Our flight landed early that morning and we spent most of the day at the beach, grabbed a quick drink with a few cousins, I had a quick meeting about the construction project, before I showed Davide my favorite Ramen spot. By then it was dark and we were finally heading to my cousin Tot’s place on the North Shore after catching a beautiful sunset.
I love driving in Kauai… it’s just so blissful. My shoulders were lightly sun burned, the windows were down, music blasting, and I was doing my best to explain to Davide how amazing my cousin Tots and her husband are. As each mile passed… it just felt like I was coming home.
Tots in so many ways…. is my home. She is my North Star that guides me through the crazy times. She’s not “just my cousin”. She’s my best friend and my sister. She means everything to me. I don’t think I’d be half the person I am today, without her constantly challenging me to be better.
This is how I will die
They live on this gorgeous property on the North Shore of the island. It’s down this long driveway and is surrounded by this grove of trees. It feels more like a magical treehouse than a house to me.
The family rule is that whoever is in last, has to lock the driveway gate. We all hate doing it, because in the pitch dark with all of the trees, the walk is creepy and straight out of a horror film.
I spent most of the car ride telling Davide about the scary gate that I was going to have to lock. So of course when we pulled up, I knew he was going to stay in the car.
As I jumped out of the car I called out “Love you, in case I die!” which is my new favorite goodbye catchphrase. I figure it’s a good way to end things if I do in fact die. Which was pretty damn likely in this scenario with the gate from a horror film.
I pulled the gate shut, and as I bounced up and down on my toes (because I reaallllllly had to pee at this point) I was fumbling with the lock and chain.
That’s when I heard it. Footsteps in the leaves, running towards me. I whirled around to see a large dark monster running at me. I screamed at the top of my lungs and RAN. As I flew through the air like the graceful gazelle that I am, I tripped and ATE it. I was dead. I was going to die. This was it.
That’s when I heard Makaiai’s deep laugh. I look up to see him take off the monster mask and I practically fainted from relief.
Tots and little Kaileah appeared from behind a nearby bush and we all laughed so hard we cried a little.
I introduced them to Davide, who really only saw my super graceful getaway.
For the rest of the weekend, everyone would tease me about the way I screamed and my never-ending gracefulness.
After dinner and some board games everyone started to wind down and head to bed. Tots and I camped out on the couch together with a bottle of whiskey. Discussing life and my love life. Even though we talk ALL the time on Marco Polo, it was nice to talk in person.
She gave me her “I’m seriously concerned about you” speech. I get it. Months ago, I was a walking wreck and now I’m getting engaged after a whirlwind romance.
The rest of the extended family was already buzzing about it. No one had heard of Davide before and now I’m bringing him to the island for everyone to meet. A move I have never done before.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been engaged. Not counting the time I was mostly engaged going to elope but no ring situation. And out of all those times, I’m introducing THIS guy to everyone when I’ve never brought around anyone else before.
In reality, I knew no matter what I did they were going to give me shit for it. So I might as well have them meet him early on.
I was really nervous about this weekend. It was a big step. But it really couldn’t have gone better.
Makaia had the serious big brother talk with Davide about me. Later he told me he thought he was a really good guy. They ended up really bonding over the trip.
Tots was going to be much harder for him to win over. But Davide is incredible with kids. So when he started playing hide and go seek and the Crazy Monkey game with Kaileaha, she started to like him.
In the evenings, we’d sit out on the back patio eating dinner and drinking. Just talking for hours. It felt so normal and Davide fit in perfectly. He even cooked them one of his famous pasta dishes, which was a hit.
My uncle’s anniversary party itself was amazing. Down to the hula and fire dancers. After that I spent most of the night on the dance floor with my cousins while Davide talked with my family.
He was a big hit. Even danced with one of my aunts. By the end of the night pretty much everyone had told me how much they really liked him.
At one point, he came up behind me and slipped his fingers through mine and gently pulled me away from the crowd. We slipped into the dark shadows for a walk. He wrapped his arms around me and we slow danced in the wet grass. He planted soft kisses all over my face.
He pulled me close and whispered in my ear “Marry me” I pretended to think about it before saying Yes. Both of us couldn’t stop grinning. I couldn’t help but wish that we could stay in this moment forever.
He picked me up and carried me as he ran across the street and we ran towards the beach. I took off my heels and we ran through the sand until our toes touched the ocean.
He pulled me close again and we slow danced. No music this time. Just us. “Let’s get married now” he declared.
I laughed and told he had too much to drink.
No. He insisted. “I want to marry you. I want us to start forever now. I want to have kids like Kaileaha.”
He knew I had a soft spot for Kaileaha.
My heart pounded in my chest. He picked me up again kissed me passionately and took me safe from the waters edge before sitting me in the sand.
“Think about it, we could get married on the beach. Tomorrow we could get a marriage license. Just tell your family. When else is everyone going to be in town? You said they never get together like this! Don’t you want them there for our wedding?”
My heart thumped harder but not for the reasons I thought it would.
I shook my head no. “I’m not ready.”
“But think about it babe!” He pleaded. He then went into a long list of reasons why. I couldn’t hear any of them.
The only thing I could think of was my ex Josh. We were supposed to elope on the beach in Hawaii. That was supposed to happen this month. Holy shit. This month, I had completely forgotten.
No. I couldn’t marry Davide like that. Not in the way I was supposed to marry Josh.
That’s when the pain came out of no where. My heart felt completely shattered and I let out a sob while my eyes flooded with tears. I stood up and walked away.
Davide chased after me confused. Trying to wrap his arms around me. But I pushed him away. Hard. It just felt wrong to have his arms around me in that moment. And then ran. He didn’t follow.
I sat down and just cried. And I suddenly felt like the version of myself that came back to Kauai at the beginning of summer. Broken from a love that was too deep and too intense. A love that defined me for a decade and still felt cut short.
I eventually made it back to the party in time for clean up. Davide didn’t want to talk. So we didn’t.
Tots was livid when I told her he wanted to elope. “He’s crazy!” she said
We spent the next day trying to work through it all. He was still hurt.
“How do I fit in your life? When will we get married?” were the questions he kept asking. But I didn’t have any answers. Which seemed to frustrate him more.
I hated those questions and felt so damn rushed. He’s Italian and I’m stubborn. It kept getting heated. So around and around our fight kept going like there was no way out.
I eventually took him to the construction project in Poipu.
I reached for his hand as we walked up, but he still wouldn’t hold my hand.
I was pissed as I started telling him “I don’t know the answers to everything. I wasn’t planning on you. On us. On getting married like this. So that’s why I don’t know when we’ll get married. I just don’t. This is happening too fast and I just need to catch my breath. All I do know that this is what I want.
I want to end up here. I want this big yard for the kids.”
We walked through the house as I told him my vision. I asked for his opinion. I pointed out everything. To the big kitchen and large island where I want to cook breakfast and dinner. I told him how I saw my life going and I asked him if could see himself being a part of it all.
When I was done, he reached for my hand and intertwined his fingers in mine. We kissed. When we pulled away, he said “Two.”
“Two what?” I asked.
“Kids. Let’s have two.” He kissed my forehead and I smiled.
That’s how our first major fight ended.
That night I sat on the couch with Tots. It was 2am and we were drunk on whiskey again.
I told her the whole story.
“Two??? That’s how the fight ended?” She said exasperated.
We both sipped our whiskey.
“Don’t you think it’s weird that your fiancé sweeps you away and wants to elope and you started crying over your ex?” She asked.
I know she’s right. It’s weird. I was just hoping no one else would notice.
Because there he is again. Josh. Peeking back into my life. The reminder of what almost was. I thought… I thought I was over him. How can he just appear in in my dreams and thoughts during times like this? It’s like he is still etched on my heart. I’ve done so much work. Sanded down all the edges, but it’s still there. Faintly. But still there.
On a perfect night when my incredible fiancé whisked me away and said he wanted to elope. Instead of being happy… I cried.
I love Davide. I do. I love who I am with him. I love the way we laugh. And I can start to see our whole lives play out. The kids. The house. The beaches. The slow dances. And I think maybe eloping wouldn’t be such a horrible idea.
It’d be an incredible life but a part of me doesn’t feel like it’s my life.
My life still feels somehow tied to Josh. That’s how I know I’m broken.
I don’t know when it happened. When I reverted back to the girl at the beginning of summer. Maybe I’ve been her all along. Maybe when you love that deep, hard, and for so long… it always stays with you.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love Davide any less. I do love him. It’s just so different.