Updated: Feb 19, 2020
It all started in the place where "happily ever after" was created...
It was the first day of freshman year of high school. I was an awkward homeschooler seeking out friends before each new class and as I stood outside of my Algebra I class, I noticed a girl that seemed super sweet. So I approached her and said "are you in Algebra one too?" to which she replied, "no, Algebra one."
And that was the day I met Annie Jackson. My connection to Avery.
We laugh about it to this day but we've been best friends since. Annie and I did everything together in high school. I practically became the adopted daughter of her family. I'd come to Christmas parties and thanksgiving's. I traveled with her family. And slowly I became familiar with their close family friends - the Wells.
For Annie's 16th birthday she and I, and her cousin and Avery all went to Johns Incredible Pizza. The boys acted like silly rambunctious teen boys and Annie and I just laughed along with them. At one point there was a joke made that I was Avery's wife. We were 16. We laughed about it. And continued to play the games and win prizes. I didn't think twice about it. Nor did I ever wonder "what if.." or write about it in my journal. Ya know, like high school girls do when they have a crush.
When I had to move to Alabama (due to dad being in the military), Annie and I didn't stop flying to see each other. She'd come for Christmas. I'd fly to California during the summer. While living in Alabama I didn't think twice about Avery. We never even said goodbye. He was just one of Annie's family friends.
Right before Junior year of college started, I flew out to California for another girl hang with Annie. We decided to drive down to Southern California to go to Disneyland. She asked if Avery could meet us there because he was stationed in San Diego with the Marines. I had just gotten out of my first relationship earlier that spring. It was messy and I had absolutely been hurt. So by the time I flew out to California in the summer I was more than content with no man in my life for a while and just God and I. I was healing and happy and free. So I said "sure! I don't care! I remember him from your 16th birthday party!"
Thinking: *cool, another friend added to the trip.* Literally nothing more.
Just like old times, Annie and I met up with him at a San Diego Johns Incredible Pizza (JIP) parking lot. I remember hopping out of the car in jeans and a sweatshirt, trying to tame my messy curly ponytail before even recognizing Avery walking towards us. Avery remembers seeing me get out of the car and apparently thinking "holy crap she's pretty". Let me tell ya - that is the last thing I felt in that moment haha
We all went into JIP and found a table and started eating. It's buffet help your self style which is partly why we love it so much. At one point Avery got up to grab something and asked if we wanted anything. I asked if he could bring back some breadsticks. **5 minutes went by I swear** he finally came back but without breadsticks, to which he explained, "so they were out of them, but I asked them if they could make some more and I thought I'd just wait. But they told me it would be a couple more minutes, so I set a timer on my watch and will go back when they're done." Meanwhile I'm thinking *I really don't need or want breadsticks THAT bad, but I guess we're waiting now*.
His alarm went off and he hopped up to grab the breadsticks. I remember Annie and I trying not to laugh at how committed he was to these breadsticks. He returns with a plate stacked high...with cheese sticks. I remember thinking *just bite your tongue, he tried so hard to get these. Meg. Don't say anything.* But that's not what happened - I remember face palming and laughing and saying "BREAD STICKS" and Avery looking confused said "what're these!?" "Those are cheese sticks! See the cheese piled all over them!?" Poor guy. The effort was so there.
Throughout that entire event I just remember thinking - this is so something my dad would do. Why does Avery remind me so much of my dad?
The next 2 days were spent at Disneyland with Annie and Avery. All three of us had a blast. Avery and I hit it off like we'd been friends forever. I now know that he was set on getting to know me better but at the time I just thought "this is so fun! All 3 of us are having a blast and no one's trying to get in a relationship with anyone!"
Because I was soooo far from trying to impress any guys or find my next boyfriend, and because of the freedom and love I'd found in God, I let all guards down. I was goofy, I did random dance moves, random silly voices. Not a single ounce of me was worried about what Avery would think of me. At one point I even got salad dressing in my hair and just laughed it off. All the while, Avery was trying to find a way to talk to me one on one and express his feelings.
The trip came to an end, Annie and I said bye to Avery and Annie and I started to head back to Northern California. Annie was convinced Avery had fallen for me, but I thought she was just trying to play match maker. During the drive home he tried to call me but because I was with Annie I didn't answer. So I then received a text: "I wanted to tell you in person but the time never came, that's why I tried to call you too. I know we only hung out for 3 days and this may be silly but I'd rather take my chances then not tell you. I fell for you in those 3 days..."
I'm an expressive person. What I'm thinking or processing is clearly displayed all over my face. Annie could tell something was up as I read the text and so I filled her in. To which she replied: "I knew it." My response to Avery ran along the lines of "I had so much fun and have so much respect for you, but 1. I'm flying back to college in Alabama tomorrow. 2. I'm not looking for a relationship right now. 3. The last guy I dated wasn't Catholic and I realized how important that is to me now."
I remember getting on the plane to Alabama the next day, and as we took off, I started crying. Keep in mind I had flown away from California more than 5 times at this point. I was always sad to leave, sure, but never to the extent of tears. It was the strangest thing and as I tried to process it, I just kept thinking about Avery and how easy it was to hangout and make jokes and feel genuine joy in his presence.
We decided to keep in touch via texts and occasional calls as August approached and I went into my Junior year of college...