much can happen in a year? As it turns out, quite a bit.
I can take you to the spot where I parked
in the gas station lot off an exit on the interstate and listed to Alex talk
about her new boyfriend -- the conversation that led to my last entry
(June 22, 2005). I needed a drink and bathroom
break. Yet, I was enjoying our conversation so much that I didn't try to
do two things at once. I just sat and listened. It's almost impossible to
believe that night was a year ago this month.
Before that night, our friendship had taken an extended break. With that
phone call, we came back together a bit -- as we always had been able to
do before. For the first time in a long time, I was able to see Alex and
I existing as true friends instead of on-again, off-again romantic interests
that we'd been for years. I was happy with that development.
Twelve months later, our relationship is back on break. This time, however,
the separation has a distinctively more permanent feel to it.
If the last year had happened during
2000 or 2001, I'm sure that this journal would have been teeming with entries.
In the early days, I did a much better job of actually journaling what was
happening in my life. These days, I have the desire to write but not the
drive. And when I do merge thoughts and keyboards, my writing is often filtered
by the knowledge that entirely too many people know how to Google.
Life took it's first turn toward interesting
Jessie & I took an short, end-of-summer trip to a little resort town
about an hour outside of Franklin. While there, I did what had many time
been deemed impossible and actually entered a jewelry store. I made one pass
through, glanced at some display cabinets and we were on our way.
At the second store, we actually slowed down and talked to a sales clerk
or two. As my palms sweated and I paced a worn spot into the carpet, actual
engagement rings were pulled from the case and Jessie tried them on. In end,
I left the store with a ring style and a price quote. As it turns out, this
would actually be a stroke of genius... At the time, it was just another
piece of paper stuffed into my wallet.
Seriously, this was some landmark shit. After nine years of some sort of
relationship slash relationship, it looked like Fletch and Jessie were going
to get serious. And, then, the hurricanes came.
Knowing that I live several hours north
of the Gulf, one might wonder what effect the hurricanes had on my life.
Well, outside of the fact that I have friends and family in the
bitch's Katrina's path... the hurricanes seemed to be some
sort of metaphor for my life at that time.
The firefighter's union was heavily involved in relief efforts for a while
and that consumed a chunk of time & energy. Also, I was emotionally affected
by the storms -- more that I would have imagined. I've always had a love
for south Louisiana and there are some pretty awesome people that I know
who live there. Just thinking about how different places there were changed
forever was enough to jump me off my own tracks for a bit.
As Rita made landfall in September, I was soaking up an absolutely beautiful
late summer, early autumn night in northern Maryland. The trip I was on took
me near many memories that I had created with Alex in the fall of 2000. This
nostalgia combined with the beer led me to text her out of the blue. I told
her that I missed her. It was the God's honest truth.
From there, old feelings started to resurface. Even though I'd been engagement
ring shopping with Jessie only weeks before, I found myself caught up in
all of the old feelings that I had shared with Alex for many years prior.
Life took a turn for the confusing. No, strike that. It went into a tail
spin -- and stayed there for several months.
Jessie knew something was awry.
On a Tuesday afternoon in October, made the two-hour drive to Franklin, did
the cops-style knock on my door unannounced and confronted me about the state
of our relationship. To be honest, it was a conversation that could have
gone a couple of different directions. As it turns out, it resulted in a
bit of crying... A bit of honesty... And a happy dinner at the Olive
Clearing the air with Jessie didn't take away my feelings for Alex, though.
That's one of life's hard lessons, I guess. Feelings for one doesn't mean
that you can't have feelings for another. It is possible to love two people
in the same category of love at the same time. At least, I've found that
it's possible for me.
When Alex would ask for the honest scoop
on Jessie & I, my normal response was that were long-time friends and
often something more. I told her that Jessie wanted to take things to the
next level -- engagement -- and I wasn't sure if I wanted the same.
Although, it was a bit more vague than it should have been... All of it was
the truth. Life in the fall of 2005 was so far separated from the life that
led Jessie & I to jewelry stores in August. I was as confused about where
I wanted to go in life as I've ever been...
Alex & I spent the fall with sometimes
emotion-filled phone calls and monthly meetings in Oakdale. When I went down
the first time for a football game at or alma mater, I really only intended
the night to be an evening with an old friend. As it turned out, it was more
All of the feelings that had been dredged up through memories and text messages
and phone calls manifested themselves in person. Sitting in my truck in a
bank parking lot, I kissed her and -- for a brief moment -- lost myself.
My mind told me that it was a mistake to be involved with one girl and kissing
another. My heart told me that following your feelings was never, ever totally
wrong. Sometimes, I should listen to my mind instead of my heart.
The kiss... It... Well... It locked in my confusion.
My world existed in limbo through the
end of the year. I really wasn't sure what direction I was heading. One day,
I thought one thing... Another thought swayed me the next. On other days,
I thought that perhaps neither Alex or Jessie was the right choice for me.
It was a frustrating time in my life.
Sometime in the first half of January, I started to write out the story of
the past few months. I wanted to write everything down and get it straight
in my head. I was tired of the confusion and I wanted to reach a resolution
-- for better or worse. A few entries into the saga, I made the decision
that Jessie was the woman who should be my wife. She's loved me through thick
and thin. She's always been there for me. We exist so wonderfully together.
We form an excellent team -- what I consider to be an important foundation
for marriage. She was the one.
Outside of a text message on New Year's
Eve and a couple of packages exchanged in early January, I haven't spoken
to Alex this year. Who knows, it might be better this way. Even though I
was clouded by confusion and didn't always know what I was doing, I take
the blame for everything that went wrong between us.
The night in October that was supposed to have been just friends should have
remained just friends. In the event of confusion, I should have suspended
both of my relationships -- not muddied the waters by trying to keep them
both active and figure out which one was right for me. I did a lot of things
wrong and I regret that terribly.
Alex & I have had a very colorful friendship. I think I can honestly
say that I loved her -- if that's possible -- the minute that I saw her.
And from that first day, I know that I can say I knew she was going to be
an important part of my life. Now that she's not here, it makes me sad. It
hurts me even more that I'm the reason we don't talk. I'm supposed to be
the good guy. I'm not supposed to play the role of the asshole.
Since January 22, I've been an engaged
Jessie first talked about a January or February 2007 wedding date, but I
thought we'd drug our relationship out long enough. Once I make my mind up,
I'm ready to move. The earliest I could convince her was November 18th. Mark
your calendars, friends.
The time since E-Day has been spent supporting Jessie in engagement talk.
She's obviously in charge of most of this... But I don't want to be the total
slacker groom, so I offer my opinion when it's needed.
If it's possible for a roller coaster to be on cruise control, that's where
you'll find me. Life is hectic for sure. I've taken up a second job that's
totally changed the way I live life -- I had grown very used to the 10 days
a month I worked at the firehouse. Jessie & I are in house buying mode
and wedding mode at the same time -- that can't be healthy mentally. However,
things are going as smoothly as doing all of this at the same time can be...
and for that, how can I be anything but grateful.