To begin the Saga start here; Sentimentality brought on by the January Snow.
Avram played with my hair on April 20th, a Tuesday. For the next few days we meandered through couple limbo, enjoying the new spring of our relationship. My mom came down to help me move from my Homely Cottage on Ninth East to an apartment I was sharing with a bunch of Club friends more directly south of campus. Avram also helped me move, being the stevedore carrying the bulk of the boxes, and after the work was done my Mom took us out to the Brick Oven. It was a sign of the gray area of our relationship in its new stages, that I did not introduce Avram as my boyfriend yet, nor did we act as a couple.
We had not yet held hands nor kissed - both signs of monogamy and hence official harbingers of a relationship to my mind, and yet we knew that it was only a matter of time until we officially became a couple (Avram actually counted us as starting to "date" from April 20th, but I didn't know that at the time).
While at the Brick Oven Avram and I had an early relationship moment. Avram was drinking his (unlimited) Root beer mug quite quickly, when our meals had not even arrived yet. I gently chided him for doing so, and told him not to drink so quickly (so he wouldn't ruin his health). Avram proceeded to down the rest of his large mug, and then drank two or three more complete mugs throughout the evening. I would say we both learned a lesson about each other - me not to push Avram against a wall where he feels compelled to be stubborn, and Avram to not feel goaded to do stupid things.
On Sunday April 25, the day before I began my springtime work stint as a full time custodian at Wymount (the married student housing), Avram and I went for a late night walk around botany bond and its surrounding woodsy environs. As the hour grew late, Avram moved to walk me home, but as we passed the local government research botany center (a block south of Botany Pond), we sat down on its cement front steps, to talk awhile longer in the nice spring evening air . As Avram and I conversed, we moved closer and closer together, until I realized we were in a very "pre-kissing" distance apart. Avram wore glasses, which he saw as an integral part of his personality (he says his soul wears glasses). However, glasses are decidedly un-romantic up close, and besides they make my eyes cross and obstruct his fine hazel eyes, so I had removed them. I was sure Avram would kiss me at any moment, but I also knew that he had never kissed a girl before, and I wanted him to initiate the kiss. So I waited and waited. While we talked later and later into the wee hours of the morning. Hours passed, as we conversed on those hard cement steps. Painful, hours, where my eyes still wanted to cross from sitting as such close quarters to Avram. But, nothing happened. We sat and sat and sat, and talked and talked and talked, but we decidedly did not kiss and kiss and kiss.
Finally, when my body and soul had seized up from the uncomfortable seat, Avram leaned into kiss me. About a half centimeter away from our first kiss, I asked him, "Are you sure?" I knew this would irrevocably be his first kiss, and I wasn't completely sure he should want to waste it on me, to even date me at all. After all, in four months we were going to break up, and I was going to marry Dennis.
Avram replied, "Yes." (Which on reflection, did I really think he would pull back and say 'no,' and then take me home to never see me again?). Then, we kissed. All I can say about our first kiss was that I never entertained worries again about whether or not Avram and I had physical chemistry together, nor whether I could be attracted to someone of Semitic features. I had kissed eight (ahem) other young men, and I knew immediately that Avram was my favorite one to kiss. [I was Avram's as well, but it works well that I was also his only kiss.]
As we pulled back (finally! My eyes could uncross!), Avram stated, "In a lot of ways, you're far superior to my Cocker Spaniel."
I was nonplussed. "What?" I stared at him, having been broken out of a romantic reverie that I'd been waiting for for hours on that hard cement, with the bright porch light in my eyes, but had been worth it for finally kissing, only to hear that? He prefers me to the company of a dog?
Avram could tell I was less than thrilled about his commentary our our kiss, and he tried to explain how in the movie White Christmas when two characters kiss for the first time, this is the line the man says to the woman, as a sign of how much he liked the kiss. I stared at him, still nonplussed. The euphoria dampened a little as Avram received his first exposure to how little I knew about old movies, or even movies in general, as well as how little I like pre-meditated lines (or jokes). I felt that line had been more of an insult than a compliment, having missed the movie's surrounding context, and we both struggled to recapture the moment.
Luckily, kissing and talking for the next forty-five minutes on those cement steps (that we not so hard and uncomfortable any more) as the wee hours grew into the early morning reconciled both of us to each other, even if we did not see eye to eye on Cocker Spaniels. As Avram walked me home so I could get a few hours of sleep before my first day on the job, we held hands for the first time, which activity felt a little anti-climactic after kissing. We laughed together how we hadn't held hands yet, almost two weeks after we had first had a DTR (define the relationship talk).
The honeymoon stage of our courtship, the early stage (usually about two weeks), where both in the relationship are finding their footing, wore away as we worked out our small idiosyncrasies. Avram asked me on our first actual date, although we were officially "dating." Perhaps not so officially - although we knew we were a couple, for a while whenever we were around friends, I asked Avram to not hold my hand or act couple-like around them. Travis only had a week or so until he went home to Alaska for the Summer, and for a variety of reasons (mostly I knew he wasn't sure about us dating, and as a close friend to us both I didn't want to publicly explain it - at least not for as long as possible.) Avram didn't like this, didn't like keeping our relationship somewhat hidden (people knew we were basically together, but since we didn't do anything together around them, it wasn't known how much of a couple we were), but he wanted me to be happy, so as we would walk up to my apartment he would obligingly disengage from holding hands with me.
For our first date he brought me some lilies, "I LIKE LILIES" (a Terry Pratchett quote, that we both like, and lilies has always been the main flower he brings me for this reason, and also because they are one of the cheapest flowers - something I also find endearing), and we walked to the Brick Oven together - this time minus copious quantities of Root beer imbibed. Slowly I even mentioned Avram and I together in front of my apartment, full of five girls all from the same Medieval Club Avram and I were in.
Then the week of weddings hit. Within a one week period of time, two Club couples and one club girl (to someone not in club) were married. As close friends, Ken and Elizabeth, who were Dennis' sister and brother-in-law respectively came up from Texas for the weddings. Ken and Elizabeth had been who Dennis lived with his freshman year at BYU. Ken had been Club president that year, and I had gotten to know both very well until they had graduated and moved halfway through my Sophomore year. My relationship with K&E was not simple. I liked them for themselves, and respected them for their older and wiser thoughts (at the time, to a nineteen year old, a twenty two and twenty four year old are quite the elder mentors). I struggled with feeling that Elizabeth thought of mine and Dennis's relationship as legitimate or important, since it was pre-mission, and so I found myself often attempting to somehow legitimize my feelings for and relationship with Dennis to her (but not verbally, no, that would have been too simple. Mostly with trying to be mature and independent and thoughtful about it all, while being somewhat resentful inside).
Ken and Elizabeth also like me for myself. They had told me even if Dennis and I did not work out, that they would still like me - our friendship was not based on that relationship (contrariwise, as far as I could see. Our friendship would have been easier and better in many ways if Dennis and I weren't dating). When I had been engaged to Gui, they had been very excited for me (although part of me worried it was perhaps because then I would leave Dennis alone - rather silly and childish worries, looking back).
I had no intentions of writing and telling Dennis I was dating Avram. Dennis only had four months left on his mission, and I already knew I planned on marrying him when he returned, so I saw no need to complicate matters by informing any member of his family that I was currently dating someone else. As this was still in the first couple weeks of mine and Avram's relationship, and few even knew that we were together at all, I conceived of simply not telling Ken and Elizabeth throughout their week long visit that Avram and I were together. Like not telling our friends at first of our relationship, Avram did not like this subterfuge, but he once again subverted his own preferences and let me pretend away.
The first wedding was a semi formal one, and I wore the bridesmaid's dress from my sister Camilla's wedding - a metallic blue/purple dress with a boatneck collar and a large, full skirt (ok, so it sounds weird, but it's really pretty. I wish I had a picture that was digital. Camilla or Amy you should get send me a digital picture so I can post it.) At the reception I tried to play a fine line of being friendly and involved with Avram (since he did not know the couple personally, and so was basically there because of me), while still seeming casual and single. Ken and Elizabeth's two daughters were there, one a darling toddler, and I played with her, trying to involve Avram in appreciating how cute my hopeful future niece was. One may understand Avram's lack of enthusiasm in this project. Overall he enjoyed the reception - we danced together for some dances (casually, in a friendly like manner), and at the end we gather with other club members under the twilight Orem sky as Avram and Aaron sang old songs together.
The third wedding only had an small open house, and as Avram hardly knew this couple at all, he begged off attending. I enjoyed the gathering, and then as we were leaving my old roommate Christa, now married, desire a small group of us to get together with Ken and Elizabeth and make some steaks for dinner on the grill. As Avram and I had previously arranged for him to meet me at my house after the wedding celebrations, I hedged around until I asked if we could go and pick up Avram and have him come too. We drove to my apartment, where poor Avram was sitting outside underneath a tree, waiting for my arrival. He had looked forward to an evening alone with me, in all this week of wedding craziness, but instead he came with me to Christa's house where once again he got to play "platonic friend of Thora's" for my playacting benefit.
As Steve parked the car, Avram and headed up to the apartment alone. Shortly before we entered, Avram turned to me and said, "I can't do this." We had previously agreed that after this last wedding we would spend the evening alone together, and instead I had independently changed our plans to yet another evening where he felt I was insecure enough in our relationship to keep it hidden. Avram doesn't like sudden changes of plans under the best of circumstances, and this evening was far from ideal circumstantially.
We sat on some steps leading to the second floor of apartments to talk things out for a moment before entering, and like a bombshell (to myself at least) Avram burst out that he loved me, and wanted a chance to try and marry me. I was shocked. In my mind, we were still a casual relationship - I liked Avram, but I was mentally only dating him for the present enjoyment, and then on the (small in my mind) chance that Dennis and I didn't get married I could marry him. To Avram this was the direction we had been heading all along - he didn't know saying "love" was such a large step, and as he felt love towards me he wanted to express it.
I didn't know how to deal with this new development in our relationship. I just wanted to skip into Christa and Steve's apartment, spend a pleasant evening with friends, and call it a night. I most certainly did not want to deal with deep emotions nor relationship issues. I never meant to seriously date Avram. Sure, I spent most waking moments with him, but in the five areas of love showing, I far and away show caring through time. Any boyfriend I've had I would cook with, eat with, study with, socialize with. That Avram and I did the same seemed only natural, even for a beginning, casual relationship.
I brushed over the topic, and said that we would discuss him loving me, and not wanting to pretend we were just friends anymore later, but for now could he just please march into that apartment, pretend to be happy, pretend to be my friend, and we'd talk later?
Avram, eternally trying to do as much as possible to make me happy, swallowed his frustration and march in he did.
As the entire social group consisted of Christa and her husband Steve, Ken and Elizabeth, Ken's sister Michele, and Avram and I, I'm not sure how casual and single I was appearing any more, but I desperately kept up the facade I wanted them to perceive. After all, these were my hopeful future in-laws (and I didn't know how to explain dating Avram. Especially not after dating Gui.) I managed to mostly forget throughout the evening that Avram now loved me, and instead of being fine with dating me and then breaking up (which he had said was fine when we began to talk about dating), now seemed much more emotionally fragile about the whole situation.
Avram made motions to leave earlier than I would have liked, but I knew that we needed to talk. We went to the steps of a church nearby, and as we sat hidden by the columns in the portico, Avram began to weep. I found myself holding Avram while he cried, as he poured out his soul to me. Yes, he had been fine with casually dating me - three weeks ago. Now he love me, and he wanted at least a chance at marrying me, instead of being cast off at the end of the Summer. Over the last week of weddings I had pushed him more and more to play act this, or to go here and say this, and he had been pushed far enough and snapped. I was calling all the shots in our relationship - a bad habit I had picked up in dating since having a missionary, since I subconsciously figured that if my boyfriend didn't like how things were going, then that was fine, because I had a backup plan anyway. It turns out that when you're not 100% committed to a relationship, and act unfair in the relationship that men with both put up with a lot, but also that it makes for a very melancholy boyfriend.
As I stared out into the night, holding my emotionally spent boyfriend, inside I panicked. I hadn't signed up for this! I wanted fun - I wanted someone to talk to, someone to hold hands with and kiss. I wanted to take night time walks around Provo and try and get drinks from random sprinklers with. I did not want to have difficult emotionally fraught discussions. I didn't want someone to love me, when I didn't love them back. I didn't want to be that committed in a serious relationship. I held Avram, and thought about the mess I had on my hands. I had not forced him to fall in love with me, but I had paved the way through my actions. I knew I had to stay there while he cried himself out, while he released all his hopes and fears, love and frustration about me and our maybe future. I listened, and soothed him, but I also stared out into the dark street, wishing I had never come to this point, wishing and hoping I never had to have such an emotionally awkward and depressing conversation in my life. But I was here; Avram and I were together. Only what was I supposed to do with him now?