Jim and I continued dating- on and off for about 3 years. Needless to say, my relationship with him was one that influenced not only how I viewed dating in general, but myself. We had many fun times together, some that included a certain Michael Markmiller and his girlfriend at the time. Sarah and I became very close friends and often talked about our sweet budding relationships with our boyfriends.
I never had the guts to tell Sarah how jealous I was of her relationship with Michael. Not that I wanted to date him at all, but simply how he treated her. Jim had a wandering eye- and often acted upon it, not really caring about me or my feelings. I was devoted to him- even to the point where I truly believed (at 19) that this was the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. Oh how wrong I could be.
The times when Jim showed me attention, I soaked them up like a dry sponge with its first drops of water. It didn’t matter to me how he did, or if it was simply because the flavor of the week had turned on him- he was calling me, talking to me and kissing me goodnight again. I knew, each time that this time would be THE TIME that I won his heart. But through it all, I was losing my faith, I was losing my self- respect and I had totally lost my heart to a boy who treated me poorly.
This was a totally tumultuous time in my life. By 1988, I had graduated high school, and moved up to the "high school with ashtrays" world of junior college. (Things are much different in JC’s today). My parents were going through a very messy divorce- where often my mom and I were struggling for money. I was following Jim around like a lost little puppy. In 1989, he went away to school, and while my heart still pined for him, stayed true to him- he made it extremely clear that when he was home, if no one else was around, he would hang out, but otherwise I was a nuisance. I had pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel.
Throughout this whole time, Mike and Sarah had continued dating. Michael took a year off after graduating high school – deferring his MIT entrance a year- and did some really amazing things. Friends of all of ours were getting married the weekend after Thanksgiving. Jim, Sarah, Mike and I had all been invited- and I was singing at the wedding. Jim would not come down to go with me, so I was the third wheel with Mike and Sarah.
The wedding was sweet and romantic and wonderful. I was sitting at a table at the reception, feeling low, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
It was Michael.
"Would you like to dance with me?" He smiled down at me.
"I can’t- it would be awkward – dance with Sarah" I said.
"Go on- I told him to ask you!" Sarah said to me.
"OK, thanks!" I felt lower then low at that moment.
Michael walked me to the dance floor. The music started, and it was Elvis Presley singing "I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You." Little did I know that Michael ADORED Elvis. And little did I know that that night I would look at Michael with different eyes.
Jim came down another weekend when Michael was home, and we all decided to have a fancy double date at The Charthouse. I got all dolled up. Black dress, heels, cute hair, make up the works. We had a fun date that night. I remember I was sitting directly across from Michael. He kept glancing at me. I caught his eyes a couple of times. My stomach flipped flopped. And I didn’t quite know why.
After that dinner, Michael flew back to DC where he was working at the time. But something happened. He called me. And we talked almost every night until Christmas. Nothing unusual, just 2 friends laughing and talking together. Until I asked him a question.
"Hey, remember when we went to the Charthouse?" I asked
"Oh yeah- that was a great night" he said.
"Why were you looking at me so much that night?" I asked.
Silence. Oh crap, I thought. Maybe I had had a piece of broccoli in my tooth. CRAP.
"I don’t want you to take this the wrong way." he said. "I don’t want to say the wrong thing"
"OK," I said "but, you won’t and I won’t."
"Well, (big pause) OK, I kept looking at you- and seeing how pretty you looked that night," he said and took a deep breath. "I saw you laughing and talking and I just knew I wanted my wife to look like you."
to be continued…..