I just scrolled through my iPhone photos, and there’s a lot of smiles to be had. I’ve kind of been going down memory lane a lot lately in my conversations. I don’t post much about the past, because quite frankly, who cares? But if you’ll oblige for just a few minutes, and a few words, I’d like to take a short trip to a few years ago.
Summer 2010 was one of the largest turning points in my life. It’s odd how a large part of your life can be impacted by such a short period of time. Certainly, one can make a mistake that alters their life forever, but generally I’ve lived steadily, never bouncing too high or falling too low. In college, I’d done both. I met a lot of people in college, about none of which I keep up with anymore, but for four years, we certainly had fun. By the summer, I was taking my last few classes, and I hit my personal low. Graduating college is an amazing accomplishment, and I’m thrilled I was able to do it, but something about it felt so hollow. It may have been because about a month earlier I’d finally gotten rid of the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it seemed nobody wanted to hire me at twenty-two, and my prospects for meeting anyone pretty much went out the window.
Things were set in motion that summer. Things that haven’t stopped since. If you believe in luck, then the last three years are nothing but an amazing roulette wheel for me. By October of 2010, I’d landed a job with Union County Public Schools. I graduated high school there. I certainly never anticipated I’d make a living working there, but alas, that’s what happened. Now it came to my attention pretty quickly that working women seem to enjoy trying to find someone for you when you’re single. That wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, as I’m not the best guy when it comes to meeting people. It just isn’t my strong suit, and I always just played everyone’s invitations to meet someone as jokes.
Somewhere along the line, in 2011, I let my guard down. I was right on the verge of being promoted within my department and moving to our central office. Maybe it was my older age, maybe it was intuition, or maybe I just didn’t care anymore. Sara’s mother told me about her. And then she told me about her some more. She showed me a picture, and this piqued my interest. But still, it felt weird for me, and nothing something I was comfortable with, so I acted on nothing, and I wasn’t planning on it.
Then, there’s October 2011. It’s hard to believe this all stems from Summer of 2010, but it does. Without that period of time, I have no idea where my life would be, but I know for a fact it wouldn’t be what it is today, and I’d have missed out on the absolutely amazing people in my life now. On October 1, 2011, I received an e-mail from Sara’s mom. This seemed fairly ordinary, as I still routinely mailed back and forth with people from the school location I worked at when I first began my job.
However, unlike any other e-mail I’d ever received, I got a phone number. I think, if through work, or any other avenue, you can win over a girl’s mother, you’re probably a pretty decent guy. This made me feel good, like maybe nice guys do eventually get ahead.
So I texted Sara. A lot. And we met at Olive Garden for lunch. I don’t remember the exact date, though I know it was in Fall, because Georgia was playing that day. Maybe that’s why we did lunch. Maybe I wanted less pressure. A lunch isn’t a date, it’s just lunch, and it didn’t feel so hard. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind, but I went through with it, and met her that day.
I was fairly certain she’d never speak to me again after that lunch. For probably the first time in my life, I was absolutely relaxed with a girl. I was myself. It may have been because I was finally of the age where I didn’t care. I wanted to impress her, certainly. But I also wanted to just be me and see where that got me. In past relationships, I never felt comfortable just being me. If you know me, being myself means I was acutely sarcastic, witty, and took most of the lunch with a tone that probably would make most people run for the hills.
Not Sara though. We texted on and off for a while. We hung out some, but never anything solid. I was wishy washy. My last relationship made me think I’d prefer to just go at this world alone for a long time. I wasted Sara’s time. I provided her with no reason to talk to me. I gave her no incentive that I’d ever come around. I’m certain she talked to other guys and looked for a relationship elsewhere.
Days would go by without talking. Then they turned to weeks. Months. I’d scroll through my phone, see her name, and wonder what could have been. Sometimes, as if someone was guiding me, I’d stop on her name and send her a text. We’d talk a while, then out of the blue, I’d just stop. There was never a rhyme or reason, I just never was sure what I wanted. I never wanted to drag someone else into a relationship with me, especially when I was never sure what I wanted.
Summer of 2012 came. Two years from when I had graduated college. Two years from overcoming obstacles in my life that I thought were greater than me. I talked to Sara again, and again, and again. There were no gaps this time.
Probably the moment that won me over was when I was sick. I’m almost never sick, and this particular day I used a sick day at work. Mind you, I’ve only used two sick days in three years, with one being a funeral. There’s a knock on my door, and it’s Sara, knowing I’m sick. Not only did she come over, but she brought freshly baked, homemade cookies. I don’t think any girlfriend in my past baked me anything, ever. I was absolutely astounded, especially considering we weren’t even in a relationship.
Summer came to end and Sara went back to Appalachian State University. Distance can be a killer, but we kept talking. We made plans. We attended a Georgia football game together. By this time, I felt like I loved this girl, but I could never tell her that. It wasn’t long after the game that I told her we were “basically dating”, which was apparently not acceptable. Basically isn’t good enough. And she was right. There was me, right at the tip of a relationship, and I was still scared to jump in headfirst.
We did though. I put the demons of my past behind me. I gave a relationship a chance, and my life hasn’t been the same since. We haven’t dated overly long, but it feels like we’ve been together for years now. I can see a change in me. I’m just generally happier, and I can see the future more clearly again. Things that I thought mattered most, don’t really matter. It’s all about the people you have around you, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to navigate this world with.
So I’m living the good life again. Maybe it’s because I was guided to someone great. And I’m starting to believe again, that just maybe, good things do happen to good people.
“Sometimes people put up walls, not to keep others out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”