Chapter 24: The Rollercoaster

We talked pretty often after he went back to Arizona. Tony did leave me waiting up until well after midnight a couple of times for a phone call that never came after he’d said he’d call, but he always apologized, and it was on nights when he was hanging out with his sister (he was, I promise). So, despite being disappointed, I let it slide because I really liked him and just promised myself that I would NEVER wait up for a guy ever again – which I didn’t – and if he didn’t call me when he said he would, then I wouldn’t be the first to text him. For the first time, I didn’t get anxious or scared when a guy didn’t immediately respond, I felt like it was just going to work out somehow, someday, so I had no reason to worry. 

He texted me first quite often, which was always refreshing, and always remembered everything that I’d said in earlier conversations. He was engaged, funny, hard working, and most of all, he seemed really, really nice. I was for sure falling, but like I said, I really felt like it was okay that I was. We had bonded over how much we loved and missed our grandmas, and I felt like no guy who loved his grandma that much could be a jerk, so I felt safe continuing to feel like I could fall for him for real someday. 

I really wanted to take him up on his offer of coming to visit Arizona, but didn’t want to be the one to bring it up in case he’d just been saying it at the time but didn’t mean it. I would occasionally drop very subtle hints that I would be open to an invite, just saying things about the food there or hiking, but never pushed it too far. 

I remember when he finally asked me for real. We’d been texting pretty much the whole time I was in Disney with my family for my niece’s birthday – often doing that thing where you’re having one conversation over text and another over Instagram and another one over Snapchat – and finally, on our way back home, Tony said to me, “So when are you coming out here to visit?” I wanted to make sure that by “visit” he meant “visit him,” and that this was him telling me to come, so I said that I didn’t know, and asked when I was invited? He sent me a big smile and told me to pick a weekend in March because any of them would work for him. 

I was beaming. It was late at night when this happened and I’m pretty sure my smile lit up the whole car because my mom asked me what I was smiling at and she was sitting in front of me. I was over-the-moon. I thought this was so romantic, and so exciting. 

I picked a weekend in March, the weekend of the 13th, just a few weeks after his birthday, and asked him if that would work and he said yes. He called me a bit later, and told me that would be perfect because he was meant to be house sitting for a client of his so it would be a great weekend for me to be there because they had this nice big house and a pool and all this cool stuff. He sounded so excited to see me, telling me the places he’d take me to to eat, the places we could go hiking, what we should do. I booked the flights the next day.

We talked more, learning more about each other, and I was fully convinced that Tony checked off literally every box on the “What I’m Looking For” list. So, the closer I got to going to Arizona, the more I was convinced that this was going to be a great weekend. Honestly though, I’m not trying to sound naive or blindly optimistic about it. I was realistic, and was fully aware that I was taking a huge risk, but I think that I was so scared that the only reason I was thinking about the risks and all the things that could go wrong was because of the guys I’ve dealt with before, like Christian and Al, who totally destroyed my perception of relationships and contributed a lot to my trust issues and I didn’t want them to ruin this for me. 

I’m so determined to not let jerks like that win and hold me back from receiving the type of love that I do deserve, and I didn’t want to think about the bad because in my head, that meant that they won. I just wanted to think about the good. I only saw good in Tony, so that’s what I wanted to focus on. I remember getting upset when some of my friends and family members suggested I book a hotel as a back-up plan. I wanted to think about the things that could go right because if I thought too much about the things that could go wrong, and that he could turn out to be just like them, I knew I wouldn’t go, and I didn’t want the worries that are only because of assholes who didn’t deserve me to hold me back from what I really felt, whole-heartedly, could only be good. 

Plus, he told me at least once, if not more than that, that while I was there, if we had time and it worked out, he wanted me to meet his sort-of-nephew/godson, one of his friend’s kids that he was close to and was telling me about. He knew how much I love kids and I told him that I’m a baby-magnet – little kids adore me, it’s just a thing – so I figured if he wants me to meet this kid that’s clearly a pretty big part of his life that has to be a good sign, right? 

A little bit before I got there, just a couple of days before (when I was in South Carolina for work) I found out that we would not actually be house sitting anymore, so I asked if it was okay if I stayed with him and he said yes. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t intruding and give him a chance to tell me to book a hotel, which I would have gladly done if he said I couldn’t stay with him. I told him that I’d bring him treats to thank him for his hospitality. We’d had conversations before about how much he loves banana bread, and how much I love making it, so on the one day I had in between coming back from South Carolina and going to Arizona, I made four loaves of homemade banana bread to bring with me. I went to the North End to try and get cannolis from Mike’s Pastry that would survive the trip and when that failed, I went to Bova’s and bought a box of Italian cookies to bring instead. I just wanted to show him that I appreciated him letting me stay there. 

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