Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Story of Stacey and Fritz

I’m very fond of Fritz. I should be seeing as I’m marrying him, but to some it seemed a surprise that we became engaged. In fact, I remember telling people that I was dating Fritz and the reaction was often: “Fritz? Really? Huh.” Or “Oh you weren’t dating before?”

I fancy that I noticed Fritz before he noticed me. I was a sophomore in a school where I was still relatively the ‘new girl’ and uncomfortable being there. I had very few friends and being recycled into a freshman class due to failing the year before (another story in itself) I was a little self-conscious and on edge. I noticed Fritz right away because he was the most handsome boy I had yet to lay eyes on in the school. He kept to himself, was very quiet, and mostly doodled in his artbook. As an aspiring (and ever failing) artist it was that which finally gave me the courage enough to walk up next to him and ask him if I could look at his drawings. He did and then…

Well, nothing really happened. We were both shy so I suppose that’s no surprise to anyone. Fritz kept to his drawings and I stayed in the back of the classroom doing my homework and trying to make friends with the younger students.

The moment of change was drivers ed. Another course I was forced to repeat due to a clerical error by the company. While I did not have to pay, I still had to sit through the classroom time that I had already technically passed. The reason it was bearable was because my cousin needed to take the class for her credit, so we attended together. Imagine my surprise and delight when Fritz walks in the class, carrying a notebook and looking rather lost.

My cousin and I invited him to sit with us, and sit with he did. He drew little comics for me and was a great entertainment in my class. Don’t worry though; I think Fritz is a better driver than me to this day, so I didn’t hinder the purpose of the class much! After that, Fritz was introduced to my other friends and we became a merry band that grew up together in high school.

We did not date in high school. “Why not?” you ask, “If you were so crazy about him?”

I was not ready to date and made the decision to stay single until I got out of high school. I honored that promise to myself though Fritz did ask me out and I did say no. However, my heart was racing and don’t think I was sorely tempted to say yes. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility of another person’s emotions due to the fact that I hadn’t a real idea on what mine were either. So, we remained friends – we went to dances together, games, shared classes, and spent time outside of school. All of those times I remember with clarity and fondness. It was meant to be.

I chose the military because I thought it would be my career. Fritz has told me that he never liked the idea, but he never spoke a word of discouragement the year that led up to my eventual deployment to basic training. He was a strong, reliable figure that comforted me in my moments of fear and self-doubt. It was tough, dealing with that and without my family or him I think everything would have been much harder.

It was a sad summer to miss, since he still had high school to think of and I was starting the journey of figuring out who I was going to be in life. We had gone to New York together with the theater company of our school; I kept a photo of us together with me and showed it to the other girls in the barracks. “This,” I told them, “Was the man I loved, but I had never told him.”And the girls all loved the story, since most of them had a similar sweetheart. When Fritz got on the phone during one of our sessions, many of the girls tried to divulge the secret to him by shouting it into my phone booth – he did not hear them. My secret was safe.

When I came home, I lost that nerve to say something to Fritz. His senior year in high school is where we really lost the closeness we once had. Though I still cared for him, I still got nervous and breathless when he would come around – and I was terrified he would see it. That he would recognize what I was feeling and then laugh, “Oh that?” He would say in my nightmare, “That is long ago, we’re just friends and nothing like that.”

Fritz was in the same boat, though I never really knew until a few years later. He had given up on me, in a sense, he tried to move on and find someone else. He dated a few other girls and I remained single since I never could find someone good enough to replace him in my heart. There was always a flaw – superficial in the end – but it was enough for me to say goodbye. I went on dates though few lasted beyond the second.

Months passed. Fritz graduated high school; I went out and bought a dress to wear to his graduation party. On the way there, I chickened out and turned around. I regret it to this day. Silly self consciousness! I still have that dress and have since told him the reason for its purchase. He told me it was a good choice. =)

I ran into Fritz one day while going into the lobby to study. He was sitting at a table and I sat down next to him, exclaiming about how long it had been since I had seen him last. I tried my best to flirt, but I feel that it just came off as clumsy. However, Fritz at that time was dating someone and probably felt uncomfortable with my sudden forwardness. We slid right back into that comfortable position of ‘Just Friends.’

More months go by and I decided to take a chance and go on a date with someone. I was suppose to meet them in Ann Arbor and I drove out to the meeting spot (it was a relatively warm December day) and waited patiently. And waited.

And waited.

On my trudge toward a coffee shop to wallow in self-pitying misery a familiar name lights up on my cell screen. Fritz! I tell him where I’m headed and he meets me there. We sit down and have a chat. Turns out, he was having down-in-luck with love as well. We spent a long evening of discussing why breaking up with people who suck was a good thing. I didn’t mention the fact I had been stood up on my date – but it didn’t matter. I felt emboldened and invited myself over to watch a movie.

Later I snuggled up close to him and rested my head on his shoulder. Fritz turned to me and said, “I hope you don’t get mad at me, but I’m going to kiss you.” And he did.

That is not the end of our story; of course, we’re moving on to marriage years later! But I do feel it’s appropriate to end there as it is certainly the beginning.

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