25 Feb, 2010
Have you ever had a time when you were in conflict with yourself? This happened to me on Halloween of the year 2009. I had to choose between my happiness, and the happiness of my loved ones. It was probably the most difficult night of my life, and tonight I am going to share it with you, along with some of the events that followed.
First of all, of course, I have to share some background with you. October of 2009 I was a student at O.C.C., and had no idea what I wanted to major in. I was taking my basic classes, biology, speech, things like that, and I loved it. I had amazing grades, straight A’s, and I had few worries. I lived at home with my parents, my two brothers, and a friend. I had things extremely easy. Now, I have to tell you about that day, and what turned into the hardest decision of my life.
The day began with the dreadful drive from West Salem, Illinois to Peoria, Illinois. My mom was driving, and Matt, the friend I mentioned, was in the backseat. It is around 400 miles, and with a stop in Mattoon it took us over 7 hours to get there. My reason for going there was to visit my boyfriend, William. Nothing eventful happened on the way there, so I won’t go into much detail, just keep in mind it took 3 hours more than it should have.
Around 4 in the evening we began to see the outskirts of Peoria. I was in love at first sight. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the tall buildings, and my mouth kept dropping with every few miles we drove. We got to Timberlane Apartments about 30 minutes later, and of course, got lost within the complex. Yes, that is my mother’s sense of direction, can make the drive without a problem but gets lost in the last 10 minutes. William, like any gentleman, met us at the van. I hadn’t seen him in 4 years, but when he hugged me, that didn’t matter. We all went to IHOP to eat, and while the food was disgusting, the company was amazing. We laughed, talked, and we were completely comfortable.
After IHOP, we went back to the hotel. Out of boredom, William and I decided to walk to Northwoods Mall. On the walk there I was very nervous. My thoughts were mixing together, and speaking was as difficult as physics. I was very clumsy, and it is beyond me to this day how I did not end up on the ground.
“Caitlin, what time do you expect to leave tomorrow?” William asked, clearly upset at the idea.
“I don’t think I am,” I replied.
At that moment it felt like time was standing still. Neither of us knew what to say. That wasn’t the answer he was expecting, and it surely wasn’t what I expected to come out of my mouth. I don’t remember speaking again until we got to the mall. What comes next, though, I definitely remember.
He stopped outside the mall, and started kissing me. I nervously pulled away, and I noticed him slowly lowering to one knee. My heart started racing, and my thoughts were jumbled. I knew what he was doing, it was just unexpected. He spoke a mere 7 words, but they left my mouth dry.
“Caitlin Alexandra Burke,” he said slowly, “will you marry me?”
I couldn’t find the strength to speak, so I simply nodded as he slipped the ring on. He smiled at me, and I knew I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether to stay with him, throw my semester away, and face losing my family, or to come home, knowing that the distance could kill our relationship. I thought about it as we walked through the mall. In all honesty, I did not make up my mind until getting in the elevator at the hotel. That’s when I knew for sure what I had to do.
I walked into the hotel room nervously, looking around the room before completely entering. I grabbed my phone off the charger, and grabbed my bags.
“Mom,” I said, choking on the word, “I am staying here with William.”
The next few days, as expected, were hard. We had breakfast with my mom before she left, and she cried through most of it. She went home, but not until making me promise to think about it. I was to stay a week, and then come home for a few days. Only then could I decide to stay, and her accept it as my decision. The week was perfect, though most of it was spent lying beside each other talking.
The week went by fast, and before I knew it the time had come for the visit home. I had already made my decision to stay, and I had already dropped my classes. There was no backing out now, and I knew it. The visit home was eventful yet uneventful at the same time. I was home for around 5 days, and while I loved being around my family and friends, the whole time I missed William like crazy.
‘ The week of Thanksgiving William and I visited home together. This was the most eventful time of my life, as nobody approved of my moving up there so quickly, and with such little thought. The introductions were hard, but the looks of disapproval were worse. I had heard every excuse for me to come home.
“He’s too old for you, Caitlin!” my grandma screamed over the phone. She had never met William before, but the seven year age difference was enough for her to hate him.
“Grandma, it’s not that much of a difference.” I answered slowly.
I was almost happy when this visit was over. I was ready to go back, away from the drama. I was broken-down, and didn’t want to deal with any more conflict where this matter was involved. I wanted everyone to approve without much effort on my part. I slowly realized this would never happen.
Eventually, I realized I could not afford a big city.
“Mom, I can’t afford to live up here, but I’m not coming home without him.” I knew she would have no choice but to let us both live with her.
Here we are, February, and William and I are finally adjusted to living together, and are now adjusting to living together with supervision. We have set a date for the wedding, August 18th, 2010, which is also my nineteenth birthday, and we are anxiously preparing for that. The move to Peoria taught me a lot about myself, and it forced me to mature. I had to take care of myself, and could not rely on my mother as much as I was used to doing. I do not at all regret my decision, as it taught me that I can take care of myself, I can be brave, and that regardless what some people say, love makes you do extremely stupid things, even if they do end up making you the happiest person alive.