Thursday, March 15, 2012

My First Love

Last summer, I attempted to do a 30-day challenge where I would write each day for 30 days. Knowing me, you know that turned out like crap and I didn’t finish.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure how to tackle the delicate subject of “my first love.” I mean, I knew about whom I would be writing, I just struggled with a way to eloquently string it together so it could even approach explaining the profound impact of the love we shared - and continue to share.

I met my first love, Paul Zagorksi, in Math for Liberal Arts at the University of South Florida in August of 2005. I was not expecting to find anything interesting about that class, taught by the goofy Karol MacIntosh. I sat next to a red-headed guy who seemed personable and someone I could pass the time with. We talked before and after class, and the talks got longer and longer. Once, we ended up on a bench talking for three hours after class, only realizing it when it was dark outside. We seemed to have everything in common and something just “clicked.” We get each other in every way; it's as simple as that.

He asked me to be his girlfriend at the Magic Kingdom during the fireworks on September 18, 2005, after a wonderful day at Disney. I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World since coming to college, and I was so happy to have found someone who loved Disney as much, if not more, than I did.

The first picture we ever took: in the front of Spaceship Earth

Being silly at MGM

The first picture as an official couple :-)

We loved traveling to his family’s cabin in Sylva, North Carolina. We spent Spring Break of 2006 up there and explored the area of Gatlinburg, Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Parkway. I spent Thanksgiving 2006 with his family there. I’m so clumsy, his mom constantly reminded me to NOT TOUCH THE CUTCO KNIVES! Shortly after the gingerbread house pictures were taken, I drew blood with a Cutco spatula. I can’t be helped, apparently!

At a waterfall in North Carolina

Just before my drawing-blood-with-a-spatula incident!

In December 2006, after Paul did much soul-searching, he realized he needed to come out of the closet, and I can’t say it was easy – for either of us. I was so completely in love with him that I didn’t want to see that we wouldn’t have a future as a couple, even though all signs had been pointing that direction for some time. I had blinders on. It was difficult to be around him for a few months after he came out – it was like rubbing salt in a wound. Here was this amazing guy, that I imagined spending my life with, and we couldn't be together. I needed some space.

One of the greatest things about love is its ability to change. We reconnected in another class, and resumed a relationship as a real-life “Will and Grace.” One of my brothers in Alpha Phi Omega told me “you realize that Grace is still in love with Will, right?” That struck a chord with me and I realized that I was still in love with Paul, but not in a romantic way. I loved every part of him, just not as a partner.

We’ve continued to enjoy all things Disney, and we’ve acquired great friends because of our mutual loves of Disney, like Rich, Ann, Nic, Jer, Summer, and Lara, who are in pictures below. We’ve shared so many good times with these crazy people, and we wouldn’t have met them without Disney!

Meeting new friends!! Front Jerrame and Summer, Back Nic, Lara, Mickey, me, and Paul

Being silly in the front of the Monorail, back when you could ride with the driver.

A better picture of us on the way to dinner in China at Epcot to finish off another one of our whirl-wind days at Disney World!

We're never ones to pass up looking like complete and total fools for a fun memory!

My mom has this picture framed at their house!

Continuing the "Pose with EVERY Wooden Indian" tradition I started in England.

My graduation celebration goes Disney! Front Phil and Katie, back Mom, Melissa, Paul, Vanessa, me, and Colin

Paul, Katie, and me being silly at Epcot, Chirstmas 2008

Great friends at the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, November 2010. Paul, me, Colin, Ann, and Rich.

Paul and me acting "French" at Epcot while he completed his 23rd birthday scavenger hunt! August, 2009

Rocking our bug eyes for It's Tough to be a Bug! at Animal Kingdom.

After an awesome Pirates Fireworks Cruise at the Magic Kingdom, June 2011

Paul and my dad on Space Mountain. He's such a goofball.

Paul and me, "mid-sneeze" on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Acting "off" on Space Mountain

Making history!!! We took part in the first-ever all-night party at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate "One More Disney Day" on Leap Day, 2012! We left at 3:29am.

Paul and I have continued to make each other laugh, held each other while we cried, and had experiences everywhere in between. We’ve traveled to every state in New England but one (silly Vermont!) in one day, we’ve seen Broadway shows (and weaseled our way on to a Broadway stage!), and we’ve been all over North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. We drove the entire eastern seaboard in 2007. We helped the Disney Dream have a successful inaugural season in 2011 with a fantastic weekend cruise to the Bahamas on a brand-new ship.

Paul and I have made it to the "Il Bacio Wall of Fame" in Danbury!

Us with Grandma Jeanne in New York City, after we saw "Wicked" together. It was a fabulous trip: we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria and saw two Broadway shows!

Paul as my date to the Alpha Phi Omega formal, Spring 2007.

Will and Grace at Pass-a-Grille Beach for sunset, 2010

Catching our reflection in the ceiling of PINK, a bar on the Disney Dream

Paul's friend, Patrick, caught us in all our glory at the mini golf course on the Dream.

Best friends on a wonderful cruise!

On Castaway Cay, Bahamas, with the Disney Dream in the background

Posing with the Dream's mascot, Donald, in the atrium of the Dream.

We’ve been with each other through the ups and downs of relationships, and cheered each other on when we found love with our guys: he with Josh, me with Colin. One of the first things I would bring up with a new date was the relationship I had with Paul, and Colin had zero problems with that. Colin and Paul have a great relationship and always get along well.

Paul, me, and Vicky after Paul's USF graduation, December 2008.

Cheering on our Bulls as they beat West Virginia, 2010

We had a little too much fun tailgating, by the looks!

Finally a nice one :-)

Best buddies on the beach at the Polynesian, enjoying some cocktails on beach chairs and watching the fireworks over Cinderella Castle.

Recently, we have been each other’s support as we strive for a new goal: to run a half marathon! Our big goal is to run a “Coast to Coast Challenge” with Disney: you run a half marathon at DisneyLand and Disney World in the same calendar year and earn a nice medal. We ran our first 5k together in February 2012.

Katie, Paul, me, and Jenn after finishing the Royal Family 5k, February 2012

Our "fierce!" pose with our medals in front of Cinderella Castle after the race!

I am so thankful to have my first love still in my life.

This is my love letter to you, Paul. I hope our friendship continues to flourish and grow throughout our lives. I love you!