I gave up on love. I did, true story.
People always told me that love would find me. They were confident. They said, "It will happen when you least expect it! When you're not looking!" I wasn't buying it.
Love and I had a sordid history. I thought I had it at one point, but then it was lost. A relationship I was in ended with heartbreak as he passed unexpectedly from a latent illness that suddenly surfaced -- he was 24.
After that, over the next six years, I learned so much about myself and the people who surrounded me. I found that I had no support system. I was often alone and developed a poor relationship with food that I still fight with to this day.
I decided I needed change. I sold everything, packed my bags, and moved to Australia. During the two years I was there, I got my masters degree, learned the value of true friendship, and started dipping into the pool they call "dating."
Dating sucked. I tried the Internet, speed dating, I even signed up with a matchmaker, but every date was both the first and the last.
My walls were up. I was picky. I refused to settle. I started doing a lot of things on my own. You name it, I did it by myself. Movies, eating out, live shows, trips to the zoo. The more time that passed, the better I was at being my own best friend.
But I still felt that somewhere, inside, a piece was missing. I wanted love, but I didn't think I could love someone so much that I'd be willing to give all of myself and love them more than anything and want to do anything for them. I was scared of being hurt again.
After my visa expired, I returned to American soil, begrudgingly. I found myself missing my Aussie friends like mad, overweight, and in the same apartment and job that I had before I traveled to the great land of OZ. It was almost as if nothing had changed.
This cycle continued until the spring of 2012. I kept promising that I was going to stop overeating and start becoming the person I wanted to be. I made the decision that was what I was going to do.
At that point, I was already signed up for Sci Fi Speed Dating at the upcoming Philadelphia edition of Wizard World Comic Con. Speed dating for nerds. (TLC briefly had a TV series called "Geek Love," and I loved the concept and knew I had to give it a try.) I didn't think much would come of it, but I really wanted to go. It would be, if nothing else, a fun story.
So I participated in a speed-dating session. Each "date" lasted three minutes, and I didn't see much in the way of prospects, giving my information to only two daters in a "might as well"-type fashion.
There was one other who I noticed had strikingly blue eyes, but he was so quiet for our 180-second rendezvous that I thought there was no way he could match my strong personality. At the last second, I changed my mind and gave the blue-eyed boy my email address.
He emailed me 30 seconds after we adjourned from the session, which caught me a bit off guard, but I emailed him back. I agreed to meet up with him the very next day, which was a bit out of character for me.
We had an uneventful breakfast but what impressed me most was the fact that he cleared my finished plate for me. He seemed to like me, even at what I thought was at my physical worst.
Over the next few weeks, I saw him a few times. Each time, I was sure that was the last time I would see him. I even told him I wasn't sure of my feelings, but I kept coming back for more. With each meeting, I lowered my walls a tad further and found myself missing him when he was away.
It was foreign. It was scary. It was great. He was the most patient, kind and understanding person I had ever met. His eyes watched mine when I spoke, like he was trying to get a look inside my mind; and he surprised me at every turn with how genuine his intentions were.
Within two months we both knew we had something. We were in love and I let it begin to consume me. It was the greatest feeling and, to this day, I can't believe he's really mine. He opened up my world. I tried new things, adventurous things like zip lining and speedboat tubing, that I would never have attempted before. I felt safe, loved, like I was finally where I belonged and that anything was possible.
I love him more each day and he never ceases to amaze me with how he complements me and the way in which he accepts me for who I am. I was also able to lose weight with him cheering me on every step of the way.
I was SO SURE that he was going to ask me to marry him. I was even sure of the date, June 2. It was perfect: We would be at Comic Con and celebrating the fact that it was year from the day we met.
But then I wasn't so sure. He started saying things that made me doubt, and I ended up writing off the weekend completely as a possibility for him proposing.
It was so fun prepping for Con anyway. We did a set of costumes together one day (Fit It Felix and Vanellope Von Schweetz from "Wreck it Ralph"). The next day I wore a Lara Croft costume, which was a completion of a goal I had for quite some time. And, on Sunday, I opted to dress in plain clothes as he was testing out his new Star Wars TIE Fighter costume.
We walked around the convention floor for a while, and then returned to the Star Wars booth to do a photo session with other members of his group (501st Legion). One of the pieces of his costume fell out of place as he was taking the photos. He waved me over and I began to help him with the repair.
Suddenly, he took off his helmet, kneeled down, and produced a ring box he had made. I (very) slowly came to the realization that everyone around me was in on this. This was it. I was so shocked and surprised, as he had me not expecting anything to happen. It was the greatest moment.
My answer to his question -- "HECK YES!" -- was followed by a round of applause from the crowd that had gathered.
I thought I once had love but, looking back, I didn't have even the slightest concept of what love really is. I know now. I see that I love this boy with all that I am and more than anything in life. I am so excited to marry my best friend, become his wife, and be a team, together, by each other's side.
This is my fairy tale. He's my prince. I'm the luckiest girl ever, and the view is spectacular from cloud nine.
I may have given up on love, but thankfully, it didn't give up on me.