***First off, thank y’all so much for the incredible amount of love, kindness, and support you have shown us over the past week. It means the world that you are able to share in our happiness with us. If you haven’t yet, read The Story of Us: How We Got to Engagement (Part I) before diving in here.***
Now onto our story…
It was the night of my Open House for high school graduation on June 6, 2014. Reading this will be news to Kent, but he was the person I was most nervous about seeing that night. After a year or two of barely seeing each other, and only then at a distance, he was actually coming to something to see me! Unfortunately, there was a bit of a line at the time he came, and I had to send him on to the food and tell him we could catch up later.
That chance never came, and he left without us saying any more than, “Hey! How are you doing? It’s so good to see you” that night. I was pretty disappointed, but then I started opening presents and I was okay. (I’m joking).
We kept in touch by texting and calling as much as we could that summer. I was working three jobs and babysitting on the side (what side?) and he had a full-time internship in another city. One of my jobs was as a page at the local library, a position I had held for almost two years at that point. One evening the closing announcements came on as I started walking towards the entrance. I noticed one patron was still sitting in an armchair, even though our “Good night, good night, I hope we meet again” song had been playing for several minutes. I did a double check, and saw Kent waiting for me. I felt like Marian the Librarian, except there was a lot less singing and dancing.
He smiled and asked me to get ice cream with him. I said yes because at the very least, I got ice cream out of it. We paid separately because it was by no means a date. We went to find a seat and (if you’re not from a small town you won’t understand this) of course we passed by my best friend’s little sister, her cousin, their friends, three gossipy moms, a People reporter and my elementary school boyfriend. At least that’s what it felt like. We had great conversation, then parted ways a few hours later. My eyelids were heavier, but my heart was lighter.
And so began the summer of 2014.
It was like things had never changed. We went to restaurants, baseball games, the zoo, movies, each others’ houses, and putt putt. We played board games, hung out with each others’ families, went on walks and bike rides, and he even visited me at work several times. One night I was closing at Subway–and let me assure you–even creeps want to eat “healthy,” so we had our fair share of questionable customers. Imagine how scared I was when all of a sudden I see a man standing at the door at almost 11:00 at night. Luckily, the door was locked. Also luckily, it was Kent. 😉 He ushered me over and told me to let him in, and I could see the headlines–“Girl Fired After Letting Her Alleged Non-Boyfriend Into Establishment After Hours”–so I shooed him off. What he doesn’t know is that I mopped the bathroom floors with a smile that night. Something unheard of. And that was only the start of it all.
He taught me how to shoot a gun.
We sent each other quotes and pictures from The Office.
Did I mention we went to the zoo?
August came, and we had to part ways to Purdue and Moody Bible Institute. I won’t lie, it was hard. During orientation I changed my major, and I couldn’t even tell him because he instituted a “no contact” policy for the first week of school so I could get the real freshman experience. Sweet, right? I hated him for it. I think I might have cried a few self-pity tears in a stairwell at one point.
By October, he came for a visit.
By November, I told him my feelings hadn’t changed since we started out the summer as “just friends.” He said his had.
By December, we had a mini fight. I couldn’t ever see us in a relationship. He didn’t want me to write it off completely. I felt like I lost my best friend. He felt like he would never get his.
By January, Bailey visited me at school. The entire weekend we talked about Kent. I felt so bad that here I had a chance to catch up with my best friend, yet all we did was ponder questions like “Why is Kelly so afraid of a relationship?” She came on a Saturday morning. That Monday afternoon I said goodbye at Union Station.
“You have to tell him,” she said.
“You have to tell him you like him. Tonight.”
I was so distracted, I walked away with her bookbag on. Anyone who was in Union Station that night would have seen me running through the gates yelling, “Bailey! Bailey, wait! Don’t go!”
I told him that night. Kicking Sara and Lauren out of their room because I needed an empty dorm to declare my love for another human being, I took a deep sigh and told Kent we needed to talk, and that it was important. (Side note: You never need to add the modifier “It’s important” after the phrase “We need to talk.” The phrase “We need to talk” instills fear in the calmest of us all. Don’t embellish it). Still not sure this was the right thing to do, I FaceTimed him and waited for the familiar ring. We small talked for a bit.
He has no idea what’s coming. Maybe I can just slam the laptop shut and make a run for it.
“Hey, so, I have something to ask you.”
“Do you remember what you said about having feelings for me in November?”
“Do you…still feel the same way?”
There was a long pause. I had (and have) no idea what he was thinking.
“I would say my feelings are the same. But I’m less hopeful that anything will come of it.”
My relief was probably visible. He hadn’t given up on me! I told him I had feelings for him too. He played it off cool, but I could tell he was excited (and very, very surprised).
“Does this mean I get to tell you you’re beautiful now?”
I almost started crying. “Of course it does.”
“Good. Because it was really, really hard not to say anything.”
You guys, I can’t explain what happened in those five, ten, twenty minutes we talked after I told him. It was like everything was out of the way but me and him. There was no reason in the world we shouldn’t have been together. I liked him, he liked me, and 1+1=2. The only thing that was a downer was that we had to share this joy through a computer screen. All I wanted to do was reach out and hug him, but the smiling cyber Kent was all I got.
Now I look down at my engagement ring and think, I guess that’s all it took.