As I tell the next chapter of our love story, I’m at a loss as to how to accurately paint the extreme emotions that were rushing along beneath both me and Jeremy’s calm demeanor those first few weeks. One moment I was euphoric that I’d actually officially begun a relationship with someone, and that that someone was Jeremy. The next I was freaking out because–hello!–love can hurt! I could feel I was coming awfully close to a path that had fallen out from under my feet once before, leaving me gasping and wounded.
The hardest part of that first week was that Jeremy and I didn’t even have a chance to talk about what we were going through, though we were both in the same boat: exhilarated and terrified. Life carried on and we rode the rapids of our emotions solo while we waited for our first chance to connect…
First Feeble Steps to Friendship
My family had arrived home from our two week road trip late Thursday night, but we weren’t the type to slow down and take a break. The very next day we were hosting another family to celebrate Passover together. As a result of our relationship having gone up a notch, Jeremy was issued an official invitation to our formal Seder dinner and Mom told my younger sisters to make him a place card. (There was much winking and snickering over their assignment. I still wasn’t ready to tell them that anything was up–it was all too fragile and sacred yet.)
That evening when he arrived, I was showing our other guests photos I’d developed from our trip. For the first time in the history of his many visits to our home, I initiated a conversation, inviting him over to the table where I was spreading out the prints. This was a huge step for me, as I had up to this point avoided eye-contact, much less talking to my crush. It wasn’t the time or place that first evening to talk about “us”, but I did my best to set aside my reserved nature enough to try to convey to him that I was game for what he’d started when he’d talked to my father nearly three weeks ago.
Saturday was the grand opening of the Candy Shop Jeremy and my Dad had been working on for over 4 months. Half our church showed up bright and early to finish last minute cleaning of the completed shop, mopping floors and wiping down the counter tops in preparation for the crowd that was expected after the parade being held in town that day. Jeremy was directing operations, and I was enjoying watching how capable he was, and actually letting myself appreciate what a gifted builder and artisan he was.
But I was also dying to know what was going on in his head.
Did he really like me, or had he started this ball rolling just because it made logical sense, or because it was what everyone expected? My woman’s heart was craving confirmation that I was attractive and chosen, while the rest of me was scared stiff that he might talk to me. When would we finally get things out on the table?
By keeping my mouth shut and my ears open, I learned he was taking advantage of the rain we’d had overnight and was heading to white water with his kayak as soon as the festivities were over. We’d have no chance to connect today.
It had been nearly as challenging finding time to process things with my parents since this whole thing officially began, what with travel and company and younger siblings always under foot. Mom and I found a moment as we both balanced on ladders near the top of the 12 foot ceilings, hanging curtains in the large display window. My mom was as eager as Dad to jump ahead and start counting grandchildren, while I was still trying to figure out how to keep my breakfast down if he looked my way.
I expressed my struggle with the fact that this whole thing had been “official” for going on 3 weeks, but I had yet to actually hear anything from Jeremy himself, and was struggling with what I was supposed to be thinking or feeling about our “relationship”. Mom reassured me that it would just be a matter of days before it would all be clear, and in the meantime, I should relax and enjoy myself.
So, I did.
A Final Fling
When they were looking for long-legged volunteers to wear the giant Jelly Bean Costume to advertise for the candy shop in the parade, I jumped at the chance. It was the perfect opportunity to completely distract myself from the mental merry-go-round I hadn’t had a break from for 4 months.
So what if in the very near future I’d be embarking on a risky journey of the heart, attaching my emotions and schedule to someone of the opposite sex and once again exposing myself to the possibility of heartbreak?
Today I was going to don long, black leggings and a giant red and yellow balloon of a costume with a fan in the place of a belly button that inflated me into a strange reincarnation of Humpty Dumpty. Today I would march in a parade as a walking advertisement for Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.
Completely disguised in a costume that exposed more of my legs than I’d ever permitted to be seen in public but generously covered my shy personality, I bounced down main street, throwing candy and giving high fives to parade watchers, cavorting about as if I were celebrating the final hours of my freedom from the chains of a relationship.
I didn’t see Jeremy for the rest of the day, and all of Sunday dragged by without giving us a moment to ourselves. But that was OK because Monday was coming. And Monday was when Jeremy decided to take me out on our first date.