To begin at the beginning of the story click here....
After our first kiss (the one on the top of my head), we both kind of knew we had advanced into a new place in our relationship. Our letters took a more serious tone as we both contemplated the idea of nurturing a long-distance relationship. Neither of us were really excited about that idea, as it is never fun to be apart, but we definitely were having feelings for each other.
Little by little, those thoughts and feeling made their way into our letters and I would find myself eager to get to the mailbox each day. I also remember the intense disappointment when there would be nothing there. It wasn't long before I started to receive packages and gifts in the mail along with the many letters that Dan would pen to me throughout his training. I'd receive letters on all kinds of writing material (paper, notebooks, whatever Dan had available in the field). Sometimes, the letters would be covered in dirt and I thought it incredibly sweet that during his work day, he had been thinking about me enough to pen a few words during his lunch break or while waiting for orders.
It was really hard to be apart, but in the long run, it was really good for us. It was good that we got to know each other from the inside out. At the time, we had no idea that for the next 14 years, it would be just the two of us and by establishing such good communication techniques in our dating life, it made it really easy to communicate once we were married and even more so as we encountered the different hurdles in life.
Finally, Dan got a few more weekends off and was able to come visit me again. We had a ton of fun just visiting, eating meals, going to church together and being able to talk face to face. It was amazing how easy it was to maintain this relationship. (I guess that is how it is when it is the "right" relationship).
Dan was every bit the gentleman. He understood how important manners and etiquette were to me. He even purchased a book about etiquette (I still grin picturing this army guy walking into a book store and buying an Amy Vanderbilt book of Etiquette) - wow he had it bad for me! ha! ha!
One of my elective classes was "Home Entertaining". My classmates and I were divided in groups and each group had to throw some kind of party. We had to decorate, plan food, and plan entertainment based on the things we had learned in the class. My group had chosen the theme of a child's birthday party. Each of us was required to bring a guest with us. I asked my roommate (who was also Dan's friend), Sarah, if she would be my guest and she was happy to do me this small favor.
Wouldn't you know it? The weekend that Dan came to visit, was also the weekend of my Home Entertaining Dinner Party! The success or fail of this party would be a HUGE chunk of my grade. Once Dan learned of the party, he teased me incessantly about crashing my party.
I had learned by this time that Dan was quite the jokester. It was one of the things I loved about him- he could make me laugh. However, I let him know in no uncertain terms that he was not to come anywhere NEAR the building where my party was being held. However, even with all my threats, he kept teasing me about all the ways he could show up and embarrass Sarah and me....I was not amused and threatened him until I was blue in the face.
Later that evening, we went our separate ways and Sarah and I prepared for the party.
My group had done a really good job of planning and our party went off without a hitch. The food was great, the conversation was flowing and everyone was having a good time. About halfway through the party, I was busy chatting with a girl on my left and I felt a nudge on my right shoulder. Sarah was trying to get my attention. I turned to acknowledge her and she directed my attention to the door of the room.
My face must have drained of all color and turned a deep shade of sick greenish gray as there in the doorway stood none other than..... (drum roll please)....Yes, you guessed it.... DAN!!
Dan was standing at the door and he was asking for me. Everyone looked at me and I (wanting to die) excused myself. In the 15 steps it took me to get to the door, I had a million (evil) thoughts fly through my head... one thousand of those million were of how I could make this guy die a very slow and painful death!! I could not BELIEVE he had actually shown up at the party! I had stressed and stressed to him over and over how important this was to my grade and had made him VOW he would not show up and embarrass me. I mean, I knew he had teased me about it all day, but I didn't think he would actually do it!!
When I got to the door, Dan asked if he could talk to me in private. Not only had he shown up, but he was asking me to leave the party that I was supposed to be hosting - FOR-MY-GRADE!!!!!
He asked if I would step into the room next door. As soon as I got to that room, my brain settled down as I could tell that something terrible was wrong. The room was dark, but I could tell by the reflection of the light shining in the hall that he had something important to tell me. He began by telling me how sorry he was to have interrupted the party, then he went on to tell me that he had -again- been called out and had to leave NOW.
I'll admit it... I was in complete shock! This guy was going to be the death of me. First, I was all happy and excited that Dan was here for the weekend, that my party was going well and my grade was going to be a good one. Then, I was horrified to see him at the door (thinking he was making good on his threat to embarrass me). Now, to learn that he is being called out again and has to leave right away and doesn't know when he will be able to come back. It was like one of those movies where the girl stands in the middle of the room and everything goes blurry and starts to spin and all she hears are echoes of voices all around her. She is there, but not quite "present".
The next thing I knew, Dan was kissing me (yes, full on the lips), he then hugged me really tight and took off running out the door.
I found myself standing in a dark classroom, blinking my eyes, and trying to replay/analyze the events that had just happened .... It was all horrible and wonderful -all at the same time.
The worst part was that I had to go back into that party, having just been kissed for the first time (for real) (well, at least by Dan) and losing my guy all in the span of 30 seconds. I wanted to squeal with delight and cry all at the same time. I was going to have to explain what in the world was going on -to my guests- in a way that would be "appropriate" and "by the book" so I had some hope of rescuing my grade.
I took a deep breath and went back into the room.
As I stepped into the room, you would have thought my skirt was caught in the waistband of my pantyhose. ALL eyes were on me and though none of them said anything, they were all wondering what had happened. I took my seat and explained that Dan, my visitor for the weekend, was in the army and had been "called out". Of course none of them knew what that meant so I had to launch into an explanation of the military, his background and how it all functioned.
It actually worked out well, as it created a topic of really interesting conversation. Little did they know all that was swirling in my mind as I very much tried to keep my composure, appear calm and perform my shared duties as one of the party hostesses.
Believe me, after everything that happened, I deserved a "hostess of the year award" (and - good news- even with the interruption, our team received an "A" for our party).
At the close of the party, Sarah and I made our way back to our dorm room. I collapsed on my bed incredibly bummed that my weekend had taken such an awful turn. I was back to wondering what was going to happen, where was Dan headed? When would I hear from him? Was he in danger? How long would it be before I saw him again? - a million questions were circling in my head.
Not to mention my thoughts about being kissed... I was frustrated that I had so much going on at the time that I wasn't able to really capture the moment and enjoy it! All I had now was the memory of what our first kiss was like. I was so bummed that our weekend was destroyed and that I wouldn't get those much coveted and treasured moments with Dan. We had been apart soooo much already!!
I took out paper and pen and began to write to Dan. I told him how much I missed not being able to see his car outside my window and how I couldn't wait to be able to see him again! I continued to write for the next hour or so just pouring my heart onto paper.
A while later, our dorm room phone rang and to my delight it was Dan. However, once I heard his voice, I knew something was horribly wrong. He had made it to North Carolina safely, but he had really bad news. He had been late in reporting for the call out and as a result, was going to be disciplined by the Army....
Stay tuned for Part 4 of our story!