A moment of insecurity in January of 2016 caused me to make the most careless decision that led me straight to you through an online dating app. This is how 2016 introduced me to most enchanting, loving, and selfless U.S. Marine, that molded me to the independent, strong young woman I am now; and how I shaped him into a carefree and goofy boy once more.
It first started from a picture on a screen, an inkling of curiosity, and a touch of boldness. We grew to learn each other, to know each other, with time we didn’t have. Because you would be gone in a matter of days to Parris Island, and I would be stuck in the same rut called High School.
And then you left, but you took me with you somehow, if that makes any sense. Although I didn't yet know you, I vowed to wait for your return and the mailbox became a place I frequented. A week passed. Two weeks. Nothing had been heard. Out of habit I visited one last time and saw two letters smiling up at me, my name glinting devilishly on the front. A startled cry was ripped from my mouth as I rushed inside to read what you had sent me.
Week after week passed and I received new letters with new tales about your escapades at boot camp. Though the content varied, you never failed to put a smile on my face. One day, after I came home from church, you called me out of nowhere as a surprise and I felt happier than the richest person because you cared enough to talk to me. And then, I was reading over your last letter at two in the morning, grinning like a fool when I realized something crucial. I was already falling. I tried to shake the feeling but it followed me everywhere I went. Because it was through a pen on paper and words that you wrote that I began to fall for you.
But when we met oh gosh- what a relief. It felt like a ton had been lifted off of me as I raced into your arms and you swung me around like I was as light as a rag doll, your laughter in my ear was something I’d dreamed about hearing. As I held you I could feel my stomach twisting nervously, my palms sweating, and my heart beating like a kick drum. My hands shakily grabbed at your shoulders to reassure me that you were alive and real and here. And as I closed my eyes, through the overzealous nerves, I was at peace. But I was still falling, and I sure as hell was picking up speed at this point.
Then our kiss, oh god, it could be considered the epitome of a cliché. A ride out on a boat turned into a freezing cold 30-second long swim, (It would have been even shorter if I could have swum to the boat a little faster) and suddenly our frigid lips were together as I tried to keep warm by holding you closer against me. And the sneaking around to stay by your side even longer was way more than worth it just to fall asleep and wake up next to you. I was falling so fast, I was sure the impact would more than just kill me, but demolish my very existence.
And then….you left. Watching you leave was the hardest thing I’d ever expected myself to do. All I wanted to do was sprint down that bridge and onto your plane and run back into your arms. I remember how my hands had started to nervously sweat as I grasped yours tightly, my nails digging into your skin as I tried to keep myself latched to you. I remember when they called your name, how the feeling of dread flooded me like ice cold water, how you turned to me but I couldn’t see your face through all the tears spilling from my burning eyes and quivering face. I couldn’t even form words so I just settled with hugging you close and letting sobs rattle my chest as I dried my tears with your shirt. Every drag I inhaled I tried to remember your scent, I grasped you tighter trying to memorize how it felt to have you in my arms, and then you kissed me again and I knew I would never be ready to let you go as long as I cared for you how I did. My lips were weak with my crying, and you pulled away and left. And there I reached the impact and how painful it was. Because as you walked away, you took my heart with you. Although I tried to ignore and deny the feelings I had, they grew stronger and more obnoxious every day and I found myself constantly thinking about you.
When I realized I loved you was the day after my prom… (You know that thing you were supposed to go to?) This plethora of feeling had finally hit a breaking point and I realized, as we reached the end of the conversation and you had to give up your phone, there were words lingering on the tip of my tongue itching to be said, that needed to be said but were nowhere ready to be announced. Because the words that were begging for release from my mouth were three simple yet globe shattering words that I hated to hear or use in this context… I love you…
Because we were laughing, it was late, you were sneaking your phone just to talk to me. Because I squished your face together like a childish kid, poked your sides annoyingly and sometimes clung to you like a koala bear. Because you made me feel like I was living, because your smile was so contagious, and because you somehow managed to steal my heart away from me that I knew I fell helplessly in love with you….