Soooooo.....we started dating!
And we dated....and dated....and dated.....and I shall not bore you with all the miniscule details of our many months of dating. There's probably a lot I don't even remember. :)
We saw each other all the time at school obviously, so the summers and Christmas vacations and such were definitely hard. During the summer, James had to make the very hard decision to drop out of school after one more semester (due to some family problems at home that needed to be dealt with ASAP). We had one last semester together, and then he went home, and I stayed at school to finish my degree.
Now let me just say I am NOT a fan of long-distance relationships. And I definitely don't recommend them, unless there is nothing you can do about it. As was the case here. They definitely require a lot more work! In retrospect, James being gone allowed me to focus more on my studies (the REAL reason I was even at college in the first place) and make better grades than I had the previous year. Still, it was hard. There were a few visits here and there, but mostly phone calls and letters. Being apart tested our relationship, but it made me even more sure that I wanted to be with him.
And so it went. We talked about marriage and the very real possibility of that being in the near future. (By the way, for clarification -- we started dating with the intent of marriage. We both were fully confident in the idea that we would one day marry.) James talked to my dad about it, although I didn't really know at the time. We even casually looked at rings. We grew more in love as the days went by. I was amazed that I had found the man I was going to marry, and I was only 19 years old. Well, 20 by this time, I guess. :)
My sister got married on June 12, 2004. I was the maid of honor in her wedding, and James drove down to PA for the occasion. I was so glad he came, of course, but in keeping with all the events and craziness of the wedding, I barely saw him (as he was not involved). After the reception was over, we went home to change out of our fancy clothes and were then going to head back to the church to clean up. My dad took his truck, and James told my parents that he was going to take me to Rita's (yummy!) and then pick up a car part at the auto store, and after that, we would meet them at the church. I thought nothing about these arrangements, I had already known that he needed to get this car part, so I thought it was just a stop along the way. Who knows what's going to come next? ;)
here we are at my sister's wedding :) (I wonder if this was before or after I had cried all my eye makeup off? LOL)