I couldn’t quite get the words out of my mouth.
Yes, I was in love with my friend Nate but I didn’t know if this leap into the unknown would be successful or would I look back a few months into it and realize it was all a BIG MISTAKE. See, I’m normally a pretty confident girl in most areas of my life—friendships, studies, work, church, activities, you name it, I’m always somewhere in the thick of it. But with relationships, I’d scored a big, fat zip. I’ve never been involved with anyone. Somehow, my friendships with guys had never led anywhere. And boyfriends? Nope, never been there. Therefore, this area was unknown to me. A real mystery, full of hope and pitfalls. In this area, I truly lacked confidence.
So taking that step of calling Nate was HUGE for me. And even though I couldn’t get the words out, the fact that I was willing to try for it was a miracle. After putting the phone down, I had to mentally talk myself into calling Nate again. I ran through the words in my head, rehearsing what I was going to say. I was going to tell him that even though we had agreed to be just friends, I had stronger feelings and ask him if he was willing to take it further.
So with a deep breath and fingers crossed, that Thursday, I called him again. And this time, I managed to say more than just a few stuttered words. After apologizing for hanging up the last time, I hesitantly started by saying, “Nate, I think I am…growing very fond of you.” Hah! I guess I just couldn’t get myself to say the “L” word. And since he had used those same words, I figured I could throw it back at him. I rushed on to explain how my feelings had grown stronger and that perhaps we should consider taking it further.
I don’t recall how much Nate said while I was expressing myself but I do know that that day, he let me down. Gently and quite seriously, he reasoned that we really should not take it that step further as he was not ready to jeopardize our friendship. I was crushed. The ever optimist in me had thought he would feel exactly the same way and agree with me. I didn’t have a plan B.
We hung up. That day, I did a lot of thinking. I was a little down and wondering what to do next. Thankfully, I had friends in my dorm I could turn to. That evening, I went up to visit my friend John for some chocolate and empathy. Turns out he was in the middle of some relationship woes himself and we spent the evening consoling ourselves and talking about the complexities of men (and women)!
Girded by the conversation and my own thoughts, I realized that I had to distance myself from Nate to get more perspective (and a little less emotional attachment). So I made plans with John and another friend, Beckee, to go out the next night to the Pier Bar to listen to some Hawaiian music. I knew I would see Nate earlier that same evening at the YWAM (Youth with a Mission) meeting but I decided that if I had plans, I had an excuse not to hang around after the meeting.
And so Friday came, and in the evening, I went off to the YWAM meeting after my regular jog. I had spent the whole afternoon psyching myself up to let go of my feelings and be calm and friendly. So why did my heart beat so hard as I approached the YWAM base? I sure was a sucker for punishment, eh?
I spotted Nate immediately with his prayer partner Truman. Waving casually at them, I quickly scanned the meeting hall and got a seat in front of them (so I wouldn’t have to see Nate) and started conversing with the person next to me. Never mind that I normally sat with Nate and Truman; I didn’t have to always do that, right? No biggie…
Well, forget about focusing on the meeting that day. I was very conscious of Nate behind me the entire evening. Of course I have absolutely no recollection of what was shared at that meeting. I was very distracted and very relieved when the meeting was over. I don’t even know why I bothered to be there. Some part of me wanted to see Nate, that I know for sure, but the practical voice inside was berating me for being so stupid. “You’re supposed to be putting distance, DISTANCE from him, girl!”
So right when the meeting ended, I got up to leave. I had plans and I was already running late. But just as I walked out of the meeting hall, Nate came up next to me to say hi. I tried to keep my voice casual and friendly (read: normal) as we talked. That conversation went something like this:
Nate: Can we talk?
Annie: Actually, I’ve got other plans tonight with John and Beckee and I have to dash.
Nate: I was just thinking about what you said…
Annie: Oh yeah? (thinking: what is he going to say now?!?!?)
Nate: Maybe we should discuss it more…
Annie (conflicted): I really have to go, I’m running late…let’s talk later, ok?
Nate: Okayyy…do you need a ride home? I can take you home.
Annie (hurriedly and distantly): No, thanks, I can walk. See ya.