I sleepily reached for my cell phone and called home. It took me a little off guard when my dad answered. This being my first boyfriend, I wasn't sure how Dad would take the news.
"Oh, uh... hi Dad!"
"Hi Sarah!" he bellowed jubilantly, "How are ya?"
"Good... I ... erm... I have a boyfriend! Remember Jo..."
"WHAT?! A BOYFRIEND?! What do you need one of those for?! You didn't KISS him, did you?! You better not.... HE BETTER NOT.... And you better not be thinking about GETTING MARRIED! You are NOT ready for THAT, young lady! You better promise me that...."
"Dad! Dad. Please relax! We just started relationshipping last night. And we're taking it slow. Whatever that means. Nobody said anything about getting married."
He continued to rant over me until Mom heard the ruckus and took the phone from him. I could still hear him grumbling in the background as Mom chuckled and said to me, "Well, I'm glad to hear that you got things with Joseph worked out."
I climbed down off my bunk and got ready for the day. It was Christmas tree day with the Hanwells and Banjo and Scarlett! I was going with them just for fun even though I wasn't getting a Christmas tree that year. Not on that trip, anyway. I would get one with my family in Indiana when I got home, but who would pass up a trip to a Christmas tree farm with the Hanwells? Not I.
I was a little saddened that Joseph couldn't come with us, but I knew that this morning wasn't going to be nearly as much fun for him.
I was wandering around the Christmas tree farm in a lovestruck haze when Banjo handed me a cup of hot apple cider and asked how everything was. I told him my only real concern was Azalea. It made me sad that the chances of her not hating me after all this were probably slim to none.
Banjo laughed heartily and said, "Oh Sarah, don't worry! You only feel bad because you're friends with everyone you've ever met!"
Scarlett chuckled in agreement and told Banjo to lend me his sweater.
"Honestly Sarah!", she shook her head, "Where are your sleeves?!"
On the way back in the Hanwell's van, Genevieve kept glancing back at me and then giggling to herself and saying, "I won't say it! It's too early to say it! I'm not going to say a thing about what this is!"
"It's... I like him", I blushed.
"No... no... I think it's... it's... it's LURVE!"
"YOU SAID IT! YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SAY IT!", Kentucky crowed.
"I did not say it! I said 'lurve'. Lurve is not the word I'm not supposed to say! Who's side are you on, anyway?!"
It was such a sweet day I had almost forgotten how hard it must have been for Joseph by the time I got back to my dorm and heard the room phone ringing.
I answered it to find a sorrowful Joseph on the other end. The breakup had been rather awful. He had called Azalea first thing that morning and asked if they could talk in person, but she could tell something was up and demanded that he just tell her right then and there over the phone.
As he forced the confessions out that he wanted to be with me and that he was so sorry it was happening this way, he could hear a radio in the background playing Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. Through her sobs and broken hearted claims that he was making all her deepest fears come true (that everyone she loved would leave), the radio crooned, "eeeeeeeeeverybody huuuuuuuuuuurts, sometimes".
It pained him enough as it was that she was so undone, but later in the afternoon (while I was out skipping through the Christmas tree farm gleefully) Azalea had shown up in Joseph's dorm room with a friend one last time.
First Azalea said her piece. That she hoped they would still be friends even though he had done this horrible thing. As she spoke, her friend picked up Joseph's daily planner and started writing things in it. When Azalea was finished, she stepped aside and collapsed into sobs. While she wept, her friend lit into Joseph with high volumes and lots of swearing.
Then they left.
When I came over to survey the aftermath, I peeked into his daily planner and found every day for weeks had notes in them that said things like, "Buy Azalea chocolate. Make it dark like your heart.", and "Go jump off a cliff".
Well, that wasn't so bad, I thought. It only needed a few alterations. I picked up a pen and added to "Go jump off a cliff", the words "in a hang-glider. Ride the breeze until you fall safely into a field of soft grass and wildflowers." Then I changed "Buy Azalea chocolate. Make it dark like your heart." to "Buy yourself chocolate. Make it sweet like your heart."
This was actually shaping up to be a really fun game! I didn't stop until I had changed them all.
Joseph was grateful for my efforts, even though there was still a fair amount of guilt threatening to eat him alive. He also relayed the message to me that Azalea was wanting her shoes back. The shoes she had
Always desiring to take care of me, Joseph made me a warm plate of spaghetti before we carried on our talk about how to move forward. We decided that as unfortunate as it was, the past was the past.
Sometimes life is messy. Mistakes are made, lines are crossed, blunders perpetuate blunders. It is heartbreaking when someone gets hurt in the process.
Also, I wasn't sure what would happen on campus. Azalea and I had so many mutual friends, I could imagine a shunning would soon be on it's way.
As much as I would miss Joseph in the weeks to come, Christmas break would (as always) come as a welcome reprieve.