First read Parts 1, 2, and 3.
Finally, the end of the “how we met” saga!
When we last left off in my long, drawn out love story, Zach and I had finally said the big “L word”, and the next day I got on a plane to start my two years of Peace Corps service. I went off to Tanzania to learn Swahili, live in a village, and do my best to contribute something, and he stayed in Ohio, working on his degree. We left our relationship undefined and I had no idea what would happen. I honestly expected him to forget about me and find a new girl who wasn’t an ocean away. But he didn’t. And the trouble was, I couldn’t forget about him either. I did my best to adopt a “whatever happens, happens” attitude to the situation and focus on the present. But I couldn’t stop dreaming about the future, imagining us ending up together. Every time I got an email or a letter or a super-expensive phone call from Zach I would smile all day. I had never wanted to be in a long-distance relationship while in the Peace Corps, as I imagined missing someone would make it even harder than it already was to be so far from home. Well, even though our relationship was unofficial, missing him was still incredibly hard.
My Tanzanian life
So, when my bestie got engaged and told me I had to come back to be MOH in her wedding, I was unbelievably psyched! Not only would I get to be in her wedding and eat American food I’d been missing, I’d get to see Zach! So I booked a round trip flight home. I’d been away for nine months and despite the ups and downs of Peace Corps life, I had every intention of sticking it out and returning for 17 more months. In the weeks leading up to my return, I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides counting the days and wondering if Zach and I would still have the same chemistry.
Boy did we. The sparks flew so intensely during that whirlwind two weeks. The morning after the wedding, I suddenly found myself sitting in a Tim Hortons, hours before my return flight, sobbing that I didn’t want to go back. Thus began the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. I was an emotional wreck, and Zach was amazing. He never once asked me to stay. He told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy. After a few gut-wrenching hours, crying conversations with my family and best friend (yes, I called her the day after her wedding, I’m horrible), and general stress over the prospect of ruining my whole life plan, I realized that I just couldn’t leave again.
I swallowed my pride and I quit the Peace Corps for a guy. Honestly, there were other reasons why I wasn’t super happy in Tanzania, but Zach was definitely the biggest one. If I hadn’t met him, or if I had never come home for the wedding, I’m sure I would have stuck it out for the whole two years. Like I said, this was the hardest decision I ever made. Life was all of a sudden full of uncertainty, and I was plagued with guilt and feelings of failure for quitting. To this day, I still feel badly for leaving. I never, ever envisioned myself becoming the kind of person who would give up her life plan for a romance. But, Zach was the first guy I was ever with who I was willing to do that for, and maybe that’s how I knew it was right. Looking back, I don’t regret any of my Peace Corps service, and I don’t regret my decision to quit either.
Anyway, all of a sudden I had the man of my dreams, no job, no plan, and a scarily insecure feeling about the future. “What should we do now?” I asked Zach. “Let’s drive to California.” he said. So we did. And the rest is (recent) history.
Pacific Beach, San Diego, a week after I quit the Peace Corps
Did anyone else make an impulsive/irresponsible-seeming/risky/life-changing decision for love? How did it work out?