A year ago today, the day before Thanksgiving, I was sitting at work staring at the clock. I was a nervous wreck, but also tremendously excited. I only had a few more hours to go, and still couldn't believe that it was really happening. I was leaving after work to go to the airport.. and he'd be there waiting for me. I'm smiling so much right now thinking about that day. I went home so that Dawn (and her daughter Mackenzie) could ride with me because she was nervous about me going alone. ;o) To be honest, I'm pretty glad she was there! Not because I was afraid. My heart had been invested for weeks already. Maybe it was just helpful to feel like someone else was there to be sure this was real.
I met this guy online. I know, I know. I can already see your eyes widening and your mouth dropping open. It wasn't like "that." No dating site, no singles hook-up page. Just some friendly online video gaming. :) For several months, I had been getting to know lots of friends that way. People all over the East Coast, Canada, a few scattered out west. There was a group of us that hung out on the game and played around for months. And then there was this guy. He's younger than me, but my interest was piqued immediately. He's pretty interesting. We'd chat about the game, he helped me along (I'm still not very good at it! haha), we talked for hours about a million different things. Travel, our family, things we love (yay for crunchy peanut butter!), things we don't love, people in our lives, our past, God, work, etc. Anything you can imagine! I found myself thinking about him.. a lot. I was frustrated by this in some ways because 1) he lived so far away, 2) he was younger than me by several years, and 3) he's "online." And that's weird, right? But, I'm weird.
Then, as our friendship grew, the texting began. And then a few weeks later, the phone calls. Those were the kind of phone calls that kept me up the entire night. Many nights like that. I didn't think I was going to make it some days. :o) Funny what you can put your body through when it comes to stuff like this, huh? But he was always there. Pursuing me, getting to know me, talking about life with me - and even when serious things happened, like the death of my grandfather and some serious health issues with his own grandmother a couple of days later, he was there. My heart was opening more and more. We talked a lot about God, a lot about each other.. and then we talked about how we really felt. I was scared.to.death. I felt like it had been so long since I had been so seriously involved with someone, but I couldn't shake this. And I really didn't want to.
So, the confessions came, and the emotions flooded.. and I knew I was in this for the long haul. And so was he. :o) So, I shared with a few more close friends about what was going on. What the heck was I supposed to do next? How could I.. you know.. like.. love someone in another state? He and I began to discuss what it would be like for us to meet. I remember one time telling him that "in a year or so, I'm going on a cruise with my family. Maybe I could swing by Louisiana." Hahah... Oh man. And do you know what he said? He said he'd wait that long if that's what I needed. (Though I don't think that would have really been the best thing for us, of course. :o)) And then, as Thanksgiving approached, we were talking about family traditions and what our families were doing... My family celebrates a few weeks early because of my parents' work schedule, and his family all had plans out of town/state. So... maybe. Could we? SHOULD we?
Again, I asked my friends. What do I say?! Should I let him visit? What if he doesn't like me anymore? What if we don't get along in person? What if we DO get along in person?! Everyone's answers were the same. These women, all independently of one another, told me the same exact thing. "You can't continue on having your heart love and care for someone you aren't even willing to meet, Nicole. You're being silly. Say yes."
So.. I said yes. We Skyped and I told him yes. He was going to visit for Thanksgiving.
I drove around the corner at Terminal 2 at RDU airport and I saw him, off in the distance. He was on the phone talking to me, looking for my car, and I just stopped talking and looked at him as I drove closer. My heart was pounding, and Dawn just looked at me and smiled. I stopped the car, and we both smiled at each other. I got out while he was shoving his luggage in the back seat with my other passengers. And then he ran around the back of my car to meet me half way, and his arms went around me and he hugged me so tightly.
I still love his hugs.
It was weird for all of about 5 minutes in the car, but as quickly as it started, it was over, and it was like the most normal thing for him to be sitting next to me. The next few days felt like a whirlwind. We talked for hours, I showed him (too many) things and places in Raleigh that I loved, we made food together, we watched movies, we laughed (a lot), and we soaked up every free waking moment that we could. I was definitely in this for the long haul. :o) My heart already had been for a while... I just had to let real life catch up. On Sunday, that weekend, we went to see Dawn's son, Trevor, get baptized at their church. Afterward, at a family lunch at a restaurant, Mackenzie looked up at Damion as we were paying for our food and said, "Oh, are you guys like "together" now?" Everyone kind of giggled and smirked and he told her we were. I already knew that, but it was still sweet. And a little embarrassing since the whole group was standing there. :o)
The last year has definitely not been a breeze, in regards to "long distance dating." We spend as much time as we can talking, Skyping, etc. And we do visits as much as we can. A lot has happened, and we've learned so much. But every day, he makes me happy. I love his wit, his attentiveness, his desire to know the deep and difficult things about God, his maturity in handling my emotions. I love his laugh when something really tickles him. I love how he cared for me and my family through a weird and trying summer. I love his family and how much they love each other and stick by one another when life isn't always easy. I love that I still get a giddy feeling in my stomach when he's calling, or when I see a text pop up on my phone from him. I love his stories and how smart he is. I like learning what it's like to put someone else before myself. (I don't always like that - it's a hard, life-long lesson, I hear. But I enjoy that I'm getting to learn it with him.)
I'm so happy he's in my life, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds!