Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Three: A Whole New World

Chapter 23

Darin’s orientation started a week before mine, so he asked if I would go with him and his parents to be “dropped off”. Of course I went, and helped him settle into and organize his room, met his roommate and helped him shop for last minute items and snacks at Wal-Mart. As we strolled the aisles, it suddenly became real. This was it. This was the last time we would ever be “us” as we were.

Would things ever be the same?

We spent hours there getting him situated and I tried to take my time doing any small task so that I could soak up these last few moments with him until who knew when. I lingered and when there was nothing else left for us to do, his parents said it was time leave. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach as I looked up at Darin. I hated this.

We said our goodbyes and Darin and I strolled far behind his parents as he walked us back to their van. I didn’t want to leave him there. I wanted him to get in with us and go back home. This was hard. Much harder than I ever, ever expected. He hugged me and thanked me for coming and handed me a letter. Funny, I had left a letter for him under his pillow for him to find that night. I choked back tears and told him I was going to miss him. He smiled, though his eyes showed sadness, and fear. He replied, “I will miss you too, Whitney.” He gave me one last hug and helped me into the van. I looked out my window for a quick wave and the image of him standing there – all alone – in a whole new world with all new people – made me so incredibly sad. He looked so small, so alone. I wanted to turn around and stay with him. It is an image I still remember to this day. That night was pure torture.

It was a Wednesday evening, so we had Church that night. It was weird being there without him. I went through the motions of singing and taking notes, but my mind was somewhere else. My mind was in his dorm room – imagining what he must be doing. I hoped he was making friends. I hoped he found people to eat with. I hoped he was reading my letter, thinking of me, too. I hoped he missed me like I missed him.

The next week arrived and it was my turn to go to college. I wasn’t scared because my best friend was coming with me. We were on the same floor of the same dorm, only two rooms away from each other. I was excited to meet people and start up the hectic life of college kids. Orientation week was a complete bore – Amber and I skipped out on most activities because it felt too much like camp. We spent our nights exploring the new town and trying out the new restaurants.

With every new guy I met, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “are you the little Baptist guy I am going to marry?” And then quickly finding myself thinking, “I sure hope not….Darin would never do that, or Darin would say that.” Darin. Darin. Darin. If only he were there, then …. then life would be perfect.

But, he wasn’t, so we did our best to e-mail at least five times a day and talk when we could. We also instant messaged on every night. My cell phone was only to be used in case of emergency and he did not have one, so we used phone cards. We told each other everything. We talked about our classes, our classmates, our roommates…everything. It was kind of neat to have someone disconnected from OBU to talk to, vent to, laugh with and escape with. He was my constant source of encouragement, accountability and entertainment, and I missed him immensely.

Two weeks had passed for both of us and something came up at home that we both needed to be home for. We “happened” to “need” to go home on the same weekend, and I absolutely could not wait to see his face again.