at casey and bob's house, having a beer with the man that would later become my husband.  and he was smart.  and funny.  and gorgeous.  and he laughed at my jokes.  and he looked me in the eyes when i talked.  and he listened.  and maybe he thought i was just a little bit dorky....which is okay, because i own that now.

so when my kids ask me someday how their dad and i got together, i'll be able to say that it was all because of casey, and the strawberries.  and the Big Guy Upstairs, of course. 

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