We are finally home from our mini-vacation! Sorry for the delay in the story. I am going to have to pick up the pace if I want to finish the story by our anniversary (which is FRIDAY!). Maybe two posts a day? We'll see. In the meantime, I bring you one of the more crappy parts of the story.
Chapter 7: Only Fools Rush In
The summer quickly filled up with classes, church events, and summer jobs. We were both so busy. But at the end of June there was a small clearing in our schedule and we made plans to take our first road trip together. We loaded up his dad’s pickup truck with a tent, sleeping bags, a drum set, and various food. We were headed into the mountains to camp at a Christian music festival – Creation. Luckily, we were meeting a friend and staying with his church, so I slept in a spacious, air conditioned RV while Herb and Brandon toughed it out in a tent. We had fun listening to bands and getting to spend so much uninterrupted time together.
Following Creation, I planned to go to West Virginia for a week to help out with a work camp. When Herb and I started dating and I realized what a packed summer I would have with classes, I stepped down from the position I held the previous summer at the camp and decided to commit to a week rather than three months. I had a ride lined up to leave right from Creation to West Virginia first thing on Sunday morning.
On Saturday night of the music festival, I was beginning to dread my week away from Herb. Going from nonstop time together to nothing was going to kill me. Herb was sitting in a chair and I was leaning on his legs during the final concert as I pondered our upcoming separation.
Just then, he put his hands on my shoulders, leaned down and whispered, “I love you.”
The music was loud and the night was dark, but I turned around and smiled at him. It took me a few minutes to realize what he had just said, but then couldn’t wait until later that night when it was quieter and I could tell him I was in love, too. What a perfect way to part, I was so delighted.
We never got to have that reciprocating love conversation. Just before the concert was over, my ride to camp found me in the sea of people. Plans had changed, and instead of the next morning, she wanted to leave immediately. As I left, I battled with whether or not to confess my undying love to Herb, but I decided to wait and see if he said it during our last embrace after I threw my suitcase in the car. But he didn’t, so neither did I.
The whole next week, I had no cell phone reception and no internet access. I wrote Herb a letter every day telling him how much I missed him (of course, those letters wouldn’t arrive until after I was home anyway). Boldy, I signed each letter with the word love. I couldn’t stop thinking about that night at the concert and the sound of his voice when he said, “I love you.”
The week apart came to an end, and I had never been more ready to come home. It was great to see my old friends at camp, but it didn’t help that two of them had gotten engaged. I was jealous that I hadn’t even gotten a chance to say, “I love you,” to my boyfriend before I left.
Because of Herb’s long hours at work, we hardly got to see each other when I got home. In the few moments we shared, I was just dying to hear that special word again, but was determined that I would not be the one to initiate it. After a few days of no luck, I came up with a perfect solution. Herb and I were going to a church leadership retreat the following weekend. I knew this would be just enough alone time for Herb to profess his love.
As I walked around the camp and enjoyed some moments of peace, waiting for Herb to arrive, I saw two people standing on a bridge. It was another couple from our church, and I was about to witness something really special. He got down on one knee and she shouted, “Yes!”
When I finally met up with Herb, he was exhausted from work and just wanted to sleep. I just wanted to take a romantic walk through the woods. Herb obliged, but not cheerfully. As I excitedly told him all about the engagement story, he was unimpressed.
“I hope you don’t think we’re getting engaged anytime soon,” Herb said with a huff. “You’re getting a little ahead of yourself. I just want to take it easy and enjoy this dating time. Plus I’m really busy and stressed out right now.”
“Oh, no, I just thought it was really neat,” I lied. I really was hoping this would be a special day for us, too. And to be honest, I was starting to think about marriage. I could see a few years into the future when we would graduate college and begin our careers. It was in that conversation that I realized Herb and I were not on the same page.
Not only did we not exchange “I love yous” that weekend, but there was also a feeling of disconnect coming between us. I was starting to wonder if I misheard him on the night of the concert. Surely he had said the word love, right? I tried to act like nothing had happened, but my confidence and hope was shot. The days and weeks that followed were not filled with love letters and “thinking of you” text messages. In fact, as our conversations became more forced; Herb seemed bothered every time I called him.
One night after work, Herb came over to my new apartment. It was the end of July and it was hot outside. I didn’t have air conditioning, and the polyester couch stuck to our legs.
“Herb,” I shared, fighting tears, “I feel like our relationship is like a tape player. Based on the conversation we had the night we started dating, the tape player should be on PLAY, right?”
“Yeah, well you are rushing things. You have the tape player set to FAST FORWARD. I’m not ready for all of that yet.”
“No I don’t. If you feel like I’m rushing things – it’s because you gave me a card that said you looked forward to growing old with me. You told me you loved me one night at Creation. I don’t think I’m taking things any more seriously than you have led me to believe they are,” I argued.
“First of all, I didn’t say I love you at Creation. I am not sure what I heard, but I’m not ready to say that. We’re not there yet.” Herb answered.
“Oh,” I said. How could I have misheard that?
“Secondly, I gave you that card at Valentine’s Day because SOMEDAY I want to grow old with you. Someday doesn’t have to be right now though. You need to stop getting ahead of yourself.”
In a huff, I retorted, “If you think I’m set on FAST FORWARD, then you are set on REWIND.”
The problem with the tape player analogy was that I hadn’t considered the other buttons.
Frustrated and annoyed, Herb’s quick reply was, “Well, then maybe we need to be set on PAUSE…”
Up next...Chapter 8: The Break Up
Up next...Chapter 8: The Break Up