As the sun melts into the horizon, Anne gazes into Gilbert's eyes and says, "I don't want diamond sunbursts, or marble halls. I just want you."
My sister and I always cheer at this point—the last line of the movie, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel. Anne's profession of love to Gilbert finally settles years of heart wrenching turbulence during which Gilbert's advances are either ignored or outright rejected. My sister and I never tire of the film series, each time bemoaning Anne's refusals of Gilbert (knowing full well she will accept him in the end), rooting for the determined suitor, and basically enjoying the whole tortuous, tumultuous process.
After watching the movies as a young girl, I daydreamed about having my own romance full of tender looks and pulse-racing emotion. I wondered who my "Gil" would be and how our breathtaking love story would unfold. But my "romantic" experience turned out different from what I envisioned. In fact, it didn't feel romantic at all.
It began in May of 2000. I'd just graduated from college in New York and joined my sister in Longview, Texas, for the summer. We played a lot of sand volleyball and one balmy night, during a lull in the game, two guys walked out of the gymnasium toward the court. When I turned to look, I gazed into a pair of heartrending blue eyes and suddenly heaven opened, a shaft of light beamed down, and background music swelled to a crescendo.
Daniel and I began a friendship as we shared many similar interests. After about a month I was ready to move to the dating stage, with visions of matrimony waltzing into the future. Daniel, however, wasn't so ready. In fact when he asked to "talk" after the first five months, I struggled to fight back tears when he stated his desire to keep our relationship strictly platonic.1