This is a personal project of mine. I want to write our love story, in detail, so many years from now I can remember what drew us to one another. The introduction of Forge can be found here and Part One can be found here. Part Two can be found here. Part Three can be found here. Part Four can be found here. Part Five can be found here. Part Six can be found here. Part Seven can be found here. This is Part Eight.
By the first week of April, I needed to know where Randy stood.
I’ve heard patience is a virtue but unfortunately patience was not one of mine.
I had been waiting long enough. I couldn’t take it anymore! I couldn’t take his text messages! His constant weekend invites! His strong arms.. his brown eyes…. his chest hair that I noticed in his scoop-neck tank top across his glass kitchen table as we were playing cards with friends one day… (a defining “I’m attracted to him” moment)… his care, protectiveness, taste in music and books…
Randy’s name was always on my phone. Texts from Randy. Texts to Randy. Texts to my best friend about the texts to Randy and from Randy.
I was impatient.
It was Sunday, one day after my first wedding of the season at my favourite venue. And one day after Randy felt the sweet, sweet but confusing need to text every hour on the hour while I was working about how my day was going. (“How are you doing?” “So you really like the venue?” “How many people are there?” “What time are you done?” “You’ll need to relax tomorrow, hey? I’ll put the tea kettle on for you at my house!”) The whole day I answered his texts thinking, What the heck is wrong with you, I’m not your girlfriend this has to stop. Say something or stop stop stop stop.
We saw each other on Sunday morning, nothing more than a quick wave at church and we went our separate ways. But only few hours later, Randy texted, “What are your plans today?” Oh I thought we’d hang out, maybe go on a date and you’d confess your undying love to me and I’d say, “Rad, thanks for telling me, dating is a great idea.”
Instead I replied, “Headed home for lunch.”
I waited for the all-too-familiar bzzz, bzzz of my iPhone signalling his response. “Do you want to get Starbucks with me this afternoon?”
I hit “lock” on my key fob and attempted the hard-to-pull-off “I don’t mind the rain” casual walk through the pouring rain from my parked car to the door of the Starbucks. An “I’m calm, cool and collected” walk towards the date that may not be a date.
(I wonder if I’ll get a gift card this time?)
Randy wore a button up plaid shirt and sat with his laptop at a table for four. He closed the laptop when I entered, looking up with a smile. I walked over to where he now stood and said “Hi!” with a wave. I’ve always been awkward at greetings. Correction – I’ve always been bad at greetings and goodbyes unless the stretch of not seeing someone has been at least a month. Then, obviously the normal thing to do is hug.
“How’s it going?” he asked as we walked over to join the line.
“Good. You didn’t get a drink yet?”
“No, no. I was waiting for you. Just came a little early, is all. What do you want to drink?”
We walked up to the counter. “Oh. I’ll have a… grande china green tips tea.” I said, half to the barista and half to Randy.
“And I’ll have a grande vanilla latte.” He handed her his Starbucks card.
Back at the table, I held my green tea in my hands, as Randy began to talk. Conversation was fluid as we asked one another more about work and family and education and travel. I was inspired by the range of topics Randy could intelligently converse about, all the while focusing conversation on me.
He was different than the others…
He had kind eyes, somewhere between brown and green. But not quite hazel. There was something familiar about being with Randy at Starbucks that day. We had been around each other for hours over the past three months. Many weekend adventures with friends left me wanting “more” of this man. Time alone with him. Time to know what was behind those eyes. Here we were at last a coffee “date” just the two of us. During non-business hours and with no agenda.
Two hours into conversation, our eyes both drifted outside to the pelting rain. I picked up my phone to look at the time. A couple of friends had asked to host a party at my home that evening and it was set to start in an hour. “I should go,” I said, nervously playing with the string of my teabag. “Oh wow,” Randy said, looking at the time, “For sure.” He placed his laptop in his messenger bag and we made our way towards the door. I fumbled through my purse for my keys as Randy held open the door. “It was really nice to spend time with you,” he said. “You too.” I replied, suddenly very aware of the keys in my hand and my obsessive fiddling with them.
Randy reached out his right arm and wrapped it around my waist, pulling my body in towards his own. My left arm found it’s place around his waist and for one, two, three seconds there we stayed. A hug that was one or two seconds too long to communicate to my mind (and my body) that we were “just friends.” Randy waved goodbye with a “see you soon” and plans to pick me up on Wednesday for a youth night at our church.
On Wednesday, I had an engagement session in the city and a full afternoon of last-minute to-do’s. The next morning, I was flying out before dawn to Arizona and a week later, Maryland. In Arizona, I’d meet my parents at our vacation home for a few days of sun and in Maryland, I’d visit my friend Kristen and her family. Randy and that evening was on my mind most of the day… I hadn’t a clue what the plan was. It wasn’t clear whether a group of us were hanging out or this was a solo affair? Every plan Randy had made in the last three months had included other people (except for Sunday’s coffee) so I had little to no reason to expect anything different.
A few minutes before six o’ clock, I stood in our living room and held apart the blinds. I stared out to the front street, my heart rate elevated with nerves and my chap-stick freshly applied. Within a few minutes, I heard Randy’s diesel pick-up truck before I could see it. I quickly jumped back from the blinds and checked my phone. Two minutes to six. I paced back into the kitchen and checked the mirror one last time. When I heard his knock, I opened the front door and smiled. “Hi!” I peered behind him to the empty truck in the driveway.
Randy drove to church, making small talk and chatting about his day on the way. Maybe it was the busyness of my day or my upcoming travel plans but I carried little of the conversation. Randy looked over at me a few miles away from the church, “So I was thinking we could swing by church for youth and maybe go for coffee and a walk somewhere? I mean, if you’re up for it.”
“Yeah, that sound great. Mmmhm…”
The service couldn’t end quickly enough. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy youth group. We were both leaders at the other church campus – and loved it! We had a lot of friends and heck, it was how we got to know each other in the first place. But this was weird. Why was I here with Randy? Why were we sitting together? People would notice. People were noticing. I was uncomfortable. How close is too close to sit? I don’t want to be awkwardly far away in my chair. But I don’t want to shoulder graze here. Randy leaned over to whisper something and when his shoulder brushed mine, my body tensed up. Not in a butterfly way.
I was acutely aware of the hundreds of pairs of eyes in the room. I wanted out.
An hour later, Randy drove through the Starbucks drive-thru buying a green tea for me and a latte for him. He nervously chatted while we drove. “So, tell me more about yourself. I know you blog a lot and I thought I could probably read that and learn a lot about you but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to hear all those stories and thoughts from you. Reading your blog felt like cheating.”
I laughed, “Oh! Well, you could have gone for it. Just the reality of my business life, I guess. I put a lot online.” We talked until Randy’s truck pulled into the parking lot of Rocky Point Park. He parked the car and quickly walked over to my side of the truck to open my door. With my green tea in hand, I asked, motioning to the cup holder inside, “Did you want your coffee?” He sheepishly smiled and reached into the truck to retrieve his Starbucks, “Oh. Yes. Guess so.”
The April evening air was cold as we walked down towards the end of the pier. I stuck my free hand into the front pocket of my jeans as Randy began to talk. “Now that I’m not concentrating on the road… I can finally say what I’ve been wanting to say.”
I could hear him take a deep breath.
“And that’s… that… I like you a lot. I know we’ve been friends for a while and maybe I’ve been slowing in telling you, but I wanted to take my time. I think it’s important to observe outside of a dating relationship at first and I’ve been so impressed with your character, with who you are, how fun you are, how smart you are.” As Randy rambled, I smiled at him politely, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.
I couldn’t feel anything.
I didn’t feel anything. No butterflies, no spark, no excitement. Yet, I smiled. Because to not smile would be rude and awkward. “So, I don’t know where you’re at,” Randy continued, “or if any of this is a surprise to you, but I needed to tell you.”
“Thank you for telling me all of that,” I held my right arm with my left hand, keeping warm. “I did need that. Yeah, I’m interested in getting to know you better too… I don’t know what that looks like. Or how to get to know someone better. But I’ve noticed things about you too. I’ve been wondering what you’ve been doing or if you’re interested in me… so… good. You are. Clarity is good. I do like you and want to spend one-on-one-time together.” Randy smiled warmly in return and we stood at the end of the pier, a couple feet apart.
He filled in the silence with more words – lovely words about who I am and everything that drew him to me.
I don’t remember my reaction. All I remember was Randy noticing my shivers and suggesting we walk back to his truck.
Back in the parked truck, we sat facing the water and talked some more. Rather, Randy talked some more. I was too shocked to really speak. I didn’t know what to say, how to feel, what to feel. Randy shared his heart for our relationship, one with Jesus at the centre, one that values honesty and understanding. He made it clear that I should never ever be afraid to ask him anything about any area of his life at all times. He welcomes my questions and values how I feel at all times.
“Does that make sense? Do you have any questions?”
Oh, I thought, he expects me to say something now.
“Um. I don’t think I have any questions… except… I mean, I don’t know if we’ll work together.“
(What was I saying? This is Randy, the guy I had liked for six months, the guy “better than all the rest.”)
I continued, “I know you’re more of a feeler. I don’t know if you know personality theory but I am a personality test nerd. I’m a thinker, through and through. I’m concerned about the dynamics of that… especially because thinkers are more commonly male and feelers are more commonly female. I’ve dated more emotional guys in the past and I straight-up know I can’t handle it. Emotion scares me. But I’ve talked to a few people about you… and they seem to think you’re, y’know, emotionally stable. So I trust that.”
Pretty sure that was exactly the speech a man wants to hear after he confesses his love to a woman.
I have no idea how Randy stood by me through all of the nerd language (and months of nerd language to come) but he did. Randy shared openly and honestly. I apologized for being too quiet… while Randy continued to spill wonderful things, too many to remember. I abruptly shared how guarded my heart was. “I’ve been played with, again and again, but never fully pursued. Dated but not known. I don’t really feel like that many people even know how to get to know me.”
“Jamie, I feel you’ve been able to be yourself with me in our friendship. I want that to continue – for you to be you, with all your quirks, who you are – I want to have fun with you. If we’re not having fun, what’s the point of this?” He continued, “I see relationships as pretty simple. I put your needs above mine, always. So If I’m here,” he said, holding out his hand, “You’re here, “ motioning a few inches above.
Everything Randy was saying was perfect. And I believed him. It wasn’t a question of “Is he being truthful?” I knew much of his character already, I knew he was solid. But When Randy dropped me off at my house that night I found myself wishing, “Please do not try to walk me to the door.” Randy didn’t try. He reached across the middle seat to hug me a stiff goodbye and I told him we’d “talk soon.”
Walking up the stairs to my bedroom I passed my brother’s room. “Brandon, Randy likes me. He told me tonight.” “Cool.” “Mmmhmm.” I sorted my things and packed my bags for my flight to Arizona in the morning and crawled into bed, my mind racing. I set my alarm for 4:30am.
I looked at my clock.
Randy likes me.
Why can’t I feel anything?
This is the guy I wanted!
Randy likes me.
Randy likes me.
And now it’s time to get up for my flight.