Matt and I both grew up in Chocolate Town, USA, aka the Sweetest Place on Earth, aka Hershey, PA. We went to school together, and even though he was 2 years older than I was (well, still is, technically, but you know what I mean), I definitely knew who he was. Not only was I in the same class as his younger brother, but I also had a big old crush on him (Matt, not his younger brother). And by big I mean "use-to-just-freeze-in-place-when-he-would-walk-through-the-cafeteria-while-I-was-eating-lunch-with-my-friends" big. I even met him once, when he came over to say hi to the captain of my cheering squad - she introduced us, saying, "This is Erin. This is the one I've been telling you about." They were really good friends, and she'd kind of taken me under her wing, and apparently she'd told him about me?!?! Oh. My. God. Not that he remembers any of that, of course. He had no idea who I was, not then, and not 8 years later when we actually met "for real." Basically, I drooled over him for the 2 years that we were in high school together, until he graduated and left me with no real eye candy for the next 2 years. *sigh*
Ok, fast-forward a few years. One of my best friends (and BM) Steph started dating a guy from Hershey. A guy who just happened to be good friends/college roommates with Matt. I went to visit Steph several times at college, but every time we went over to their apartment, my Matt was never there. Steph and her Matt kept dating and got engaged, and yet Matt and I never crossed paths, despite multiple nights out in Hershey and State College; somehow we always just missed each other. In 2002, Steph and her Matt got married, and Matt was a GM. I was asked to be a BM but couldn't because my cousin was getting married the same day. Missed each other again!
Fast-forward 2 more years, to the inaugural Annual Labor Day party at Matt and Steph's place (then in Boston, now much closer to us, yay!). I made the drive up to Boston one night after work, and didn't get there until about midnight. On the way up, I called Steph to help keep me awake because it was a good 7-hour drive from Hershey to Boston. She spent the time telling me who was there, and made extra certain to mention that Matt was there and had been asking about me (he denies this to this day). The party was in full swing by the time I got there. Steph came to greet me at the door and led me into the basement, where all the partiers were hanging out. I distinctly remember coming down the stairs, Steph announcing my arrival ("Emma's here!") and seeing Matt turn around and smile at me. Seriously, I can still picture it. Anyway, Steph led me over to the bar, where Matt and her Matt were sitting, and told me to "catch up!" So I stood there for a bit with the 3 of them, having some drinks and chatting away. Matt and I were introduced and talked for a bit, until I wandered off to say hello to some of my other friends who were at the party. Later that night, as everyone was going to bed, Matt and I ended up staying up and talking for a bit longer. We spent the rest of the weekend together, and at the end of the weekend, we exchanged phone numbers and he promised he'd call. Here we are, that very first weekend:
And he did! He called, I called, we emailed, and I went to visit him in Philly. So it went for 6 months, when I finally got the itch to "define" what we were doing. Were we just hanging out? Were we dating? Were we friends? Were we exclusive? I didn't know. So I asked one night. And I got the answer that I wasn't looking for: "Why can't we just hang out and have a good time?" Look, buddy, it's been 6 months of hanging out and having fun - what's the point? He wasn't really ever able to commit to an answer (at least, not one that I liked!), so I said that the visits were going to have to stop so that I can protect myself from getting hurt. So we stayed in touch, still, through email and phone calls, but that was it.
Fast-forward 6 more months, and we're back at Steph and Matt's house (closer, yay!) for their 2nd Annual Labor Day party. We talked, but I played it coy, spending more time floating around the party and hanging out with other people. Finally, after a few hours, Matt confessed that he wanted to be in a relationship, with me, and was ready to commit to that. I swear, I thought my heart exploded! From that point forward, we were dating long-distance, until a few months later I finally got a real social work job offer, and moved to Philadelphia.
Oh, but it hasn't all been butterflies and rainbows since then! Stay tuned for the continuation...