Love Story 8.

April, 2014.

There was the front door, I could hear it from my room where I was sweeping. It was a bright yellow room, hung all over with photos, posters, dried roses and notes. It felt on display and I was nervous. “Oh…dear…why is he here? to Examine me? To see if I measure up? Well shucks…Oh lands…it’s humiliating, really, to be looked over like a cow. How dare he think he can do this? Or does he just want to come? Perhaps, but he didn’t say that…” Its creak open, its slam shut…Footsteps from the living room were coming and Daddy’s deep sailor voice booming in waves back to my room “You can take your stuff back there, John B. I think you’ll be in one of those rooms.” Those steps came through the kitchen – Oh, they were mighty big footsteps. Hidden around the corner with a broom frozen in my hand and a pocket full of blazing blushes waiting to burst into my cheeks, I stood until the boots finally brought him into view. It took a minute for my eyes to reach the top of his tallness.  I felt the closing of my throat and an airy lightness in my stomach, my knees felt like jello…“What if I fall over?”  I envisioned me simply toppling forward in front of him and how embarrassing that would be. Instead, I leaned against the wall, for there he was, standing in the school room with his suitcase in hand, and his sleeves rolled up, and…cowboy boots… Out the window went every ounce of trying to pretend I didn’t like him. All the charming wit I could muster was choking out nonchalantly, “Well, look who it is…”  He smiled slowly and looked ridiculously handsome. “Look who it is…?” he repeated back to me, making me realize how very silly of a thing it was to say after all.  He had hazel eyes that were gazing down at me, in an ease and earnestness that was as unsettling as the rest of him. I finished sweeping and the girls wafted him away to bake cookies and test the fiber of this Texan.  We played wahoo that night, and at breakfast the next morning, one thing happened that Daddy still remarks on with a shaking head to this day. “Pass the eggs, who wants a biscuit?” “Moriah, could you get out another thing’a butter from the fridge? Oh and get that peach jam – ” “Mama, is this muscadine or grape jelly?” And plates were being passed around, arms reaching, hands dishing out gravy and bacon and sausage and grits. I sat next to Chris who sat next to Daddy, and on my other side was John Barrett. Across the table, sat Merry. Merry who barely smiled in a photo for 3 years when she was little. Merry who suspects people, and looks through slightly squinted eye, and though she’s short, some how manages to be able to look down her nose at a person whom she highly disdains. It’s not pride; it’s mistrust and solid discretion, and honesty. She sees no need in feigning favor. Merry sat across from us and was passing food and plates and dishing up grits. Out went John Barrett’s hand to help himself to grits and before you could say Jack! there was a splintering “SMACK!” Merry had slapped John Barrett’s hand and the crack of that smack hung in the air as Daddy’s eyes went big and darted to Merry, who sat looking at JB, who had frozen in space and had lifted his eyes to hers. Then Dawn and Merry erupted, and Daddy exclaimed “Merry Emmaline!” And the table fairly shook with laughter. I was more encouraged by this than if she’d been sweetly asking questions. Merry only picks on the ones she likes.

True to his word, Chris did think of something to do while John Barrett visited. He took us shooting down the road at Mr Henderson’s. He’d even set up a course for all of us in the deep pine woods. We shot 22’s and competed against Micah and Merry for who could shoot the most bullseyes with the amount of bullets Chris had given us.Rain had been heavy that spring and again today, drizzles dripped through tall, thin pines, mystifying the woods and drenching the air with the spicy pungency of wet soil and pine needles. We wandered through the woods, John B and I. Down a steep bank there was a tiny stream, which we sat beside and talked a long time. It was easy to talk with him. Effortless, really, and that was hugely refreshing. He broke twigs, and poked them in the damp soil. I watched for minnows and dipped my feet in the cold water. There, with him sitting indian style, playing with moss and rocks and meandering down the trails of thoughtful conversation, I marked the time as one to remember. I wanted to remember the sense of comfort and ease in conversing.  Somewhere between Friday and Saturday I’d forgotten I had been defensive when he’d first arrived.  The notion that he was there to Inspect Me and either approve or disapprove was fear assumptions and certainly not what he had in mind. As we walked back home, we stopped by the barn overlooking the garden. Mr Henderson was a man of the earth. He gardened for the love of it, the wonder of God through it. Long, curved rows lay bare. He’d plant soon and that plot of earth would transform into a beautiful palace of leafed green and immaculate rows. We breathed in the moist earth and he leaned against the barn. “I don’t know yet what will come of this,” he said. “But I do know that you will be a wonderful wife and mother someday, for some man.” He asked if I was comfortable with moving ahead, and I said I was. I felt that I could have said yes then if he’d asked me.

 

 

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The Love Story 7.

 

What I knew at the beginning of the day was that I had been scared to death of not doing a good enough job. The bride was a photographer I respected, so were her parents. I was a peewee from Georgia, who liked taking pictures of mailboxes and frogs. And people – when I got up the courage. But what I didn’t know was that that ceremony would be blazed on my mind’s eye as clear as day, and many a time afterwards I’d visit that scene.

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It was hot, early June of 2013, and my leg was falling asleep. I was crouching at the front of the rows of chairs under a canopy of trees. To my left, clearly in view, were the bride and groom. On the right, an elderly woman smiled at me from the front row. A few minutes earlier, she’d had a paper bag on her head, shielding her from the thick drops of warm falling rain. Grey, purple clouds rolled over the surrounding green fields, and threatened more rain, which came eventually.  The joy this couple felt wasn’t about to be dampened by any shower or torrent of rain, though. I was photographing a wedding in Franklin, Tennessee, hoping I didn’t miss a shot, hoping I didn’t trip or have a sneezing fit or chew nervously on the gum I forgot to spit out. Just before the wedding party had emerged, the sun broke through in brilliant shafts of gold. It couldn’t have been planned more beautifully, and I felt like it was a gift God had tailored Himself for the occasion. The bride came down the aisle, took the groom’s hands and as they looked at each other, I was struck with the apparent joy and radiance of both of them…It is still bright in my mind. No hesitation. No fear. No questions. Just a full happiness. And this – this raw openness of love for each other seared away at my mind. I took in this whole scene…the birds singing high, the lush green surrounding us, the fragrance of warm, wet earth from summer rain. And the bride and groom…what was it about them?  I felt they were truly looking through the eyes into the soul of the other. There was a confidence in knowing…they were Home. Home to each other. That this person was the One out of All the Other People On The Planet that they’d rather be with. Forever. And a comfortability of Being. I felt that, in a strange way, they saw not just the person standing there at that moment, but that they were looking at – and loving – every facet of that person they’d ever known – good and bad and present and past, silly, sweet, sad, moody, stressed, happy and Less Than Up to Par. I sensed, too, that Completeness which only comes when another person unlocks the Rest Of You. Unlocks the ability to function as you, and More Than You. The You that you Want to be, but need the courage or permission and strength to be. And the amazing thing was that there was no shock or hesitation from what they saw. Thoroughly, they saw, and they adored that person. It was visible. Unmistakeable. And it registered somewhere deep inside.

Later in June, I sat at the kitchen table of the Grey Submarine, a pencil suspended in my hand, while I dazed into space and looked, I suspect, perplexed. Mama glanced at me. Then emptied her armload of tasks onto the table, poured herself and me a cup of tea, and sat down.”What’cha thinkin’ about, darlin’?” It’s no use saying “Nothing” to the woman who, out of all women, knows you best. So I told her what I’d been afraid to say, even to myself. That what I’d seen that day in June had made itself unforgettable to me… That I wanted that for myself…Was that too much to ask? Was it…selfish? Was it unrealistic? I was in a relationship at the time, and while so much seemed good and right, there were still things I doubted – things I couldn’t even put a finger on – but that kept me from having a complete peace and calm with it. The reasons I could name seemed trivial and not worth giving up a whole relationship over. And I wrestled with the issue – push on? give up? But That Day in June…that couple…that Wholeness they exuded…I couldn’t shake it.

I was told, “Listen to your doubts. God allows us to have them for a reason. There’s a Third to your relationship, and in those moments when you think ‘mmm…something isn’t right,’ that is Him.” I ended the relationship and decided to hold out for what I’d seen in June. I’d wait for that soul-seeing person.

Well, now, almost a year later, here I was, sweeping my floor, while Daddy went to pick up “That fellow from Texas” at the airport. All week I’d felt perturbed. Why was he coming?  From January to April we’d only messaged on Facebook, sent a couple of letters, had a couple of phone calls. All of this was surface based stuff. He’d never said he liked me. Never expressed a deep interest. Truth be told, it ruffled my feathers that he didn’t. (As if it wasn’t fair for the man not to know, when we’d not spent two whole days around each other!) Nevertheless, I, in turn, convinced myself I wasn’t so very interested…After all, there are other fish in the sea…(this was pure self defense in case he decided he didn’t like me after all). He’d written in a letter that, Nothing so well helps a person to get to know another than being face to face. He hoped in coming we could better know whether to pursue or leave off the relationship.

The Love Story 6.

Jane Austen observed well that,

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

I could plead none otherwise than guilty to this charge, and it was well reflected in my writing at the time. You see, he did in fact, not tell me his thoughts, and for an impatient girl, this waiting and wondering seemed to stretch for miles. I suppose it did. 1200 in fact. So I rallied and argued with myself, telling myself that “JBW is not the only fish in the sea”. That he’s not expressed any intention or wish other than ‘keeping up’ and ‘getting to know me’. I reasoned in fits on pages of my journal that “We’re not engaged…we’re not even in a relationship, really… Besides that, a person is not truly committed until they’ve said the oaths, taken the vows.” And I reminded myself of what I’d resolved many months earlier, before he was on the scene:

“I’m waiting for a man who’ll dig some spurs into the side of his Relationship Steed. Someone that knows what he wants and will go get it without being a wimpy whiner who worries over everything, can’t make up his mind and mosies along the lazy path of Indecision. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t seek/listen to/ heed good counsel, but that he’s willing to take it and run with it. 

Well, maybe that’s JB and maybe it’s not. I’m happy to be his friend. Maybe one day more than that. But until that wedding band is on my finger there’s nothing that says Things Won’t Change and that some other guys or gal could step into the lives and affections of either one. I like John. Could like him a lot. I’ve said it before; I say it again. I’ve got a wild heart and a passionate one and the man who wins it over completely will be one I’d like to meet. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Daddy just put a log of cedar on the fire. One of the logs we cut this morning. Daddy, Chris, Max, Merry and I went to Clyde and Sherri’s today. Poor Abrum, he wanted to go. Mama brought balloons and lovely decorations. We’re all waiting now for Max and Merry to come back. Max is off (we think) to propose to Merry at Charlie Elliot. Daddy grilled steaks and Mama’s baking cheese cakes. Daddy will miss her terribly I think. How strange. Little Merria, off to get married out of all us girls. We’re hoping he actually WILL propose, because if not, all our signs and decorations and the special meal will be hard out of place. 

John sent two letters this week. I must admit that when I found his letter today there was a huge smile all over my face. I said to that letter, 

“Well, John, you do get some bonus points, my good man. Some points indeed!” He’s sent two post cards last week and this, but today was the first real letter.

January 28, 2014

He wrote: 

P.S. There was no one else in sight as he walked up to the wall of mailboxes ( the one about a hundred paces from his flat, over by the laundry room), on a partially cloudy Saturday afternoon. He opened his box and pulled out an envelope. “Wow, that’s amazing,” he said aloud as his eyes fell across the exquisite penmanship on the front, with a quick glance at the postmark to confirm his suspicion. It was from her.” 

Now if that won’t flutter the stomach and make it nearly fly away, I don’t know what will.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Yesterday morning Daddy prayed for our breakfast – his and mine. He said, “And Lord, you know whether it’s your will for Gabrielle and John Watson to continue talking and I ask that if it IS your will for them to be together that you’d help John to kick this thing into high gear…”

I don’t know where that came from. Daddy IS a pro-active sort of fellow, and maybe he was just in a high – gear praying sort of mood, but I had to smile and agree with him. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mel came up the driveway with letters in her hand. She sat on the porch and my heart dropped because I knew there wasn’t one for me, for she neither looked up nor handed me anything. But oh – I felt a little pool of hope well up again, though I tried to keep it from coming up at all (dashed hopes are so much more unpleasant than hopes caught unawares). I saw that Milly had only retrieved the checks from Clyde and Sherri – the mail was still to come, and my chance of a letter was still there. It did come and my eyes couldn’t see fast enough to detect all the names until finally the one I was hoping for was found. There it lay, innocently provoking smile after smile and happy little exclamations of “Oh, John – JB, you Watson, you dear fellow. Look at this! My, my, so you did write after all, eh?” And all the while I was beaming. Could hardly see out of my eyes, they were smiling so hard. 

And what did it say? He wants to come. 

The Love Story 5.

The mystery as to “why none of those Fulmer kids are married yet”, came and went about as often as the front door swung open and shut. We finally cast it up to Daddy and Mama that perhaps if they’d make life a little less exciting and pleasant at home, then it’d be easier to get rid of us. They didn’t, and we continued on as we had been all this while.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s cold in my room. I went out of it to use the bathroom and as I entered the bathroom I saw a cricket on the floor. I thought about the cricket the whole time I was in there.

“Dear Little Cricket, what are you doing in here? 

What lead you from the door to standing here on the bathroom floor?”

I washed my hands and picked up a towel from the floor. That towel has laid there as a rug for days. I kept saying I’d pick it up and do a nice little clean up job. Finally I just did pick it up and took it outside on the back porch to shake it out. 

“Dear Little Cricket, I act on the sly…I ‘ll pick you right up and take you outside.”

I’d come back in and put the rug in the dirty clothes. I don’t know why I was telling the cricket I’d put him outside though, for as I was saying those words I was getting up from just having dropped him square in the trashcan. Well, it was cold outside, and he would have been stepped on on the floor…What else was I to do? Walking back to my room, I continued my rhyme, which I was beginning to become quite fond of.

“Poor Little Cricket, now here is the thing – ” I said, opening my room door, but instead of finishing it I screamed and jumped, for I met a figure standing behind the door that hadn’t been there when I left. I threw my arms around the figure and tackled a laughing Merria onto the bed, squeezing her very hard and laughing and screaming at the same time. She pulled my hair and I squeezed her harder.

“Oh Merria! You wicked child! You should be horsewhipped! How could you do that to me?” Merry, who was laughing, said, 

“I was WONDERING when you were finally going to come in here. I’ve been waiting and waiting.”

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pooh-Hah-Zell. That’s what I call Daddy sometimes. Poor Chree is sick with the flu and sits, rocking with folded hands. Folded hands on his red checked flannel shirt. Anne, Merry and Mel sit on the couch. Anne is looking at an online catalogue of dresses; Merry is lying on Mel. They’ve been looking through Milly’s baby book. Abe lies in front of the fire on his back, holding his iPeril and listening to something. Dawn is absorbed in counting change as she stands behind the stove, and Daddy crosses one foot over his knee, laying his Bible on top. We’re getting ready for devotion. Mama flits in and out, then in again and sits down. 

“You can put your feet in my lap,” she tells Dawn, who is already propping them up there. 

“My goodness, Anna Grace’s birthday is less than a month away!” Said Chris.

“When are we going to have her birthday?” Daddy asked. 

“We may do it the 15th or 16th,” said Mama as she scratched some writing in her book.

“I’m leaving on the 14th I think.” Everyone sounded surprised.

“What? Where?”

“Nicaragua,” Said Chree. “Spanish language school with Timothy.”

“I guess we could have it on the 14th before you leave.”

“Oh, it’s the 15th. I think,” Amended Chree. 

It’s a cozy evening. I’m warm and sleepy. Sleepy because I’ve been losing sleep over That Boy. I’ve been waking up and thinking – fearing, rather – that I’ve been messaging him all night. In my sleep I see, to my chagrin, that I’ve messaged him 41 times in a row, always telling him that I would stop messaging him. But then I’d think of something else to say and not be able to stop myself from typing and sending it…In my half waking sleep, I’ve sensed his acute annoyance at my continual stream of missives…He grudgingly replies and I never stop. I WANT to quit, but every time I’d check to see what I’d written, I’d already sent another one! Thank goodness it’s just a dream, but it’s a terrible feeling of no self -control. I’ve a mind not to write him back for a week, just for good measure. 

Dawn had walked into the living room earlier this afternoon eating a shrimp. She always sucks on the shrimp (and has since she was a little girl) to get the juice out. Abrum was lying on the floor and jumped up as she came in.

“Lo DAWNKULD,” Abe said, perching two hands on his hips and tucking his chin to his neck. He says her name slowly at first, holding out the Lo, then says Dawnkuld fast. Every time. Standing close, he bent toward her and said abruptly, shaking a finger at her, “Lo DAWNKULD, Were you sucking on that shrimp?!” Dawn paused and cocked a brow at him, then said slowly,

“…Yes…?” 

Abe let out a long yowl of laughter, throwing his head back, saying he’d never seen anyone eat shrimp that way before. She tackled him to the couch amid his yelling things about shrimp and wrestling with her feisty resistance. For the rest of the evening he teased her about shrimp. Nearly every reference he made to her alluded to it.

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January’s fires burned through snow and sunny days and many a pause found me scribbling questions and thoughts into my journal about John Barrett Watson. It seemed my cocoons of questions never would transform into the beautiful winged answers I was dying to see. Most of my concerns could be summed up by the following entry.

Tuesday, January 21,2014

I fear that, already, while I’m beginning to be deeply interested and attracted he may be coming to the conclusion that, (as he says it) Pigs will Learn to Scuba Dive”  before we’ll ever go on an ice cream or coffee date.” Oh well. Se la vie. Jerry’s was nice. That whole days was splendid. Absolutely beautiful. I keep trying to call to memory every glance and word and smirk or his. Sometimes I can see it clearly and hear his voice. I get warmly happy all over. But I wonder, as I’m stewing over Him, what is he thinking? Anything? Nothing? Come, John, where are your thoughts?

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Abe telling her Something Important, while Dawn holds the reflector. We were experimenting with its effect on photos one Sunday afternoon. 
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Jay came home for a visit that January. Much to our happiness. 

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He has a sweet smile, but Chris was pinching me. 

The Love Story.4

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Life at the Grey Submarine wound its way through January’s cold days, and was full to the brim of the sweet nectar of home we take for granted, or intentionally savor while we’re still there. My thoughts were full of ‘that Barrett Boy’, as Daddy called him, and once or twice I thought back on a conversation with Daddy I’d had months earlier, wondering if I might have been wrong.

November 22, 2013

It’s grey outside and foggy. I wonder if it’s hot or cold?…Mama fried bacon and eggs this morning and Daddy brewed coffee. He told Mama with a twist of tease to his earnestness that they were going to have a rough time once all the kids flew the nest because for 37 years she hasn’t drunk coffee with him (Mama can’t stand the draught). And now she’s not eating breakfast (never has liked it too much). 

“I won’t have anyone to eat with. Not even my little Babe-rielle.” 

“Aw, Daddy,” I said kissing his cheek which smelled like spicy aftershave, “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Ohhhh one of these days someone’s going to sweep you off your feet. Right off your feet, and will steal one of my most precious treasure from me.” He had a lilt of tease and poutiness in his voice and a little twinkle in his eye, but he’s said it often enough before that I think part of him – like me – dreads that phase of life. I’m glad it’s a while away yet.”

Now I wondered dangerously if it might be closer at hand than I had ever thought it could be. Pages were filled of questions and what-if’s and the thoughts that seemed to tumble on in relentless succession about JBW. Yet, my world at home was more rich than ever I had remembered and I was determined not to let it slip away without enjoying it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A little wind stirs the pines outside. Those pines are wetted and their trunks are black, and it’s a very grey sky. Mama and Daddy are bustling in the kitchen making biscuits and bacon and eggs. Chris slept in my room last night and Jay and Abe in the boy’s room. Chris was the first of the boys up, so he sauntered in the living room this morning when things were first lighting to breakfast preparation. 

“Please, Chree, read to me? The book’s on the school room shelf.” He retrieved the book and sat with it’s large red cover open while he turned the pages. I lay on my couch bed and Chris sat at the end of it. He read ‘Road Through the Woods’, by Rudyard Kipling, ‘Goodbye to the Farm’, by Rob Louis Stevenson and ‘Wreck of the Hesperus’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The septic tank has been ornery again, so tonight we washed dishes outside. The boys helped. Anne handed the water hose to me while she toted dishes in and out of the house. The water was cold and the ground wet and soppy and my toes cold. The sky was clear and the moon especially bright. It kept making me look at it as I held a kink in the hose and waited for more dishes. Jay came out with a pile of pots whistling, “Got a Whale of a Tale to Tell Ya Lads”, and held open the door for Chris who followed behind him with more. Beka got excited about JBW last week and said, “Aw, I bet he was smiling the whole way home.” I told her I didn’t know about him but I certainly was. There was a goofy little grin on my face all 7 hours of the trip home. So many times I’d burst from a dazed stare into a fit of laughter thinking about something he did or said. And all he did, he did with that ease of his Texan self. I think I could grow to really like Texans. Especially This One. 

Tuesday, January 14,2014

I was lying in bed last night, almost asleep, when I heard the rhythm of Mama’s steps as she came into my room. She patted my head, then kissed it and said, “You are invaluable to me; you’re precious. I love you, honey,” and walked out. After a few paces, though, she came back to the doorway and prayed, “And Lord, you know whether John Watson is the right one or not. Please guide them both and help her to know for sure what your will is.” Home feels safe, partly due to the amount of praying that is done – and I’m thankful Mama and Daddy have spread it on thick for us. I know they have spent hundreds of hours in prayer for our family. It’s humbling and warming and wonderful to be loved so deeply and so openly. 

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‘Resting his eyes’ (as Grandmama says) by the fire

 

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The merriest of meals is when the family is together.

IMG_9016Almost every time we eat together Daddy gets to laughing so hard his face turns purple. 

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Milly is the Birthday Girl of January, and 
And each year the wrapping grows more curious, and less conventional.
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The pond in the back yard, which, when I was little, I was convinced there would be fish every time it rained.

The Love Story. 2


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“Sunday Evening – well, midnight 12.29.13 

It was the last huzzah. The boys were over. We had company over to lunch today. Mama made delicious hot spoon rolls. Daddy had to stay home from church so mama stayed with him. By the time we got home daddy was feeling better, but he stayed in his corner chair in the living room to eat. We told him we missed him at the table and the table was very merry indeed today. Tonight Chris and Abe were still here, so we read poetry by the fire, lying around it and ate leftovers from the day’s feast of roast and rolls and cheese. Chris teased me about JBW and consulted Abrum (who was lying on my bed reading) on what they brothers might do to contribute.”

“We find ourselves in a very interesting situation,” Chris said with a twinkle and a smile playing at the tips of his mouth. That worried me.

“Oh, Chris, don’t you boys do anything embarrassing.” At this he burst into a laugh and said with a Not Very Remorseful Grin,

“I’m not! Truly! I’m serious! We do find ourselves in a very interesting situation. Our sister may be interested in a guy  who – though I don’t know much about him- from all I’ve heard, like him a lot. Now, what could we as brothers do to Enhance The Situation?” He was laughing, but serious, and shook the foot of Abraham who was lying on my bed, meditating on a book. Abrum stirred a little and lowered the book to where I could just see a crinkle in his eyes and mouth  between the web of a beard concealing it. The boys threw out a few wild ideas hinting at Seven Brides for Seven Brothers type capture and interrogation. But in the end they settled for letting Mr. JBW alone – saving a little investigational conversation when they got the chance.

The Last Huzzah of Christmas festivities wound to a ‘shining, golden blur’ and then a carload of us kids loaded up and drove to Memphis.

Call it primping or ‘slathering on war paint’, as the boys call it, but I was in the bathroom getting ready for church when, glancing out the window, I saw the parking lot of the church and a Texan Getting Out of the Car. You know what happened – yep. That stomach drop and butterflies. I blushed, because I always blush when I can’t help it. Added to my already nervousness of seeing JBW I had a nice red tomato of a face to greet him with.

He was standing at the back of the church, tall, with sandy brown hair and a smile that crept from his eyes to the his lips spreading into a good natured grin. It had been a couple of years since I’d seen him and the last conversation I’d had with him in person was no shining one on my record. He asked how often we went to Memphis, and I replied casually that we might go ‘once every moth or twice every two months’… At which he chuckled and shook his head, and I tried to figure out why. Also, when telling a group of us how in his work he inspected a corn flour plant, the vision immediately coming to mind was John Barrett standing in a field of beautiful blue corn flowers with the sun shining and him intensely inspecting the flowers with a straw hat and magnifying glass. My reply must have conveyed my enthusiasm and curiosity for such a job, because he – and the group -found my interpretation Oh So Funny, and – could they just say it? A little blonde.

And now, here he was at the New Year’s church meeting in Memphis, TN. (Church meetings may or may not be an avenue of checking out potential court’n material. But hey – where better to find a good fellow or gal?)  As the congregation sang I could catch a glimpse of his pew – well, his boots, under the pew. My! he was tall – you could just tell by the breadth of space from boot to boot.  And those boots were fine. And that profile – the one I could see between heads  now and then – Wow. When it was time to go home for the night, there was the usual “AhH! Hey!” Screams and hugs of familiar faces and hearts, people were talking in crammed circles and children dashing everywhere. I was moving toward the door when – bam. Stomach plummets because he’s standing right there in my path, with a friendly smile and handshake. We might have talked 5 minutes, but we talked. Every word I might have thought about to say, and every question I wanted to ask disappeared like mice at a cat. But we talked. And he laughed, about something – this time I thought, at something truly funny. The next day, we talked some more. In fact, nearly all of Saturday’s free time was spent talking.  Our first unofficial date was to Jerry’s Sno Cones. He took me, my kid sister and another friend. They rode in the back seat, giggling and whispering about the Awkward Situation.

“Oh. You want some of your sno – cone?” I offered as he drove.

“Sure!” I dished up a spoon and held it out. I expected him to take it with his free hand, while he, on the other hand, thought I meant to feed it to him, and not wanting to insult me, dutifully took the bite from the spoon I held out. At this, a fresh burst of giggles resounded from the backseat and – I’m sorry to say, but if crimson ever colored up a face, mine was it at that moment. I couldn’t brush off the wide eyes and speechlessness. All I could do was wonder if I’d done something terribly scandalous and what the ladies of the church would say if they found out…”spooning sno cone to him on the first unofficial date!…unthinkable…” He masterfully changed the tempo of the Moment Suspended In Time, by showing us his automated car options where you could simply speak to the car and it would play music or go 100 miles per hour…maybe not the last one, but we tried to make it do so.

Saturday night of a meeting you always get a sinking feeling. It’s the last night to be surrounded on every side by God’s people and messages 3 times a day, feeling safe and spiritually charged in the way you experience when drenching yourself in that atmosphere. It’s the last night for friends and socializing.  And it’s the last night to take a stab at talking to the guy or girl you’ve had your eye on. I had that sinking feeling, especially since I knew I’d not see him for a while – months? A year? Two years? Who knew. But before saying goodbye, he found me.