Chapter Two: Wanna Tag Along?

 Photo by:  Aubrey Renee

Photo by: Aubrey Renee

Morning came, my eyes were pretty swollen from a good night's cry and like most college students, the first thing I did was check Facebook. 1 new message. From Asa Glass: "Well, it was my feeble attempt to help you do better with your tests...You really should ask Jill (roommate) for that back rub if you have no one else to do it. How were the tests anyway?"  I smiled. My heart and soul were so not interested in a relationship, or so I had been telling myself, but this guy was super sweet. I responded with a little longer message; friendly and casual, I continued about my day.

I wanted to respond to Ashley’s email in a friendly way that invited her to respond to me. It’s not my style to be patient, or to be “breezy,” as Monica Geller would say. I cannonball into love, make a splash, and usually scare everyone out of the pool. To this day, I’m not entirely sure how I managed to keep my cool in the early going with Ashley. We were exchanging messages regularly but I made a very conscience decision not to “friend” her on Facebook (we live in a weird time people) until she friended me. Each time she sent me a message, I made sure to send one back in similar length. I matched her tone with mine. I felt like I was actually pulling off “breezy!"  Inwardly though, I was losing my cool every time I got a notification from her. I checked my phone every ten minutes (okay, way more). I was going to reach a breaking point in my breezy so I made a move.

Sending and receiving messages from Asa was starting to become a normal part of my day that I sincerely looked forward to. His name came up way more in my phone conversations with Mom and I actually began to wonder if we would cross paths again. Surely we would right, I loved that coffee shop and we were messaging one another multiple times a day. I was still working through a lot of my grief at this time, allowing my heart to mend from the hurt it had endured my freshman year. It soon dawned on me, that with every note I received from Asa, my heart felt less burdened, less broken. He asked me inquisitive questions, and I loved writing thoughtful responses. He made me think, question and help me understand myself a little more each day. One morning, the sun and birds woke me earlier than normal and I hopped out of bed. I opened my laptop and logged into Facebook, 1 new message. I read the first two lines and in between the panic of my hair being scraggly and in need of a wash, I jumped for joy.

 “I’m going to the park to take my dog for a long walk. Want to tag along?” I wrote. And then I waited. I waited for what felt like an eternity. I had asked her to actually see me, spend time with me. I wouldn’t have to option of the backspace button to change something I had said. I was nervous and anxious, assuming all the excuses she would give me about why she couldn’t and then…she said yes.

There was something about that message that told me I was going to marry this man. That's insane, I completely agree. But it's like there was some hidden message in his question, "Want to tag along?" that said, "You're going to be the one I will marry." I hurried to get dressed and threw on comfortable jeans and applied minimum makeup. I felt like I was meeting an old friend, regardless of the fact that I had known him less than a week. My heart was pounding loudly, my hands felt a little shaky, but it all felt familiar; there was a lack of fear, which was extremely unusual for my scared-of-relationships-self.

We met at Sunergos that morning before going to the park. True to form, my idiot Chocolate Lab, all 100 lbs of energetic puppy, bounded right at her and practically knocked her to the ground, all before I could say hello. True to Ashley’s form, she smiled through the gut check from Humphrey, walked to me and gave me a big hug. Our first. A moment I pray I never forget. We then went to Cherokee Park and walked for hours. We talked about everything and nothing. We laughed and day dreamed. She told me about her family, her life, her walk with God. I noticed about half way through our walk that I had butterflies, but no anxiety. I could feel my blood racing and my heart pounding, but there was no fear. This girl was different.

There are only so many hours you can walk at a park before you have to admit you are no longer walking the dog, but on a date. After probably three full hours, we decided we needed food. We headed to Qdoba because they had outdoor seating and Humphrey could join us. She only agreed if I let her pay for her own meal. I didn’t. I paid. I wasn’t going to let this day be anything less than a date with this gorgeous, interesting, funny blonde that I was falling for. She could be mad later, today we were on a date.

Part of my whole "this will be the year I'm going to be single" was enforcing the rule: no dates. I wouldn't allow a guy to pay for my meal, at all. So I told Asa, "Sure, I'll go to Qdoba, but I have to pay for mine." We went through the line, I'm sure I ordered some vegetarian burrito with a diet coke, and started to pull out my bank card but I was two seconds two slow; he was already ahead of me and paying for both our meals. Oh crud, I thought. But a smile began to form and my heart said, "He is different." We sat in the sunshine, his insanely hyper dog was meanwhile drooling all over me and couldn't take his eyes off my meal. Asa commanded Humphrey to be still and to sit and he listened. I could read the love between them, it was obvious that Humphrey's entire heart beat for this man. Little did I know that very soon, so would mine.

After nearly six hours together, I started the slow drive back to Sunergos. We pulled in to the back of the coffee shop and she thanked me for perhaps the strangest thing I’ve ever been thanked for: “Thank you for not asking for my number. For allowing this to go slow.” I think I responded with, “I figure you’ll give it to me when you want me to have it.” What I actually wanted to say was, “I desperately want your number, but I am terrified that I will run you away. And I can’t run you away. I can’t. I have to be breezy at least this once because I can’t take a broken heart again.”

When I got out of his car, I looked at the clock. We had just spent an entire day together and it flew by. If I hadn't had deadlines to meet and exams to study for, I would have probably found some other excuse to lengthen our time together. I opened the back door of my house and walking to my bedroom in a daze. I remember opening the windows and flopping on to my bed, re-capping the day in full. He asked me to go for a walk with his dog, we got lunch, he paid, we talked and talked for hours on end... it was a date. And I was feeling okay with it. I opened Facebook and opened our message history. I read and re-read. I prayed for a few minutes and before starting a new line, I hit the button, "Request Friend." Then I sent him something short and sweet; at the very end, including my number. I couldn't really think straight, there was something about Asa. He was so calm, level-headed, rational, kind, passionate and absolutely, 100%, a complete and Godly gentleman. My heart wasn't ready for this but it also didn't ask. Love is funny like that--it doesn't check with you first, it doesn't follow rules or regulations. Love just leaps. And I was diving head first.

She hugged me goodbye, I’m sure I said something like, “I’ll see you soon” and she said, “I’ll message you later”.  After six hours, she still had more to say, and wanted more from me. I drove away thanking God for her, asking for patience and to trust His timing. Later that night I got two things from Ashley: A Facebook friend request and a message with her number. And just like that, I was done being breezy. I was done playing it cool. Love isn’t a game; it isn’t about playing it safe. Love is real and raw. Love shouldn’t be tamed. Turns out, we both felt the same way.