I can still remember the day I first met you. Maybe it’s because that seemingly innocent and inconsequential moment would forever change my life.

That moment would eventually lead me down the path that would steal my innocence, alter my faith in men, and ultimately break me.

You stood over six feet, had dark brown hair, a perfectly manicured beard, and warm eyes. You were a sharp dresser, wearing Italian leather loafers, freshly pressed khaki’s, and a long-sleeved button down shirt. From an outside perspective, you were the epitome of professional. Your resume was decorated with majors and minors ranging from psychology to mathematics. You were raised up north and to a true southern ear, your Yankee twang could be easily picked out. During your college education, you took a year off and studied abroad in Africa. It was there, that you confessed feeling the most connected to God. Our conversations about God would ultimately  lead me to give you the benefit of the doubt.

January 24, 2016. The Denver Bronco’s led by Peyton Manning were facing Tom Brady and the Patriots for the coveted AFC championship title. I was in line at the Starbucks drive-thru waiting to place my order when I received a Facebook message from you.

I sat in my car, waiting to place my order, with a Cheshire smile plastered across my face. The clever dialogue continued full of witty conversation appropriate meme’s. We continued our near daily messages about the upcoming Super Bowl game and places we would like to travel.

Soon we created a “Bucket List” of places we planned on traveling together. The list was full of exotic adventuress: the caves of Taiwan, Bora Bora, The French Riviera, The Great Wall of China, The Mediterranean, scuba diving at The Great Barrier Reef, and Skydiving. There were so many conversations themed around our travel plans. Conversations that slowly guided me down a path of sharing a future with you. Often times, you would tell me, “we need to get started on our traveling; we have a lot to see…”

Despite the fact that we talked constantly, I really didn’t know very much about you. Our first date took place at your apartment on a chilly Friday night in February. Driving up to your apartment complex, I fought a relentless attack of butterflies in my stomach. What if we have nothing to talk about? What if he doesn’t want a second date? What if he doesn’t like me?  These thoughts were consuming. I walked up the stairs to the third floor, knocked on the door, and walked into a sparsely furnished apartment. In the center of your living room was a bright red couch surrounded by a variety of plants. Your dining room was void of a table.

There you stood, wearing jeans and an olive green t-shirt, while you opened a bottle of moscato. You were cool, calm and collected; I was a mess. Other than the crackling of the fireplace, the sounds of glass clanking on granite filled the air. We talked until one o’clock the next morning. It was then that you referred to yourself as divorced. Of course by this point, the grapevine at work had informed me that you were divorced and had children.

Hospitals are breeding grounds for rumors and you were the subject of several. One rumor was that you had been divorced and were already engaged to a nurse manager. You, reportedly, had an affair with this lady whom at the time was also married. Of course, the thing about rumors is that you should never buy into them. So I looked the other way. I decided that I would have an open mind until you gave me a reason not to. There are always two sides to a story; perhaps the other side to this was less like a Grey’s Anatomy episode.

That was the first time I can remember ignoring my gut.

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