02 03 The Rhineheart Roost: Part 5: Winter Formal 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Part 5: Winter Formal

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*I totally suck at writing our story, but I'm going to try to be more diligent about it.*

Ever the gentleman, Tanner did not want to have asked me to a dance solely through text message. So  he carefully and cleverly crafted the perfect invitation over the course of the next few days.

Tanner kidnapped me one night, and we drove around for a little bit, listening to the Winter Formal playlist he painstakingly put together. Then we pulled into the park, where we danced in the glow of his headlights. He gave me a rose with a note tied to it (it said "I wanted to give this flower something beautiful to look at" ((I melted. He's the sweetest)), in addition to a thumb drive which housed an official cuddle buddy application (which was HILARIOUS). We danced until it started raining, and then went to our respective homes. And so it was set. I had a date to Winter Formal, and I was determined to have fun!

Until the week of Winter Formal came around, and I began to feel uneasy about my friendship with him. He had told me he liked me, and didn't expect his feelings to be reciprocated, and he made sure I knew he would respect my decision in regards to who I liked. Still, he was very open about how much he liked me, and flirted with me constantly. I began worrying that he was reading too much into our friendship, and that even though he knew I liked someone else, he was still trying. 

While I loved the attention (don't hate me, who doesn't love attention?), I didn't want to lead him on. I told myself I didn't want to make things awkward, however, so of course I made things really awkward. Because that is how I roll. 

I started unconsciously leaning away from him when we sat together at devotional, and I stopped texting him back as often as I had been previously. Because the most graceful way to let someone know you're not interested is to completely ignore them. Right?

Unfortunately, I wasn't as smooth about distancing myself from him as I thought I was, and Tanner caught on. 

The day before Winter Formal, he messaged me on Facebook. We made small talk for a little bit, but eventually things took a turn for the heavy. We talked about how I liked someone else, and Tanner told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy, and if that meant me dating someone else, then he would be okay with it. He said that as long as being friend-zoned meant we could still be friends, then he would love to remain so. We agreed to meet at the institute building to attend a YSA event together-just as friends. 

After I put down my phone, I cried. I cried so hard I couldn't breathe. This was my best friend- the person I spent the most time with, and I had just broken his heart. Even though our entire conversation was through Facebook, I could just picture him shrugging it all off, trying to seem sincere and like he really was happy that it looked like I might date someone else. I knew that that wasn't the case, however. I knew that he was hurt, no matter what he said. He said this wasn't the first time something like this had happened, and he was sure it wouldn't be the last.

I hated that. I hated that girls had done that to someone as wonderful as him in the past, I hated that I had just done that to him, and I hated the thought of anyone else doing that to him in the future. 

The worst part was imagining him with someone else. That made me feel sick. He was MY best friend! I didn't want some stupid girl getting in between us! As I thought about it more, I realized I was being ridiculous. I didn't own him, I wasn't romantically interested... Right? Plus, it was absurd to not want him to have a girlfriend, especially since he had just told me he hoped I ended up with who I wanted. I was being selfish.

I walked into the Institute building and immediately found Tanner. We awkwardly sat at the same table, chatting and pretending I hadn't just ripped his heart out. Eventually, we decided that the Institute event was boring, one thing led to another, and we ended up leaving early to walk around Wal-Mart. The evening ended with us as friendly as before that terrible conversation. We even held hands, which confused us both to no end. I had literally JUST friend zoned him. What the heck was I doing?! His hands were just so warm and comforting. 

I know. I hate me too.

At the end of the night, he dropped me off and we agreed to meet the next morning for our day date before Winter Formal.

The next morning, Tanner picked me up and we drove around aimlessly for a while before deciding to watch a movie. The problem was, my roommates were doing something at my apartment, and his dorm was less than ideal, so we eventually sat in the Institute parking lot in his car, and watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. We got frozen yogurt afterwards, then Tanner dropped me off so he could go to a choir rehearsal. 

That evening, I got ready as carefully as I could, and to be honest, I was looking hot. I snapped a few selfies (for posterity, duh), and waited for my date to arrive. My roommates were getting ready to go too, and in the midst of the excitement, Tanner knocked on the door. My roommates sprang into action, locking the door and telling me to hide so I could do a "big reveal", but that's not my speed, so I fought through the small crowd of shrieking girls, and flung open the door to reveal a flustered Tanner. I brought him in amid more shrieking, and my roommates insisted on taking pictures. I deleted most of them because they were super blurry, but I kept this one:
We walked across the street to the dance, and Tanner told me I looked absolutely beautiful. Once there, we discovered that the dance didn't start for at least another hour, so we did what we always did when boredom struck- we went to Walmart.

It also helped that I told him I'd been craving blueberry muffins, so I got some of those too. ;^)

Finally, we headed to the dance where the party was starting in earnest. Tanner was the perfect dance partner, and we danced to the slow songs, rocked out to the fast songs, and sat on the sidelines during the stupid songs. I loved it. We were sitting at a table talking when one of my favorite slow songs came on. I hopped up and dragged Tanner on to the dance floor, where we danced underneath a lantern. I swear this moment could have come straight out of a movie, the way he held me close and looked at me like I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. I didn't want the song to end, and when it did, we sat down and I realized I had some SERIOUS butterflies goin' on. 
This is the song we danced to. It still gives me butterflies.

We danced the rest of the evening until the DJ announced the last song, and at the end, he reminded us that it was a full moon.... Meaning that if you kissed someone at midnight, under the clock tower, the two of you would become True Gila Monsters. A prestigious title, indeed. I toyed with the idea of kissing Tanner. and the thought gave me a serious case of nervous giggles. Tanner proceeded to bug me about it, trying to get me to talk, but I refused to say anything, because I wasn't sure if I was absolutely positive that I wanted to kiss him. I like to be sure about these things, especially since Tanner's heart was on the line, and I did not want to hurt him again. 

And so the evening passed, and I didn't kiss him. But as he dropped me off and we were hugging goodbye, I held him extra close. But at the last moment, I chickened out. I just had to be positive.

It was super hard to sleep that night, because I kept thinking about that dance, and how close we were to kissing.

~Haeley

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