Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Only Man I've Ever Loved: Part 8

Getting Off the Roller Coaster

I graduated in December of 2000 and invited both Matt and Joseph to the graduation party at my parents’ home. My family joked as to which one was my boyfriend. “Neither,” I said, totally embarrassed.

After Christmas, Matt and I continued to hang out informally. I even helped him baby-sit his little niece on one occasion. Afterward, his sister Shan and brother-in-law Andy invited us out to dinner to repay our good deed. I was nervous, but thought, “Hey, why should I be? We’re only friends . . . right?”

As I finished my meal, I excused myself to the ladies’ room. Unbeknownst to me, a very straightforward conversation took place between Matt and his sister.

“Are you blind?” Shan asked Matt.

“What are you talking about?” he replied.

“Don’t act you like you don’t know what I’m talking about,” she continued. “A girl does not drive 30 minutes every weekend to see a guy just to be friends!”

I returned to the table, oblivious to the exchange which had taken place. Everyone pretended like the conversation had never happened.

Matt and I continued our weekly “non-dating” pattern. He even chivalrously drove to my work every evening to chauffeur me to my car in the unattended parking garage. He needed to know that I was safe.

I enjoyed our time together but was still frightened at the idea of falling in love with him again. He had given me mixed signals for the last couple of years, and he was still dating other girls.

Valentine’s Day 2001 rolled around, and Matt invited me to “hang out.” He bought my dinner as usual and afterwards, we drove back to his apartment to “informally” exchange gifts. I was actually surprised that he bought me a gift-- a pink Furby--even though I had also chosen some silly little token to give him.

We ended up talking in his bedroom/office. He was renting a 1-bedroom apartment, so his computer was right beside his twin bed. I was sitting in his computer chair while he sat on the bed behind me. We were laughing and talking and suddenly I realized our arms were linked as he rested against the back of the chair. It felt good, safe even, and I wasn’t sure what was running through his head. I casually allowed him to hold me but was still a little hesitant, a little confused.

We sat in silence for a few brief moments as my heart began to race. We had clumsily ended up in each others arms before as we wrestled like siblings, but this embrace was different. Matt lingered; he didn’t pull away as before. Then, he began to speak softly, “I’ve never realized how right this felt – you in my arms,” he said.

I was speechless. I had literally waited years to hear those words. My heart had been broken so many times before. But he wasn’t joking--he was dead serious. He swung me around in the chair to face him. “What do you think . . . about us?”

Again I was without words but managed to fumble out a “Yes, I think this feels right,” too scared to admit to the many nights of dreaming about his embrace. I was still a little cautious. It had been so long ago that I had hope in us being together. I wasn’t sure if I was still in love with him. “But is God really answering my prayers?” I thought.

We decided to go on our first date two days later. Joseph had invited us to see a scary movie at the theater (“Hannibal”, starring Anthony Hopkins), but midway through the film I had to excuse myself. I couldn’t bear to sit through another moment of the film’s disturbing imagery. I told Matt I would wait out in the lobby for them to finish the movie, but he ended up apologizing to Joseph and then following me out. He was too considerate to allow me to feel uncomfortable alone; therefore he drove me back to his apartment.

I was still rattled by the movie, so Matt switched the TV to a cheerleading competition on ESPN, which I knew he loathed. He was doing all of this for me! We talked some as we sat on his make-shift coach, a cheap tri-fold futon. Then he began a playful rendition of Pepe Le Pew from Looney Tunes using his hand as a puppet and speaking in his best French accent. “You ah zo beauteeful. I want to kees you,” he said as he poked and tickled me.

I began to laugh, glancing towards Matt. He had grown quiet and sat gazing into my eyes. He ever so slowly leaned forward, his smooth lips brushing mine. He softly kissed me. Suddenly, a wave of emotion swept over me, and I knew that I was still deeply in love with him, even after the many broken hearts and the hurt feelings, the hopelessness and the despair of watching him date other girls. And Matt was finally returning those long denied feelings.

God had a bigger picture in mind. He had a plan for me and knew I would one day look back on the days and months of desperation I felt as I was called to wait for Matt and see that God alone had given me hope again and again. Every time I had called out to my heavenly Father in agony, He had given me peace. I only had to trust in Him. He had answered all of my prayers—in His timing.

So, you thought the story was over? Find out what happens next in "The Epilogue" coming soon. If you're behind, go to Our Love Story for the previous segments.


Sonya said...

Awwwwww, so romantic! It's a beautiful story of your start together!

Vader's Mom said...

I need a kleenex! How adorably sweet!!!

Revka said...

Can I just say that I LOVE your love story and can't wait to read the rest of it! God is so good and always keeps His promises.

Brenda said...

Okay, This story is the BEST!! I loved reading it and can't wait for the next piece but does it really have to be over then?

Judi said...

My need to write a book. This is such a great story. It is so wonderful that you have shared it with us.