The stress of having a college boyfriend started to take its toll. Kyle loved me but he also loved college life and didn’t always want to travel home every weekend. He was starting to make friends especially through church and there would always be activities he would want to go to.
His faith also started to become an obvious divide between us. I was baptized Catholic as a baby but never received my first communion or confirmation. I didn’t particularly enjoy church growing up but I do remember the hymns and the stained-glass windows. I remember the sun shining in, warming the stiff wooden pew coloring it in a rainbow of greens, oranges, and blues. I remember the tap of my patent-leather shoes clicking against the tiled floor trying to keep time with the steady, familiar tunes. There were periods of time where my mother tried her best to get us to church but it was hard and she had greater battles to fight than trying to corral fidgety kids into a car with a crying baby on her hip. So church turned into a holiday event on Christmas and Easter. Because of that I didn’t have much knowledge of faith.
I knew of Jesus Christ through a two year stint at a private Catholic middle school. I remember the old priest sitting on my desk in the front row causing nervous glances from classmates wondering how the small desk was holding up his large stature. I remember playing Jesus Christ in a reenactment we did of the first sacrament where I memorized his blessing of the bread and wine. I remember hearing the parable of the sower and wondering what kind of seed I was. Obviously I didn’t understand that I was actually the receiving ground. I learned about the Savior’s life but not about believing in all that he could do for my life. I was given small moments of chills down my spine as the sun shone through those stain-glassed windows as I sang of faith and love in and omniscient God.
So I knew God existed. I had prayed to him in times of need or sadness before but my knowledge and faith was without peripheral vision. It was such a small line of sight, but it was something.
Kyle’s faith was always on the table for discussion. He brought it up in casual moments quoting a scripture he had read and studied and slowly it became a part of our nightly talks. I was so curious to learn about this faith of his so seemingly different than my own. It seemed like he always had an answer. Especially to questions I had never even thought of before. Why were we here on earth?
As our religious discussion increased so did my desire to be around Kyle more. Unfortunately, Kyle starting having a slight opposite reaction. It wasn’t that he no longer loved me but through our discussions I was slowly increasing his excitement to go on a mission and he didn’t really see the point in having a girlfriend while he was out. He would be gone for two years and the only communication would be through letters. No visits and no phone calls. What was the point?
April came with Kyle’s birthday and I, trying to be the best girlfriend ever, wanted to somehow sneak into his dorm room and decorate it with a ton of yellow things I had gotten at the dollar store and surprise him with a visit from me. So the surprise visit from me came first. He was excited and wanted to bring me to a church activity with him that night. But I needed to decorate his room, somehow I had to convince him to leave me in his dorm room while he went to an activity.
“Why don’t you come with me?” he asked
“Oh I think I am just tired from the drive here and I don’t really know anyone. Really, it’s fine if you go. I will be fine. I just need a little rest.” I tried playing it cool.
He gave me a weird look, “well I feel bad just leaving you here…..” he seemed deep in thought as he came up with a perfect solution in his mind, “if you really don’t want to go and are tired why don’t you just go back to Yakima then. I think I will be at this activity for awhile…”
Suddenly I was deeply hurt. Was he trying to get rid of me? Didn’t he want me here with him, even if it was just in the same town? My mind raced with reasons he would ask me to go back to Yakima after I had only been there for about an hour.
Tears pooled in my eyes and my cheeks flushed with color. My body started to tremor as months of bottled up worries suddenly emerged.
“I don’t understand, “ my voice was shaky, “I came up here for you. I am always coming up here. Driving, spending my money to see you, picking you up and taking you back to Yakima so we can spend some time together. It’s always me. I feel like I am making every effort to make this work and you are just sitting back riding along not really caring.” I had found my voice and I was mad.
His expression changed as I went off on everything I had done to make the relationship work and how I felt he was taking advantage of it all. Then I told him about my plans, about how I wanted to surprise him with a fun decorated yellow room and how he just wanted to get rid of me.
He was speechless.
Then he tried to mend it all.
“Gina I am so sorry I didn’t know…” But his apology sounded weak and insincere in my ears after my own glaring rampage.
“I’m going.” I tried leaving the door but he blocked the way.
“Let me go, I can’t do this anymore” I pushed past him confidently imagining myself as every strong heroine I had ever read about. I thought I knew what I was doing but with each step further from the door my confidence weakened and I was shaking with fear of what I was losing by the time I reached the elevator. I pushed the button and waited. I waited for him.
Wasn’t he supposed to come rushing after me? That’s what happens in every great love story right? He chases after the girl.
The doors opened and I stepped inside hoping for a flash of his face before the doors closed. The elevator lowered and my heart sank with it. I held onto a small thread of hope though. The stairs! Oh the glorious stairs, Kyle loved the stairs and often we would race between the elevator and the stairs to see who could get down faster. So then I imagined puppy dog eyes on the other side of the elevator once it reached the bottom. The doors opened and…..nothing.
I waited in the lobby for a minute thinking that I might have beaten him in the elevator for once but he didn’t come. I somberly walked out to my car, the world a frozen gray surrounding me. Once in my car I couldn’t budge. What had I done wrong? Could I really just walk away so easily from my first love? Why didn’t he chase after me? Questions flooded in and then I started to get mad again. This guy was supposed to love me and just gave up with one step out the door? I sat there stewing and finally I just had to know what the heck he was thinking. So I called him.
Each ring brought flutters to my heart and at the sound of his croaking, “Hello…” the tears poured out.
“Why didn’t you chase after me?” I openly asked, “Here I am waiting in my car and you didn’t come after me…”
“Wait right there.”
The line went dead and soon I saw the most handsome young man I have ever seen walking towards my car with tears in his sky blue eyes. He opened my door and hugged me. He held me close as he choked out, “I thought I had lost you…”
We talked things out that day in the car, where we had miscommunicated, where we had both been wrong, and how we could fix it all. Turns out once I left his room Kyle was a complete mess and fell on his bed in tears completely overcome. I told him next time I try something like that he better always chase after me.
That day was crucial in our relationship. It marked our first official fight and the resolution revealed how well we meshed in working things out together. We also realized that we had something special. A love that comes once in a lifetime. Plus I got Kyle to not go to the activity and we spent the entire day together.