February 8th 1998, I arrived at church wearing a vintage knee-length dress feeling alone and a little sad. I had been dating a divorced guy off and on for several months and it seemed to be going nowhere. It wasn’t just that he was immature; it was the fact that the longer I knew him, the more his arrogant behavior irritated me. I kept thinking “I can change him,” thinking maybe if I was more like this or more like that he’d see what he had in a girl like me, that I wanted a loving relationship with no games, but my strategy went unnoticed. I knew I needed to cut things off, but every time I headed that direction insecurity trapped me in its desperate jaws again.
After church, I excited into the foyer when I walked right into tall shy guy. I hadn’t seen him since the first week of January. He had a big smile on his face and commented on how pretty I looked. He said he’d been looking for me at church every Sunday, but hadn’t seen me (which was so ironic because I had been attending church every Sunday). We talked for a few minutes before he asked if I wanted to go out for Valentines Day. I wasn’t sure what to say. As pathetic as it seemed, I had an “immature boyfriend” who would probably want to take me out on Valentines Day, but then I had an idea; maybe going out with tall shy guy would give me the confidence to break up with immature boyfriend.
“Sure,” I said, thinking about the sweet revenge I could have with immature boyfriend, maybe even make him jealous. “I’ll go out with you on Valentines Day,” and I wrote my phone number on his hand.
Tall shy guy called me the next day. What did I like to eat, what would I like to do, a movie? Dinner? Tall shy guy was sweet and made arrangements for Saturday night. He had a bouquet of cookies delivered to my apartment the next day. I saw immature boyfriend later that week and when he asked me out for Valentines Day, I told him I had other plans. Revenge was sweet indeed.
Saturday night I picked out a white button-up top with tan-white checkered pants. I wore my hair down and thought about tall shy guy. He seemed nice enough, not really my type though, I wasn’t sure why? Maybe he was too nice; after all I needed someone with a little more edge. Yes, the edgy guys were working out just fine for me.
Tall shy guy picked me up and his manners were impeccable. He greeted me at my apartment door with flowers, he was on time, he commented on how pretty I looked, opened the car door for me, pulled out my chair at the Mexican restaurant, paid the bill (this was a big deal) and held my hand as we jumped over puddles in the road left over from the rain. We walked to a movie across the street. After the movie, he drove me home and walked me to my door. He asked if he could call me again. I told him that would be fine, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about immature boyfriend. Was I two-timing him? Would he notice? Would immature boyfriend ever be ready for a committed relationship?
Tall shy guy called me the next night, but so did immature boyfriend. Immature boyfriend wanted to know what I did on Valentines and why I didn’t go out with him instead. I told him I went out with a friend. Immature boyfriend wanted to know if I would come over after class so we could talk, work things out and get serious. My strategy had worked. Maybe now he would know I was worth fighting for.
Maybe it would just be more of the same empty promises, lack of motivation and me feeling lousy about myself. Weeks went by and tall shy guys phone calls went unreturned. Tall shy guy left a bouquet of balloons tied to the handlebars of my bike with a note that said he was thinking of me and hoped I would call. I had little confidence and wondered why God had forgotten about the covenant I had made with Him.
Then, a month later I received a letter in the mail. It was a hand-written note from tall shy guy, asking how I was doing, wondering how my studies were, how the children I nannied for were (and he mentioned them by name), how my little plants in my garden were growing and so on. I couldn’t believe how much he remembered about me. For not being my type, he was the most genuine guy I’d ever met.
After I read his letter, I started thinking about him. He was a college graduate with a master’s degree, he drove a car he owned, he lived on his own (not at home with mom and dad), he had a job and was so nice. Why wasn’t he my type again?
I called my sister, Krista and told her about him.
“Laura, he sounds amazing. He just might be the one?” she said.
“No, no, he’s not my type,” I replied, certain in my decision. “I know I would never marry him.”
“Just call him, let him know you’ll go out with him again,” she suggested.
I was seeing less and less of immature boyfriend, so it didn’t seem like a bad idea to go out with tall shy guy again, even if he was just a friend.
So, after weeks of messages, I called tall shy guy back and said I’d go out with him again.
“Tonight,” he replied.
“No, tomorrow night is fine,” I said a little taken back by his eagerness. What did he see in me anyway?
Tall shy guy came and picked me up the next night. We went out to dinner, than walked around a lake at a park. He liked my boots. He liked my hair. He liked my passion for the environment, for the sea, for reading, for being vegetarian, for being alive. I felt a bit self-conscious, but I felt like I could do anything. This guy sure liked a lot about me and I knew very little about him. I found out he was a counselor and worked with teenagers at a half-way house. Later, we played at the park and he pushed some little children in the swings. The children spoke Spanish and tall shy guy understood them and was able to speak back to them. I liked when he spoke Spanish.
When we walked back to his car, he asked if he could kiss me.
This was happening too fast.
I wasn’t sure how I felt. Tall shy guy was so sincere. I respected him so much as a person. If I kissed him, it would mean something real. I needed more time to figure out how I felt. I told him no.
The next day, I told immature boyfriend I didn’t want to see him again. He didn’t even come after me when I walked out his door. I was free.
It took about a week before I returned tall shy guy’s phone calls. I still wasn’t sure how I felt, but I knew he was worth taking time to figure out. I invited him to my house to work in my small garden on my apartment patio. I made him whole wheat pancakes with real maple syrup. He kept the conversation focused on me and asked questions about my childhood, my passions, my dreams.
The next Sunday, I invited tall shy guy to meet my parents. My parent’s home was busy with six children still living at home. The commotion didn’t bother him. He played with my little brother and sisters. We made cookies and later went for a walk with the family dog. He wore a short sleeve shirt and it was freezing outside. I asked if he was cold and he said “No, I’m fine,” as he shivered through his teeth. “I’m just happy to be here with you.”
He invited me to a church activity the next night where we would be visiting sick children in the hospital. I thought about him all day at school and work. Could this really be happening? Where before relationships had been so manipulated, this was so pure; when boys had been so complicated, this was so simple. Tall shy guy and I meet at the church and drove to the hospital with some friends in the back of a van when he reached for my hand. It felt so natural. Later, when we were alone in the elevator, he gave me a big bear hug and said “I’ve been waiting to put my arms around you all day.” I felt a little flutter in my heart. I liked how his arms felt around me.
Tall shy guy? Or hunky gorgeous man?
This is how I was starting to see him and I was more surprised by this than anyone. I needed a bit more time to figure out how I felt before I would kiss him. He was someone I respected and trusted. He was so amazing. I didn’t want to lead him on. I wouldn't kiss him until I knew for certain I could give my heart to him. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him. I went back to God in prayer, but I think I already knew the answer.