This is the story of how I met and fell in love with my husband, Joseph Loveless. I’ve written it as a series in 5 parts with a new chapter being posted every day this week. I’m a glutton for a good love story, which is why I finally decided to write ours. Also, I figured I’d better have a record of it in case I get Alzheimer’s in my old age and Joe has to Notebook me like the old man version of Ryan Gosling. That way, I’ve already done the heavy lifting. You’re welcome, Darling. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed reliving it. So, without further ado…
Sighing heavily, I crumpled up the note left by my mother and pushed it down into the already full trash can. It read: “Cate – Have clients til 3pm. Can you clean the kitchen? Love, Mom.” After two years of being away at college, I was on a self-imposed pit stop home. Re-adjusting to these types of parental requests was going to take some time. Nonetheless, I yanked at the garbage bag until it freed itself from the clutches of the can and rehearsed in my head for the five hundredth time why I was temporarily suspending my academic endeavors.
My reasoning sounded relatively convincing, at least to me. I was “refocusing my major” and looking at different schools that “offered better programs”. I was decidedly not pouring more money into an “overrated, private school education”. I was “reorganizing my priorities” to be closer to family. Yes, I believed these things, for the most part, and convinced my parents and peers to believe them, as well. The truth of the matter was, though, (and as embarrassing as it was to admit) I high-tailed it home after my sophomore year of college because of one thing and one thing only: good old fashion heart-break.
I had fallen quickly and unabashedly for a guy who swept me off my feet than straight-up dumped me. Hard. I was not accustomed to the woes of love-sickness and it unapologetically knocked me on my head. It also catapulted me into my first true bout with debilitating anxiety. My heart and my head were in a sad state of affairs. I spent an entire semester eating a steady diet of S’mores Pop Tarts while weeping despairingly into an oversized beanbag chair and lamenting all things regarding my future. I was a hot mess. I felt morbidly alone and capsized. Home felt like the only intelligent option, a restart button. It’s safe to say, though, that hauling garbage and cleaning the kitchen at my parent’s house felt like a far cry from the re-start I’d imagined.
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To my credit, I waited until after finals were over and the school year complete before I moved home. It helped the transition feel more like summer break, as usual, rather than “Holy crap, I just dropped out of college.” It left me with some much-needed dignity, you understand. I spent the first couple weeks moping around the house, moving from room to room, trying to figure out what had become of my life. My mother gave me pep talks, eyeing me suspiciously, secretly in turmoil as to how to help her wayward daughter.
Eventually, I decided making money was a good use of my down time so I got a job at the local Starbucks. Drinking free Frappuccinos helped dramatically. I hung out with my friends from high school who were also home on summer break. It was sluggish at first, but soon I started to settle into the small, sleepy town where I grew up.
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By the time Summer was beginning to give up its sparring match with Fall, I decided to permanently camp out for a while. I resolved to attend Wheaton College, a school nestled cozily only a few miles from the house where I grew up. I loved driving the same roads I did when I was sixteen. It was not a cheaper education, by any means, but they offered a major more fitting to my desired career path. I pushed the question of loans to the back of my mind and fan-dangled a way to make it work financially. I was not ready to leave the cocoon of my adolescence and figured a good place to find out where I was going would be the place I began. I enrolled in classes and set about my Junior year of college re-motivated regarding what was ahead for me. A resplendent future was on the horizon.
** Continue Reading: Chapter Two