I Catch A Brief Reflection Of What You Could And Might Have Been

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  What might surprise many people is that Eric and I don’t really celebrate this “holiday.”  Sure, in the past we’ve made homemade cards for one another or purchased small gifts … But this didn’t happen every year, and it was never something we made a huge deal over.

The reason I brought it up, though, is because this week’s 30 day blogging challenge topic is all about love.

This week’s topic: My Current Relationship

There are a lot of things I could say about my relationship with Eric, but I’ve decided that the story I want to share is the story of how we met and wound up together.

In May/June 2007, Eric and I both took a trip to China.  The trip was sponsored through a company called ISLP (International Scholar Laureate Program), and students and recent graduates throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Guam were invited to attend based on grades, extracurricular activities, etc.  Eric and I both happened to be invited (though oddly enough, he was originally invited to attend a different type of program and he actually requested to attend this one, which was focused on medicine).

Once we were there, we were put in the same small group.  I was so jet-lagged when we arrived that I don’t really remember much from the first day … It was pretty much an initial introduction to the program, breaking up into small groups, and then heading back to our hotel rooms for some much needed rest.

On the second night, however, I ended up running into Eric in the hotel lobby.  He was with another guy from the group and I was with a few of the girls.  We all decided we’d hang out together in the beer garden at the hotel, and Eric and I ended up talking quite a bit.  The first thing I noticed?  He remembered my name.

That probably sounds really ridiculous, but that first day was a blur.  The fact that he remembered my name made me feel special (I mean, I assume everyone else probably felt as exhausted and hazy as I did that first day).

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This is obviously not the greatest picture ever (he and I aren’t even sitting next to each other and my face is practically covered by the beer mug!), but it’s the first time the two of us were ever in a picture together.  Awww.  (By the way, if you don’t recognize us from other pictures, I’m the third person from the left and he’s in the red shirt second from the right.)  Personal photo.

After that night, Eric and I started spending a lot of time together.  We took charter busses through the cities we visited (though we flew from city to city), and he and I would always sit together and talk (in some cases we’d literally be talking for hours while we traveled to our next destination).  Time seemed to pass so quickly during those rides … I remember finding it so easy to talk to him and starting to realize that I was developing feelings for him.  My heart would beat a little faster when he would sit next to me, and it felt like a jolt of electricity through my body if our hands or legs would touch as we shifted in our seats.

It wasn’t until we’d made it to the second city (Xi’an) that he and I shared our first kiss.  It was a beautiful night … We’d been out together all evening.  We started off with a group of people from the trip, and then it was suddenly just the two of us under the stars.  I don’t even remember what prompted us to walk over and sit down on a bench, but when we did, he moved closer and then we were kissing.  It felt like the whole world had slipped away and it was just the two of us, together.  I hadn’t felt like that in a long time … It was amazing.

By the end of the trip, I remember wondering if the whole thing had just been a summer fling.  I kind of thought it had to be since we lived over 1,000 miles apart from one another.  I didn’t want it to end, and I remember crying over the thought of potentially never seeing him again.  I’d been in long distance relationships in the past, so I knew that while they were extremely difficult, I could handle it.  Eric had not, though, and I worried that I wouldn’t seem so appealing once reality set in and he realized we’d only be able to see each other once every few months or so.

I left it up to him on our last night together.  I was going on to Lhasa, Tibet, but he was heading back to Beijing and then back to his home in Nebraska.  I honestly don’t know how I managed to feel brave enough to ask him what he wanted.  I mean, I was still young (only 22!) and not that sure of myself.  I knew I’d be crushed if he didn’t want to at least try to make things work between us, but I also knew it would be hard to go from spending every day and night together to seeing each other only once in a while.

I’ll never forget that night.  Our conversation pretty much went like this:

Me: So … What do you want to do?

Eric: I want to be with you.

Me: Are you saying you want to be with me but feel like you can’t because we live so far apart?  Or are you saying you want to try to make this work and actually be boyfriend and girlfriend?

Eric: I’m saying that I want to try to make this work and be boyfriend and girlfriend.

Those may not have been our exact words (this did happen almost 7 years ago!), but that was basically what was said.  I just remember feeling relieved and excited that we were starting something real.  Unfortunately, I also felt a tremendous sense of heartache because I knew that in a few short hours we’d be separated and I had no idea when we’d see each other again.  (Thankfully I did see him not too long after … He flew to West Virginia to visit me in July, just a few weeks after I returned from Tibet.)

At the time, I felt like it could be the start of something really special.  I had no idea that nearly 6 and a half years later we’d be getting married!

I know I’m leaving out a lot of details, but I shared a lot in this post.  I feel so lucky to have met someone who makes me so happy.  I hope that everyone has the opportunity to experience this kind of love during their lifetime.

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I’ve been trying to reserve wedding pictures for Wedding Wednesday posts, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one.  (I’m not sure why it’s so small, though.  The original file is much larger on my computer, and I’ve tried editing it several times.  Maybe I can figure out how to fix this issue when I post more wedding pictures.)  This was one of the best parts of the reception … We were dancing crazily to “Sexy Back” (a special request just for Eric!), and I remember laughing more than I had in a while.  All of the stress just melted away, and it was just the two of us acting like silly kids.  Personal photo taken by Kelsey at Memrical.

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