It has been 1,000 years in the making, but part 5 is here! (Control your girlish screams, I know, it's exciting!)
In case you're new to this fun:
Part 1 (In which you wonder how this story could end the way it did.)
Part 2 (In which I'm suddenly available.)
Part 3 (In which the descriptions of bowel issues leave you dumbfounded.)
Part 4 (In which you're suddenly as in love with Ted as I was.)
Let the fun begin!
I woke up to a metal squeak in the bottom bunk of a metal bunk bed. It was always one of the first sounds I heard in the morning, sleeping in a metal bed, while my roommate Karin slept directly below me.
I peeked through the blinds in no particular direction... but, maybe, I looked to about where I knew Ted would be walking to his car... should he be walking to his car. "How absurd. It's 7:00 in the morning." And yet he was the first thing on my mind when I woke that day.
Tuesday held a strange task for me. I had to tell the only boy who had actually asked me that I would go to the Institute formal with him when I had previously told him I might go with someone else. He thought, I thought, we ALL thought, Sterling was going to come by Monday night. Yet, true to form, he never showed. He had made a habit of coming to me when it suited his fancy, when he wanted to flirt with a girl with a huge smile, when he suddenly felt the urge to serenade someone, and I was not wanting to wait around. Nice as he was, I wasn't wanting to wait for ANYONE let alone him,
It was strange to go to Ted, when he knew I was debating between him and another intention, and tell him I chose him. And yet, I didn't feel strange about it. His actions the night before put me so at ease with the decision that I never even waited around for Sterling. Whether Sterling asked me or not, I knew who I was going with.
And why was there always some other guy creeping around the corner every time Ted entered the picture?
I texted Ted as I was leaving for work. "Can you meet me in my office sometime in between classes?" He agreed.
Several hours later, sitting at my desk in the ASNAU (Associated Students of NAU) office, planning the last details of the upcoming LOUIE Awards ceremony, my purple cell phone buzzed on my desk. "Ted Crowder: I'm here, can I come back?" I stuck my head out the door and waved him back.
We exchanged pleasantries. It was the first time he'd been in my office. I was grateful no one else was around, as I shared it with a half dozen other people on the ASNAU staff.
I shifted gears. "So, I was hoping to accept your invitation to the dance. I'd like to go with you if you'd still like to go with me."
I was afraid his smile would spread so wide it would bust either the glass looking out into the main office or the window on the other side. Always the confident man, Ted replied, "Yeah! Let's do it! I knew you couldn't resist me."
Wednesday through Friday flew by. My days and weeks normally did with three jobs and a full class load as well as institute classes and church responsibilities. I often wondered when I had time to breathe but loved the business and everything I was able to be involved with. And yet, in the midst of my crammed days and the end of the semester coming around the corner, Ted and I managed to see each other every day. It was amazing how our paths crossed now in ways I hadn't seen before.
Ted gave me a ride from LFAB (Lunch For A Buck) at the institute building, we talked when he picked Karin up for class to walk to north campus together, we both got home from class at the same time and strolled to the mailboxes together, he texted while I was writing a paper one night asking if I needed a break and a walk over the Baskin Robbins. No matter when we saw one another our conversation came easily and there was always something to talk about.
Ted's ego was easy to pick at and roll my eyes at and he always made me feel important, like I was a priority. He worked one full time job in an awkward split shift and had the same sort of class load I had, similar institute and church obligations, and yet among all he had on his plate, he would seek my company. I always happily accepted.
If I weren't preparing for a mission, this would be downright flattering. But instead, I was just happy to enjoy his company. At least, I'd tell myself this. I'd remind myself regularly how busy I was. Busy busy busy with no end in sight, straight up to when I was ready to turn in my mission papers in a couple months and serve a full-time mission. Busy. That was me. With a capital B and all. And yet he was there, persistently, filling in the gaps between everything else, and I was available to spend time with him. It was a lovely coincidence.
Saturday came, dance day! As my dearest high school friend Jessica had been preparing for her own mission, she lent to me her formal dresses to hold onto. I remember when Jessica wore the beautiful blue satin skirt her mom had made for her to prom. I thought I'd wear that, but the top was made just to Jessica's measurements and didn't fit me right.
My roommates and I found a princess line black top that went perfectly and I added a signature cardigan for good measure. The black against the blue was a lovely mix and I was happy with how it came together. Hooray for roommates! And yet, what they were about to do made me more excited than the wardrobe assistance.
As I was putting my jewelry on, there was a knock on the door. I knew better than to run off to answer the door. I was sequestered to my room, just within earshot of the living room.
Ted entered to find my roommates perched on the couch, pens and notebooks in hand.
"Come in, Ted," they invited.
He sat down on a lone chair in the middle of the living room. It couldn't have been less inviting with a spotlight shined right on it. He had no idea what he was getting into.
"Before we let one of the girls go out on a series of dates with the same boy, we like to get to know a little more about him. We like to find out his intentions. This is your chance to share with us all of this information." Casey spoke these words like a seasoned pro.
We called it "The Spanish Inquisition" and it wasn't pretty. An array of twenty questions taking the roommates on a virtual tour of the boy's life from childhood until now with the occasional absurdity thrown in here or there just for our own personal enjoyment.
I stood in my bedroom giggling to myself at the answers and also surprised now and then. He was surely baffled by the strangeness of our roommate tradition but didn't portray himself as super nervous. He shared his answers in a truly Ted-ish manner: not too serious, not to silly, honest, bold, and overly-confident.
In the end, my roommates gave him two thumbs up and let us go out.
I exited my bedroom to a well dressed man with a clean shaven dimpled chin and a dozen roses. Orange roses. I must have mentioned it at some point that orange roses were my favorite: the perfect blend of love and friendship in flower talk. They were beautiful and I thanked him.
"You look amazing," Ted said as he opened the door. His sincerity was always appreciated.
"Thanks," I replied. "You look quite handsome yourself!" And he did. I was certain I'd never seen that suit on him before and it turned out he had purchased it the week before when he was in Mesa.
We went over to Ted's apartment where he and his roommates cooked dinner for their dates. And after we ate, and the group was preparing to play a few games - as our group of friends was doing constantly - Ted asked if I'd like to go on a walk before the dance.
And it was at that moment that I felt it. I knew what was coming. I could predict that we were already entering the DTR phase of our early relationship. A DTR was abbreviation for "Define The Relationship" and I knew in my bones that if Ted and I went on a walk before the dance, he would propose some sort of exclusivity. I knew this man to be both intense, committed to his decisions, and a fast mover. Apart from most situations, I admired these qualities. His intelligent decision making skills and decisive nature were admirable, but I was not prepared to be at the opposite end of these skills.
"If you don't mind, I'd really like to stay and play games until we head off to the dance." I tried to decline without seeming as though I knew exactly what was up his four-buttoned sleeve.
And so we played games. And when it was time, Ted politely escorted me to Leroy, his beloved Scion XB, and we drove up the steep curve to the Stake Center (church building).
It was then, shortly after arriving at the dance, that I learned this kind, honest, goodly man's fatal flaw. He could not dance.
"What I lack in dance moves, I make up in everything else awesome." Ted's surety of this statement made me believe it as well.
So after some socializing, awkward dancing, and refreshments, Ted suggested we sit out the next dance and take a little stroll outside. I was running out of ways to avoid this conversation so I agreed. I wasn't really a "rip the band aid off" type girl but I saw no way around it.
It was chilly since the sun had gone down and, ever the gentleman, Ted offered me his suit coat. I accepted and we walked for a bit. I was surprised by Ted's noticeable nervousness. I wondered if it was actually as noticeable as I thought or if I had just come to be able to read him. I knew I was able to pick up on nonverbal cues and other people's energy in ways some people couldn't. So was it him or was I reading into this too much?
We stopped outside an entrance, sat on a stoop, and Ted switched gears abruptly.
He began with vigor. "So Kelly, I was pretty stoked you agreed to go to the dance with me. I've really enjoyed our time together on our first date and hanging out and tonight. I was hoping maybe you'd like to make this a more exclusive deal."
I took a deep breath. "I am still reeling from my break up with Pete and then Sterling trying or not trying to date me... and then there's all that I have on my plate, which you know all of that stuff, and I just can't even imagine this is something that I can commit to right now. But I've enjoyed spending time with you too, Ted, and I'd like to keep doing that. But I can't really commit to a relationship right now." ... He looked accepting of this. But his blue eyes buried under his dark rim glasses, and the way his chin creased handsomely, and the closeness of his arm and body to mine made me say something I wasn't expecting to say.
"But, be persistent!"
Be PERSISTENT? Who said that?
"Ah, be persistent, eh?" A sneaky grin I would come to know well slowly spread across his face. "So you're saying to keep trying, huh?"
What was I doing? What did I say? I was both refusing and encouraging him in the same breath. And yet... and yet I couldn't say that continuing to spend time with Ted would be a bad thing. I couldn't say I didn't like spending time with him. And I couldn't say that I didn't wake up each morning wondering when I'd "bump" into him or when he would text me or what I should wear that day in case I did see him...
So as we walked back into the dance, something had changed. We weren't exclusive. There was no real defined relationship. But, I knew there could be and so did he. And apparently he wasn't going to stop trying that easily.