So at the end of yesterday's post, I left you in the cap bar during a crucial five minutes when I'd realized both that I was falling for Jacob and that he had just started dating someone else.
But it was just as well. I met Jacob's bubbly new girlfriend from Notre Dame, and told myself I wasn't jealous at all when I would see them walking around campus holding hands. My boyfriend and I got back together and spent the rest of the semester on again and off again.
That spring semester of our Junior year Jacob ran for Student Government President. I was pretty surprised because it seemed so unlike him. Sure - he'd been active on campus and in student government, but it still surprised me, in a good way. As a concerned member of student government, he had asked several classmates who he thought were qualified to run for SG president, they all declined, and the last one turned the question around and asked Jacob why he wasn't running himself. So Jacob thought about it and did it.
And he did it right.
He threw himself into the campaign. There were posters of him all over campus. They were witty and funny with the perfect amount of self-deprecation/adulation. I couldn't dig up the actual campaign posters, but I did find some of the photos he used for them to help you get a picture of it.
|Fine. He didn't use this last one, but it would've fit the essence.|
I remember toward the end of that semester I called him to get his apartment number because we were taking a final the next day and had decided to study together. We stayed on the phone and chatted idly as I wound my way through the shady apartment complex. Talking with him came so easily. We had a connection and a naturalness when we were together that I was beginning to get tired of ignoring. I turned a corner and saw him, but he didn't see me. He was sitting on a stairwell, all lank, elbows resting on his knees, one hand holding the phone and the other rubbing the top of his head as he stared at the ground. My heart lodged in my throat, and I paused and watched him as he chatted with me. I stood there marveling at the feelings I had for this character even though he was dating somebody and I was (I think?) dating someone else too. I'll never forget that image of him. I'll never forget how I stalled in the dark so the moment wouldn't end.
Summer finally came, and I headed off to Chicago to work the girls version of the same program Jacob had worked the previous summer. And guess who I'd be working with: Jacob's girlfriend. (Ready for the drama? You know it. Not really.)
By the time the program started in July, Jacob and his girlfriend had broken up. But the awkwardness wasn't averted: she and I were living in the same house, and she was like the queen bee of the program. Jacob was working the boys program again across town. I had no idea if she knew about Jacob and my "history" since she was sweeter than sweet to me. Turns out she knew about all of it because his lingering feelings for me were instrumental in their break-up. He hadn't told her that, but she'd figured it out. She also knew that nothing "real" had ever happened between us. I found all this out in a late night heart to heart after which we were fast friends. Perhaps it was one of those "keep your enemies closer" situations, but she was all around a pretty dear soul, and we genuinely got along well.
She didn't know that I had feelings for Jacob, but that was something I hardly knew myself. I wasn't surprised that he still had feelings for me, but I was very happy to hear it. But since I wasn't a boyfriend stealer, for the rest of the summer program I had to keep up the farce that I wasn't falling in love with my friend Jacob.
Jacob and I still managed to hang out casually a few times that summer. We ran into each other at a coffee shop once and spent the afternoon chatting away about various things including the end of our respective relationships. Another afternoon his sister - wily one that she is - invited me on a picnic with them.
When we got back to UD senior year things heated up rather quickly. We started hanging out all the time, and it was awesome. Tons of flirtation and dollar theaters and late night conversations and stolen kisses.
I loved it all, but I was squeamish about dating. I'd successfully ended my other relationship only a few short months before, and I wasn't interested in jumping into another one. And I was scared. I didn't trust my feelings for Jacob, and I didn't want to hurt him. I'd spent years convinced that he was just a friend, and I was afraid this new affection would disappear as quickly as it had appeared. So we trotted around the idea of "dating" for a couple of months.
One Saturday in September, he took me to UD's 50th Anniversary Gala, and afterwards we were hanging out and he showed me this rock. It was about the diameter of a quarter, grey and smooth. He told me the story of this rock. On a trip to Croatia during his semester abroad sophomore year, he'd picked this up at the Marian shrine at Medugorje. (Neither of us were Catholic but incidentally joined the RCIA program together our Senior year.) So he was praying on the mountain and picked up this rock. As he tells it, he was praying for me while holding this rock...and he was praying for me, that is, praying that we would end up together. It was rainy and cold and he made his way down from the shrine and by the time he got to the bottom he noticed that he'd held this rock so tight it was now warmer than his hand. So he carried it everywhere, all over Europe, and had kept it with him for three years. This rock had signified his hope for me, his hope for us. He told me he wanted us to be together, he always had, and he wanted me to have this rock, unless we couldn't be together, in which case he wanted to keep it.
I held the rock in my hand for a couple of minutes. I turned it over in my hands. I couldn't believe such a thing existed, a little incarnation of how much he cared about me. After a few minutes, I handed the rock back to him, and we sat in silence. I was too afraid to make a commitment to him and his feelings for me were too strong to ask for anything less. He took me home, and we didn't see each other for a few days.
But we couldn't really stay away from one another and within a few days he'd started coming around again. Fast forward a month and we'd fallen back into our old habits of hanging out all the time, and one Friday night we had a frustrating conversation that ended with him getting out the rock and handing it to me and telling me he never wanted to see it again.
And finally. Finally. This got through.
I looked up at him and saw in his face that he was ready to give up on me. It suddenly all made sense, and I could see the narrative of our relationship. He was the nice guy in the show that everyone wants the jerk-girl to notice even though she doesn't deserve him, and I was the jerk-girl who was happy to leave the guy hanging, so long as he stuck around. And everyone knows in that narrative what's truly at risk, and it's not that he won't get her. He's swell, and he will find someone better if this girl is too stupid. The real risk is that SHE will miss out on him.
I looked up into the face of someone whose conversation and input I valued as much as any friend I'd ever had; someone who made me feel more like myself when I was with him than I did when I was alone; someone who had cared about me undaunted for so long. I took that rock, and I kissed him long and good. And I haven't stopped kissing him since.
|This was us at our Senior Formal|
Well, one last thing.
I lost the rock. A few years ago. I don't remember how or when exactly. Somewhere between moving to Irving or Rome or New Jersey or LA, I lost it. When I realized it was gone, I felt sick and went to Jacob sobbing. Very entertained by the amount of emotion I was displaying, he looked at me and said:
"Katie, it was just a stupid rock."
If you still need more gushing: I wrote our Engagement Story Here.