I wanted to blog the fuck out of the excitement of our start. Earlier in the week, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I fought the urge to run, screaming, “no,” at him as I ran through the front door. And I answered him honestly.
“If what you’re wanting from me is a commitment that I’m not seeing anyone else then I can give you that. But I can’t promise this title won’t freak me out. I can’t promise it won’t get hard again. I don’t know what this means for me, but I know I want to be with you right now. So if that’s okay, then yes,” I said.
And even though it wasn’t romantic, it was honest, and that’s exactly how it needed to start. Three years after leaving Mike, I was officially in a committed relationship again. Joey quickly became more than I imagined I could ever have. And I wanted to tell him I loved him two months after our first conversation and less than a week after we became official.
So I did.
Scarlet came to town for a weekend with her on-and-off again boyfriend, and requested she be able to meet Joey while she was here. On a hot day in August, one week after school started, we met my red-headed friend and her meat-head boyfriend at a winery in Augusta. Joey could get along with a shoe, so I wasn’t worried about him handling the absurdities of their relationship, but I was worried to move our relationship outside of our safety bubble. If other people loved him as much as I did, it would be a good sign. If my friends had questions, I would know my ‘sociopath’ radar was still broken, and I would leave him behind before I got too committed. It was a test.
A band played on a small stage, with a tiny dance floor in front of them, underneath a wooden roof, and overlooking the hills of Missouri’s wine country (yes, there is such a thing). Scarlet and I had seen each other a month before, so we didn’t have much catching up to do. I’d continued texting her about Joey. We all sat at the picnic table, eating and drinking, until it was time to dance.
I left Joey at the table. Scarlet confirmed her approval. We sweat and sang. I was happy, smiling for no reason, and I didn’t have to force myself like I used to. And every time I thought about how different that felt, I caught myself looking in his direction, sending silent ‘thank-you’s to the universe (again).
We laughed the entire ride through the hills of highway 94. Once we made it back to suburbia, we laughed more, only stopping when I realized I needed him to pull over so we could talk.
I love you.
And then I couldn’t stop crying. I apologized. I said he didn’t have to respond. I was so drunk. And embarrassed. Never in my life have I made an ass out of myself so many times in such a short time. Never. It was awful, until he said,
I love you, too.
And then we both cried. Because I’m ridiculous and he’s the sweetest guy ever.
I climbed out of the passenger seat and draped myself over his body, kissing him harder than I’ve ever kissed anyone else. Both of our faces wet with tears, we sat in his car and watched the sunset before heading home.
I was in love again. And this guy loved me back.