A lot happened in 2008. This year is a leap year. You know how I remembered that without looking it up? Because Leap Day was a special Scottish Tradition where women had the “right” to propose to a man.
By this time I had been seeing my boyfriend for five years. At the time I knew I loved him, felt devoted to him, and even wanted to marry him. We’d talked about it beforehand. He said that instead of an engagement ring, he’d buy me an “engagement harp” because he knew how much I’d wanted a better instrument. Being practical people, we didn’t see the value in a piece of useless expensive jewelry when we could use that same money to buy something truly meaningful. We’d even gone so far as to request a local music store to bring in a model I’d liked from Chicago–a Lyon and Healy Odgen. Very cute little harp. I didn’t like the sound though, so I didn’t commit to it then. I wanted to try their next model up, the Lyric, which they no longer make.
He and I wore matching Claddagh rings since almost the beginning of our relationship. Tradition has it that if you wear this ring with the heart facing out, you are free for the taking. If you wear the ring with the heart facing in and protected by the crown of loyalty, then you are taken. (FYI, the hands around the heart symbolize friendship.) For whatever reason, he had taken his ring off and it was sitting in the center console of his red 1980s rust-bucket Chevy Blazer. He said it was hurting his finger and was letting it heal. It was February 29, a Friday. We were in his car, heading up to his friend’s cabin for a fun weekend of skiing and typical shenanigans. I knew of this special Scottish tradition, and it was meaningful to both of us, because he was so into Scottish culture with his dancing. I took the leap (no pun intended)–I picked up the ring from the console, presented it to him, and asked “Will you marry me?” Yes that’s right. I proposed marriage, not him. He said yes. I couldn’t have been happier (as evidenced by my Facebook feed). I know that it isn’t normal for a girl to propose, but I totally felt ready and justified in this case! All of my friends expected the news as well.
But you know… things had been a little on the rocks for him lately. I knew he wasn’t getting along all that well with my family. He never felt like he fit in well. He got along great with one of my brothers, but that was pretty much it.
Let’s add on to his burden. A month later, his ex-girlfriend had filled out child support paperwork for back-pay on all the years he hadn’t been making official child support payments (he always gave a little bit, what he could). He never made that much money to begin with, as he did mostly labor jobs. He was great at working with his hands. When I first met him he was building wood cabinets in a woodshop and he really enjoyed that job. He eventually left–I think they might have gone out of business. He was an extremely loyal and hard worker. He struggled to find another job in that same vocation, so I suggested he go to a community college to learn welding (after all, it’s kinda like woodworking but with metal!). After quite a lot of pressure from me, he relented and finally did it. I couldn’t have been prouder. I know he took a financial hit to do that, but I thought that it would pay off in the long-term. He found a job in welding soon after. He bounced around a bit, but then, just as his ex had laid this child support back pay on him, he ALSO got laid off from his welding gig. Morale was very, very low.
But wait. There’s more. …And it’s not good.
Jeremiah’s flatmate, and our dearest friend (we had just been traveling to meet him at his cabin a month earlier) died very suddenly. To date, this is probably the most traumatic experience that I’ve ever experienced. I actually consider myself lucky–I know a thing or two about humanity, and the breadth of experiences one can have over the course of their lifetime: the outlook is grim for many people. The mere death of a friend is tame for some people. However, experiencing the sudden death of this close friend made me seriously question one of the major tenets of my religion. I go into more detail in this article.
So let’s add all of that together and do the math for my boyfriend and I:
- -1 : not getting along so well with potential family-in-law,
- -1 : ex-girlfriend/child support/financial stress,
- -1 : just laid off from job, plus financial stress of paying for community college,
- -1 : trying to come up with money to fund a potential wedding,
- -1 : ….and best friend dies.
= a shitty-ass year for BOTH of us, and it’s not even May yet.
Needless to say, that brought a full stop to our relationship. He called one day while I was at home at my parent’s over summer break (still in college, you know). We were dealing with a long-distance relationship where I would go up and see him on the weekends, which had been normal for us for the entire five years. He called me and tearfully said that we should call it quits. I bawled with him and agreed–reluctantly. A week later, he called me again and declared “I’m stupid, take me back!” I said… “I will. …But since we’re doing this over summer break, why don’t we give it till September when I go back to college and see where were at? Once I’m back up in the cities it will be easier to see each other and we can try again then.”
He moved on. I remember not being into fest much this year because I was experiencing significant pressure finishing my Senior year. He rolled up to my dorm some evening in the early fall after fest to deliver a bag full of my items. I also had a few things of his I wanted to return to him. That would have been a perfectly cordial meeting–and perhaps even an opportunity to repair and rebuild…. but he showed up with another girl riding with him. I saw her and yelled at him. Saying something like “Oh, I guess you’ve moved on now. Yeah, forget this. Here’s your stuff.” I saw him two more times after that. Once to borrow some Nintendo gear for a party, and another maybe a year later to have a beer at O’Gara’s and catch up.
You know what’s crazy? I’ve been going through my historical Facebook posts as a crutch to help me fill some of this stuff out, but I remember this particular year very well. What’s most amazing to me is that I hardly posted ANYTHING about my “drama” on facebook. I guess even then I was kinda private. I don’t know how that explains this blog since I’m just posting for the world to see!
AND the significance of this year doesn’t stop with the death of a special friend or breakup of a long-term relationship. It continues with me meeting the man I would eventually marry… though that won’t happen until December.
Before I would meet him though, I was launched into the dating pool. It was kinda weird to be single after being in an exclusive relationship for five years. I was looking for a guys that wanted something serious and wanted to settle down with me. I had a few awkward dinners with some guys. Awkward drinks. Awkward sex. Some amazing sex occasionally. 🙂 I was okay with the occasional one-night stand. Got myself disappointed sometimes too.
There was one guy I dated that was a Buddhist. He had this beautiful apartment in downtown Minneapolis. We talked a lot about his life experiences. He was vegetarian and cooked me this really delicious lentil dish with naan bread. He was a music major from the U of M and could play violin beautifully and loved crazy-sounding Avant Garde music. He was a thinker and read interesting books. He even “wised up” and realized his music career wasn’t going to afford him a nice lifestyle, so ended up working for some investment firm. But of course, this was 2008–peak of the recession–so work was slow for him at the time. He said that they didn’t have clients and he’d read books all day at work. haha. He showed great promise to me, but I think maybe I was a little too immature and naive for him at the time. We dated for maybe a month or two. He broke up with me via text message. What a coward. SMDH.
More to come of course (actually the best part of 2008, meeting my future husband), but wanted to publish for now.
Pop Culture Touchpoints
The movie star Heath Ledger died in January shortly after his role as Joker in Batman. Drug overdose I think. I only call it out because I really enjoyed his work and he was so young. It took all of us by surprise. I HIGHLY recommend watching “A Knights Tale” and “Casanova”. Both are excellent movies… then go watch him as Joker and you will see his breadth as an actor. He is missed but fondly remembered.
November brought us another election. John McCain (Running mate Sarah Palin) vs. Barack Obama (Running mate Joe Biden). Obama wins.
Highlights Not Yet Described
- Spring: Tim dies. Leaving this in as a placeholder on better description of fun times.
- Summer: Summer Internship (Packaging Dept)
- Summer: Harp Tattoo
- Fall: Senior Year, (One more time)
- Winter: Met my husband online in yahoo chat room
- Winter: First Date with my husband
- Winter: Helped husband convalesce
- Exchange student: Boy from russia. year?
Featured Image: Pixabay