Chapter Ten: Yes
I never asked Matty to move to Austin. I willed it, and I prayed for it, but I never outright asked him. There were a few reasons.
First, I wanted him to make the choice for himself. Next, I wanted him to make the choice for me. Finally, I didn’t want him to resent me for it if he ended up hating Austin.
I had a hard time seeing him outside of New York and no matter how many angles I tried to look from, I couldn’t imagine a world where Matthew Chatburn would move to Texas on his own accord. He was such a cool guy, with all these cool friends, and he’d do random stuff like skateboard at 2 AM and climb bridges for the sake of a photo. My life in Texas consisted of home cooked meals, Hulu, and bed before midnight. I tried my best to show him the sides of Austin that might appeal to him when he came to visit, but I knew in my heart that if he were to come to Texas, it would be for one reason.
He made the decision for himself. June 2014 was the date.
We had to endure two months apart before we’d finally live in the same city, a full year after we began talking to each other. It wasn’t an easy time for us. He was saying goodbye to the city he’d dreamed of living in, some of the best friends he’d ever made, and a life he knew and understood. We also missed each other desperately and would often fight, just to realize that the entire reason we were arguing was because we were tired of being apart. Then we’d go to bed laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. We actually said things like, “Can you believe we’re fighting because we love each other so much?!” Words I never imagined coming out of my mouth.
Coming to Austin was unpredictable. He managed to get his visa extended for three months, but the rule was he couldn’t legally work - only travel, visit, and explore. He wasn’t supposed to leave New York for more than two weeks at a time (we’d figure that out later), and also his driver’s license was expired, so getting behind the wheel was a risky move. I didn’t know where he was going to live or how he was going to make a living, and the best case scenario was for him to stay with my parents during the week during the week to make a little cash helping out my dad at his business. They lived 3 hours north of me. Imagining Matty in those situations was the perfect definition of a square peg in a round hole...and it was wildly romantic that he would do it all for me.
By the time June rolled around, I was completely over long-distance. Perhaps it was because I could see the end of the tunnel, but all the calls, Skyping, misunderstood texts, and drama of being apart was unbearable. I longed for simple things: having a cup of coffee with my boyfriend, driving to dinner with my boyfriend, watching a movie with my boyfriend, and of course, letting my boyfriend carry all the heavy groceries. Not to mention hugs. I just wanted a hug.
On Monday, June 17th, I REALLY wanted a hug. Matty was landing in Austin the next day and I’d spent the weekend cleaning every little detail of the apartment I’d recently moved into with my sister, Lauren. Saturday night, the 15th, Matty was at a wedding until late at night. He got a bit happy with the wine and our conversations ranged from romantic to sappy to frustrated. Come Sunday he was barely speaking to me. He wouldn’t answer my texts and I was worried that he was second-guessing Austin, so I did something that I’d never done before - I texted his friends to ask them where he was. I knew that he was supposed to be at church with them at some point during the day and finally I heard that his phone had died - again. It was the number one frustration in our long-distance relationship.
Everything was back to normal come Monday. Matty was being incredibly sweet but I was having a frustrating day. I felt achy and tired, and totally not in the mood to be at work. I was meant to go out with some girlfriends that night and they’d insisted that we “dress up,” so I begrudgingly put on the most comfortable dress I could find, but I offset it by rolling out of bed and throwing my hair in a ponytail. I was a “girl who should be in bed wearing PJ’s and watching Netflix” on the inside; the dress was just a cover.
The only thing I wanted was to hug my boyfriend. It was just one of those days and I couldn’t break the funk. I was jealous of people who took being together for granted, when a hug from Matty would send me over the moon and mean more to me than such elaborate gifts as ice cream, pizza, or Advil! (Can you tell why I was feeling achy yet?)
He kept assuring me that I would be okay and that he loved me so much. Near the end of the day he told me to close my eyes and imagine him with me, that maybe by imagining it, he could be with me sooner than I thought. “How sweet,” was the only unassuming (and maybe a little bit dumb) thought that popped into my head.
The day was coming to a close and I was supposed to meet my friend, Becca, before heading out with the girls. She wanted to meet at my apartment, but that didn’t make any sense to me because my office was closer to the restaurant. I wasn’t in any mood to drive all over town at 5:00, so I just asked her to meet me at work. My office was just off the river, where the city had recently built a beautiful walking path.
“I know it’s silly,” she texted me, “but can we please take a picture out there? It’s so pretty!”
I must have been in some mood, because as I was walking out to the path, I almost turned around. My body hurt, I was tired and annoyed for no good reason, and I was starting to sweat. Nobody wanted a picture of me looking like this.
As I was making my way there, Matty tried to FaceTime me, which was the best thing to happen all day! All I wanted was to see his face, but when I answered, the call dropped. I tried twice to ring him back, but he didn’t answer. UGH. LIFE IS SO HARD.
My phone rang then - but it was Becca.
Matty’s voice! My phone was so messed up.
“Baaaaby, hi! Why wasn’t the FaceTime work...wait…”
Or maybe my phone wasn’t messed up.
“Just keep walking.”
I started shaking. Was he - was he actually here?
The path was shaded by trees and curved around, so I couldn’t see much at first. And then I saw Becca, smiling at me.
“Are you here?! Where are you!”
“I can see you, keep walking…”
WTF, Becca! Are you pranking me? I walked passed Becca and there at the end, I could see him. He was just standing there.
“Are you not going to walk to me? Do I have to come all the way there??” I asked.
I was shaking so hard. To walk at that point seemed like the most impossible thing in the universe. I hung up the phone and fixed my eyes on him. I wanted to hug him - and now I could.
But not before I punched him.
“I can’t believe you’re here! You surprised me and I had no idea!!”
He had dethroned ME, the surprise queen. I clung to him for a lifetime and it was the best feeling ever. My boyfriend, the man I loved, the hottest guy in the world, was here. In Austin. And he wasn’t leaving. I was totally shocked and totally happy.
And then -
“I have something to ask you.”
Huh? Sorry. WHAT?
I could feel him fiddling in his pocket and pulling something out. I didn’t let go of him.
No...was this what I….
He knelt down and I still didn’t let go of him. I kept my forehead to his and my hands on his shoulders and I bent down with him. He was laughing and so confident, and he made me stand up straight before he asked me to…
It was a one-two punch. I thought the surprise was him BEING THERE. But this man HAD A RING. A ring that I couldn’t look at. He asked me one time a few months ago to tell him what kind of rings I liked. I had no idea, but I found a few photos and sent them over. He looked at them, got overwhelmed, and we never talked about it again. I figured we’d jumped the gun with that conversation. Turns out, he’d already picked out a design with a jewelry maker and it wasn’t anything like I’d described, so he had to go back and design something else (something bigger, apparently...ahem).
I felt like one of those toy marionettes. My brain, my body - nothing worked. The shock of everything happening had laid me out flat. I knew that I had to say the word, “Yes,” or he’d never let me forget it. That was the only thought in my foggy head. So my brain told my mouth to say the word, but it’s still an argument over whether it actually happened. At the very least, I mouthed it, but either way, I accepted.
And then I asked a million questions.
That Saturday at the wedding when he was emotional and wine-happy?
It's because he was saying goodbye to all his friends.
That Sunday when I couldn't get ahold of him?
It's because he was flying to Dallas to ask my dad for my hand. Matty was sitting next to my father when I called to wish him happy Father's Day.
That morning when he texted me that perhaps if I imagined him there sooner, then he would be?
It's because he was on a bus to Austin, cursing my stubbornness and reconfiguring a proposal he had planned at my apartment after Becca told him that I was adamant about her meeting me at my office instead.
Personally, I think everything worked out just fine.