Junior year of college is a blur. I know it happened but only because of pictures and people telling me I lived and was happy, but overall it's been erased form my memory. I do know that Mike and I did not have any communication that year, but toward the end of the year the pieces started to fall in place for us to actually get together.
I was super into singing throughout college: singing for Mass, singing for "Festivals of Praise" (exactly what it sounds like), for youth groups, retreats, weddings, recording with people doing backup vocals, blah blah blah. There was a friend of mine who led music for a lot of weddings/retreats and at the end of my junior year he started asking me to sing with him for lots of stuff. It was great and got us starting to hang out a bit, which carried over to the fall of my Senior year of college.
Mike had moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the summer going into my senior year to take a job in banking, but as luck would have it, the friend I did music with was one of Mike's long time close friends and would often invite Mike to hang out with us when he was in back in town to visit. The occasions would usually be really random ones-- like once when I was babysitting for my sister, Mike joined the friend and a few other peeps and came over for a movie, some cookies, and a little cheap whiskey.
Another, more monumental occasion was over Thanksgiving break of my senior year when both the friend and Mike were in town to see family and they called to come and pick me up to hang out. We headed over to a friend's house pretty late at night, and Mike began his efforts to move in closer to me- literally, he sat close to me on the couch and was doing a bit more flirting than ever.
And as luck would have it again, the friend of mine and Mike's got sick, had to go home early, and asked Mike to take me home- and of course he said YES. Mike drove me home, and we spent about 3 hours in his car talking, talking, talking... When we neared the end of the talking and I was about to go in for the night, Mike took the plunge and asked me to go out for a drink with him while he was in town. I think I almost puked up my heart when he asked me, but I was just able to keep it down long enough to say yes. We went, it was lovely, and that started it all really.
|Yeah, pretty confused...|
Christmas came and Mike called to ask to take me out on a date. I said no, confusing the hell out of him and really confusing the hell out of myself. Things with the other friend dissolved and I woke up one morning toward the end of the break and realized that I had probably ruined all my chances with Mike because of the dose of crazy confused girl I had given him. I cried and cried.
A phone call came as the Christmas break was coming to a close and it was from... MIKE!!! I was so thrilled that he had decided to call again even after I totally dissed him and the reason he was calling was even better. He had made me a mix CD for Christmas and wanted to send it to me but didn't know where to send it. I gave him the address and waited. Another week or so went by and I got another call from him asking if I had gotten the CD yet. I had not, but it led to us talking a little bit more and making me feel like maybe had not completely screwed my life up. (As I later learned, Mike had not yet sent the CD, but was calling to see if I had received it simply as a pretext for talking to me. Obviously it worked.) I eventually got the CD, listened to it, LOVED it, and called him to thank him, again leading to more conversation and more phone calls from Mike throughout the beginning of that spring semester.
One of these phone calls went very late into the evening and proved to be very fortunate as a result of total fatigue and some over-sharing. I had decided to appologize to Mike for the "Christmas dissing" and tell him that I would like to continue to keep in touch. He was so sweet about it and went on to inform me that he was really let down by it and had actually written a song after it happened. I begged and begged and finally he put the phone on "speaker" and played it for me. It was beautiful, and even though it ended on a down note (I had ditched him at Christmas, after all), the song was all I needed to hear. I was done for. There was no going back. (In case you're curious, the song should be embedded below, or you can listen to it here.)
After the song, things picked up even more for us by way of communication, and that spring break I decided to make a big move and drive to Ann Arbor to visit him. It was a great trip and afterward I even turned down a date from another guy saying that I was "actually seeing someone," though I would not yet call it dating. Mike came to visit on a couple other weekends and finally over Easter break we starting calling each other "boyfriend and girlfriend."
Mike continued his job in Ann Arbor, but was at a crossroads with respect to the future. He had really hoped to go to Notre Dame for grad school and was waiting for a response to the application he had sent in early in the semester. (This is why the song says "Come to Indiana with me"-- and in the end it all ended up coming true!) He also got an offer from his banking job to transfer him to Washington D.C., where he would get promoted and get a big raise. He found out after we started "dating" that he did not get in to Notre Dame and now needed to decide whether or not to make the move to the capital of our nation, which would be pretty difficult on our relationship that had never not been long distance.
He made the decision to quit his job and move back to Steubenville, which was basically a decision to marry me, although he did not call it that then. At the end of the summer after I had graduated, he moved from Michigan to a cute little house right near my parents' home (which would later be our first home together). He got a job writing a high school textbook while I attended grad school at the same university, and he went ahead and reapplied to Notre Dame.
Things get pretty "boring" here since we only spent 8 short months dating before we got engaged and shortly after getting engaged he found out that he had gotten into Notre Dame's Masters program in Theology. So that's it: we got married and he swept me away to Indiana, and the rest, as they say, is history...