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. Part Eight can be found here. Part Nine can be found here. This is Part Ten.
Before we start into the story this week, I wanted to share a fun contest with you! I’d love to have more readers following along and connecting with the Forge story, but I need your help. Would you be willing to pin the below photo on your pinterest account or share on facebook and tag the Jamie Delaine facebook page? Include a link to this blog post specifically to be entered to win a $50 Anthropologie Gift Card! (P.S. If you pin the below photo, the link to the post will automatically be included. With facebook, you’ll have to copy and paste.) I’ll announce the winner when I publish Part 11 (in 2-4 weeks!)
I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel anything for Randy. It was driving me crazy. Only six months before, in December, I was always trying to be around him. Every time we were together in a group as friends, I was impressed by his character. And when Randy didn’t seem to reciprocate or even notice my interest I was disappointed.
In February and March, I loved all the time we spent together (unaware of his growing feelings for me!) but now in May, here he was. Crazy about me and I was frozen stiff. Sure, I was fine to go for coffee and walks but I did not want to be Randy’s girlfriend. I wasn’t ready for the public announcement. The commitment.
Or maybe I could be.
No, no. I wasn’t.
Okay. I didn’t know.
I watched at the window as Randy’s truck pulled into our driveway after work one evening, quickly walking out the front door to meet him. “Hi,” I smiled as I opened the front door of his truck and climbed in. “Hey! So good to see you!” He said, turning down the radio and meeting my eyes, “I don’t really have a plan but I thought we could pick up Starbucks and go for a walk or something? I know you need to be back in two hours to meet your friend, right?” I nodded, “Yeah, anything sounds good to me.”
We turned west for no reason at all, driving and talking about our work days until I had a thought. “Do you want to see my old house? We’re driving that direction right now.” I pointed down a side road. “Sure do,” he cranked the wheel right and within two more turns, we were slowly driving past my childhood home. My family purchased the property and built the house when I was seven years old and it was our home for the next fourteen. As we drove slowly down the street, I pointed out neighbouring homes I had always loved and my regular running route.
“It’s weird coming back here… I haven’t driven past this home in almost two years. So many memories here. So many hours spent running these streets, summer evenings spent journalling on the front porch. See that side porch? That’s where my Grandpa would sit and read his Bible all day. He and Grandma lived with us until they passed away a couple years ago.”
Randy continued to drive, turning where instructed, until we found ourselves across a set of train tracks at the small ferry terminal. “This was usually my turn-around point when I ran. Down here and then back up to our house. My dog Taylor loved it.” I paused. “Seeing all this makes me miss her. I like reminiscing and coming back to ‘old’ places.” Randy listened intently, his eyes only leaving mine to check the road in front of him occasionally. Just then, the train crossing in front of us began to flash. A red and white bar lowered across our path as I groaned, “This train takes forever. Sometime I’d get stuck on this side and just jog up and down this street waiting for it to end.”
Randy popped his truck into park and adjusted his body in the driver’s seat to face me. We laughed as we exchanged stories from our childhood family vacations and I thought, I’m having fun. This is fun. It took twenty minutes for the train to pass (no surprise!) but somehow it felt like only two with him.
We drove back towards my parent’s home, home a half hour earlier than I needed to be. Randy put the truck into park on the street and we used every minute we had together. Remembering I wanted to show him something, I pulled up a blog post of my friend Kristen’s, the very early stages of her and her husband Caleb’s house build in Oklahoma. As Randy scrolled through the pictures, I quickly studied his face. I noticed his facial hair, a subtle five o’ clock shadow I had never seen before. Randy was always clean shaven.
I like that, I thought. I like that a lot. “That house is so beautiful,” Randy interrupted my thoughts, “Who knows, maybe someday we could go see it together.” His fingers brushed mine as he handed back my phone, causing my heart to flutter, “Yeah.”
I like him, I like him,
I do like him.
I wanted to say it to him. Say the words “I like you” out loud, right then and there to Randy and his attractive facial hair. But I didn’t. What if this feeling was fleeting? He likes me so much. I don’t know what to do. I decided to wait, saying goodbye and walking into the house with a little bounce in my step.
Two days later, Randy picked me up for our first full day date. I was excited to see him, excited to see if that little glimmer of feeling “I like him!” was still there. We drove an hour to Deep Cove in North Vancouver, and as the inlet came into view, I remarked at its beauty.
“I’m so glad you haven’t been here before!” Randy replied as we parked the truck. “I wanted you to see something new near your own city. But man, you make it difficult though. You’ve been everywhere.”
I laughed, “Well, you succeeded!” We walked downhill towards the water and Randy said, “I looked up a walk online, apparently it’s not that far. The website said for ages 5 and up… so it can’t be much more than a stroll.” “Okay, so these shoes will be fine?” I pointed to my brown leather Steve Madden flats. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
We found the start to the trail and began to walk. Then climb stairs. And climb some more stairs. Although not a hot day, the forest air was thick and humid. “Perhaps these shoes really weren’t the best choice,” I laughed.
“Are you sure you’re okay in them? We can turn back.” He assured me.
“No, no. I’m totally fine. It’s just funny.” I said, holding my sweaty polyester blouse out from my body to catch some fresh air on my skin. “I’m sorry I really didn’t think it would be this far,” Randy said.
We reached the summit forty-five minutes later and found almost fifty people sitting all over the rock eating lunch, dressed in exercise pants, running shoes and drinking water bottles. We looked out of place without water and snacks, not to mention, in the jeans we were both wearing. Randy and I found a spot away from people and sat down side by side to rest.
I kept thinking throughout the day how different Randy was than any other guy I had spent time with. He asked questions. Really, really good questions. One of my biggest fears in a dating relationship was not being known. Would I really meet a man who would bother trying to pursue my complicated brain and heart? Randy asked me about my faith, how and when I became a Christian and shared his own story. He asked about my fears – uh, obviously bees, the dark and people running up the stairs behind me – and Randy also asked about my vision for the next few years of my life.
I didn’t know how to answer that question.
It wasn’t that I was without vision, by any means. I had spent the last six years pursuing my photography business with all the energy I possible could. I’m an achiever at my core, I will do and accomplish and do until I burn out. Then, stop to rest… until I can move again and then move until I burn out. It wasn’t until about a year before meeting Randy I finally felt “free” from the pressures of achieving. I didn’t want to set goals, travel the world by myself anymore, work myself crazy. I simply wanted to do what I was already doing with my whole heart and my whole effort forty hours a week and trust God to handle the rest. I told Randy as much, through nervous rambles (would he think I lacked drive?) and he nodded. “I understand. I like that.”
We talked the afternoon away and as I fidgeted leaning up against that rock, I found my shoulder inching closer and closer to his every time. After a couple seconds of silence in between our spurts of conversation, Randy added, “I was thinking about something else the other day… Remember the night when we went for frozen yogurt downtown? Just after I had moved here? A group of us?” I nodded slowly, remembering the evening.
When Randy moved to town and starting attending our church at the time, we began to have a handful of mutual friends. We were around each other at the occasional get-together and I couldn’t shake these “vibes” I got from him. Like he was interested in me or something. And I just wasn’t. My only memory of the evening downtown Randy brought up was crossing the street. There was ten seconds left to cross and it was that split second decision: Do I stay or do I go? I said, “I’m going for it!” to nobody in particular and started to speed walk across the intersection. The walk quickly turned into a run and I stopped to catch my breath. Randy had ran with me. “Dang it. Now I have to figure out what to small talk about for the next two minutes.”
Snapping back to the present conversation I said, “Yeah… It must have been May or early June, almost a year ago now.”
“Well, you were wearing a white sweater. I remember thinking I want to get to know that girl. But I didn’t know how. And I didn’t think I even have a chance.”
I laughed and said, “Really?” (So I wasn’t crazy. Those ‘vibes’ weren’t fiction.)
“Well, here I am!” I giggled awkwardly.
At that moment, Randy reached out his arm and wrapped it tightly around my shoulders, meeting his left hand with his right. I grabbed his hands with one of mine and for a few seconds, we stayed there. Silently wrapped up in each other’s arms.
Randy felt safe.
With his arms still around me, Randy motioned towards the diamond ring on my right hand, “What’s the story behind that ring?”
“Oh.” I said quietly, “It was my Grandma’s, the one who passed away three years ago. When she died, my mom said she wanted me to have it.” He nodded.
Hundreds of butterflies floated around my insides as we looked out towards the water from the lookout.
Feeling his strong arms, I thought, I wanted to stay like this, forever.
Suddenly Randy said, “Well, should we get walking?” I quickly nodded and brushed the dust off of myself from the rock and followed behind him, already a step ahead towards the trail. When I stepped forward to meet him our hands brushed ever so slightly and I thought, “I want Randy to hold my hand.”
Wait. I do? I think this means I really do like him.
I hope he will hold my hand.
Is he thinking what I’m thinking?
No. He’s not. It’s too soon. I’ve told him I’m unsure.
We walked side by side to dinner in the village at the base of the trail, conversation flowing, our hands never brushing again.