He called on a Friday afternoon, after we got out of classes. He said he hated that we couldn’t go to Busch Gardens for the fraternity date that his brothers had planned, but he still wanted to do something fun like that.
He threw out an idea:
“How about Pleasure Island?” (Part of Disney…a grown up playground)
“Sounds like fun. When?”
“I’m not kidding Jen.”
“Neither am I. Pick me up in twenty minutes.”
He later told me that right there was when he fell in love with me. I was ready for anything. I knew already that we’d have fun together, and even though we were only a week into it, something about him made me feel safe.
We drove the two hours to Orlando, played all night, and drove the two hours back home. At 4 in the morning. Delirious, and trying to keep each other awake. Holding hands and in love. Singing songs on the radio and telling each other jokes just to stay awake. At the end of the night, I apparently told him I loved him. I don’t remember that, but he swears I did. Regardless, it was a mere three days later when he echoed the sentiment. We both meant it. We were in love.
Thus began our whirlwind romance. Over the next three months, we saw each other every day for as much time as our classes would allow. Ironically, the one reason I picked his fraternity- homecoming- was the one week we had to spend apart. His grandmother died, and he had to go back to Sarasota for the funeral and such. We talked the entire time he was gone, and he came to my house as soon as he hit the city limits back into town. We were inseparable. It was bliss.
He’d sneak over and bring me a Mountain Dew, because he knew I’d be up late studying. I became a regular fixture at his fraternity house, and his brothers became some of my dearest friends. There were several traditions that are only for sorority girls that are dating fraternity boys, and after watching all the other girls get “announced” to and get gift baskets and flowers and fraternity tee shirts, it was finally my turn to be the recipient of all of those traditions. I soaked it in. I wore the necklace with his letters on it with pride.
Then, one day in October, my mom called. She was getting transferred and moving to Little Rock. And I had a decision to make. Up until this point, all of my decisions had been made for me. I hadn’t even really decided to go to UF. I got accepted, and though I really wanted to stay home and go to the local community college, my mom said “You’re going.” Now, I had to decide if I was going to move halfway across the country, or stay right where I was, far away from family but with this new boy I’d just fallen for.
“Hey, my mom said they’re moving and I have to choose if I’m staying here or moving to Little Rock.”
”I know. You’re roommate told me.”"
“Yes. And she said I’m not allowed to talk to you about it, because you have to make the decision for yourself.”
While I’d like to end this dramatically, you all know what I did. I stayed. I used the excuse that I’d lose too many credits if I started over, but really, we all know why I stayed. I stayed for him.
Life continued blissfully as we plugged away through October and November. We went to football games. We celebrated the victory over FSU. We went to parties and stayed up all night long. There was the unfortunate incident in which I had to answer a few questions about my age outside of a bar while wearing nothing but a bed sheet (Toga).
But there was still something looming in the distance. December was coming, and he was graduating. We had some decisions to make.