My Love Story Chapter 23 ~ Long Distance

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{It’s back–the continuation of My Love Story! I’ve had email requests to get the next chapter out, I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since the last entry!  If you’ve missed the previous chapters, START HERE. Or for a refresher of the last chapter, here is Chapter 22}

Matthew left Houston the night before my birthday. He had to get back to work in California. It was a bummer for me, because I’ve always loved my birthday, and I secretly wished he’d be able to stay.  But I watched him fly away…

July 7th: I slept until 11am, and woke when one of my best friends‘ mom dropped over with a special delivery from her daughter, Natalie. You see, my bestie was all married and living for the summer in Minnesota.  Things are just different when your friends start getting married. Here is us from her wedding day 6 months before

my married bestie


Her mom brought a lovely bouquet of yellow lilies. I got phone calls from friends around the country, a few packages and cards in the mail (even a DUKE hat from my Jerusalem buddy who lived in North Carolina–predicting my future). My friends knew how important my birthday was to me, I always aimed to make sure they felt important on their birthdays, too. It was a thing.

All of those friends asked what was going on with Matthew. I finally felt secure enough to say, things are good, hopeful. I even talked to my roommate, Amy who was with Matthew’s brother, Sam, in Utah. Sam got on the phone to confirm his suspicions that Matthew flying to Houston to visit me was a good idea, that I’d thank him forever for talking me into it from his urging just a few weeks ago in our chat along the Provo River. He proclaimed, “I told you so.”

On the night of my birthday, I opened presents from my family. My sister in law, Alayna surprised me with the duck umbrella I spotted on our beach adventure when Matthew was here. I LOVED the umbrella, her cute wrapping job, her sneaky thoughtfulness, and that it reminded me of him.

Duck umbrella

It all just felt so strange having this whirlwind amazing weekend with him, to then have him gone again. My feelings were intense. I was all in, letting myself be consumed with the idea of him truly loving me. It was real, but on pause for now, living across the country from him.

We had a quick chat on the phone that night, it was nice to hear his voice, if only on the phone.

Long distance phone call

Matthew and I would email near daily, but our phone calls were only once a week, on Sunday afternoons. I could have talked daily, but I was letting him take the lead, and it just wasn’t his style. He told me in an email that he often finds himself daydreaming about me, which made me blush. Both the fact that it happened, and that he told me about it. It reminded me of the letter her wrote me back in January that I had to wait til I was 10,000 feet in the air to open.  It was then that he first told me that he thinks about me a lot, which left me in a jaw dropping stupor.

The Sunday after his visit, we talked for 2 hours. I told him all about my spiritual insights at church that day, and everyone asking about his visit. He liked that I was talking about him to others, I could tell. He wanted to know what I was telling them, and let him know that I told them we were “together.” He liked that, too. He told me he loved that I was so passionate about life. I loved that he recognized my passion. He got me, and I didn’t fully realize that because he kept so much to himself. He was such a mystery to me, and I liked continuing to unfold his layers to understand him more. We talked about me possibly flying out to visit him at the end of the month, but he said he didn’t think he could get off work for it. It made me wonder for a minute if he didn’t really want me to.

I had a conversation with my friend Jenn in North Carolina about how I never really understood how when people got married, they’d say their spouse was their best friend. But now I got it. Matthew truly became my best friend, the person I wanted to tell everything to: share my joys, and also my frustrations. I was complicated, and he got me.

July 12th marked a big day for me: I got my first car! My parents helped me purchase a 1996 Honda Accord, and I was so excited that age 21, I had wheels to call my own. I’d be driving out to school the next month, I truly felt like a real adult.

honda accord 1996

I had heard from Matthew that he and his brother were home alone for the week, so I baked some butterscotch cookies and mailed them out to California. Matthew’s sister (whom I knew from school) sent me the nicest email telling me she was confident that her brother and I were going to get married, and gave her approval, that I’d be a great addition to their family. That meant a lot coming from her.

I was looking for a temporary job in Texas, watching late night movies with Alayna, having lunch outings with high school friends, and just loving life. My little brother Russell had been in Spain while I was in Israel, and I hadn’t seen him in months. He arrived home the 15th of July, same day as my youngest brother Kirk’s birthday. It was a day of celebration!  He brought us all soccer Jersey’s from Spain, and to this day, this is still one of my favorite sibling pictures.

Spain Jersey with brothers

That summer with my family was so much fun. I was in such a happy place, and I got to really enjoy them.  I feel so blessed to be a part of the family that I am.

Here is my bro and I with the Israel head wrap I brought home for him:

Isreal head wrap

I got to chat with Russ later that night. He and I have always been close. In high school, he was my sidekick. Even with 4 years between us, I always felt he really understood me. He was saying how weird it was to be home after a month in Spain. I got it, my hop from Israel to Egypt to the US wasn’t that long before. Having experienced another world, life adventure, knowing it will never be the same. Back to reality.

My nightly emails from Matthew kept me going, as he told me things he’d never said to me before. In one email after recounting his day, ,he said, “Not much else to say, but you are soooo beautiful.”  I sat back in my office chair, closed my eyes, and with a smile across my face felt so happy and content.  Did he really think that about me?

That summer in Houston, I was introduced to a couple that had 10 years on me. They had a handful of small children, and for some reason, we were drawn to each other. They asked me to take them to the airport one day, and as we drove, I asked all kinds of questions about how they met and dated and survived the early years in school while having kids. For some reason, I thought about that a lot…having kids. I just didn’t know how to be a real adult. Make real adult decisions. My parents always helped me financially, I just got my first car, how was I supposed to get married and venture off on my own? Let alone, have kids. As I dropped them off at the airport, and I was about to drive their car back to their home, the husband told me, “I put two $5 bills on the seat…one for you to go out to lunch on us, and the other to get on the phone and call this boy and talk about all this stuff.”  I blushed. They told me to enjoy some quiet time at their home when dropping of their car, so I actually took the time to look through photo albums–particularly their wedding album–and smiled at the dream I wanted for myself with the boy of my dreams.

In the previous 6 months at school, at some point Matthew and I made the connection that his first cousin, Christy, was my freshman roommates in Idaho. She lived in another state, and didn’t talk too often, but she called me around this time to tell me how Matthew’s parents came for a visit, and somehow my name came up.  Apparently, Christy and her mom told them all about me, how I like to sing out loud at the top of my lungs, and used to leave little gifts for my roommates. Matthew’s moms comment was, “I just want to hold that girls in my arms after all Matthew has put her through.”

That summer while we were apart, Matthew spent all his free time training for a half Ironman triathlon. He’d done them at school, but this was a BIG one. In our chats, he discussed his training, and I cheered him on, from afar. The race was coming up, so I decided to put together a care package to mail to him for “good luck.” I made a card where I cut out pictures of his face, and taped them onto a swimmer, cyclist, and runner. I thought I was pretty funny. I sent him a relaxing lavender candle (he always said the scent reminded him of France where he served as a missionary), and copy of Canon in D with ocean sounds on it. Canon in D was our song.

One of my best friends from high school (and to this day), Emily, had recently become engaged, and with her fiancé  out of state, we spent quite a bit of time together. A few of our friends (and former boyfriends) came home from serving missions that summer, and we went together to hear their reports, to a few wedding receptions, etc.

Emily and me


One day, I accompanied her to a bridal shop to try on dresses. I never admitted to anyone, that I tried on a few dresses that day, too, Just for fun. I fell in love with the first one I tried on. Then a thousand thoughts flooded my mind of my potential wedding day. It was great to have her around that summer. Her fiancé (our former classmate) lived out of state, so we got to hang out and be lovesick together. This dress, however, was what I used to pattern my own dress after much later.

wedding dress

After a minute or two of dreaming, I had to take it off! I felt silly for doing that, I just couldn’t entertain the idea of something that I’d never even discussed with him. I wanted him to bring it up, but it just hadn’t happened.

I found a temp job at a computer building warehouse, and I was all of a sudden the interesting new girl. There were a lot of people my age, and strangely for the first time in my life, I was asked out by a lot of guys. Though Matthew and I never had any “defining of the relationship” I told those guys that I had a boyfriend in California, which didn’t seem to deter them. I’d go on group lunches, and had some flattering praise from these guys, but I knew they didn’t compare to that boy I loved. Not even close.  What I loved about him was more than just good looks and a fun personality, it was so much deeper. I loved his love for God and family, and his desire to do good. I did, however, have great opportunities to share my faith with those guys at work, as they were all surprised at my lack of alcohol consumption, and that I clearly led a different lifestyle than them.

July 31st: On the day of Matthew’s race in California, I was thinking about him constantly, wondering what part of the race he was in. I had taken a road trip with my brother Ryan, his wife Alayna, and our cousin Mike who was living there for the summer to San Antonio and Austin. We saw the Alamo, and I discovered downtown Austin for the first time.

Remember the Alamo

I even got to flash my I.D. that I was 21, where we went into a dance club. Alayna and I may or may not have danced on a platform to our favorite songs that night, while my brother and cousin embarrassingly watched on. When I knew Matthew’s race was over, and that he’d be resting back at his home, I put some change into a pay phone from 6th Street in Austin, and called him to hear all about it. (This is 1999, no cell phones back then, my friends).  It was probably a 2 minute phone conversation that I could barely hear him from the noise of the street behind me, and he was talking so quiet from his exhaustion, but it was so wonderful to hear from him that he survived the race and had fun!

That night I got an email from him that said I was “Everything he needs.” Words from a song, that long ago I’d decided I felt for him. At the end, he said, “I love you more every day.” Words, I still couldn’t believe coming from him to me, if only in the typed form.

All I could do was think about this face…

that face

I was able to book a ticket to fly out to California, and in just a few days, I’d see him on his home turf, meet his family, get to know more details about him, I couldn’t wait to be held in his arms again.

{Have you been reading my story, or is it new to you?  I love to hear from you, it helps keep me going!}




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