17.2.11

How We Met Part 4

As I've been writing this story out, I do realize it is a bit one-sided and very full of "I's" and "My's". I also realize that this is not a story involving far off people who have passed on, but folks in the current here and now, so I'm trying to be very careful and discreet! I dreamed last night someone had read my stories so far and had left this multi-paragraph comment printed on glossy paper slamming me and calling me a charlatan.

I also keep asking Tuan: "is all this okay?" "You're revealing my Bapticostal roots!" he has been telling me.

Oh, haven't you heard of a Bapticostal? I hadn't either until I used the terms to describe Tuan to my mom in the summer of 2000. I was sort of mashing Baptist and Pentecostal all into one lump and honestly, he was not at all Pentecostal and I'm not sure why I ever described him in that way! It is a joke to us now. But the Bapticostal term kind of explains why Tuan was not on my radar as a potential husband. I've thrown the term "Reformed" around so much because that was so defining of what I was thinking about and definitely looking for in a future husband. No way I could submit to someone who didn't go for at least four points!

We were back at camp, my best friend, Caroline, had joined the staff and the first few weeks were fabulous. Tuan and I worked at the ropes course, were kind of the "head counselors" I taught canoeing (my favorite activity--ever!), and had the fun of being the camp's evening program director. After the first week, I also took on the job of LIT director and loved it. Tuan was a counselor for the oldest guys and worked ropes and I'm pretty sure we were co-counselors again.

He also sported a very new and different look--instead of the long and very thick bowl cut, Tuan had shaved his head and was looking very different and kind of military-ish and his radio call-name was "Duke." He was pretty good-looking.

Tuan's mom was now our camp cook and I just grew to love "Ms Dorothy" who made our bag lunch sandwiches just as each of us liked them. (No mayonnaise for Tuan and I. More similarities). His brother, Sonny was an LIT. Every Friday night, Mr. Morris, Tuan's step-dad was visiting for the weekly Luau. It's neat how I was getting to know my future in-laws in such a pressure-free way--and already I adored them all.

As camp progressed, we were becoming better friends. We worked together exceptionally well and folks were noticing. One of the older women was asking if we were going to get married! I laughed out loud when I heard that. Totally not!

Older women are usually wiser, aren't they?

The fifth week of camp was Adventure Camp. That week, Tuan and I were given the chance to take on some extra responsibilities and had the fun of overseeing more of the day-to-day running of camp. We were in our element!

Adventure Camp was super fun. During that week, the kids went through the ropes course, flew in an airplane, and went on an overnight canoeing and camping trip on a local creek, among other things. Tuan went with the wonderful "Mr. Bill" on the two guy's trips and I went with Mr. Bill on the one girl's trip.

The night before adventure camp started, we gathered with the staff and afterwards decided to go fishing. I was along for the boat ride and the creepiest thing happened. Something bit Tuan's line and pulled us slowly around the lake, finally breaking his line. We never figured out what it was.

Earlier in the summer, a sweet little girl camper had a roach fly into her ear and crawl down into the earn canal. It was one of the most disturbing things I've ever witnessed. All of us on staff were sufficiently weirded out by the entire episode. I now know how to deal with that and hope to never ever put that to use!

Naturally the night we were camping out on the banks of a local creek, Nikki (another female counselor and I) were still bothered and concerned enough that all we could do was lie in the dark and ponder the possibility that a bug could crawl into our ears or up our noses. We finally got some toilet paper and stuffed our noses and ear so that NOTHING could go in. We got a lot of teasing the next morning.

In between camp-outs, Tuan and I would sit on a bench outside the dining hall and make sure we were on the same page with everything. I remember being especially struck by how we could communicate so much with very few words. In many ways we could read each other's minds and there was an easy camaraderie between us. We were developing a mutual admiration, trusts and respect. Despite all that, I remember telling another staff member that even though I felt like I should like Tuan, I just didn't.

Camp ended and we were better friends than we had ever been. The staff got together several times and one day Tuan called to see if I was free for the day. He had to take his sister Shauna to Brandon, then run to Baton Rouge for some school stuff. Did I want to ride?

Absolutely I did.

They picked me up early that morning, drove to Brandon, then Baton Rouge, where he took me to the BSU and the original Raising Cane's. On the way to drop me off, we stopped by his mom's house and when we finally got to my home it was late. We'd been on the road all day. My parents were out of town, so I invited him to come out to my Granny's and crash.

Remember, there was NO romance. Nothing inappropriate at all. He stayed at Granny's that night and we spent much of the next day driving my dad's jeep around the pastures as I taught Tuan how to drive a stick shift.

We spent around twenty eight hours together. Twenty eight hours of non-stop togetherness. I could not do that with many people. After all that, I was still not tired of being around Tuan. Later on, that was a real indicator of our compatibility.

At this point, it probably would have been strange that there was nothing going on, but from my perspective, I had been the "friend-girl" for so long, that hanging out with boys was just normal.

Summer ended and I moved into an apartment in Hattiesburg and Tuan moved to New Orleans for an engineering internship. Whenever Tuan came home for the weekend, we'd make plans and hang out in Hattiesburg, but it was always, always with Sonny or Shauna. Some nights he would call me from a pay phone in New Orleans but we did not talk much.

Around that time I was having inklings about him, but nothing beyond that. The Lord, in answering my prayers that I would not get into a relationship with anyone unless he was THE ONE, was definitely keeping me from giving my heart away. Whenever someone showed interest, I would simultaneously find it hard to breath and want to run for dear life. It was a good indicator!

Tuan was making good money at this internship and not spending much, so he decided to do some lavish Christmas shopping. He called me around Thanksgiving to tell me what he had gotten for his family and then he said,

"I got you something"

My breath kind of caught.

"You did? What is it?"

"I'm not going to tell you that, but I spent $XX.00 on it."

It was a lavish sum on a college budget. He was so excited about this mystery gift and I was utterly perplexed. Tuan came home before break and invited me to eat dinner with his family at Garfield's and he would give me the utterly amazing gift.

He was so excited.
I was nervous.

I brought my best friend along and as we sat down at the table, I was looking for some big box. Instead, he pulls out a very small box.

Like, small enough to hold jewelry.

I just about vomited. I could hardly breathe.

What had Tuan bought me and was there more going on here than I thought there was? Was he about to declare his love for me then and there and RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FAMILY?

The moment was excruciating. They were all smiling, watching.

I began slowly unwrapping the box, readying myself for whatever was to come . . . .

4 comments:

Virginia said...

AHHHHH!! This story is progressing too slowly!!!! But I love it and I'm really enjoying reading them.

p.s. My radio name was "Brutus" - given to me by Mr. Bill after I broke Andy Bagby's ribs hahaha

LJ Life and Literature said...

i am waiting on pins and needles to see how this ends :)! LOVE IT!

Gracie said...

AHHHH i am dying to know what was in the box!! Please don't delay :)

Love this series!

Joey and Elizabeth said...

AHHHHHHHHHHH... thank goodness I'm now catching up and the next post is just a click away. I can't imagine having to wait on this!
And the roach thing, eww... makes me want to stuff cotton balls in my ears from now on.