Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wedding Plans

The rest of the semester was a blur. Finals and projects were intermixed with dress shopping and cake tasting. We set an initial wedding date for August, but decided we'd rather get married in July. Wedding planning went into overhaul as my Mom began redecorating and re-landscaping. My brother would be getting married in June, and both of us were planning backyard receptions at my parents' place. I knew I needed to find a dress before I left Utah for the summer because temple-ready dresses just aren't found in southern California.

My mom flew into town one weekend and we did what we do best: we shopped. We hit every bridal store from Spanish Fork to Salt Lake. I was terrified that we wouldn't find a wedding dress before she had to leave, and I knew I couldn't make the decision alone. After a long day of trying on what felt like hundreds of dresses, I still hadn't found THE ONE. We had one last store to try in Salt Lake. It was small and boutique-ish (interpretation: tiny inventory) so I didn't set my hopes very high. Between the two of us, we found four or five dresses to try, and I entered a dressing room to begin the fashion show.

Three dresses in, I still hadn't found anything worthwhile. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I was the problem, not the dress. No wedding dress was going to magically transform me into something I wasn't, and until I fully understood that, I was never going to find a dress. Still... if I didn't feel beautiful in my wedding dress, I knew it wasn't going to work. My mom zipped up dress number 4 as I sighed and turned to look in the mirror.

My heart stopped. This was it. This was the dress. THE dress. It was simple, with a dropped waist and a square neck. The skirt was full, but not too full. It was white satin, except for a wide sash around the waist, which was a deep crimson. When the saleswoman confirmed I could get the sash in other colors, I was ecstatic as I envisioned a cream sash against the white. I turned to my mom and could tell she was thinking the same thing. This dress was made for me. It was sophisticated, it was conservative, it was elegant, it was... $1300?!!! I stopped breathing when I saw the price tag. WHAT?? I swallowed hard, then took a deep breath and tried to hide my disappointment.

"You know, on second thought, I think we should keep looking."

My mom protested. She insisted that if I loved this dress like she thought I loved it, then I should get it. But that price... I just couldn't do it. My mom told me how she was engaged to my dad, she had found her perfect dress, but it was a little more than she had wanted to spend. To this day she hates the wedding dress she ended up with and wishes she had bought the dress she loved. Although I appreciated her empathy and desire to make me happy, I still wasn't ready to drop so much cash on a dress I would wear only once. I decided I would keep this dress as a last resort.

A very last resort.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The proposal

The next two weeks seem to drag by. Although we considered ourselves officially engaged, we didn't want to make any announcement until we had a ring. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted in an engagement ring. Luckily, Jeff did. In fact, he and his buddies had an unnatural obsession with engagement rings. They knew the four C's by heart, and each had their favorite cut and band style picked out. I thought I wanted a white gold ring, but it turns out that white gold was not what I thought it was. We took a trip to the jewelers, where I acquired an education about diamonds and rings.

We quickly decided on a cut, but it took a little more work to agree on a size. I didn't want anything flashy, but Jeff insisted we get something big enough that I wouldn't want a new ring in a year. We went back and forth, me starting small and he starting big, until we finally settled on something in the middle. The jeweler showed me a diamond at our selected size, pointing out the imperfections in it that made it personal. No other diamond was like it. It was unique and special, just like our marriage would be. It was a corny analogy, but I fell for it. "I want that one," I said.

The rest of the details fell into place, but it was going to be a week or so before the ring was ready. I felt a twinge of disappointment that it would take so long. It was killing me not to be able to tell my roommates. I hadn't told my parents yet either, but I wasn't quite as anxious to tell them. I was barely 20, and I knew they would think I was too young (despite the fact that my mom was 19 when she got married).

Every day I would pester Jeff, asking him if the ring was ready yet. "Not yet," he would tell me, not giving any more information than that. I didn't understand all the secrecy. I figured that since I already knew we were getting married, there wouldn't be a formal proposal. He would just hand me the ring and that would be it. Eventually I was able to pry a date out of him: the ring would be ready on Friday. I just had to make it to the weekend.

Thursday night we were together (as we were every night those days). We had to stop by his dad's office to pick up some papers, when Jeff got a phone call from his mom. She had called to tell him that his sister had not made her high school drill team. She was pretty upset by it, so his mom was going to take her out for ice cream. Jeff relayed the conversation to me, then asked if I wanted to join them.

"I don't know, Jeff. This was a big deal to your sister, and I don't know if she wants me there right now."
"Of course she does. Besides, she's going to be your sister, too, so I think you should go be with her."
"Are you sure? I think I might be intruding."
"Don't be silly. You can take my car down, then I'll come down later with my dad and meet you at the house."
It didn't occur to me then how convenient the whole situation was. I should have seen straight through it. But I didn't.

I did as he suggested and took his car to meet his mom and sister for ice cream. After ice cream, I drove to his parent's house, while his mom and sister "ran an errand." Yes, I was still clueless. I pulled into the driveway and walked in the front door. The house was dark, except for some dim light coming from the kitchen. I peered around the corner and saw two candles on the counter, next to a basket of bright white daisies. Finally, it clicked.

I looked around for Jeff, and he suddenly appeared from behind the corner. He lead me to a chair, where I sat and waited anxiously for what was coming next. He knelt in front of me (on two knees, not one) and pulled out a white box.

Wait... white box? Why is it white? It's supposed to be black! Fuzzy black velvet! How is this possible? I can't be proposed to with a white box! It's just not right! It's... it's...

At that moment Jeff opened the box. There was a light inside of it, which shone down on the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen. All thoughts of black versus white ring boxes left, and all I could think about was the gorgeous ring in front of me, and the amazing guy holding it. He carefully removed the ring from the box and lifted my left hand from my lap.

"Carly... Ruth. Will you marry me?"
A smile as wide as my mouth would allow spread across my face. "Yes!"
He then slid the ring over my finger. Or at least he tried. My knuckle had other plans. "Um, I don't think it fits."
"Of course it does," I retorted. "They sized me for it." I grabbed the ring, feeling like a stepsister from Cinderella, trying to shove my over sized foot into a petite glass slipper. I pulled and twisted and pushed and pryed until the ring finally slid over my knuckle and into place on my finger. I would have a bruise for the next three days to show for it, but I didn't care. I had a ring. I had a fiance. It was official.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The next day

The following day I woke up with a smile on my face. I felt so peaceful and excited. The doom and gloom that had been lingering in the background for so long was gone. It is difficult to explain the reassurance that I felt. It wasn't necessarily a confirmation that Jeff was THE one, although I'll admit I was hoping for something like that. It was more that I was ready to MAKE him THE one. We were two imperfect people who wanted to commit to spending eternity together, come what may. I wanted to experience my joys and fears with him along side me. I knew there would be difficult days or weeks, but we would be able to make it through. I loved him, he loved me, and our stubbornness would get us through the rest. I couldn't wait to see him again.

Jeff's sister had a choir performance that evening, so we made plans to attend with his family. He didn't mention our conversation from the previous night as we drove to the church that would host the event. We sat holding hands on a pew in the back, giggling quietly as we were prone to do in reverent settings. His parents raised suspicious eyebrows as they sat beside us, but didn't say anything. Even though nothing had been formally decided or announced, they could tell there was something different.

After the concert, we met back at Jeff's parents' house for dessert. We arrived a few minutes before his family and entered the dark house alone. I hopped up on to the counter, and Jeff slid up next to me. Slowly he turned so we were facing each other.

"So..." he started slowly.
"You said I should ask you again tomorrow."
"You're right. I did say that."
"Well, it's tomorrow."
"You're right."
"Are you going to ask me?"
"Will you marry me?"
I grinned, hoping my answer was evident. "Yes." Short, straight-forward, to-the-point. It was probably the first answer of that type I'd ever given him.

He smiled back, laughed a little, and kissed me, just in time for his sister to walk in the garage door. We tried to hide our smiles, since I had asked him not to mention this to his family just yet.

Jeff walked over to his sister and put his arm around her. "Nice job on your concert!"

"Smooth. Nice work changing the subject," I thought. He always was smooth. That's why I was going to marry him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Leap of Faith

Exactly one week later Jeff and I sat in his car again. The date was February 29, 2004; it was a leap year. Strange things seem happen on that extra day once every four years and this was no exception.

The scene was much the same as the week before: we had spent the morning at church, the afternoon with Jeff's family, and we were now parked in "our spot," awaiting the pending discussion.

"So," Jeff began, "how has this week been?"
"Better than I expected." I replied.
"Really?" I couldn't help but smile at the eagerness in his voice.

My thoughts turned to the prior week. I recalled the afternoons we had spent together, completely void of any tension caused by wondering what the future would hold. I felt I could talk to him about anything, and I realized that I wanted to always be able to talk to him about anything and everything. By acting as though the decision to be together was behind us, I had been able to focus on our relationship and give it the attention and commitment it would need to endure through the years, not just the semester. And through it all, I had felt a wonderful sense of calm and happiness. Never once had anxiety or doubt entered into the picture.

"Yes, Jeff. It was absolutely wonderful-- the best week we've had to date."
"I thought so, too," he responded quietly. He was looking down at his hands, but I could see the grin on his face. When he looked up at me, his eyes were glistening ever so slightly.

"Carly, you know that I love you. I love everything about you and I love being with you. The thought of losing you is heart-wrenching, but the thought of having you forever brings me joy and happiness I didn't know was possible. This past week has been amazing. I've been able to drop my defenses and actually believe that this is it. That you are it. That you are the last person I will ever date, ever kiss, every love in this way."

At this point the tears were streaming down my face as well. I could hardly speak; the love I felt for him was so overwhelming. For a while we just sat there, crying and smiling and laughing together. If we hadn't been so emotional, it would have been hilarious. I slid as far as I could on my seat so that I was halfway on the armrest and embraced him. We sat that way for a long time, cherishing the moment and letting the mood linger. Finally, I reluctantly pulled back and looked into Jeff's face.

"So what do we do now?"
"Well, you said this was a good week. Was it good enough to continue indefinitely?" I let his question sit for a moment, evaluating it's meaning.
"What exactly are you asking?"
"I'm just asking if this week has been enough for you to make a decision about the rest of our lives."
"I... I don't know. I think so. I don't know."
"Well, thanks. That helps a lot." His sarcasm carried all the hurt and hopelessness that I had heard in his voice so many times before. I didn't want him to feel that way anymore. I was tired of being flaky and indecisive. This was it. I was going to make a choice, once and for all. I was either going to take it or leave it and never look back. This week had been good-- better than good. It had been perfect. It had been everything I had ever hoped for and dreamed of. What else could I ask for? What more was I waiting for? We'd only been dating for just over 4 months, but once you know this is the one... what's the point of waiting? With a burst of energy, I turned to face Jeff with a huge smile on my face.

"Let's get married," I blurted.
"Wha-- are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Are you sure?"
"Yes, I-- I just wasn't expecting-- what the heck. Let's get married!"
He leaned over and kissed me, figuratively and literally sealing the deal. I pushed on his chest after a moment, whispering, "There is one condition, however."
"What's that?"
"Ask me again tomorrow."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Gotta Have Faith

After I finished ranting in my journal, I put my pen down and lay down on my bed. With my eyes closed, I felt a tear escape and run down my face. I hated being so confused and indecisive. If this is what dating and courtship entailed, I wasn't sure I wanted it. Not yet, anyway. I tried to remember how I felt before I met Jeff. Was I happy then? Was I happy now? I didn't know what I was. There were definitely times when I was happy. And even at my most conflicted moments, I wouldn't say I was unhappy. I wondered how I would feel if things ended with Jeff. Just the thought of it put my stomach in knots. It would be horrible.... at first. But would I recover, eventually? There was only one way to find out.

I decided it was time to propose a "break." Though I, myself, had never been on a break before, I'd seen it plenty of times on TV and in the movies. It had ruined Ross and Rachel's relationship, but it just might save mine. I had heard once that you don't marry the one you can live with, you marry the one you can't live without. I needed to know that I couldn't live without Jeff. The more I thought about this idea, the more peace and calm I felt. It had been so long since I had felt that way, and I was relieved to finally have a plan in place. When I met up with Jeff tomorrow, I would propose a break. It might only be for a week, but maybe longer. I just knew that I needed some time alone.

. . .

The next evening we spent with Jeff's sister and her family who were visiting from out of town. It was a fun evening and I tried not to ruin it by dwelling on the upcoming talk I would be initiating. We left earlier than usual and I wondered if I would have the courage to carry my plan through. We drove in silence while I frantically searched for the right words to say. Instead of taking me to my apartment, we drove to one of our favorite spots to sit and talk. He pulled over and muted the music, and it occurred to me that I might not be the only one with an agenda for tonight's conversation.

With a sigh of relief, I decided to let him begin. It would be much easier to voice my thoughts after he said his mind. For nearly five minutes he sputtered and mumbled without making much sense. I smiled empathetically; I knew exactly how he felt. Once he finally started talking in full sentences, everything came out in a flood. He told me that he had been as confused and unsure about committing to eternity as I was. There were even times he'd wanted to give up. But he also spoke of what he wants his marriage to be and how he has so much optimism for his marriage and for his wife.

I listened to everything he said, absorbing it all and waiting. When he finished, he sat back and put his hands behind his head. Slowly he turned and looked at me. "What are you thinking?" he asked.

I exhaled. Then I inhaled. And then I confessed. I explained that I didn't know how I was supposed to feel and how I wished someone would make this decision for me.

"You know," Jeff broke in, "this is really a matter of faith."
"Faith?" I echoed.
"Yes. We have to have complete faith in our relationship, or else doubt will creep in. I know Heavenly Father has confidence in you. He knows that you can and will make the right decision."

He paused while I let his words settle. I had never though about having faith is us. Maybe all my problems were just a lack of faith.

"You know," Jeff began again, "anything that is founded in Christ cannot fail. So maybe if we base our relationship in Christ, and use him for direction and guidance, then our doubts and uncertainties will fade away. Again, it all comes down to faith. The adversary will try to make us question things we once felt sure of, but where faith is, doubt cannot exist."

"I'm not sure I can have that much faith without your help," I explained. "It seems that whenever we decide to just 'wait and see,' I always end up confused and lost. We need to have a plan; something to work at or work towards. Something that I can have faith in."

I thought I had created the perfect build up to presenting my "break" plan. But Jeff proposed an entirely different plan before I could get two words out:

"Why don't we act as though we are going to get married." My head shot to the left as he spoke.


"We'll treat our relationship as though we are working towards marriage-- like we're engaged. And we'll have faith that we are going to succeed."

I waited for the sinking feeling, for the despair and turmoil that I usually felt when the M-word was used. But it didn't come. Instead I felt happy... and calm... and peaceful... and excited all at the same time. I knew this was something that I could have faith in and really want to succeed.

"Ok. I... think... that... might... work." I spoke slowly and thoughtfully, smiling at the turn of events. "You want to know something funny? I was going to propose we take a break tonight."

"Oh gosh, it's a little early to put that kind of pressure on a break, don't you think?"

I chuckled, wondering if Jeff realized he had just suggested we pretend to be ENGAGED.

"Oh yeah. Definitely too early."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Confused and conflicted

The next morning I woke up feeling more refreshed and carefree than I had in months. It was one of those mornings when everything seemed extra bright and cheerful. Even the birds seemed to be less obnoxious and more surreal. I got dressed extra early and spent the hour before church documenting the previous day's travelogue in my journal. When Jeff came to pick me up, I practically skipped to his car. I almost expected the strangers driving past us on the road to break into spontaneous song about how wonderful it is to be in love.

We drove to Jeff's hometown to attend his friend's mission homecoming, after which we dashed over to Jeff's parents' ward so he could speak with them in their Sacrament meeting. The afternoon was spent at his parents' house, basking in the Sabbath sun and enjoying being with good company. Eventually the combination of warmth and full stomachs took it's toll as we lay on the floor to take a quick nap. True to his character, Jeff fell asleep within minutes. I, on the other hand, lay there quietly for a while, thinking about how nice it felt to lie in Jeff's arms. I felt safe and protected and loved. I reflected on some of my favorite memories over the past few months: long talks in his car, afternoons studying together in my living room, late night walks holding hands.

Suddenly, without any warning, a thought popped into my head: I wanted to marry Jeff! I could feel my throat tighten and my eyes water as I let the thought linger for a moment. I recognized this feeling: it was the same feeling I got when I felt the love and concern of my Heavenly Father. Was this the confirmation I had been hoping for? Was this the Spirit telling me to stop fighting the love for Jeff that was growing inside of me? I didn't know exactly what it all meant, but I knew this was good. I wouldn't feel this way if I was on the wrong track.

I decided not to tell Jeff just yet. I wanted to keep this to myself for a few days, just to be sure it was real. But I was dying to tell him. I couldn't wait to see the smile on his face when I told him I was ready to consider marriage. I couldn't help but smile just thinking about it. His happiness was now my happiness.

. . .

Five days later, I wrote the following in my journal:

I can't seem to figure things out with Jeff. Last week I thought I had finally figured it out. I had stopped writing to [the missionary] and essentially stopped thinking about him. For the first time since we have been dating, I honestly believed that I could and would marry Jeff. It felt right and I had the desire to be with him. It felt wonderful. I told him how I felt, and he seemed happy. But I could tell he was a bit reserved, and suddenly I felt desperate that I might lose him. Tonight I found out why he held back.

This week I talked to my mom and she told me to make sure I hadn't just learned to love Jeff. At first I was bitter that she would suggest such a thing, but then I began to wonder if it were true. Now I am back where I started - afraid to commit, afraid to break up, afraid to give what I have.

Tonight he asked if things were still getting better. "They have to be getting better or else this will never last," he told me. I admitted to him that I'm still trying to figure things out and he laughed shortly because he would be very surprise if I had figured everything out. I apologized for being so indecisive and changing my mind so often. He said, "I've learned not to take anything you say at face value." So that is why he wasn't as happy as I expected at my announcement last week. I wish I could mean everything I say, but I can't. I feel awful that he has to put up with me.

I love Jeff, I really do. It is hard for me to think of living without him. In him I see the ideal father for my children. I love his family. So why don't I feel that burning desire to be with him? I want to... I really do, but I just can't. I feel as though I am in a dream world and that I don't know how to get out of it. I need someone to take the blinders off and either show my what I've got or what I'm missing. I wish I had some answers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's Day

February 14th loomed just days away. Of all the many (ahem) boys I had dated, all three short relationships had included Valentine's Day in their span. My experience told me that this holiday of LOVE was usually a disappointment. My girlish hopes placed expectations so high that they couldn't help but be let down. It's not that my significant others had been scumbags who had forgotten the holiday and tried to make takeout Chinese and a dying dandelion pass for a romantic evening or anything of the sort. In fact, it was the planning that always made the night so exhausting. I remember how awkward I felt when my high school boyfriend picked me up for a date on Valentine's. He wouldn't tell me where we were going so I wasn't sure how to dress or act. I felt silly eating out at a fancy restaurant (we were only 16) and he took me to a play that had more adult humor than I would have liked.

Then there was last year, when my freshman college boyfriend and I had foregone an evening alone to join the rest of our friends at a school dance. It was nice, but still not what I had always imagined. And being one of the few steady couples among a crowd of first-daters, the evening felt trivial and inconsequential when it should have been significant and memorable.

So despite the deepening level of my relationship with Jeff, I wasn't looking forward to the big V-day as much as, say, my roommates.

February 14 arrived on a Saturday. Early in the morning, the first of our apartment's flowers arrived. My roommate's boyfriend had sent her a beautiful spring bouquet in a modest glass vase. It had a mix of purples and pinks and blues. No roses. I thought they were absolutely beautiful. I began to get a little excited. I wouldn't mind a bouquet like that. Something fresh and fragrant that I could have on my desk while I studied. My outlook began to brighten.

I knew Jeff was coming around 4:30 to pick me up that evening, so I made sure to get my grocery shopping and errands done early so I could shower and get ready for the night. I rushed around town to get everything done and pulled back into my parking garage just before noon. I loaded both arms up with my grocery bags and hobbled towards my apartment. Turning the knob as best as I could with two spare fingers, I kicked the door in and dumped my bags on the table.

"Um, Carly?" my roommate called from the front room. "I think you should go check your desk."
"Why?" I asked, confused.
"I just think you should."

Intrigued, I quickly put my perishables in the fridge and walked through the living room towards the bedrooms. My roommate watched me with a smirk, and I couldn't help but smile as I wondered what would be waiting for me. Images of tulips and irises flashed across my mind as I opened the door to my bedroom. What I saw there stopped me dead in my tracks. I quickly shut the door.

"What the heck is that?" I asked aloud. From the other room my roommate started laughing. Cautiously I opened the door again, peering around the corner to my small desk. Sitting on top of the laminate oak surface sat a foot-and-a-half-tall vase. And in that vase were 12 of the tallest, fullest, reddest roses I had ever seen. Next to the vase sat a bottle of my favorite perfume and a CD with Jeff's handwriting scrawled across it: Carly's Love Songs. I stood there in shock, staring at the most extravagant floral arrangement I had ever seen. I wondered how much this must have cost. I knew by now that Jeff liked to spoil me, but this was beyond anything I could have anticipated. I also worried about my roommates. We all had boyfriends and would most likely all receive flowers before the day was up. I was embarrassed by my flashy bouquet and hoped my roommates wouldn't see it as a ostentatious gesture. But at the same time, I was giddy and flattered to have received such an extraordinary gift.

I spent the next few hours trying to get my school work done before the big date that night, but between the 3-foot bouquet that was always in my peripheral and my new CD that filled the room with gooey love songs, I couldn't focus very well. Finally I shut my books, put away my papers, and started rummaging through my closet for the perfect I'm-spending-Valentine's-Day-with-my-serious-boyfriend shirt. An hour later, I was dressed, primped, and primed for a night on the town. Right on cue, Jeff's knock sounded at 4:29 pm. I grabbed my coat and new CD and we were off.

First stop was the Macaroni Grill. After we had been seated, Jeff suggested we make things a little interesting.

"I think we should order for each other."
"What?" Oh boy, this did not sound like a good idea at all.
"It'll be fun. You order for me and I'll order for you. It will be a test to see how well we know each other's tastes."
Luckily, it was an Italian restaurant so there were very few things on the menu that didn't look appealing to me. But I was nervous to give up my choosing power. I was also nervous to order for Jeff. Our sushi experience had told me he wasn't a garbage disposal and there was a possibility I could order something he would hate.
"C'mon. Humor me," Jeff's egging overpowered my objections.
"[Sigh.] Ok."

We ordered, then sat back and talked about who knows what while waiting for our food to arrive. After a few minutes, the bus boy brought out our two steaming plates. I had ordered Jeff the honey balsamic chicken; he had ordered me a creamy pasta dish. For a few minutes we ate in silence, then we politely asked how the other liked their meal. "It's good," we both replied unconvincingly. Another few bites and Jeff admitted ordering for each other maybe wasn't the best idea. I suggested we trade, and he compromised by giving me a hefty portion of his in exchange for an equally sized sample of mine.

After dinner Jeff asked me what I wanted to do. This confused me because he had acted as though he had the entire night so carefully planned. A bit of prodding revealed that he had planned dinner early to make sure we weren't late to the next event, and now we had a little bit of time to kill.

We got in the car and started driving. Being a local, Jeff knew the area better than I did. Before I knew it, I was completely turned around and had no idea where we were. We listened quietly to the CD Jeff had made for me, enjoying the ambiance of an approaching sunset. Soon Jeff turned off the road onto an empty dirt lot. The lot sat on a hillside and from it we could see the entire valley below us, including all of Utah lake and the mountain range beyond it. It was beautiful and very romantic.

I had brought my camera with me, so we balanced it on the roof of Jeff's car and put the self-timer to work. As the flash went off, the thought crossed my mind that this would be a good picture for a wedding reception video. I hurriedly pushed the notion from my head, wondering where it had come from.

Apparently we had killed enough time, because Jeff opened the door for me and I slid back into the car. We drove back down the hillside and found our way to State St. A few minutes later Jeff pulled into the parking lot of a local theater. He knew I loved musicals and had gotten us tickets to Swing. He handed the usher our tickets and we were lead up some stairs to the balcony level. I noticed there was something different about the seats on this level: they were extra wide. I wondered if Jeff had bought us seats for the plus size section when it hit me. They were loveseats. I would have "aww"-ed aloud if we were alone, but instead I just smiled up at Jeff, hoping he would see how tickled I was by his sweet thoughtfulness.

The quality of the play was so-so, but being able to sit nestled up against Jeff's side with his arm around my shoulders made it one of the best shows I have ever seen. When it was over, I lingered in the theater chair, not wanting the night to end. For the first time, I had really enjoyed Valentine's Day. It had been fun, but meaningful; comfortable, but exiting; romantic, but relaxed. I contemplated the idea of spending every Valentine's like this. For the first time, thinking about a future with Jeff didn't create a sinking feeling in my stomach. On the contrary, I felt warm and, dare I say, happy! I didn't want to create any false hopes for Jeff, so I kept these feelings to myself, but I was thrilled at the possibilities they created.

That night as I lay in bed, I said a silent prayer over and over again.

"Please, let me feel the same way tomorrow. Please, oh please."