Wendy Higgins’ Most Memorable New Year
New Year’s Eve 1999, was a big one for me and the world in general. The calendars were switching over to 2000, cue the 2k glitch and end-of-world paranoia. But nothing was going to get me down. I was twenty-two and carefree. I had a brand new boyfriend named Nathan who was taking me to a Pat McGee Band concert and we’d be together when the ball dropped.
Just between us, my love life had always been a bit of a mess. I was a total romantic, and yet, my relationships turned to crap. I’d been hurt so many times that I often found my heart on the defensive, ready to run at the first sign that 1) things were getting too serious too fast, or 2) said boy was a untrustworthy player.
I’d been dating Nathan a few weeks and things had been going well. Maybe even too well. Even my friends speculated that he could be “the one.”
We were blissful as we rang in the New Millennium together. Much kissing ensued. And then he went and messed it all up.
He said, “I have to tell you something…”
My relationship speedometer picked up signals, screaming, WARNING! THE L-BOMB IS ABOUT TO BE DROPPED! IT’S TOO SOON! WARNING!
I unceremoniously blurted, “No! Don’t!”
He looked at me funny, like I was silly and cute, and he said, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad . . . I love you.”
I’m ashamed about what happened next. I felt my guard go up. On the inside I was freaking out, despite the fact that I’d felt those same feelings brewing for him. So with great apprehension and the help of the cocktails I consumed, I told him I loved him too.
And then I proceeded to push him away.
For the next month I blew him off. Stupid, right? He was great. But I was scared. He was finishing out his senior year at Virginia Tech, and I was almost four hours away at George Mason University. When he came home to visit I broke up with him. Yeah, I was pretty heartless. He walked away from my place confused and hurt. I remember being relieved when I shut the door, thinking, Whew, that was close. You almost let him into your heart, and you know that never works out. Better to hurt him than let him eventually hurt you.
No sooner had I finished that thought than I heard a knock. Nathan stood there looking more serious than I’d ever seen him. I still remember his impassioned words.
“I’m not letting you break up with me. You’re not the only one who’s been hurt by someone. You can’t keep pushing me away. I love you, and I know you love me too.”
Fifteen months later we tied the knot, and we’ve been married ten years. Nathan still likes to tease me about how I ruined his big I love you moment on our first New Year’s. I guess I needed to see that love in action, under pressure, rather than simply hearing the words. Our love has undergone many tests since then, and is stronger than ever. This will be our 13th New Year’s.
When he tells me he loves me this year, I promise I won’t shush him.
Wendy’s Gift of Choice: Belgian Chocolates
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