My summer performance job finally came to a close and I packed up my belongings into my '92 Toyota Camry- affectionately dubbed "The Stingray"- and made the two hour drive back to my university.
This, my children, is an actual photo of what is known as the "duck face." It is also an actual photo of my drive back to the University of Central Oklahoma for the Fall semester of 2006.
It was my junior year and I probably should have been reviewing my course schedule and prepping audition pieces for the upcoming musical season, but instead, I was dreaming. I was writing in my journal about my hopes and fears for this new relationship. I just couldn't help but let my heart get involved... and when I say "get involved" what I really mean is that I was already picturing what our wedding would look and whom our children would favor (I hoped they would have his eyes)- a dangerous concept in my mind as I had never even wanted children before.
In keeping with my "not-getting-my-heart-involved-theme," on August 16th, 2006, I wrote in my journal, "He's the one, isn't he?"
I kept myself busy attending the year opening activities on campus with my friends, and tried to distract myself from my thoughts.
He spent some quality time with his family before setting out on the road from Indiana to Oklahoma.
The anticipation grew until I thought I might explode. Finally, on August 22nd, he was set to arrive. We had been texting back and forth so I knew he was close. He even texted me as he parked his car and walked toward my campus apartment. I began to panic. What would he think of me? Would he look like his pictures? Am I supposed to hug him? Shake his hand? Was my tank top inappropriate? Did I brush my teeth this morning? Should I sit while I wait? Stand? Bake cookies?!
There was a knock at the door. I was sure that my heart had completely stopped. My roommates tried to look natural. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
"Hi." he said.
'Hi.' That was it. Bang. I was smitten. Standing before me was the most handsome man I had ever laid eyes on. And his eyes! Did I mention his eyes?
Involuntarily, I went in for a hug. Luckily, he reciprocated and I will never forget that hug. It felt like I was supposed to have been in his arms all along. Like somehow we had been made for each other and had just been missing the other piece for our entire lives. And I just... stayed there... because that's where my heart knew it belonged...
After what felt like an eternity, I reluctantly let him go. I reminded myself that he was still a stranger and maybe I shouldn't appear so desperate. I've never been good at hiding my feelings. I invited him into the apartment.
Nervously, we made small talk about his trip and the parking at the university. He quickly met my roommates (whom I'm sure were a bit nervous that I was bringing a stranger I met online into our apartment) before we dashed out for a bit of brunch. We went downtown and walked to The Corner Café. It was warm and sunny. As we crossed the street to the cafe, he grabbed my hand. There it was again. My heart beating out of my chest.
We had waffles and snuck giggly glances at each other from behind our laminated menus. Then we browsed through the local antique shops (one of the few times I'm sure I will ever convince him to go antiquing with me!) and I convinced him that we had time to meet my best friend. Why not ambush him with all the craziness on his first day, right?
When Jill came over, there was more polite small talk and laughter and friendliness. But when Ryan left the room for a moment, Jill blurted out, "Chelsea! He is a stone cold FOX!" I had to agree.
After she left, as I showed him my room and we stood nervously across the room from each other in awkward silence- I on my bed, and he at my desk. My eyes darted around the room, but his stayed right on me. They bored right through me and took my breath away. I reminded myself to speak instead of just sitting there like an idiot but, as I began to say something completely mindless, he said, "Can I kiss you?"
Oh no. I mean, YES, but oh no. I was pretty sure I was going to pass out. Instead I nodded sheepishly.
Then there was a kiss. The kind of kiss you only read about in books. The kind with fireworks and birds flying around and angel choirs singing and unicorns riding out of rainbows. It happened just like that. Exactly like that, kids. (are you gagging? We love each other, okay?)
And then we took that nap. A completely innocent nap, children, don't misunderstand me. But the best kind, where your body feels completely at rest.
And just like *that*, a one-day trip turned into three days. There were roses, and movies, and chocolate-covered strawberries, and a trip to the zoo and the Memorial in downtown OKC. There was so much going on that I was desperate to hold onto because there just wasn't enough time.
I felt ridiculous for crying when he left to finish his trip down to Texas. Especially because he planned to come back through and stay another night or two in town on his way back to New York.
Unfortunately, his return to Oklahoma might have to wait. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball...
To be continued...