I woke up the next morning on cloud nine. Before I even opened my eyes I smiled knowing that it wasn’t a dream. I FINALLY had confessed my feelings to Otey, and he didn’t say… “uh… no thanks.”
He said he liked me.
He said he had liked me for awhile.
He said he wanted to get to know me better.
That was wonderful… but what happens now? I was still the Regional Secretary, and he was still a rodeo coach. Would the other coaches care? Would I have to quit my job that I loved so much to be with Otey? I would have. I would have quit that morning and never looked back. I was that sure that Otey was my future. As the Regional Secretary I am required to be fair and impartial. I take all of the entries from all of the schools in the region and position them in the rodeo by a random number system. If I wanted to cheat for a contestant (or a coach for that matter) it would be easy. No one would ever know. What if I was dating a coach… marrying a coach… would the other coaches trust me to be honest and impartial? I knew I would NEVER cheat for anyone… not even Otey McCloy… but would everyone else trust my integrity?
I had bigger fish to fry.
I had morning breath and I want to kiss Otey McCloy again.
I jumped up out of bed, got dressed and brushed my teeth.
Maybe even three times.
Otey’s house was empty. He was out at the barn doing coach like things. I piddled around his house, packing up my stuff and killing time until he got back. You just can’t imagine how I felt. It was soooo easy. Soooo simple. From the night before, until this very second right now in 2009, I felt like I was his. Like I belonged to him from that night at the dining room table on. There was no more wondering, no more dating, no more “first kisses” no more “I wonder if that guy likes me”. I was just his… and he was mine… and that was it.
He got back to the house and we talked about the week to come. (remember… it’s Sunday now). I had to be home to take entries for the rodeo that started on Thursday, and Otey was flying from Kansas City to Atlanta on Tuesday. His older brother lived (still does) there and he was flying down to visit him for a couple of days before the rodeo in Tifton, Georgia that started on Thursday. His original plan was to have Ben (his little brother that was on his rodeo team) stop and pick him up on the way drive down on Thursday. By the time I left his house that morning, we had decided that I would pick him up instead.
Did I mention how easy it was?
There was no drama.
We both just knew we wanted to be together… so we were.
We loaded up my suitcase in the back of the Durango (I hated that Durango… that has nothing to do with my story… just thought I’d mention it). I wondered if the good bye would be awkward. It had only been about 8 hours since we both fessed up and now we had to have our first goodbye. I didn’t even care about kissing him when it came time to go. I just wanted him to hug me. Hug me tight. Hug me as long as I wanted to hug him. Hug me like he didn’t want me to go.
Then I died again.
I climbed in my Durango, backed out of the driveway and headed to Indiana. I instantly called Ashley. I gave her a minute by minute, play by play of the entire weekend. We screamed and giggled like two 17 year olds. But I wasn’t 17. I was 24. I was 24 and I had just spent the weekend with my future husband.
Otey and I talked that night on the phone. I could hardly wait to hear his voice again, but in the same moment I was nervous. What were we going to talk about? Couldn’t we just skip all this getting to know each other stuff and just get married? What the heck was wrong with me? Since when did I care about getting married? We confirmed that I would pick him up on Thursday morning in Atlanta and he would ride with me the couple of hours to Tifton.
I COULD NOT WAIT.
We didn’t talk for long. Nothing to deep. He didn’t tell me he missed me. He didn’t tell me he loved me. But his voice was so kind. So safe. I knew we’d have to talk the next couple of days for rodeo business, so it was easier to say good bye.
We talked Monday night and Tuesday night. Both conversations were fairly short, mostly about business. I knew he liked me. He TOLD me he liked me… but was he second guessing it now? Did he get to know me a little better and now he’s not so sure anymore? Was it going to be weird when I picked him up Thursday morning? I missed him like CRAZY. I knew that when I saw him I would want to hug him… more importantly I wanted him to hug me.
I left Wednesday and drove down to Dalton, Georgia and stayed with an old college friend. It was tradition. I always stayed with the Gobles on the way to Tifton. The difference this time was I woke up Thursday morning giddy and ready to hit the road. I remember putting on my make up and telling Anne-Marie about how I was kind of talking to this new coach, Otey. I remember trying to make it seem like no big deal when I really wanted to tell her that I already had her name on the invitation list for our wedding.
Cody lives right in town in Atlanta, so Otey called me that morning and said we could meet at an exit on the edge of town so I wouldn’t have to navigate downtown traffic. I pulled in with butterflies swirling in my stomach. Would he kiss me? Would he hug me? How would he introduce me to his brother?
“Cody… this is Kathy… future mother of my children.”
No. That wasn’t how it went. It was fast and casual and I’m not even sure that he did introduce me. We got in my truck and headed south. Our first road trip. Our first mile of thousands, actually hundreds of thousands of miles we would drive together. We decided not to tell anyone we were talking. We weren’t sure how it would go over with the other coaches. We decided that we would cross that bridge when we were forced to, but for now we were keeping it on the down-low. We held hands and after about an hour I told him I couldn’t stand it any longer and I kissed him. I know I spent three quarters of the trip laying over the console. I just wanted to be close to him.
We arrived in Tifton and I dumped him out at the hotel and headed out to the arena to get to work.
We actually didn’t get to spend a lot of time together that weekend. There was slack after the rodeo (the contestants that don’t fit in to the performances) on Thursday night, slack all day on Friday, one of his students got hurt on Friday night so Otey spent half the night in the ER with him. We did spend sometime together on Saturday. Before the weekend was over we had both told a couple of people that we were now “more than just friends”. There was a coach in our region that Otey had went to college with. We sprung the news on him first just to see how it went over. So much for crossing that bridge when we came to it, huh? We just ran right out and looked for the bridge. By the time we left Tifton on Saturday night everyone knew we were together, and the good news was…
no one cared.
First hurdle marked off the list.
Saturday night after the rodeo Otey rode with me the seven hours north to Nashville. He drove my truck and the game plan was that I was going to get some sleep since when he got to Nashville, he was going to get in with Ben and head west to Missouri, and I was going to have to drive the last six hours by myself north to Indiana. That seven hours of him driving me to Nashville I didn’t sleep one single second. No way was I going to waste a moment we had together with sleep. I laid in the seat with my head in Otey’s lap (those were the good old days… before bucket seats). We held hands and talked about the next few weeks to come. The following week was Easter. We had another college rodeo in Jonesboro, Arkansas. We were now a whopping six days into our relationship and the very next weekend I was going to meet his parents, and although we didn’t know it yet… he was going to meet my ENTIRE family.
We got to Nashville around five in the morning. He hugged me… the kind of hug that made me warm and fuzzy. Made me die…
and then die again…
the kind of hug that still makes me warm and fuzzy.
I hoped in the drivers seat and was home by lunch.
Not a chance. I was running on 100% pure warm and fuzzy.
to be continued…