Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Thing They Can't Shake (A love Story, Part 1)

Being that my greatest ambitions in life were to marry a great guy, have babies, stay at home raising them myself, and accomplish all of this in my 20's - I thought I'd be spending happily ever after with my high school sweetheart. I didn't, and it was really all for the best, but I do envy people who DO marry their first love. That is simply due to the fact that I love relationship history and documentation, and how sweet would it be to share my prom picture with my some-day daughter and say, "Your Daddy was so handsome, even then!".

I don't know, maybe I watch too many movies. I also don't have any daughters.

I consider my actual "happily ever after" story to be pretty sugary sweet, and so I'll indulge in a different form of relationship history documentation and share my story with you!

Our story begins over 9 years ago, a year detached from my high school love and a little confused about my undecided direction in life (read: shattered over thinking that maybe I wouldn't be married or a mom in the next 5 years). I temporarily quit school and started working full time in a dealership where nepotism ran rampant within the members of my family. Thanks to my mom and her best friend, the office boss, I had a nice, cushy full-time gig. And it was there, among the greasy oil-handed service techs and the greasy oil-haired salesmen, that I found love.

During my high school relationship, my mom would come home from work gushing about this great guy that worked in the office on his breaks from school, trying to convince me that he was "SO CUTE" and perfect for me in every way. I was 16 and had a boyfriend - so, not exactly interested. But as the years went by, and I started working in the same office, my mom's not-so-subtle persuasion rang through my thoughts, and I always had a special kind of radar for Matt (my mom's perfect-for-my-daughter office crush).

So as a 19 year old with an unclear path ahead of me, I was excited to work with him on a special project. Little did I know, my mom and her partner-in-crime (the aforementioned office boss) orchestrated this whole arrangement. Oh, silly little clueless me thought it was just fate. Or maybe it was, and my mom had a sell-her-soul sort of arrangement with it. I didn't think into it at the time.

This special project sent Matt and I off-site to a cold, dirty, dark, cluttered warehouse to sort through old files in the middle of February. Romantic! The work wasn't fun, but we spent whole days talking about everything imaginable, and our conversations and jokes passed the time. We were given a per diem for lunch and a coffee break each time we worked there, so we talked even more over our steamy cups of Tim Hortons and heart attack tacos. So despite our chilled fingers and toes, we had a good time.

My YOUNG boys in 2004!
My guys look SO young! :)
Part of the ease of our budding friendship was the fact that we were both saying we weren't interested in a relationship at that point in time. It wasn't even a "oh, he/she thinks that, so I do, too" thing. We meant it. He was planning to move out of state before the year was over, and I was DONE trying to latch onto the wrong type of guy for a relationship and needed a little break, just being single. But what each of us didn't admit, was that at the end of these chilly, dirty work days - we were both weakening our resolve, and would ABSOLUTELY break our own self-imposed "rules" for the other.

Even so, we kept it casual. I pretended to be really cool and collected when he asked me for my AIM screen name (omg, remember those?). When he suggested that we meet up at a lacrosse game (that I had season tickets for, and he'd come into a free ticket), I very suavely said "oh, yeah, sure" as if I wasn't jumping up and down and squealing in my head.

As the night of the lacrosse game approached, I was getting nervous. You see, it was on Valentine's Day! I know that I can get a little dreamy and fantastical in my head, but I kept picturing him asking me to do something after the game. I wished for it! Hoped and prayed and wished! But before long, details about his free ticket emerged.

He had a friend in our office - a GIRL. Before you get worried, let me assure you - it was a very brother-sister relationship. At least from his end. You see where this is going? Let me please tack on a disclaimer right here & now, and say that I harbor nothing negative for this girl, and anything I am about to say is for story telling purposes only!

So anyway, this girl had a crush on him that apparently Matt was oblivious to. He's usually so in tune with women, so I have no clue how this escaped him. This girl had a motherly friend in the office (read:  she was old enough to BE her mother), that very obviously wanted to help set them up. A lot of this goes on in that office, huh? Mother-types, sticking their noses in the business of the younger generation, though apparently with their sights all set on the same man! So this mother-friend gave the Valentine's Day lacrosse tickets to Matt, and the girl who had a crush on him. Matt thought it was a "hey, neither of you have dates, why don't you take these tickets we aren't using and do something fun" whereas the crushy girl saw it as, yay - a date!

I did not know all of these details when Matt asked me to meet up with him at the game.

My mom caught onto my excitement and warned me to dial it back. This, from the woman who'd been trying to set me up with her self-decided man of my dreams for the last three years. What gives? It was at this point that I was told the whole story, and she warned me to tread lightly.

Horror of horrors, I realized that if I'd met up with Matt at the game, I'd be crashing his date. Even if he didn't realize it was a date. I refused to be that girl, regardless of how I felt (or he felt), and resolved to not only not meet up with him - but avoid him completely.

I sat next to my friend at the game, kind of sulking over the situation and sad that I had nothing going on for Valentine's Day. Long gone were my dreams of Matt asking me to hang out after the game! Still, I knew where Matt's seats were, and I couldn't help but try to find him in the crowd - from a very very far distance, at my own seat. I thought it would be impossible to see him, but of course - I spotted him like there was a spotlight on his head! I couldn't stop watching him. I couldn't even tell you what happened at that game - who scored, how many times - nothing. I could, however, tell you that he looked in my direction, obviously searching for me, every few minutes.

Matt and I at a wedding in 2004Later in our relationship, Matt told me that he thinks it was his worst ever date behavior, because he was too busy wishing he was making plans with me for after the game (squeeee!!!) to listen to what his "date" was saying.

After a while, nature called. It was intermission, and I asked my friend to accompany me to the bathroom. Sulking all the way, I walked off to take care of business. And on the way back, standing at the entrance to the section I was sitting in - was Matt, and his "date". HE came to ME! Oh my goodness. I was worried - but technically I wasn't the one date crashing, right? So it was okay to talk to him for a few....right? It wasn't like I could just walk by and ignore him at that point. So we approached them - and I tried VERY hard to contain my excitement. I said hello to his "date" and then chatted with him for a couple minutes before using the excuse that the game would be starting soon to break away. It was a quick and harmless rendezvous, and truth be told - I was SO THANKFUL for it!

I ended up spending the evening at bars with my friends (Yes, I was 19, but the drinking age in Canada is 19 and I live so very close to the Canadian border!). I remember getting a little tipsy, complaining that I was single and the guy I wanted was spending Valentine's Day with another girl. I vaguely recall writing on my friend's faces with pool cue chalk, telling them it would cheer me up.

Despite my disappointment, I was sort of understanding and resolved to the fact that it just wasn't going to work out with Matt. This ending up being only my first attempt to push him away. I knew he didn't have feelings for the girl who had a crush on him, he'd told me as much, but I also felt like I needed to step back and give her the shot she'd been waiting for. I couldn't fabricate Matt's feelings for her, obviously, but at least I tried to remove myself from the situation. Right?

So you can imagine my surprise when I returned to work on Monday, and everyone was talking - negatively - about me! The rumors that were flying...I learned things about myself that even I didn't know! Next week in Part 2, I'll tell you what they were saying about me..and more!

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