My Love Story Chapter 20 ~ Moving Forward

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{Happy birthday to my man! In honor of his birthday, I hammered out another chapter of our love story. If you’d like to read from the beginning, start here.}

Letters of uncertainty from Matthew. 5 emails waiting for me when I returned from a few days unplugged. While he was tormented in California, this is what I was experiencing on the other side of the world:

Touring Israel


{Top: Floating in the Dead Sea Middle Left: Sunset over the Sea of Galilee Middle Right: Sun rising over Mt. Sinai after a midnight hike up Bottom: Playing around with a friend (and our Israeli pj pants) and singing on bus #4}

Our study abroad group took a 5 day trip within our trip, and we were away from email. So glad we were away from email.  I enjoyed this beautiful sunset on the Sea of Galilee in those few days.

sunset on the sea of Galilee

There was a 4 day gap between when he wrote the first email and I responded to it. He wrote several emails to me during that time frame actually. He knew I wasn’t near a computer, and upon reading it, I was kinda hoping he was suffering a little, waiting for my response.

June 3, 1999:

Well, Mr. Duke, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write to you yet. I thought about making you suffer and not writing for a few days but that wouldn’t be very kind of me. I’m angry, and mad that I’m angry. I’ve had an amazing week that I was excited to come back to tell you, and now I feel squashed. You asked to hear my thoughts, but I don’t want to tell you my thoughts, worried I’ll sway you one way or another. You need to figure this out on your own. I don’t need to convince you. I think we both want this to work out, but that isn’t enough. 

I had my own personal concerns. I felt back and forth, too. I hadn’t seen him for weeks, I was surrounded by other boys that were paying attention to me (because I was “safe” with a “boyfriend”), and I still worried when we saw each other again that it wouldn’t feel right. That we’d be awkward and not be able to figure it out.

Somehow, I was able to compartmentalize my sad and confused state, and still enjoy my trip abroad.

Though I’d forged close friendships with my travel friends, I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on with Matthew and me. I was embarrassed, it was complicated, I didn’t eaven understand it. As far as everyonne else knew, he was still the boyfriend, while I started turning over a new leaf.

Exerpt from my Farewell email to Matthew June 5th 1999:

I have so much to say, I should direct you to the letter I wrote at the end of the semester. I wish we could talk in person, but this will have to do. I feel so strangely peaceful. I’m ok with all of this. Knowing that you love me and wanted this to happen as much as I did means so much. Everything about you and your personality and your spirituality is everything I’ve ever wanted. I think that is what makes this so much harder, you are my ideal. Though this hurts, I know there is so much in store for both of us. Loving you, and feeling of your love is one of the most amazing things I have ever experiences to this point in my life. 

Exerpt from his farewell to me, same day:

I’m so grateful to hear you are feeling peace, I’ve felt awful the last few days, thinking of your possible pain. I’ve never loved someone as much as you, and it’s had to imagine finding someone who I can related to like you or talk to or laugh with, or just be myself. I got a letter from you yesterday, you wrote it while sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I want to quote something you said,

“People will watch an artist working on a mosaic and wonder how it could ever come to be something–they cant picture what it may be because it starts with only a few tiles. However the artist has a plan or sketch and bit by bit starts to mold and form it. When the final product is through, it’s amazing, it’s spectacular, it’s beautiful! Just as in our lives, the Lord is our creator and our life is the workd of art. We have rough and smooth tiles, trials or hardship in our lives and we wonder exactly whey we need them, or don’t understand. One day, in the Lord’s own due time, we have the ability to say, “oh, now I see why..”the tiles come together and we will see the masterpiece we have become.”

tile mosaic

These words were manna from heaven for me. Thank you for sharing your insights. The more I think about you, the more I think that you are everything I need, not just “almost” as the Counting Crows song says. I’ve still thought about coming to Texas at the end of the month to visit you, but I don’t think that would be a good idea. You mean the world to me, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. 

We stopped emailing at that point. 2 days later, I got a special delivery. Matthew knew someone in California that was traveling to Jerusalem for a trip, and he gave them a hand written letter and money to buy me flowers when they got here. He wrote the letter at the end of May, and it was delivered to me on June 7th. In that weeks time was his torment and our above communication. It was a very thoughtful gesture, that brought a smile to my face, no sadness.

flowers in jerusalem

We spent a few more days in Jerusalem, then we galavanted off to Egypt without any ties to computers. I was ok with that. I was done.

The boys that I was “just friends” with…I started flirting with a little bit more. It felt natural, it was the strangest sensation, I didn’t feel sad anymore. It was a combination of utter confusion peppered with the desire to just move on already.

Bethlehem and Jerusalem

Looking back, I’m so grateful that my Father in Heaven blessed me with the peace, and allowed me to finish out my trip with joy. It all felt like a dream, anyway. We didn’t see each other at all during that time, maybe it was all just a dream.

Egypt was amazing and so much fun! I rode on a camel through the Pyramids of Giza, went underground below the pyramids, took a boat on the River Nile, handed candy to cute little Egyptian children, saw King Tuts tomb, and finished out my trip with the people that we’d forged a forever bond.

Touring Egypt and the Pyramids of Giza

It was the trip of a lifetime to tour The Holy Land for 7 weeks, and to tack on an adventure in Egypt was a bonus. I feel so blessed that I was able to experience that, and grateful that despite the extenuating circumstances, I was able to discover myself more, and deepen my faith.

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