With the wedding coming up quickly -- FOUR WEEKS TO GO, MOTHAFLIPPAS -- I've been doing some thinking about everything that has happened in between the night B and I had our first date almost four years ago and today. All the things that have changed, and more importantly, the one thing that has stayed the same. You can catch up on parts 1 - 6 here.
"Okay," I breathed, feeling my guard crumble faster than I would have liked.
B took another step forward, put his hand behind my head, his palm resting firmly on my cheek bone, and kissed me.
After that kiss, it was as if that week-long glitch had never happened. In minutes, we had forgotten everything. As if a wave had come in and washed our minds clear. When we weren't with our friends, we escaped from the bustle of the campus and spent nights in the city, catching a live show, drinking strong beers, or holding hands in a dark movie theater.
The weeks flew by, but neither of us gave much thought to the dwindling semester. November was over in a blink. December had wings. We studied for exams, tied up loose ends, and went to holiday parties.
By then, even though it had only been a few months, it felt like we had been together forever. We had both melted into the other's group of friends. I was having more fun than ever at school. It all just felt so right. So much like home.
And then it was over.
By the time the last day of finals had ended, my friends and I had sold our books, packed up our apartment, and were ready to each embark to different corners of the world. I was off the New Zealand. Mojo was headed to Ireland. Caitlin and Emily were going to Italy. Talia, to Spain. And Kate and Julita to England. It was sad, this would be the longest we had ever been apart. But thrilling, MOTHAFLIPPING NEW ZEALAND, EVERYONE.
But then there was B and his friends. They'd finish up their last semester of college while we were gone, and then they'd be off to the real world. UGH, the real world.
I was the first to leave our apartment. B was driving me home to Philadelphia on his way home to Massachusetts for Christmas break. I waved out the car window as we pulled out of the parking lot as each of my roommates stood on the top of the building's balcony and screamed their goodbyes in the cold morning air.
Most of my friends were in Europe a few days after New Years Day. But because I was going to the southern hemisphere, and the University of Auckland was in full swing of their summer vacation, I wasn't leaving the country until mid-February. That meant plenty of time for visits before B and I had to worry about our own goodbye.
We went skiing in New Hampshire with his friends. I had never even been to New England before. When Loyola's Christmas vacation ended, I worked at home during the week, and spent most of my weekends visiting B at school. If I couldn't make it to Baltimore, he came up to Philadelphia.
But I was ready to go. There was never any consideration that I wouldn't be. I was sick of working at the deli and good gah New Zealand was waiting for me. NEW ZEALAND. I could barely imagine what life wound be like there. Beaches and sky diving and bungee jumping and camping and busy city streets galore. It would be my heaven.
But what would happen to us when I was 9,000 miles away? Neither of us gave it much thought. We would be, just like we are now.
"I can't believe you're head over heels for this guy and I haven't even met him yet," Monica said.
"I know, it's crazy, I just have this feeling with him, you know? It's so different. He's so different. It's like, he feels like home or something ... I know it sounds insane ..."
"OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO MARRY THIS GUY." She grabbed my arms.
"It's just ... I don't know how to explain ..."
"OH MY GOD. YOU LOVE HIM."
And then came the SQUUEEEEEEEEEE.
Lying on our backs on B's bed the next weekend, I told him about the night at Monica's.
"I told Monica all about you."
"Oh yeah?" B raised himself on to one elbow and looked down at me.
I put my arms behind my head and smiled. How could I not looking into those green-brown eyes?
"Yeah. She toootally thinks we're gonna get hitched." We both laughed as B pulled me up to sitting position.
"What did you say to that?"
I began to stammer. Oh no, was that weird? Verbal vomit. Should I not have said that? Too soon? What should I say? I was not about to pull out the big L word.
"Oh ... I ... you know ..."
"Bridg ..." Heereeee we go. The pause lasted for minutes. Forever. Oh my gah I could have cooked a turkey in the time of that pause. "I'm in love with you."
He cupped my cheeks in his hands and kissed me. "I love you."
I pulled away and looked at him. And I smiled. "I love you too." And I kissed him back.
The night before I left for New Zealand, B drove up from Baltimore to celebrate Valentine's Day. We sat in the spare bedroom of my childhood house, the only semi-private space in the house. It was also the smallest. Situated above the garage, the ceiling was slanted down, much like an attic. But it was in the back of the house, down the hallway from where anyone else would be.
We exchanged CDs that we had made for each other. The top 20 of our all time favorite songs, filled with bands like the Allman Brothers and the WHO and Ani DiFranco. Then B pulled a book out of his bag. It was a photo album with instructions to fill it with pictures of myself in New Zealand over the next five months because B wouldn't be there to see me every day.
And then he handed me an envelope. I lifted the flap and pulled out the card.
"Love, having no geography, knows no boundaries."
-- Truman Capote
Truman Capote. The author of the book we first studied in the class where we first became friends. The book that was turned into the movie we saw on our first date. The night that we saw Mars.
And that quote. To a girl who was about to get on a plane and move 9,000 miles away from the boy she loved, the boy who had become one of the most important parts of her life almost overnight, that quote was everything ...
... To be continued.