Yesterday I talked about my first love. It is a happy, sad story. In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I’d share more about The Bull and how I came to be married to such a wonderful, caring guy.
When I finished yesterday’s story, JK had just passed away unexpectedly and quickly. I was 20, he was 24. We buried him in Alaska. He loved Alaska so much and I was so very sad that he never got to get back.
After the funeral I stayed in Alaska for a few weeks, wondering what to do next. I had family in three different states and could have gone anywhere I liked, really; but the only place I really wanted to be was with JK. Except that wasn’t exactly possible.
I dropped out of school and made plans to move to Alaska. It was the second best choice. JK’s sister Mel and her husband Ben invited me to stay with them till I got back on my feet.
So in May I moved out of our little apartment. Uncle Ben flew down from Alaska to help me move. JK’s dog, my cat and rabbit and hamster, and all our stuff was loaded into our little yellow truck and we headed up the road to Alaska. It was quite a trip! We had only a few days, as Uncle Ben had to be back to work in a few days. We drove an average of 22 hours a day for four days and one half hour to make the drive from Phoenix, Arizona. When we finally arrived Aunt Mel made us dinner and I fell asleep on the couch watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I have never fallen asleep in front of the TV, not before that and not since then.
Then I tried to settle into my new life. Getting used to Alaska was easy. Summer is beautiful, even if it is cooler than what I was used to, and rainy. I was in awe over all the green! Long days made for lots of time for fun activities and losing track of time and staying up way too late . Winter wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. One day I went out to start my car before I left for work wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It was a little chilly but not too bad. My poor car gave a weak rrrr-rrrrr-rrrrrrr but would not start. Going back in the house, I glanced at the thermometer and was shocked to see that it was 20 degrees below zero! And there I was, running out to start my car without even wearing a coat!
I found a church I liked and began to make new friends. I decided to find a job, rather than continuing with school (I had withdrawn after JK died) and jumped from job to job. In three years I held eight different jobs (six in one year!) before finally settling on a career path that was satisfying but didn’t pay the bills. Go figure.
After about a year at Aunt Mel’s, I found that I needed my own space so I moved in with friends. When that fell through (in a grand and horrible way which was quite expensive for me!) I moved back in with Aunt Mel while Uncle Ben and I built on a tiny cabin. I moved in as soon as I could and it was never finished. Very rustic. Kinda like camping. I had a wood stove for heat and an out house and I hauled water in big blue containers for drinking and cooking. But, it was mine and I had manageable monthly payments.
Moving through grief, on the other hand, was torturously hard. It hurt when I heard about a woman who hired her teenaged boyfriend to kill her husband. (How could she!?) Or a celebrity couple calling it quits after a short time of marriage because of what seemed to be a trivial disagreement. ( Don’t they understand that marriage is to be cherished?) I remembered the times that JK and I had argued and wished I could go back and erase them, to say things differently, if I had only realized how selfish and immature I was I would have done things differently.
It seemed, at times, that everyone in the world was paired except for me. I still remember seeing birds chasing each other in the air and feeling sad. Even the trees had mates. One day I saw two trees that had grown together, wrapping their trunks around each other. I had never been so lonely before.
Initially I thought that I would never marry again. After all, everybody only has one “soul mate,” right? Each of us only have one chance and I had had mine and he was gone. And I had ruined our short time together pretty badly. That was the end of love for me, I thought.
Over time I thought I would like to remarry and have children. It had taken me a couple of years, mind you, to get past the deep horrendous grief. There had been lots of tears over those years.
About two years after JK’s death, there was a guy that I was somewhat interested in. We would go fishing and watch movies and talk; we had some fun times. But I was afraid to share my deepest feelings and history. Nothing ever came of that.
One by one, my friends were getting married and starting families and I began to feel that I was left out and would never have that for myself.
And indeed, when I met The Bull, I wasn’t expecting that he would be “the one.” Not at all. See, when I first met him was when a friend introduced me to her fiancé. I don’t even really remember that day very well. A bunch of us were hanging out and I didn’t even look at him, really, although I thought his brother (who was also there) was kinda cute. I figured that a guy who was dating (or engaged!) to another gal was off limits. So I didn’t give much thought to him.
But I really was impressed with The Bull and how he treated my friend and her daughter. He was kind, chivalrous. He put her preferences before his own. Quite honestly, this was a nice change from some of the guys she’d dated before. I was very happy for my friend and looked forward to their wedding.
Except it never happened.
Somewhere along the way, they decided that their marriage was not a good idea and after the summer they went from being engaged to dating to “just friends.” In the spring The Bull moved to a neighboring city to attend college and my friend moved on with her life. The story was over, as far as I could tell (although I did secretly hope that they would reconsider because he was a gem of a guy!)
Months later, I was sitting in the computer lab at the college minding my own business (I had decided to go back to school and try to finish a degree, while working full time) when there was a little message flashing on the bottom of my screen. I had never seen that type of thing before and I didn’t recognize the sender’s user name. The computer lab attendant then showed me how to get into the chat/ message/ whatchamacallit thingamajig and soon I found myself chatting with The Bull. My friend’s (his ex-fiancée’s) 25th birthday was coming up in a couple of weeks and he was wondering if I’d like to help with a big party for her. “Sure, that would be great!” I thought, “and maybe they’ll get back together too?”
Initially all our our planning was by email as he lived in one town and I lived in another. At one point during the process he asked for my phone number, as there were some details that needed to be discussed and it would be easier by phone than by email. And he certainly couldn’t ask his ex-fiancée for it. I hesitated before I sent it. I had never given a guy my phone number before. (I know, I was naïve!) I wondered if I would live to regret that. 😉
Well the party day came, our plans worked well, and everyone had a great time. I realized that I didn’t know my friend as well as I thought when The Bull and I both brought her favorite flavor of ice cream in different brands. I picked the wrong one. She was totally surprised about the party and I was so glad to help with making such a great day for her.
Well, that was to be the end of the story, as far as I was concerned. But they still didn’t get back together. 😦 I was very disappointed when I realized that she had no intention of ever dating him again; I finally understood that I needed to let go of this hope for her. (She did eventually meet another nice guy–imagine, there were more than one nice guys in the world?–and they married a few years later.)
Later on that summer, I was feeling b-o-r-e-d!! My former fishing buddy was now otherwise occupied (aka, engaged) and I was looking for something fun to do. One Thursday I emailed The Bull and asked if he knew of any fishing or hiking trips or movie nights or get togethers planned.
Actually, he did. He called me later that night to invite me on a huge fishing trip with his family that had been planned for the very next day. This would involve a long car ride and an overnight stop with his family and a trip on a little boat and lots of fish. After getting the details I hung up the phone and thought about it for a few minutes, then called back to commit to the trip.
We left right after work. I met him in his town and we drove together to his family’s house. Starting out, I was very very nervous. I didn’t know him very well. I had planned a birthday party with him but aside from that we hadn’t talked at all. What do you do when you’re stuck in a vehicle with a guy for several hours??
Well, you talk. And talk we did. I was amazed at how much we had in common, ideas, values, plans, politics, faith. I would not say that I was hooked yet, but by the time that weekend ended I was definitely interested in spending more time with this guy.
To be continued . . . .