After nearly two solid months of temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees, today the high was in the low 80s. So by 7 PM when I was ready to head out on a walk (today was a walking day since I ran yesterday), it was just too beautiful to not be outside. I headed to a favorite trail, started up the GPS and Pandora and set out.
The music was mostly background as I let my thoughts wander. And wander they did. The breeze, the temperature, the late summer scents took me down several paths of memory lane. I don’t know if I’ve blogged about this particular memory before, and I’m too lazy to search through my archives. That’s what happens when you’ve been blogging for seven years.
In November, I wrote a book–a memoir. Here’s an excerpt from that. The memories that I basked in tonight as I walked made me realize that I am grateful that I’m not afraid to fall in love over and over and over again…or as Eva Mendes says in the movie “Hitch”: I am a living testimonial of the triumph of hope over experience.
Mr. Knightley worked full time for an investment company in Lincoln in their IT division, and I was wrapping up courses in Omaha before student teaching. Since my schedule was more flexible, I drove to Lincoln most weekends. I had other friends in Lincoln, too, and Mr. Knightley didn’t like it if I spent time with my friends without spending some time with him. And even though we weren’t exclusively dating, I loved being with him so much that I didn’t mind the occasional territorial display of affection. His mother adored me, and she banked on me taking over their guest room every weekend. Two months into my time with Mr. Knightley, Wickham–the one who shattered my heart right before I met Mr. Knightley–called and emailed me several times in a couple of days. I’d been avoiding the calls and not returning the emails. I told Mr. Knightley how hard it was for me to even fathom talking to Wickham.
“You just have to give it time,” he said.
“I just want to not feel anything at all,” I said. “It would be easier if it didn’t sting every time he tried to talk to me again.
“That’s not true. Emotions are good. It’s what tells us we’re alive,” he said.
“I suppose,” I said.
“Look, you’ll get over him eventually. It just takes time. It took me a while, but I finally started getting over the last girl who broke my heart,” he said.
“Really? When?” I asked.
His eyes twinkled and his once-serious face slowly morphed into a smile. “July.”
We met in July.
Later that night after we had half-eaten our dinner and the sun had set, we drove on Highway 77 from Lincoln to Waverly, passing fields of corn and soybeans along our way. It was a perfect fall night. Clear skies, bright stars, and warm air tinged with just the slightest chill. He found a place to pull over, and we got out of his Jeep and sat on the hood, looking up at the stars. I breathed in the sweet smell of freshly cut hay, closed my eyes, and memorized that moment. I felt so comfortable, so at home. I opened my eyes, and the first constellation I saw was Orion–the same constellation Wickham had shown me nearly seven years earlier.
I thought of Wickham and the emotional hold he’d had on me all these years, and looked at Mr. Knightley. He was staring at the sky, looking deep in thought, and appeared unaware of my gaze. He wasn’t my typical type–my insecure body issues had me gravitating toward tall, dark, and somewhat handsome men. Mr. Knightley was short, with more delicate features, and while cute, wasn’t conventionally handsome. But he had a great smile and a tender heart. And in that moment, sitting on the hood of his Jeep, I decided that I would be more than happy to fall in love with him.
So I did.