2002 was quite a roller coaster of a year. It started off with me deciding to go to pharmacy school and taking the admission exam. After striking med school and dental school off the list, I wasn't sure what in the world I wanted to do with the degree in microbiology I was about to get. One of my best friends in the world had started pharmacy school already, and she encouraged me to go that route. I had no other real ideas so pharmacy school it was. I was also studying to get a major in Spanish and began planning to travel to Spain to spend the summer after graduation finishing up my last couple of classes. I was still dating college boyfriend, although his post-graduation plans were to move to Florida for a job. We were going to try the long-distance thing while he was in Florida and I was in Arkansas for school.
In May of '02 I graduated with a double major in microbiology and Spanish, moved out of the Pi Phi house, left the town, friends and boyfriend that had made up my life for the past four years and moved 3 hours away to Little Rock where I would start school in the fall. A few weeks after graduation, the boyfriend came to stay with me for a week before I left for Spain. All was well and I can distinctly remember him and my parents taking me to the airport and waving at me as I went through security. I haven't seen him since.
Spain was fabulous! I stayed with a host-mom in Valencia, a gorgeous Mediterranean city. There was a big group of students from around the country in the program and we were all staying with various host families throughout the city. Our mornings were spent in class, then we would catch a bus to the beach where we would eat the yummy lunches our families packed for us and just enjoy being beach bums. Late in the afternoon we would catch the bus back to town, eat a late dinner with our families, then meet up to go to local bars and discos. The weekends were spent taking day or weekend trips to other cities, or just exploring Valencia further. There was a park about a block from where I was staying and I would go there several days a week to run. I never measured time or distance but I think I was probably running about 2-3 miles. It was the first time in my life I ever ran alone, and was when I discovered how cleansing and cathartic it could be to be outside in a beautiful place pounding the pavement. I think that's where I first began to enjoy running.
All this time I still had the boyfriend and had plans to fly from Spain to Florida to spend a week with him before school started. We had been emailing daily the whole summer, but one weekend the emails stopped. A big group of us from school had just walked to a restaurant for dinner one night when I stopped outside at a payphone (really the only option we had of making phone calls there) to call him and see what was up. I don't remember the entire conversation but the jist of it was him telling me "I just don't think this is going to work." So there I stand, having my heart broken via payphone on a quaint little side street in Europe. It would have made a great scene in a movie. I spent the next week in a fog, then flew to New York where my parents were on vacation to spend a week with them. Then about a week later I moved into my own apartment, got Dickson (the yellow lab), and started school. Let's just say I was slightly emotionally unstable at this point.
Thankfully I fell into a wonderful group of friends in school pretty quickly and we partied it up like college kids (remember, I never did this in college so my newly single self was ready to go out!) which helped keep my mind occupied and off the broken heart. I had vowed to myself that I wouldn't look at, talk to, or think about boys for at least 6 months. Rich and I were inseparable about 4 months later. He actually had just been through a pretty rough breakup too and was struggling with moving to a new city like me, obviously we were a match made in rebound heaven. I remember noticing him at our orientation and thinking he was cute. Then one day I struck up a conversation with him to which he was completely unresponsive...as in grunting one word answers and would barely look up at me. For some reason I decided that he was the one for me. In one of my bolder moments I called him, played the damsel in distress card and asked him for help in one of our classes...then tried to act like I actually needed it:) We flirted, studied together, and hung out with our large group of friends for the next couple of months and by Christmas break we were definitely a couple. A dramatic, rocky one that everyone thought was a terrible idea but a couple nonetheless. We fought a lot, had loads of trust and jealousy issues and at first glance didn't appear to have much in common. I honestly don't know why I decided to pursue him, and why he decided to date me, or why we stuck it out for the first unstable year but we did and our relationship grew from rocky to rock solid as we both moved on and grew up together. So....2002...you were a year to remember for sure. I am so thankful to have had that year, with its joys and tears, because it was one of the most pivotal years in my life, leading me to the life I have today so for that I wouldn't change a thing.