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.
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!
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!
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.
Catching our reflection in the ceiling of PINK, a bar on the Disney 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.
Cheering on our Bulls as they beat West Virginia, 2010
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.
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!