This is part twenty of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when I was living life as a divorced mom – a little while before I met Homey – but an important part of the story, nonetheless. (I promise we’ll be getting to Homey soon!!!!)
The sharp end came more dramatically than I had anticipated. I was so used to Markus. I was accustomed to meeting him for lunch. I had grown used to the idea him coming back home with me after work, eating dinner with the kids, reading scriptures and stories, and putting them down to bed. I had become familiar with spending evenings together–going out, watching movies, or just sitting around at my house. While it wasn’t really super exciting, it was so nice.
But he was headed back to Germany. He wanted a commitment, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted.
“Let’s just wait and see, okay?”
“Wait for what?” He asked.
“I’m not sure.”
“I would just like to know what we’ll do when I leave.”
I understood why he asked that.
“Markus. What did you want, when you came here to the U.S. for your internship?…Were you expecting something…like this?”
He thought for a second. “I wanted to come out here and have an experience that would be good for my resumé.” He answered, practically. But, then continued, “And in the back of my mind, I was hoping for something more than a good experience working.”
“Like what?” I fished.
“Well. I was hoping that I’d get the chance to see a lot of places and that I’d spend a lot of time meeting new people…especially girls.”
“Sounds like you were successful.”
“And I also hoped that I’d…fall in love.”
“You’ve had a really good trip, no?”
“It’s been better than I could have dreamed.” He stated, as he held me in his arms in my living room. We were watching a movie (most likely About a Boy, my favorite at the time). I was in one of the in love moments. I didn’t want it to end.
Markus continued, “I wish you could come back with me to Germany.”
“I do, too.” I said, genuinely.
“You should come.”
“Well, I can’t now.”
“No…I know that you can’t come with me next week…” Markus sat erect as he spoke excitedly. “I know you can’t come to live. But you should come to Germany. You should visit me there after I get back.”
I caught what he was saying, and I began to fill with the same hopeful excitement. “Yes!”
As we both settled into this idea, he wrapped his arms around me once again. Though both of us were a little afraid of our future, we were able to enjoy the moment, and look forward to another one when I went to visit him.
Before Markus left, I changed my cell phone plan to include international service. We went out. We cried. We dreamed. We went out to eat and both got food poisoning (our nausea). I took Markus to the Airport, sniffed his cologne one last time, and he left.
At first, there was this missing piece in my life. Even though it wasn’t quite (yet) a break-up, it was hard. I didn’t have my lunch date. Tiger and Panda asked where “Marky Sharky” was. I wrote to Markus, emailed him, Skyped him. During my lunch break, even though I couldn’t see him in person, we’d have a chat online or on the phone.
And as time passed, I grew used to his absence. By then I had other good friends, and I was hanging out with them more. I was having fun. I was claiming my independence. This growth caused me to question my relationship with Markus. As my head came out of the clouds, and I began to see more clearly, I wondered how long we’d keep this up; if we’d actually be able to cut it as a married couple.
I began to grow weary of Markus’ fantasies for our lives and his profuse reminders of his love for me.
“Ich liebe dich,” he’d text…nearly hourly.
I got videos of him almost every day. He’d croon into the camera, professing his devotion to me. And while a part of me knew it was sweet, another part of me was getting sick and tired of it. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t finding it appealing anymore.
Yet the idea of hope–hope for a future with another man, an exciting man, still had its grasp on me.
About two weeks after Markus left, I got my tax return. It was a big one. The year before, I hadn’t taken ANY deductions! And I was the sole-bread-winner with two children and child-care expenses. When I filed my taxes, I realized I had overpayed, and would be receiving a check in the mail that would be over eight grand. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
With the cash, I did three things.
Put a down payment on a rental house. I needed to move out of my mom’s place!
Before I go on about the love story, can I just say a little bit about this house? (Thank you!)
It was perfect. This little house was on a small partially paved (partially dirt) road in Chester County, PA. In my mind, Chester County, PA is the most ideal place to live…period. (I know I don’t live there now, but I would love to again. It is absolutely perfect).
This was a tiny one-ish bedroom house. I believe that it was once a spring-house for a farm or something because it was old. There were a lot of holes that allowed wildlife to come in as it pleased. (One day, I found a large pile of nuts next to the water heater–I mean – there were at least 60 nuts in this pile. Squirrelly never found his nuts because I called the maintenance men right away.)
During the winter, our house was cold, and during the summer it was hot (no air conditioner). We lived next to farms, and at night could hear horses neighing and goats bleating.
In summer, there were more fireflies than you could possibly imagine. I want to cry thinking about it.
The field in front of my house was used to grow pumpkins, so in fall, our yard was speckled with pumpkins. It was beautiful four out of four seasons.
This house was modest, and most people would hate living in it. (Cold, spiders, squirrels, crappy appliances, no dishwasher). But I loved it. This house belonged to me and my girls. Life was hard, but it was also amazing.
So, with some of the tax refund money, I put money down to rent this house. I would be living about four miles away from my mom. Tiger would be able to go to the same school that my mom’s house was districted to go to (important when it comes to riding the bus to school while I was at work). It was in the country. And being a lone, single woman, I felt completely safe.
Before I could second-guess myself, I went online to Lufthansa’s website, and I purchased a ticket to Frankfurt, Germany. I would stay for about 11 days. The ticket was non-refundable, so I didn’t have the luxury to change my mind… 🙂
I went shopping…naturally.
(Four I saved the rest of the money. I didn’t burn through it. I knew that I’d need it!!! So…be smart, ladies!)
About three weeks before I was supposed to go to Germany, I went out to a singles function with my friend, Wintur. I can’t remember the purpose of the function–other than I was interested in meeting new guys.
As we rode into Philly together, we talked about dudes, dating, and the like. She asked me about Markus.
“Well, I guess he’s still in the picture, but I’m not sure where everything is heading.”
“Oh…hmmm…I thought you were going to Germany?” I could sense her confusion, and was beginning to have an epiphany myself.
“Yeah. I know…I probably sound like a jerk right now. I’m talking about how excited I am to go to this activity–hoping to meet some new guys. I got all dressed up. And I’m sitting here still in some kind of relationship with Markus, even though I don’t know what it is.”
“How do you feel about him?”
“Well, he is a great guy. Great guy. Don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think that he’s for me.”
“Really? You guys seemed to have such a great relationship.”
“Yeah. It was great. There is nothing wrong with him. I think that I’m just learning more about myself. I hate to say it, but I think that he was a rebound relationship.”
“Totally. I get you. I mean, he is the first person you dated after Rusty, right?”
“Exactly. And he was the antithesis of Rusty, so it has been exciting. But I’m beginning to realize that perhaps the antithesis of Rusty isn’t exactly what I should be looking for. Instead, I should just look for the right person based on my needs, desires, etc. Rather than looking for someone who is the opposite of another ex…I’m not sure if I’m even making sense right now.”
“I think that I understand you. You need to find a person that you are interested because he interests you, not based on an ex or something along those lines.”
“Exactly. And Markus has served as a good person to date. He helped to restore my confidence. He is a good man. I want the person I eventually marry to be a lot like Markus, but not Markus.”
I hadn’t really said this out loud to anyone or admitted it fully to myself. But with Wintur that night, it just came out. In some ways, it was exhillerating. Yet, it was also horrible. I was supposed to go to Germany in just a few weeks! How could I face Markus knowing that it would go nowhere?
Not only that, but once I admitted my feelings to Wintur, it was like opening Pandora’s box. All of the sudden, the things that had irritated me about Markus and our relationship started spilling out, and I unloaded on Wintur.
The thing is, I am pretty sure that Markus was noticing that the emotional distance was beginning to grow. As time progressed, he became needier, more jealous, more possessive. It was turning me off. As I rode with Wintur to the Singles’ Conference, I realized that I was no longer in love with Markus.
“Catania, I know it will be hard, but you need to tell him.”
She was right.
The next morning, instead of going to the Singles’ conference, I chose to attend the temple with my ward’s Relief Society. It was a hard decision to make. I had met a few people at the conference that I had found interesting, and I really wanted to participate in the rest of the activity. But I felt the strong prompting that I should attend the temple instead. So I did.
I’m glad I did. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the temple. I learned more during this one session than I had ever learned. It seemed like years of going to the temple had culminated in this one time attending. I also prayed to know more about the course that my relationship with Markus should take. The feeling I had:
You know where it is headed, and don’t force the relationship to change. Just keep learning as you go along, but be honest.
But then I worried: what about Germany?!
The trip is already planned. Markus is your friend. Go. Have a good time. Give it a chance. But just be natural and honest.
Then I wondered, does this mean that we are meant to be together? Does it mean we’ll get married? Does it mean I’ll move to Europe?
Don’t worry about any of that! Learn as you go. But be natural. Be honest.
Markus knew that I went to the temple that day. He asked me how it went. I told him that it was the best experience I’ve ever had in the temple. He assumed it was because I had received an affirmative answer…and that we’d be getting married.
But I gently and honestly explained that I still didn’t know.
“Ask again!” He commanded, implored.
“I can’t. I just have to wait.”
“Well…you can keep asking as you wait.”
“But the answer is the same, Markus. I’m told to wait. To see. To be natural. To be honest.”
“Okay.” I knew he was confused.
“Look. I’m just as confused as you are. If I knew the answer, I’d tell you. But let’s look on the bright side, soon we’ll be together again. I’ll be in Germany. I’ll be able to meet your friends and see your home. I’ll hear your language. Maybe one day I’ll speak it. For now, we can look forward to my visit. I have a strong feeling that both of us will know our future after this trip.”
Markus seemed satisfied. “Ich liebe dich.” He said, meekly.
And I hesitated.
“Hello?” He asked.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Did you hear me?”
“Yes…I’m sorry, Markus. I don’t know what’s happening, but I can’t say it right now.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t, either. There is so much about you that I love, but I think that I have to stop saying that. I don’t want to be dishonest with you. And part of me feels in love with you. Another part of me just…isn’t sure.”
“I’m so sorry. Let’s stop talking about this. Let’s just look forward. What will we do when I’m in Germany?”
“It is hard for me to think about this now.”
“I know…I know…but…really. I promise. I’ll be able to know better then. Let’s just stop talking about the future and see what’s happening in the present.”
Markus wasn’t happy (for the moment), but he agreed to back off with the “serious stuff”, and we proceeded with our relationship. I wrote him more letters, made him a painting, sent him packages, and counted down to my trip to Germany.