Chapter 6: Doce de Enero

Catch up here first: Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5

Chapter 6: Doce de Enero

“What is this?” I asked with a laugh.

“Just read it,” Herb instructed.

Fresh off the printer, the arial font read, “Points to ponder when considering starting a relationship with Michelle.”

The first Roman numeral was a list of sixteen of my assets (Herb’s wording, not mine).  I was on a cloud.  Did Herb just give me a list of all the things he likes about me?  Seriously?  How cute!  He touched on my faith, my love of God, and what he perceived to be a teachable spirit.  He listed aspects of our friendship, my family, my upbringing, and different qualities about my character and personality.  And for whatever reason, when I read number fifteen, I knew our relationship was definitely going somewhere.

            15.  She is adorable.

The second Roman numeral explained Herb’s shortcomings.  He wondered how I would feel concerning his past failed relationships, his own relationship with God, and his future career plans.

The final section of the outline explored the exact same questions I was dealing with, too, especially considering the conversation I had with God on New Year’s day.

1.       Is this truly from God or am I being selfish?
2.      Am I ready for a serious, God-focused relationship?
3.      Am I giving this to God or am I trying to run my life?
4.      Am I ready to lead a relationship spiritually and monetarily?
5.      Would a relationship benefit Michelle right now and bring her closer to God?

We spent the next hour or so discussing the questions which he had posed at the bottom of the page.  We talked about the fact that if we were being led into a dating relationship, the purpose and intention of the relationship had to be to get married (eventually).  We decided that as we grew to know each other better and spend time together, if we realized that marriage was not the best option for either of us, then we should go our separate ways.

I felt like the conversation was straight out of a cheesy Christian romance novel, yet it was the most romantic thing that had ever happened to me.  Here was a man who I was attracted to physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  He was talented and interested in ME.  And his number one goal was to protect my heart.

As the conversation was drawing to a close I said, “Does this mean you’re my boyfriend?”

Herb chuckled and said, “I guess so!”

We paid and made a quick walk in the frigid weather out to the car.  It was just a few minutes before midnight before we pulled out of the Denny’s parking lot, and I asked Herb if we could pray about our relationship.

“Right now?” he asked.

“Oh, sure, why not?”  I said.

Herb bowed his head and thanked God for a great evening together.  He asked for guidance.  He invited God to be the center of or relationship.  He thanked God for bringing me into his life.

The next few days were a delightful whirlwind of sharing our news with friends.  I couldn’t believe I had a boyfriend.  I was so excited to email my girlfriends from high school and share my exciting status change.  I called my mom (who wasn’t surprised, she had noticed a blooming romance) and happily informed my favorite professors.

I looked forward to sitting beside him in conducting class, and the five minute car ride after lunch when he would drop me off across campus.  We would eat lunch and dinner together every day (with the rest of the music crowd), and most nights he would come over to my dorm room and we would watch Iron Chef or Japanese MXC.

And as I continued to pray about our relationship, I realized that what God really wanted from me back on that mountain in the middle of nowhere was complete surrender.  He wanted to satisfy the desires of my heart with good things, but he wanted me to trust him and not try to satisfy those desires on my own.

Two weeks into our relationship, we found ourselves sharing a fancy dinner of Taco Bell and watching the Eagles try to make their way to the Super Bowl.  We were sitting on a futon in a room full of about ten other  Eagles fan.  Honestly, I had no interest in football, but I was open to any social gathering that included sitting four people on a couch and being squished up next to Herb for three hours.

By accident our hands brushed.  When they brushed, Herb didn’t move his away.  We sat there for several minutes touching back hand to back hand before Herb nonchalantly took my hand into his.  We didn’t even look at each other – I couldn’t bear to make eye contact out of fear my face would turn three shades of red.  The rest of the crowd and the football game became a blur.  My focus was on the warmth and comfort of his fingers entwined with mine.   

As we grew more comfortable with the hand holding aspect of our relationship, several nights later we hugged just before Herb went home.   Somehow it still felt awkward that my best buddy Herb wanted to hold my hand and give me hugs.  The evolution of a friend into a boyfriend was what I had always hoped for, but took a little adjustment.  However, it was a transition I was happy to make!

We were poor, stressed out, and busy college kids, so our dates always consisted of dining hall meals, free movies in the student center, and romantic choral music analyzations that took place in a well light practice room.  I would find reasons to walk the large windowed module during his drum lesson just to catch a glimpse of him at work.  He would wait for me outside of my classrooms just to escort me down a flight of stairs and three feet down the hall.  Anything we could do to steal five minutes of hand holding together we did.  I looked forward to Sunday mornings when we would sit hip to hip in a pew and Herb would put his arm around my shoulders and leave it there for half an hour.

On our first Valentine’s Day, just a month after we began dating, we scored incredibly cheap tickets to the symphony.  He put on his suit and I donned my little black dress. We ate French fries in his car from McDonald’s before the concert.  When he picked me up, he gave me a stuffed kitten and a beautiful card.    

     Whenever I see an older couple holding hands, I pause.
     I imagine all they have experienced – jobs, maybe children, worries, vacations, homes, disappointments, tragedies, joys.       
     I see their entwined fingers.       
     I see them waling in perfect cadence, comfortable in being quiet.       
     I see in them the gentle joy that a lifetime of loving can give…
     And I look forward to the privilege of growing old and hold hands with you.
     Happy Valentine's Day!”

Some nights after we’d finish practicing or doing homework, we would find ourselves in deep conversations about the future.  We dreamed of opening a music store or studio where we could both teach lessons.  We talked about whether York or Lancaster was a better place to live.  

On spring break, we spent a solid week together.  I went to his parents’ house for several days, and then he came home with me.  He showed me around York, I introduced him to the Amish. We went out to dinner, did some shopping, and took walks in the park.  We watched movie after movie and found any excuse possible to snuggle on the couch.  It was just a enough time for us to enjoy each other's presence, get geared up for the end of semester, and desperately long for what our future might hold.

Continue to chapter 7...


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