At the end of Part 3 Michael and I had just shared our first kiss (scandalous!) but hadn't quite reconciled the biggest obstacle to our possibly dating.
The next evening we met up for a beer (I don't remember how "coffee" got turned into "beer," but apparently we both appreciate good coffee and a good beer so it didn't matter to us too much) and enjoyed one another's company as we chatted on a bar patio, watching the sun go down.
Not wanting the evening to be over quite yet, we walked a few blocks down the street to take a twilight stroll through campus. Considering Michael wasn't too familiar with IU's campus and I had worked (twice) for New Student Orientation, I was beyond thrilled to give him an unofficial tour of a small part of campus - narrated by yours truly.
We had a good time continuing our conversation, although I would jokingly scold him for not paying attention to my "tour" if he ever interrupted my narration about various buildings, statues, traditions, and legends. When the mini-tour was over we still didn't want to part ways but it was getting dark - so we headed to the house Michael was living in (which was owned by one of his friends I first met that night at The Bluebird).
We proceeded to keep talking while half-watching episodes of Power Rangers on Netflix. Eventually it was time for Michael to drive me home. When we arrived, I began to exit the car when suddenly I paused - then climbed back in. The moment of truth had arrived.
I then said something like, "Here's the deal. I like you...I think you are awesome. I would totally date you, but religion is really important to me." I'm pretty sure I caught him completely off guard with my blunt statement but he followed up with, "I know," to which I skeptically replied, "No, I don't think you really know...."
I quickly summarized why my last serious relationship had ended and why it was so important for me to date people who shared my Catholic beliefs, morals, and values. I didn't want to waste anyone's time because I knew what it was I was looking for. Michael listened patiently as I unloaded all this information on him...and he surprised me by then telling me that even though he would consider himself agnostic, his family isn't religious and he had never had anyone challenge him or ask him what he believed...so he didn't know. He had never been to church and didn't know much about Catholicism, but he was willing to learn so he could better figure out what he believed.
In my mind I had thought that ultimately our differences would keep us from ever dating and I could move on and dismiss him - not having to deal with how much I already liked this wonderful man I had started to get to know. Instead, he threw me a curve-ball by saying he was interested in learning about Catholicism...and he even agreed to attend Mass with me the next weekend.
From that day forward we began spending as much time together as possible.
The more I
When I think back on July 2011 I can't help but smile because it was such a beautiful time of year and an exciting season in our budding relationship (which had yet to be defined). Those were the days of staying up late talking for hours, not caring that we had to be awake in only 4 hours for work - because that time together was more exciting and precious than any sleep we lost in the process. In only a couple of weeks we spent much quality time talking about the big things in life as well as having fun going on simple adventures together. He came to listen when my friends invited me to sing/perform with their band, we went bowling with friends, we spotted Saturn together from IU's planetarium, I got our friends together for wine tasting so I could introduce Michael to my favorite winery, and he introduced me to Turkish food at a great ethnic restaurant...and all the while I continued praying that God would help me understand what to do when it came time to "DTR" (define the relationship).
|Our Turkish dinner date the night before I left (what we consider our first official date) on Monday, July 25, 2011|
By the time July drew to a close I was fairly confident that we could have a real future together. I distinctly remember thinking that if his faith journey led him fully into the Catholic Church, he was probably the man I would end up marrying. I had a strong feeling about where everything could be headed but the only way to find out would be to give it time - something I was willing to do because I clearly had a feeling this man was worth it.
Pretty soon it was my final day in Bloomington; I would still be in Indiana for another week before leaving for my volunteer orientation, but those days would be spent back in my hometown so I could pack and say goodbye to my family. Plus, my final weekend was booked with a Frassati Society young adult conference I had made plans to attend with a good friend. On that final Tuesday in Bloomington I stopped by Michael's work to say goodbye one last time...and we quickly realized we were dying to see one another again before I left.
|Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - stopping by Michael's work to say goodbye as I left town|
We still hadn't discussed what our intentions and plans were once I left for my year of service, but we both knew we wanted to see each other again in the next few days - so instead of saying goodbye right then and there we made plans for him to come visit my hometown on Thursday after work (which was an hour and a half from Bloomington but only an hour from where he worked). In order to maximize our time together, we figured out that he could stay the night in our guest room and leave early for work the next morning. This meant Michael would have to meet my parents and one of my sisters, which I had no problem with...and I knew without even consulting my mother that she would welcome an overnight visitor and would be thrilled to get to know him better. :)
Want to know what happened when he came to visit my hometown? Stay tuned for the 5th and final part of our "How We Met" story!
Update: You can read Part 5 right here.