First read Part 1 and Part 2
Sorry, this story is dragging on forever! I haven’t had enough time for blogging what with the huge transition of moving back to the USA, finding a job and a place to live, etc. Excuses, excuses, I know.
Where I last left off, Zach and I had had a wonderful first date and really connected. I was hope hope hoping that we’d hang out again. Well, sure enough, the next day (Valentine’s Day, in fact), he texted me “Happy Valentine’s Day,” and we made plans to hang out that very night, after we both got done working. I even dragged my BFF and her now-husband, then-boyfriend out to the bar to be wing(wo)men so it wouldn’t be too Valentine’s-ey with just Zach and I. What a good friend, right? In short, we had another amazing night!
Still one of my favorite pictures of us from the early days.
What followed after this was us quickly becoming inseparable. We hung out every chance we got, he met my friends, I met his friends. The whole time, however, the specter of Africa was looming on the horizon. Zach even asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend and make our relationship official, but I said no because I didn’t want to “start something that had to end so soon.” But of course, official or unofficial, it had already started.
Our first ziplining adventure!
As my departure date got closer and closer, I found myself getting less and less excited about leaving for the Peace Corps. I knew Zach and my attempts to keep things relaxed were failing when BFF called me out on being in love with him. “If I were you, I wouldn’t go,” she even said once. But I HAD to go, this was the Peace Corps, this had been my dream for years! I knew that if I gave it up I might never forgive myself, no matter what happened.
And so, on June 13, 2009, only four short months after our first date, I found myself gathered in Zach’s embrace, both of us sobbing. It was the hardest goodbye I’ve ever said. As I stood there crying, wondering how I was ever going to get up the courage to leave, all of a sudden I knew I had to be honest. “I love you,” I blubbered, for the first time ever. “I love you too,” he said.
And the next morning, I got on a plane.