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Part 4: Finker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy (Ken, Sargeant "First Class")

MOLLY
March 2008 - We met and started dating. The first year was pretty amazing. (He sent me notes and messages telling me how much he loved me and surprised me with little gifts/flowers/trips. We spent a lot of time with my extended family and with his family and friends. I was busy a good part of the time because my grandmothers were dying and passed away during the year, but he was really, really supportive. I went with him to drill a lot and got to meet his unit in GA, so it just seemed normal to visit him during his drill weekends later.)
Feb/Mar 2009 - Ken brought up and we started discussing marriage and kids. For our 1-year anniversary (which coincided with his spring break) he surprised me with a trip to Vegas, St. George, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon. He even conspired with my sister to make sure I took the right clothes & shoes to Georgia with me so he could surprise me at the last minute.
June 2009 - I spent the week before he left Georgia doing laundry, packing his things, loading the U-Haul, etc. He was pretty grouchy all summer, but it seemed to me that he was always hateful when he was under stress. I was never in a hurry, but thought we would get married eventually.
July 2009 - Ken asked me to go with him to a military event in Utah the 10th-12th (I think) but I couldn't find a flight that would get me back east in time for my trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He told me he loved me before I got on the plane, and then seems he went on his first date with you while I was out of the country.

JOCE
Ken and I had our first date on July 19. We really hit it off and even though he was living 1 ½ hrs away, Ken made an effort to come visit and take me out about every third day. He called every night as soon as he got off work. I was a little intimidated by the attention but enjoyed his company although I will admit it wasn’t love at first sight.
We dated for about a month and then unexpectedly, he just disappeared. He wouldn’t take my calls or return emails. I thought it was really crazy and weird. And then apropos of nothing, I got this email: http://thebigbookofbaddates.blogspot.com/2009/09/you-should-have-known-better-kyle.html (This, by the way, is my blog. You can see other references to Ken under the name “Kyle”)

MOLLY
August 09 - After disappearing for so long that I started to panic, he finally sent me a Facebook message about a job in DC. He started acting strange, lying to me and to his friends for reasons none of us understood.
September 1st, 09 - Ken broke up with me, citing his job search as the reason while insisting that he was still in love with me. I asked him if he wanted to see other people and he insisted vehemently that he did not.

JOCE
In hindsight, I never should have returned the communication. I think it’s pretty clear that from his email that he realizes that he has some emotional problems. But, I emailed him back and told him that I thought he owed me an apology in person. I felt that he had been under a lot of stress with his cross country move, the job change, etc. and I could be the bigger person and offer him forgiveness. That was Sept. 8, 2009. From that point forward we saw each other regularly, at least a couple of times a week unless he had drill. Early on Ken made it very clear that because of his position in the military, there would be times when he was unavailable or unreachable for days and that I shouldn’t be concerned if he was out of town and I didn’t hear from him. Having never known anybody in the military, I took him at his word.
The first weekend that I spent in Sierra Vista was the 17th and 18th of October.

MOLLY
He told me to come visit, we picked a date in mid-October, and I booked a flight for the weekend of the 10th. After my flight was booked, told me he would be hiking with some buddies for part of the weekend, so I only spent a little over a day with him at a hotel in Oro Valley and at his apartment in Sierra Vista.

JOCE
Ken asked me to go to Boston with him the 13th-15th of November. We stayed at the Harborside Inn, ate at fabulous restaurants and did a lot of site-seeing. During that trip he mentioned that he would like to spend Christmas with my family. I was reticent but agreed because the time we spent together was really wonderful and I was feeling very positive that our relationship would be long term.

MOLLY
November 09 - We had been talking a few times a week and in early November, he asked me to meet him in Boston for a weekend. I was there the 19th-22nd at the Holiday Inn near the base and at the Harborside Inn downtown.

JOCE
Ken and I flew to Idaho to spend Christmas with my family. Of course, he charmed everyone and even bought gifts for the whole family. We spent about a week in the mountains skiing and sledding. We returned a few days before New Years. Then, he surprised me with a trip to the Grand Canyon for New Years. He made all the plans – we stayed at a darling B&B with a fireplace in the room, he made reservations for all the restaurants and planned our itinerary for where to go and what to do. I was blown away. He was so incredibly thoughtful and romantic.

MOLLY
January – Ken asked me to come visit in January. We finally worked out the dates and I booked my flight for the MLK holiday weekend. He took an extra day off work and we had a great time. I looked around the apartment, but didn't see any signs that another woman had been there - he even had the quilt I made him on his bed. We did a lot of hiking and made an impromptu stop at a housing development off of I-10 to look thru houses.

JOCE
In January, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Ken told me he had a class for the Army that would last all weekend. When I look back at my email, I see that I had written to my sister that I hadn’t heard a peep from Ken for days, but that he showed up at my door on Jan. 20 at 10:30 p.m. to “surprise me.” Supposedly, he was just coming back from the airport. He told me that he had had to use up some of his vacation time because the scheduling from the class had been messed up. I remember he was really upset about it. Also in January, we started looking at houses. Ken mentioned that he would like to find a place that was closer to me, so that we could spend more time together.

In February, we went to Idaho again for a party that my parents threw for my sister and I. It was a Scottish reel dance party and Ken was a hit, once again. For my birthday at the beginning of March, I went with Ken to drill in St. George.

MOLLY
We didn't talk much for the rest of the winter, but in March he asked me to come out for a visit. I couldn't get away until April, so we settled for a short weekend while he was drilling. I met him in Vegas, we drove to St. George, hung out after he left drill, and went back to the airport together on Sunday evening. I can't remember the exact dates on it, but it was in early April. During that trip, I asked him - very forthrightly - what we were to each other. He told me that he didn't want to be in a serious relationship with anyone, but insisted that he still loved me, enjoyed my company, and would like to keep seeing me. He was adamant that he wasn't interested in seeing anyone else.

JOCE
Soon after our return from Utah, Ken asked me to move in with him when the house was done. It was a five-bedroom house and he offered one of the rooms to me to use as an art studio, he wanted the kitchen to be perfect for me, as well, as I do a lot of cooking. I never would have consented to living together if I hadn’t thought that it would eventually lead to marriage. We had gotten extremely close and I definitely thought he was “the one.”

I went to every house meeting and we chose everything together – from the flooring, cabinets, paint colors and appliances. We got a storage unit and filled it with furniture and antiques that we bought at the antique fair and Craigslist. He had seen the grand piano at my parents house and even bought a baby grand. He loved ice cream and when I told him that I could make him really wonderful ice cream if I had an ice cream maker he had one overnighted to me at work. He wasn’t always able to attend the house meetings with the contractors so he signed a document that would allow for me to sign for the work and make decisions if he wasn’t available. He was always very insistent that it was “our” home.

He closed on the house on June 18. I went to the closing signing with him and we moved in that weekend. Everything was perfect. We loved our home. I made him dinner every night and breakfast every morning. He ate gallons of homemade ice cream. We went grocery shopping, worked on the house and he did the dishes every night. He insisted on having lit candles on the table every night for dinner, for ambience.
And then a week after we moved into our new house, Ken found out he would lose his job in September. He began a frantic search for a new position. We talked at length about what we should do. It was unlikely he would be able to find work locally and I soon realized that if we stayed together it would mean I would be alone, in a giant house, far from my work and friends. Plus, opportunities to see and spend time with him would be very limited. He encouraged me to move to the Northwest where I had family and he said no matter where I was, he would use that as his base.

Ken’s sister came to visit at the end of July and left her dogs with us so she could take a trip to New York to see a friend. She returned August 14 and left again on the 17th. I think it was the weekend before that Ken had drill. I was a bit puzzled by Ken’s relationship with his sister; she knew very little about his life, and he about hers, she was married but he hadn’t attended the wedding, she had never heard about me. They seemed friendly enough with each other but not affectionate. At one point I offered to take their picture together and they stood a foot apart and smiled, not even putting an arm around each other. Coming from a close family with three siblings, I found their manner towards each other odd.

MOLLY
He asked me to come out this summer, but we couldn't make our schedules work. I stayed pretty busy and he apparently had a lot more on his plate than I realized. We had tentatively planned to meet in Vegas for his drill weekend in August since I was already out West in August, but he bailed without explanation.

JOCE
The summer was difficult as I mentioned before. I knew Ken was really struggling with the stress, but he also seemed like he was in love with me and that the bad times weren’t outweighed by the good times. He talked several times about my family coming for Christmas.

It wasn’t until he supposedly took a job that would take him to Afghanistan that I started questioning whether a future together was really what I wanted. I wanted him, our house and our life the way that it was and I knew that he was terrible about keeping in touch. I thought it was likely that we would grow apart because he would be so busy with his job and not make the effort to keep our relationship going as I would want. He didn’t seem like he wanted us to break up, but he got really short tempered in our last month together which I really disliked.

He made the plans for a scuba vacation in Mexico at the end of August and we went for a four day weekend. Although we had fun, he seemed distant and distracted, far from the silly, enthusiastic, energetic person I had fallen in love with. I attributed this to job stress.