Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chapter One: A Brief History Lesson

It all began when I least expected it. Though, doesn't it always?

I grew up in a very small town full of wonderful people and extraordinary friends. I was blessed with a set of parents who were madly in love, a brother who kept me on my toes and intrigued my mind more than anyone I had ever known, a Church full of people who truly loved me for who I was, and a set of friends who, for the most part, have stuck with me for a lifetime. I had an exceptionally great upbringing. My life was easy, fun, and in tact... like an artists paint palate, waiting to be dipped in to to create a masterpiece. And I was the dreamer waiting for it to all begin.

When I say I was a dreamer, you really have no idea. And I probably have no right using the word "was" in the previous sentence. I had delusions of grandeur for my life, and though some people tried, slamming me back to reality when I gushed about my hopes and aspirations, I felt sad for how boring their little minds must have been...for not dreaming big and bold, and then I bounced off with a smile and kept on a dreamin'. No one was going to knock me off my cloud. A great majority of my dreams consisted of "my one true love" (imagine Disney birds chirping, flying around me and me twirling in a flowey yellow dress with my arms outstretched) and how meeting him and falling in love with him would all come to fruition. In other words, with that regard, I guess I was your typical teenage girl.

In High School, I was a perky, pale, red headed and green eyed upbeat girl who had her life in order. I was an active leader in my Church Youth Group, a football and basketball Varsity cheerleader, good grades, knew where I would be attending college since the seventh grade, lots of friends, sheltered, goofy, silly, yada, yada, yada, and truly happy with life in general. My Dad owned the Pharmacy in our town, my Mom was a housewife and held Bible Studies for teens in her home once a week, and my brother was a future rock star/movie producer/author. My family was a very close-knit little family and it was a joy to spend every single day of the first 18 years of my life with them.

Now. As far as relationships went, I liked boys a lot, but there were very few dateable options in my town. I had jerk football boys place bets on getting me to go out with them (didn't happen), and a few musician "tortured soul" types that insisted we be together (again, never happened). I was the girl who was holding out for "the one". And I think that is what intrigued boys the most. I "dated" (and I use that term very loosely because we couldn't even drive) my best friend for two years. He was the nicest boy in school, a model boyfriend for parents, and truly very sweet. But, he was my best friend. We started Kindergarten together and were in the same class every year. Our parents were best friends, so we were, in the whole towns' mind "meant to be"...probably because he was the boy version of me, and I the girl version of him. I have video of us celebrating our older brother's birthdays together when we were one, and there we were, bolted to the kitchen bar in those seats that clipped to the counter (how very dangerous those must've been), shoving chocolate cake in our mouths and crying. When we were boyfriend/girlfriend we had so much fun together doing the typical "dates" (with our parents), but deep down I think we both knew our relationship wasn't what was best for either of us. We had a very sweet and innocent "relationship", and held hands a few times, but that was it. I knew that I was not what he needed in a life partner and vice versa. We had a little break up discussion at lunch one day, and continued being best friends throughout High School. And I was very thankful for that.

So. Relationships weren't so much my forte, I guess you could say. I had minimal experience, and in my mind, saw that as a positive thing because it was more to experience with "the one" (birds.. dresses.. singing!). You must envision the bird/dress scene when I mention "the one" Okay. It's a deal. I shall now continue since we have that settled. In the seventh grade, I realized the importance of Bible study, and pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ. I grew deeper in love with Him the more about Him I knew, and early on, decided that He would come before any relationship, whether it be a relationship with a boy, or friends or family. Because of that little "deal" I made with Him, I never feared finding earthly love. Sure, there were times that I longed to be loved by a boy and to love him back, but ultimately, I was confident that it would happen when it was supposed to happen. I just knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Oklahoma Baptist University, my college of choice, held my husband and that when I went there for school, we would meet, fall madly in love, get married and of course, live happily ever after. Okay, okay, you can insert the bird/dress scene here, too if you would like. Because I believed this would happen in my heart of hearts, life was a breeze, and my friends and I just enjoyed talking about cute boys from other towns...and of course, the Hanson boys captured our minds and attention far more than they probably should have. But it was fun, and there was no stress of dating or kissing or love. Dreaming about it was enough for us at the time.

Every summer since my freshman year of High School, I headed to Chattanooga, TN for a 10 day Bible "Boot Camp". It was the highlight of my year, surrounding myself with others who were like me...who I connected so deeply with. I attended other church camps, too, throughout my summers, but all of them paled in comparison of Boot Camp. I had never been so challenged, so worked, or so convicted in my life, as I was when I was there. I loved it. It was absolutely life changing for every sense of the word. I was a member of a Church in our town, and they had a summer youth program called "Truth and Peace". It was three weeks long, and took up a big chunk of the summer. I was always pushed to go, and sometimes even made to feel bad or guilty for not going, but I never had the desire, or conviction for it. I had found my place of choice for each summer, and really had zero desire to experience this thing that everyone talked about. It was a wonderful conference, I am sure, but it wasn't for me. Our sophomore year, my best friend decided she would give it a whirl and tried to get me to go with her. I kept telling her no...that I truly didn't feel led to go. She understood and went alone...we had never done anything apart from one another.

Before she went, she came to my house one evening and said, "Guess who's going to be at Truth and Peace?"

I rattled off a few names of really cute guys from other churches that we secretly liked, and she said "Nope....Darin Gatsby!!!"

I rolled my eyes, "Yeah, I don't know him."

"Me either, but I'm sure going to get to know him! He's cute!” she said.

I wished her good luck. I knew the name, but it meant nothing to me, and had even met this Darin Gatsby once when I was dating the other boy, years before. Darin was from the next state over, so he wasn't around our town very often. His grandparents did live in my town, though, so they visited sometimes. I vaguely remembered his face. All I knew about him was that every year after Truth and Peace, he always came home with a new girlfriend from our Church. Always. Every year. The Church van would come rolling in from Truth & Peace and a new girl would jump off proclaiming their love for Darin Gatsby! Darin Gatsby this; Darin Gatsby that...BLAH! I was sick and tired of hearing about it. Who was this joker anyway? He must have really been something.....or really been desperate. I chose to believe the latter.

She arrived to Truth & Peace and called me every few days to report what was going on, and I let her know what was going on with me.

"Soooo...." I asked her, "what about Darin Gatsby? Are you 'getting to know' him"?

She proceed to go on and on about how they became best friends over the first week and that it was "totally not like that"; that he had a thing going on with Samantha. Oh, and get this...he had a girlfriend back home. I began telling her how awful that was (that he had a girlfriend from home...and turns out she had even been in a diabetic coma while he was gone, and then surprised him by showing up the last few days of Truth and Peace. Poor, poor, girl), but that I hoped it worked out with Samantha. Of course he found a girl from our Church. It wouldn't be Truth & Peace if there wasn't a Darin Gatsby/girl from my town hookup. I laughed and rolled my eyes at this "player" every one gushed over.