“To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time.  But we must keep on stepping.” – Chinese Proverb

In order to get anywhere in life, you have to take steps – baby steps, long strides – any type of motion to keep you moving forward.  After ending my engagement, building myself back up was my first step towards getting my life back on track.  Second step, getting myself back on the market – sort of.

During the previous relationship, I unknowingly allowed him to take away what individualism I had and he molded me into something that he wanted – a long brown haired, video gaming girl.  After ending the engagement, I promised myself that I was not going to get into a relationship with anyone until I felt I was ready.  I worked for months to build my self esteem, building my self respect, and finding my own identity again.  It was not easy but little by little I started to feel like myself again.

The morning I got Shane’s number was a sign that I was ready.  I was getting a second first chance and I didn’t want to let it pass me by.  I texted Shane at 1:35 PM and had a mini anxiety attack.  What did I just do?  I forgot to say who was texting, he wasn’t going to know who I am.  Why is it taking so long for him to respond?  …And the list goes on and on.  At 1:53 PM, I I got a response.  Either he is a lucky guesser or he was expecting a message – he guessed it was me right away.

We spent the rest of the day into the evening talking about the little things in life – inside jokes of Pepsi bottles, Coke products, our dogs, where he lived, what his job entailed, fishing, my job along with my 2 side jobs at the time, the differences between men and women, and so on and so forth.  It had been so long since I had been able to talk about nothing but everything all at once.

It was nice to have a guy that I could talk to so easily.  In fact, I missed hanging out with guys.  All through high school, I was always “one of the guys.”  Being farm born and raised, I worked hard, played harder.  I didn’t have time for girls who did their hair and their make up everyday for an hour or more.  Not to mention, the girls around my area were full of jealousy and drama. No thank-you.  I’ll friend-zone the bejezus out of my guy friends and never have to worry about the loyalty of their friendship.

However, something about talking to Shane was different than talking to Joe, Ron, Gerry, and whoever else I would have talked to in high school.  Something about Shane was intriguing, exhilarating.  We had some of the same hobbies, same taste in music and similar taste on genres of movies.  Then he hit me with something I had been dying to find in a potential significant other: “I have to go to church for practice.   …I’ll be singing my heart out. Plenty of fun.”  Alright, too perfect.  He goes to church too!

Things just seemed to fall into place the first day that it was hard to make my mind unwind and allow me to relax and go to bed.  My work schedule usually held me at work until at least 7 PM Monday through Friday.  The day after I had contacted Shane, we were talking about how to solve his boredom. Naturally, being the nature loving person I am and given the time of year, I suggested he go fishing. Ironic; he was thinking the same thing.  We kept the small talk going about how I keep busy in the evenings at work; this night it was cleaning the office.  I was organizing invoices when I heard a quiet *tap tap tap* on the door.  The same exact tap I heard back in November. I lost all composure as soon as I opened the door and saw Shane dressed in jeans and a nice button up shirt leaning against the door jamb.  He had stopped by on his way to Cottonwood to keep me company for about an hour.  Before he took off again, he extended the invite for me to come join him.  How perfect would that be?  I jump in my car after work and head out to Cottonwood and sit next to him on the dock until the sun goes down….   But like usual, I already had plans.  I was going to be getting supper with my mom since she was passing through town and then I was taking my puppy to the dog park to wear off some energy.

Shane had been quiet most of the evening but then got ahold of me while he was passing through Marshall.  I was still excited that he had stopped to see me at work that I suggested that he come down to the dog park so that he could meet Hugo.  He agreed and within 10 minutes was sitting by my side at the park.  I’m sure the excitement was just radiating off of me but I kept reminding myself to take it one step at a time.

We stayed at the dog park until after the sun went down.  The conversation didn’t die one time and we shared many laughs.  We were so engrossed in each other’s company that we hadn’t realized that everyone else had vacated the dog park and it was just us and Hugo.  Time to get comfortable!  We laid down on the sidewalk and started to watch the stars.  It had been a few years since I just laid out and watched the stars.  Living in a town that is always illuminated made the stars disappear and I didn’t get out to the farm nearly enough to enjoy the sights; but with Shane, every star seemed so much brighter and clearer.  Just being with him in that moment made perfect sense – it felt natural.

We laid there until we started discussing how time seemed to go by way too fast when we were together.  I got up and looked at my phone to see the time and it was around midnight.  Being that Shane had to drive to Pipestone yet and then be up around 4:00 AM for work, I felt terrible that it had gotten so late.  We decided it was better for him to hit the road home so he could catch a nap before work.  Walking out of the dog park, I knew I couldn’t just say goodbye and leave it at that.  I felt like he needed to know how much I appreciated him and the time that he had spent with me.  I hung my head as we shut the gate for the evening and before I could stop it from falling out of my mouth, I heard the words “Can I give you a hug?” slip in-between us.   At first I didn’t pick up my head because the initial feeling I got was the same one that I had gotten when my manager slipped the folded up sheet of paper back to me that I had left for Shane – pure embarrassment.  Then the words I heard next changed it all; “Of course”  I got the courage to look at him; it was now that I would be able to actually see how he felt things had been. The sight was something I’ll never forget; wide, glowing blue eyes and a hearty grin on his face.

That single hug was the most genuine and sincere hug that I had ever felt.  He held me so tight and made time stand still.  My short walk home was spent trying to catch my breath and trying to wrap my head around what happened.  He made me feel like a somebody.  But like usual, the nagging in the back of my head started up again…

One step at a time, Lizzie…one step at a time.

The text that started it all.
The text that started it all.
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