Despite the fact that we weren't calling it "dating" what happened after that was more or less, us dating. We had a mutual fondness for each other and now that it was out it was a little hard to be strictly friends. We were still very good friends, but now we were more...sort of.. During his stay in the Keys, my family decided to take their vacation early because of an impending hurricane. Abby and I were to stay home because we had college classes to attend. To avoid appearance of evil, my dad arranged for John to stay at the church at night, but all during each day we spent blissful time together. John and I went out for companionable walks, he came with me to my college classes (the ones that weren't cancelled due to the hurricane) we went to the beach together and did some star-gazing together.
On one occasion, we had the evening to ourselves because Abby went on a date with Terence. We made dinner together and dressed up a little and ate. After dinner John suggested we dance. I put on some Celtic music which we both enjoyed and we did some merry jigs together, feeling a little giggly and silly. The evening was growing late and John needed to be going soon. We decided on one more dance. It was a slower song, so we commenced to waltz. I remember we entwined fingers for that dance and as it went on, we got closer and closer. As the song ended and the next track came on, John and I fell into an embrace. We had taken to hugging each other before he left for the night, but this hug went past the normal duration of hugs. It lasted the entire second song. Then John quickly broke it off, he hastily placed something in my hand and closed my fingers over it before he said goodbye and quit the house in a flushed hurry. I watched him go with my heart pounding and then opened my hand to see what he gave me. It was a ring he had always worn. I was stunned, and that was when I knew I was wildly and madly in love with him
Funny how after that we continued as we had before, but now our evening goodbye hugs lasted longer and I found myself wanting to look at him a whole lot more. One night as we looked at the bright stars together, John asked if he could put his arm around me; I readily agreed. And on the walk home, he asked me if he could hold my hand, to which I also agreed. After that, we always held hands when we walked.
He did eventually have to go home, though. He had relatives in NC that were expecting him to stay with them on a particular date. They like things to be just so, so he couldn't extend his stay any further. He had already called his uncle and asked if it was okay if he showed up a few days late once, so he figured he'd better not push his luck. Since he wanted a place to stay on the way up.
After he left but before my family returned, my house was so quiet. Abby was almost always gone because she had things to do with Terence and so I frequently was alone in the house. I had a lot of time to reminisce and think. I was happy that John and I had established a relationship of sorts, but I was also very sad and pensive about how long it would be before I saw him again. We did not have a "next time" planned, or figured out. Abby and Terence's wedding was coming up, and he had been invited, so he hoped to come to that, if finances allowed, but it was quite a few months in the future.
We continued our long distance communication, staying up late chatting on the phone or internet. It seemed that we never ran out of things to talk about. Our conversations never got very sappy or romantic, but they were always so wonderful and encouraging. Sometimes, however, it was very difficult to be 1,800 miles away from the person you like the best. I think John felt it the most since it was mainly up to him to figure out how to get us together. In the mean time, I was busy with college and making semi indefinite plans to move to Tampa and helping Abby plan her wedding.
Abby's and Terence's wedding got moved up in the calender, they wanted to get married before Abby's college semester ended so that they'd be settled for her first summer off. John didn't quite have the funds to make another trip to Florida so soon. He missed it and I missed him. I decided I would go to him, since he had come to me last. I got a job and bought a car and saved up for a road trip to New Hampshire with my younger sister, Julie. Unfortunately, my car was not the most reliable and it broke down a month after I bought it. Road trip being no longer possible, I decided to fly. We went that summer and stayed somewhere between two and three weeks with John and his family. It was one of the most delightful summers of my life.
We didn't get a lot of time to ourselves, but any time spent together was precious. We hiked Mt. Washington and picked blueberries, canoed on his family's lake, did some archery and spent a lot of time exploring the woods behind his house. All these things included Julie and John's younger brother. Then one day we managed to convince Julie that John and I needed to be alone (she didn't seem to understand that we were in love) and we went on a wild round about trip to the beach. The night before we packed a picnic, then early, early, we rode with John's dad to his work in some north east part of Massachusetts. While he worked, John and I borrowed the car to find a magical beach in Maine called Ft. Foster. John had been there several times in his childhood but never drove himself. We took quite a few wrong turns and went in circles a few times before finding it. But when we arrived, it was wonderful.
We had our picnic and frolicked in the waves and sat on a rock over looking the ocean. The wild New England coast is so different than the tropical waters of the Keys. While exploring a little stone turret and looking at the sea John took my hand and asked me if he could kiss me. I thought about it awhile. I had kissed Tod way back when, once and regretted it ever since. I didn't want to throw away kisses on every boy who asked me, even if I was sure I was going to marry him. I said no, and told him why. He understood and respected that. But the rest of the trip and especially after Julie and I went back to FL, I wished I had said yes.
While in NH and staying with John's fabulous family, I invited them to come down and stay with my family some time. To my delight John's dad seemed to think it was a great idea and actually started to consider it. The time between visits was frequently difficult. I was happy to know I had a dedicated guy, but I longed to be with him. Money was the main obstacle that kept us from closing the distance more often, but sometimes, I wondered if my family was suspicious or disapproving of how often we attempted to see each other. I still hadn't told my parents because I didn't think they would take our relationship seriously. So when John's dad decided he wanted to see the Florida Keys, it was a real boon to John and I.
Right before I moved to Tampa, early in the December after Julie's and my trip to NH, John's family came down to the Keys. Our relationship was still fairly secret, since it wasn't official in any way. John and I took every chance we had to sneak off on romantic walks and time alone. It was on one of these walks, while looking at the stars on the same abandoned bridge that he told me I was the only one for him, that we kissed for the first time.
I can't even say who initiated it; we had our heads together and we weren't actually paying very much attention to the stars. But somehow our lips found each other and that was that. I remember thinking, when I realized how close our faces were and sweet his breath smelled that if he kissed me, I wouldn't pull back. It could have been on my decision alone that allowed it to happen, but it was perfect. The most romantic first kiss a couple could have dreamed of. It was John's first kiss of all time, and I heartily wish it were mine as well.
It might seem strange to some how we moved along in the physical aspect of our relationship. I said no to John's first offer of a kiss because I wasn't quite sure or comfortable enough to allow that to happen. But between that summer and that winter, our love and relationship progressed to where I was one hundred percent sure of John. We didn't have many chances to kiss after our first one, on that visit, but each one was special and romantic. And by now we had a plan for being together forever....
As I mentioned before, I intended to move to Tampa. The time came for me to make that definite move and January the following move was the time. The same year, John made plans to move his self to Tampa.
He visited me once before he planned to move. In April, for my birthday. It was a sweet short visit, and we knew that the next time we were together, we would never have to really be apart again.
While I established myself there, living with my sister and her husband, working at a health food store and going to the community college, John saved up his money and prepared to make his move. He had originally planned to move down with a friend who was interested in a particular school in Tampa, but then his friend found a girlfriend and decided he'd rather stay in NH. So John forged ahead on his own. And the plans all came together. The time between visits grew shorter every time. We went from a year and a half between meeting and seeing each other again, to eight months, to five months, to four months. Two months more and we'd be together forever.
One of John's cousins were getting married in North Carolina in June. John's family drove there, and I flew in. They picked me up and we booked two rooms at a hotel. John's mom and I stayed in one room and John and his dad and brother stayed in another. We went to the rehearsal dinner and party where John and I sneaked off to a corner in the garden to make out and spend some time together. We had a jolly time on that trip with his family, stopping in Virginia on the way home to see some sites.
Back in New Hampshire I helped John pack and we loaded up his Subaru. Not long after that we set out to drive to Tampa, Florida. Once there, John applied for a job at the same health food store I worked at and was hired on the spot (I had a good reputation). Then we went to the library and internet searched and craig-listed for apartments. My brother-in-law was unwilling to allow John to stay in his house for even a night, even though he never actually said "He's not welcome," he made it fairly obvious. Neither John nor I even bothered to ask. John slept in his car for three nights before he found a well-priced and reasonably close apartment. When I think of it now I realize how brave it was of John to simply pack up and drive down here with only a shadow of a promise for a job and no prospects of an abode. I felt terrible leaving him at the Wal-mart parking lot at night where he parked his car and slept, but it was certainly a sure way of him to convince me how much he loved me.
And then he found a place. It was the most perfect apartment in the world. Situated directly on my way to work. I picked John up on my way to work and we spent nearly every waking minute together. Bliss. I left only at night to sleep at my sister's house.
The rest from there is fairly obvious. We dated in real life like normal people for about two more months, then John proposed at the beach during sunset. It was romantic and beautiful. I burst into laughter and said yes. I actually was taken by surprise by his timing, but it was perfect. Sometime just before John moved to Tampa, I told my parents that John and I were dating. My dad gave me very similar advice to when I was considering Bert, strangely. Despite the fact that I had told them how serious we were, they still seemed very surprised - shocked, even- when we announced our engagement. Nevertheless, we were engaged in September and the following spring; the first day of spring, in fact, March 21st, 2008, we were married.We had known each other for five years and more or less dated for two.
And we've been living happily ever after!
|A sign I painted for our house|
So there you have the incredibly long and fairly romantic story of John and Christiana and all the hardships they had to endure between blissful visits with each other. If you've read this whole thing, I salute you.