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. Part Ten can be found here. This is Part Eleven.
I couldn’t get the thought, the feeling, the memory of Randy’s arms around me on our last date off of my mind. I wanted more of those arms in my life. I wanted more of being close to him in my life.
At least I think I did.
Randy was an amazing man. He was kind. He put effort into dates and even more effort into our conversation. I could say, with a bit of confidence to my friends, that I liked him! But how come I still wasn’t sure? What was holding me back?
I had always wanted to be in a relationship with a great man… someday. But I had also never been one of those “If I don’t get married by the time I’m 25 I’ll just dieeeee“ girls.
I was happy! I had a really fun life!
I didn’t feel like I needed a boyfriend. I didn’t think I needed all that fluffy affirmation, someone wanting me. I needed intellectual compatibility above all. He needed to know me. Not just compliment me, hold me and pay for fancy dinners.
There had to be more. Finding that more surely would take time. How much were you supposed to be able to talk with someone, anyway? If you were on a date for six hours and only had something to say about half the time – was that bad? A sign to call things off?
Or was that normal?
I was an introvert after all.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone for 6 hours.
Maybe the common denominator was me. Doesn’t matter who the guy was, I’d never want to talk for six hours. I went over and over and over these questions in my head. I didn’t see any reasons to not date Randy seriously… I just didn’t know.
But Randy knew.
We continued to talk, text or see each other every day. A couple days after our hike, Randy asked if he could pick me up for an hour or so. He had been working in Vancouver since the early morning on a construction job site and it was now well after eight o’ clock in the evening but he wanted to see my face… if only for a few minutes. We grabbed a tea and a latte from the Starbucks and Randy steered the truck wheels towards Fort Langley.
“I thought we could park near the water and talk somewhere?” he offered. “I know this spot, nobody else seems to knows about. Ever since I moved from the Island, the thing I miss most is being near the water… So I’ve made it my mission to find secret spots.” He pulled into a gravel parking lot off of a farm road, facing his Dodge truck towards the river and turning off the ignition.
We leaned up against opposite sides of his truck cab that evening and talked for three hours. “Jamie, I just want to say, I’m sorry for putting my arm around you Saturday. I’ve been thinking about it non-stop and I shouldn’t have done that.” Randy’s yes were locked into mine. “I know you wanted to take things slow and that wasn’t right and I’m sorry.”
I tried to hide the amusement on my face.
He was so cute. So cute and sorry.
“I’ve been thinking about it since it happened too.” I smiled. “But my thoughts were: ‘That was reallllyyyyyy nice.’ Not ‘I need an apology,’ so… I’d say… you have nothing to worry about.” He exhaled, “Oh. Okay, good. I just want you to feel comfortable with me. And that I’m listening to you and respecting you.”
My mind wandered back to moments alone with other guys. I was often uncomfortable. I felt insecure and on guard. I couldn’t be the ‘fun’ girlfriend with them – the carefree touchy-feeling kind. I wondered what was wrong with me–this is what couples do–but simultaneously didn’t want to change. I didn’t want his hands there…
It was so different with Randy.
For goodness sakes, he just apologized for grazing my shoulder for a few minutes. ;)
Randy hid nothing in his heart or on his mind from me. “Honestly, I had a really hard time after I dropped you off Saturday. I started doubting all of this.”
I sharply inhaled, “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.. questioning how genuine you were, whether you’d commit eventually… but then I started to pray. And no, none of those questions were right. I know who you are and I trust your character. Within a few minutes, the fear left. I didn’t have any fear… I don’t have any fear about this, Jamie.”
I wished I could give Randy more.
I didn’t want him to be afraid.
I didn’t want him to worry about a broken heart.
Why couldn’t I give him more? Why couldn’t I tell him what I’m feeling, give him something to show I’m committed, something to show I know what a gift I have in him?
But I still didn’t know if “we” would work out. So what could I give?
I took a breath. “I think I really do like you. I don’t know what I’m waiting for… Sorry, I’ve just been so awful throughout this.”
Randy quickly reassured me, “It’s been no problem to wait. We’re not even really waiting! The last month of talking to you on the phone and hanging out has been awesome. I love getting to know you! One of these days you will feel ready to be in a relationship. Or you may need to take the jump and figure it out as we go.”
I nodded, hanging onto his every thoughtful, caring word. “I think… I’m going to be the second one.”
My feelings grew for Randy with every passing day. We found small pockets of time to see each other every day. Even if it was answering emails side by side at Starbucks for an hour before our work days started at eight o’ clock, we did it. I wanted to be close to Randy.
I came to learn the only good thing about our dates ending (because I never wanted them to end!) were Randy’s hugs. And the only good thing about Randy’s hugs ending was… nothing.
Nothing was good about those hugs ending.
I loved how safe he made me feel. It was the first time in my life I had felt safe in a man’s arms. He wasn’t self-seeking, pressuring or pushing for more. He cared.
At church and in our friend circles, as I started to become more comfortable with Randy in public, people started to ask, “Are you and Randy dating?” I’d shrug and smile, “We’re hanging out” –offering little to no information.
Randy had never called me his girlfriend, I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to call him my boyfriend! Didn’t we need to have an official conversation or something?
Title or no title, I was happy to be with Randy. I was having fun. Randy was insightful, respectful and smart. One afternoon, we sat on the couch in my parent’s family room wasting time together like we had become experts in doing. “There is a question I have to ask you.” Randy said.
I waited for him to continue. “I’ve been considering the answer a lot and can’t figure out. How can I best serve you?”
I paused for a few seconds. “Huh? Serve me?”
“Yeah, serve you. Like care for you.”
“I have no idea.” He laughed and said he didn’t either. That’s why he was asking. “I don’t need serving. I’m pretty capable and feel like I can do everything I need.”
“Okay,” he said. “Well, how do you feel best cared for?”
I stared at him blankly. “Um… hang out with me?”
I shared a conversation with a friend of mine from a few weeks before. She said she was excited to be cared for in a relationship some day. “Randy, I’ve literally never had that thought!” He couldn’t believe it.
“Now I’m not saying I haven’t wanted to be in a relationship of course I did. But here’s what I always envisioned – someone to do things with, build businesses with, travel with! I don’t need anything. I don’t feel like I need an emotional support – I’m just not wired that way. The only thing I feel like I need ‘help’ for from a man is… I don’t know, opening a jar or something.”
Randy laughed incredulously, scratching his forehead with his fingers. “What?” I demanded, “What’s so funny?” Playfully slapping his arm.
“Of course. Practical things.”
He shook his head at me.
“You are so different, Jamie. So, so different than any woman I have ever met…”
P.S. Last ‘published part’ of this story, I shared a Pinterest contest! One lucky re-pinner of my title image for Forge would be the recipient of a $50 Gift Card to Anthropologie. Congratulations to Eunice Gatchalian for winning! Email me to claim your prize.