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He sings me to sleep

The surprise was genuine last month when his name appeared on my phone. Soon we were talking daily. About life, about our past, about our future or simply about nothing at all. The calls have gotten shorter but he still calls every night.

I have known him since high school. He was there at camp, summer after summer. And he was the real reason I went back. Our days were filled with games, swimming, small group time, art and crafts and lots of fun activities. But after dinner, everyone would head for that big building smack dab in the middle of camp. Chapel. Every evening I would walk in with my friends but I wouldn’t sit with them.

No matter where he was there was always an empty space beside him. One night I watched as several people tried to sit beside him but he always pushed them down one seat. That seat was always saved for me. I may not have talked to him all day but nights were our time together. Every night I would find him in the crowd and make my way to my place at his side.

For four years of high school. Until the year I arrived and he was not there. That was my last year at camp. And over the years I wondered what had happened to him. Until facebook. He lives over 500 miles away but travels for work. One day we figure he’ll come through my town and we’ll meet face to face. But no time soon.

Occasionally we’ll text during the day. A quick hello or a passing thought. But every night he calls. Sometimes he calls early enough to talk and we’ll discuss our day, our conversations with other friends, our adventures in life. Other nights he calls just as I’m drifting off to sleep but I still answer.

It started one night as I was growing tired, there were lulls in the conversation and he would sing along to the radio. Until finally I wasn’t answering him and he knew I had fallen asleep. He says the sound of my breathing changes and he knows when I’ve drifted off. But every night he still calls and he sings until I no longer answer.

It feels a lot like that seat that always stayed open for me. Some days the conversation is long, some days it is short. But it’s always the two of us at the end of the day.

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory,

Elisabeth

Walking away, again

It has been five weeks since our first date. Five weeks to the day when I finally said the words I had been dreading.

I’m done. With you.

Dating is complicated at this age.

For five weeks he’s been nothing but good to me. He sends flowers, he sends sweet good morning texts, he calls to say good night. He listened when I needed to vent. He mowed my lawn. When I didn’t feel good he brought me A Walk To Remember on DVD. When I needed one last ingredient, he picked it up and brought it to me.

But he also uses too many emoticons in his text messages. He uses an inflection in his voice when he is trying to be funny which only makes him sound ridiculous. He didn’t have many of his own friends and constantly wanted my complete and full attention. When I wouldn’t answer his call or text message, he would get anxious and send “what’s wrong?” texts. And he was afraid of storms. Literally cowered on the floor like a baby when there was thunder and lightening – that’s what he says anyway.

Things were promising in the beginning. It was sweet that he focused all his attention on me, until it was just plain creepy.

He didn’t take it well. He tried to tell me it was my issues, my commitment issues that were standing in our way. I was letting the right guy get away because I was scared. That I always run from what’s good for me. He’s right I have huge commitment issues but he is still not the right guy.

Lest you still think I’m the bad guy I’ll leave you with this. He was not nice to the waiter. We were sitting at lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant and his plate came out with chicken not beef wrapped in the tortillas. And he threw a fit, like he was a 5 year old child. He pushed his plate away. When the waiter returned he very rudely said “this is not right, I don’t want anything else.”  He sat there, with his arms crossed, ranting about how he was never coming back to this place that couldn’t get a simple lunch order right. Finally he rose and stormed out and I was left to apologize profusely to the owner for the scene he had made.

And if you cannot be nice to the waiter, it really doesn’t matter how nice you are to me.

Not looking back-

Elisabeth

Do Not Pass Go

I found the address on the internet,  entered it into my GPS and headed for the city. When they computerized voice told me it was time to leave the interstate my stomach began to flutter. You know when you are traveling in an unfamiliar city, this is the exit you pray you never accidentally get off on.  At the end of the exit the name of the neighborhood was familiar to me only from news reports. Had there been a shooting here recently?

Up ahead I could see a stop sign and there seemed to be people standing around on every corner. I never stopped, figuring I’d be happy to see blue lights in my rear view. When finally I looked up I had never been so happy to arrive at a fence with razor wire in my whole life.

It took me a moment to find parking designated for visitors, I took a deep breath. I kept moving until I reached the door, passing characters the likes of which I had only seen on TV. Holding my head high, I pushed it open and stood in front of the metal detector. I waited while my bag was searched. And then stepped to the desk.

If you didn’t know better you might think you were giving your name to the hostess, to wait for a table. Only behind this hostess stand stood a uniformed officer. My name had to be matched with the inmates visiting list. And yet another list had to be checked to make sure he had visitation privileges. And then it was time to wait.

We sat on crowded plastic benches that lined the walls of the small waiting area. I did not make conversation with the new mother next to me, the infant could be no more than a month. I avoided eye contact with the only other couple whose skin color was the same as mine. Their clothing easily marking them as well to do. To the other side of me sat a woman still in her McDonald’s uniform, she seemed weary from a long day of work on her feet. I spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling, the numerous coats of paint giving away the age of the building.

Finally they called his name. They called eight names. People who had been waiting since before I arrived remained seated. From somewhere behind the door a buzzer sounded and the door opened. Just inside an officer pointed us to block B. And the door slammed shut behind us.

They were lined up in their blue jumpsuits on the other side of a plexiglass wall. I kept walking, feeling the eyes of the other men as I passed, until the face on the other side of the glass was familiar. We smiled, awkward smiles, smiles that belied our surroundings. And for a moment I just stared.

His skin had grown pale as if he hadn’t seen the sun in days. His hair was shaggy and he badly needed a shave. I stood, watching him, taking him in until he began to talk and I realized I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I looked to my left and right but unlike the movies there was no telephone. He leaned toward a metal circle covering the small hole cut through the glass. Standing I couldn’t reach it so I climbed on the metal stool and pressed my ear to the glass. Finally I heard his voice.

He was so sorry. He knew the drive in had been bad. He hated me seeing him like this. But he was so grateful I had come. And I understood the contradiction in his words.

There was nothing important to say, no plans to discuss. We just talked. About times  in the past. About the uncertainty of his future. About what happened next. Then came the one minute warning, it was time to say goodbye.

He held his hand flat against the glass. I laid mine against his. And then the tears that I had been able to fight until then began to flow. He backed up, his eyes full of pain still holding mine and I smiled.  And then he disappeared through a door. I turned and waited for the locked door to be buzzed open, allowing me to escape to freedom.

A few years older now-

Elisabeth

Single in the City

One of the things I love most about visiting Melanie is slipping into the life of a young professional. I can almost imagine what it would be like making my way off the train, walking up to a high rise apartment building, to an evening of leisurely dinner and relaxing in front of the TV.

On Thursday evening I sat on one of the benches out front of her building trying and failing to hide the fact that I had been crying. A delivery driver pulled up and out came a 20 something to claim his Thai food. The driver pulled away and he caught my attention.

“Guy trouble?” he says. Almost more a statement than a question. “Something like that” is the only answer I offer. “We’ve got beer and takeout. You wanna come up and hang out.” A simple shake of my head and he disappears into the building.

But my tears have been replaced by a grin. Sitting on the bench in jeans and my old college sweatshirt he didn’t know I didn’t belong. No one would guess I’m a single mother whose life is really full of little league games, pto meetings and homework. So for a moment I sit. Reveling in the freedom of pretending to be something I’m not.

My life took a path I never planned. I never got the chance to be a single girl in the big city. I skipped straight to young  mom in the small hometown. I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t change it if I could.

But for just a moment I wonder… what if? What if I had stayed on the path I intended? Gone to law school? Moved to Boston? Where would I be now?

Just wondering-

Elisabeth

The conversation flowed easily. We talked about what we’d done since high school. Where life had taken us. The lessons we’d learned along the way. We talked about our children, our church, his company. He told jokes, I laughed.

And still my mind wandered.

Why had I agreed to this date? Because he is what’s good for me. Good guy, good job, good reputation, good friends, good family. And I am trying very hard to make choices that are good for me.

I have always had a thing for bad boys. Tattoo? Perfect my mother would never approve. Irresponsible? My father will hold his tongue. Unintelligent? Even better. At least for a little while. But shouldn’t I be past that. Shouldn’t I be looking for what’s good for me?

But there was absolutely no chemistry. No spark.

When was the last time I sat across from a date hoping that he would kiss me?

The best man. Good guy. Good chemistry. See it does exist. I guess I’ll just have to keep waiting until I find the combination again.

So when the good guy dropped me off I thanked him for lunch. I smiled and shut the door behind me.

Refusing to settle-

Elisabeth

The Winds of Change

Dennis is leaving. I got the email late Saturday night two weeks ago.

Which wouldn’t be that big a deal. Only he’s my boss, the guy I report to, basically I’m his right hand girl. The email went on to say that he will not be replaced until at least this fall. Oh and did I mention our Senior Pastor has a 12 week sabbatical this summer? That means our #1 and #2 guy will be gone.

Oh and did I mention I don’t like change? Big change? Change your life change? I. Don’t. Like. It.

Monday morning. I sat in the big bosses office. “How are you feelin’?”

I wanna cry. Want me to add a couple people to the dinner meeting that begins in a half hour? No worries. I need to be here an hour tomorrow on my day off for something? No big deal. You’re cancelling the big event I’ve spent months planning? Oh well. Go up on stage and fill time in front of a large audience? Where’s my mic. But my boss is leaving? I wanna cry.

No, I do not intend to run screaming from the building. Yes, I will be here all summer. Yes, I’m perfectly capable of doing my job without someone looking over my shoulder. Yes, you can count on me.

I get that after four years he felt a calling, he believed God was calling him in a new direction, to a different church. I completely support him following God’s leading. Because the thing is, if God is calling him away, that must mean he has something else for my church.

I have learned to trust over the last few years that God has a plan. And God’s plan is good. But God’s plan may take a little while. Until then you may have to work hard, you may experience pain and you may not be able to see where you’re going. He does.

So why do I wanna cry? I like Dennis. He is my favorite boss. I have gotten pretty good at anticipating his needs, finding solutions to his problems and covering his back, secure in the knowledge that he’d do the same for me. For all those reasons and more I am sad to see him go. I have a very real sense of loss.

But I’m not afraid. I don’t worry my church will fall apart without him, it won’t. Even with the big boss gone this summer, the coffee will still get made, the music will still be rocking, the preaching will still be stellar, the hurting will still get comforted, and the lights will stay on. Oh and I’ll be working a whole lot harder.

Believing Him when He said, “for I know the plans I have for you… plans to give you hope and a future.”

Still not a fan of change,

Elisabeth

Dear Random Guy-

Perhaps we should take a moment to talk about what buying a drink really buys you.

I appreciate you buying me a drink. I really do. One of the nice things about being a girl is rarely paying for my drinks.  And yes, occasionally I have accepted drinks with no intention of giving the guy my further attention. I even once sent a guy off to get me a drink simply to get him away from me and then headed straight for the door. But that one deserved it. Okay I digress….

It was nice talking to you. The conversation was pleasant. I was even happy to dance with you.

But seriously. It was one drink. It does not buy you my phone number. You do not get to give my guy friends dirty looks when I hug them on my way out the door. And it does not entitle you to be able walk me to my car. When I said I wouldn’t give you my number, I meant it.

I was not playing coy. I was not playing hard to get. I am hard to get.

And following me out to my car despite my best attempts to dissuade you. That was just creepy.

Glad we cleared that up-

Elisabeth