After Dan left from spending Valentines Day weekend with me, I had a lot to think about. Something was happening, but I wasn't sure what. We had become friends that weekend so I no longer wrote to him because I felt sorry for him, but because I really did want to learn more about him.
On the other hand, I wasn't in a really good place where the male population is concerned. I had just emerged from a long term relationship that, in the end, had me in tears almost every day. My sister would say to me... "Why don't you just dump him?" She couldn't understand why I would stay with someone who constantly made me cry. However, to me, I had invested almost 4 years in that relationship and, frankly, when I told someone I loved them, I meant it. If I really meant it, then I would be there through the good, the bad and the ugly.
I know God was protecting me by the way it ended. I know I never would have ended it, so He worked it out so I didn't have to. I learned that my long term relationship was over just a couple of weeks before I left home for my freshman year of college.
As you can imagine, I had pretty much sworn off dating and I felt nothing good for the male population. I knew two things: 1.) It would take an incredible guy to change my opinion of the male population and 2.) If I did find such a guy, he would have to understand that I had cared about someone else before him and not be threatened if I mentioned the previous relationship or brought it up. They had to understand that those 4 years of my life were a defining time for me and that I learned a lot by experiencing such a hurtful ending.
I started my college experience in a very vulnerable and emotionally shaky place. I had not been "on my own" socially in almost 4 years, so, to "start all over again" was terrifying.
Valentine's weekend of my sophomore year of college, had been an emotional roller coaster for me. At first, I thought Dan was just another jerk of a guy (I had met very few guys who were stand-out/change my perspective of men- type of guys) but then, by his behavior (coming back, humbling himself, setting things right, apologizing and etc) I learned rather quickly that Dan was not just some "ordinary" guy.
I wanted to learn more about THAT guy...
We both consider it a blessing now (19 years later) that 95% of our dating was done via letters (and snail mail at that) as we didn't experience the distraction of "activities" or "physical presence". We were able to take our time, think between correspondence and really evaluate things. As a result, we grew very close very quickly.
Dan visited a couple of times after Valentine's Day weekend. We played games, visited with mutual friends and would spend hours talking together or reading aloud (something that we still enjoy 19 years later).
On one particular weekend visit, we had spent Friday evening together and then made plans to meet for lunch on Saturday. I was waiting for him to arrive, when all of a sudden, he raced into the dining hall, handed me a present (which was a surprise) and said that he had been "called out", his friend would explain and he ran out.
I had no idea what to think. Was I supposed to wait? I was literally dazed and confused. So, I walked back to my dorm and tried to call the guy he had been staying with in one of the other dorms.
I soon learned that Dan, as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, would most likely be one of the first soldiers called to active duty if our country ever went to war or helped in a disturbance anywhere around the world. To ensure that all soldiers were ready at all times, Ft Bragg would have "recalls". Dan would wear a pager and if it went off, he was required to call in and they would tell him how long he had to report to the base. It could be anywhere from 2 hours to 72 hours.
This is what had happened on Saturday. Dan's pager had gone off and he had flew out of the dining hall and to a phone. He expected to have to leave right away and didn't really have time to say goodbye! So, this was the second time that I was being "stood up" on a date! (but, of course, I understood this time)
Once I found out what had happened, It made me do some real soul searching... He had just returned from Desert Storm/Desert Shield, What if he was being deployed again? I would have no idea where he was. Would I be able to contact him? Would he be in harms way? How did I feel about all of those things?
It didn't take but a few minutes for me to realize that I had very serious feelings of "something" for him and that there was definitely more to this relationship than I wanted to admit. I had such a feeling of helplessness as there was no one around to talk to and I couldn't talk to Dan... I remember just praying about the whole thing: his safety, my emotional roller coaster,etc.
Then, I got out paper and pen and started to write (something that has always helped me to sort out the things I feel). The phone on my dorm room wall rang and it was our mutual guy friend telling me to go back to the dining hall. He wouldn't say why, but told me to "just go".
When I arrived at the dining hall, I had no idea what I was to look for. I was, once again, very confused about what was going on. However, when I stepped inside, Dan was there waiting for me. Turns out the recall was a test drill and he didn't have to leave at all.
Good grief! A girl can't take all this drama!! What had I gotten myself into??
Dan asked if I wanted to have lunch. I told him I couldn't possibly eat with my stomach all in knots (of course, he had no idea what had been going on in my head and in my heart during all of this drama). So, we decided to go play boardgames or just talk.
I noticed that while we played games, he began to watch me differently. I felt like he knew what had happened during those dramatic minutes we were apart, but he didn't really say anything. He just said that he was so glad that he didn't have to really leave.
Later that afternoon, I took him to meet my Pastor who was visiting the college. (this is the same pastor who later ended up marrying us).
By Sunday afternoon, when Dan was getting ready to head back to base, I was pretty much emotionally drained. So much was going on in my heart and I had no idea how he was feeling - except that I sensed something was different in how he looked at me and in how he was more gentlemanly and protective of me. It was like we were a couple, when we weren't.
As we said goodbye, he hugged me.... and then he kissed me.... right on the....
..........top of my head.
(sorry to disappoint you - ha! ha!)
However, while that may be disappointing to my readers, it was the very demonstration that sealed the deal with my heart. It was the first moment that defined him as being different from other guys.
He made me feel safe and so comforted. It wasn't about what he could "get" out of the physical contact. It was really nice and beautiful ... the kind of thing "that guy" (the guy I didn't think possibly existed) would have done.
Little did I know what I was going to experience in the weeks that followed! The story was only beginning to unfold...
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our story.... Click HERE to read Part 3