How to Meet and Marry an Okie on the Internet (Part 4)

I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 3 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)

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I woke up the next morning unsure of just exactly how to feel, I was dating Kel… officially. What did that even mean? It meant no more flirting or dating guys from Youth Group… and telling people as much I assumed.

But really… now what? 

It’s not like we could hang out…  I couldn’t even friggin call the boy before 9 pm CST for risk of using up too many of his family plan day time minutes.

I’m pretty sure I called some friends and told a coworker but other than than I think I just sat in excited shock mulling over what this step really meant for us.

I always knew in my heart that if we dated, it would immediately turn serious. The reality was that we wouldn’t be able to fully get to know each other unless one of us made the leap to live in the same area code and that was a scary, risky step…

I was about to restart full time college and he was set to graduate from OU the following spring so the logical mover in this scenario would be him, but could I ask him to do that?

We settled for having him visit at Christmas and he found an airline ticket that arrived on Christmas Day. I nervously / excitedly counted down the days and started prepping him with all the info he’d need for the whirlwind tour of meeting all my friends and family.

Part of his visit would be spent at the Lodge with my extended family, which meant my parents, grandparents my 8 Aunts and Uncles, my 13 cousins and a few of their wives and maybe significant others as well…. for two nights and two days… no big deal right? 

And he’d need to get to know a few of my friends, meet my siblings, get to know my parents a little better.

Oh gosh what was he going to wear? Was he prepared for a Michigan winter?

When I went to ask him these question he told me that he had a really nice trench coat and fedora that generally kept him pretty warm. This freaked me out appropriately and I immediately hit the mall and bought him a new coat, hat and gloves for his trip.

I wasn’t trying to change him per say… but he was already the weird new internet boyfriend, we didn’t need a Fedora in the mix.

In hindsight maybe I should have run with it but I like to think he was much warmer for my efforts.

Then all the sudden there I was, at the airport anxiously waiting for him to walk down the ramp from the terminal on Christmas Day.

People made their way down. Nope… not him. Not him. Not him.

Geez, I was nervous, I was still so unsure about this relationship myself but it was time to take all this huge and completely delayed step of seeing how he assimilated into my real life, all at once… during the holidays. Oiy what were we thinking? 

And then there he was walking down the ramp and grinning at me, we hugged and kissed before waiting at the magical luggage ride to gather his bag. After we drove home, I got him settled down into a basement bedroom at my parent’s house but not before he gave me my Christmas presents:

A memory foam mattress pad, (yes he’d crammed it in his bag  and because my back had been bothering me)
And a replica Lord of the Rings Evenstar necklace (Because we were nerdy like that)

The next day was Christmas with my family and I remember this part over all else: My Dad gave Kel had tracked down two out of print copies of two of his favorite books on faith (Real Christians Don’t Dance” and “Real Christians Don’t Ask Why”) because he felt like a pastor-to-be should read them.

I got mostly small appliances that year because I was preparing to move into my first apartment on my own.

He survived all the family parties as the internet boyfriend oddity and my family was warm and welcoming, albeit a bit skeptical. 

While he was there he walked through my new apartment and was still in town for my first day at my new College (Kuyper College, which would become my alma mater)

The only bad part of his trip was knowing that he wouldn’t be able to be there for the day to day once he went home. He wouldn’t be there to help me move int or flop on the futon for an episode of Simpsons or Scrubs, no random late night pizzas or move dates.

We’d be back to the phone calls. We couldn’t even text because well… there really wasn’t texting yet. 

Before he left he made me a commitment that he was “all in” and that after he graduated that May he would move to Michigan, get a place to live, put seminary on pause for a bit and find a job up in Michigan.

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I promised to spend spring break in Oklahoma and we both promised that we would do what it took to make it work, his deep brown eyes were quickly becoming my favorite sight in the world and putting him on a plane was dreadful… but we had a plan, we had hope.

Stay tuned for part 5 which won’t take too long, I promise. 

How to Meet and Marry an Okie (part 3)

 

I’m telling the internet our story, the story of meeting a boy I met online and how over time we fell for each other and made it work across the miles. For part 2 click here.  To start at the beginning click here)hands

I stepped out of the airport and called Kel to let him know he could leave the stand by lot to pick me up. My hands were shaking as they pulled along my roller suitcase, what was I doing? Was my hair alright? But mostly… what was I doing?

I saw his Lincoln Towncar turning around the corner by the parking ramps, he pulled up and helped me with my bag, we hugged, got in because I don’t linger in airport pick up / drop off. I have an appropriate fear of the TSA.

I settled on to the leather seat of his car (appropriately known as the couch on wheels) and we looked at each other across the front seat.

“Hi.”

It wasn’t awkward, it was exciting. It was butterflies and stolen glances and laughter.

We ate an insanely early dinner at the one and only Ted’s Café and Cantina and then drove around the University of Oklahoma’s campus before unlocking the campus ministry where he worked for a dance lesson.

One thing no one knows about Kel is that he is a classically trained ballroom dancer. Yes, really. And I am the least graceful person I know in real life. I walk into door jams on a daily basis, I misjudge table clearance and stub my toes hourly. It’s a little like always having a touch of vertigo I imagine.

So when he suggested dancing I laughed but remained open to the idea of being closer, trying something new.

He hauled out a boom-box (remember those?!) and we started practicing. I can’t remember what dance we tried or which song we danced to, I remember giggling a lot and feeling caught when his campus minister walked in on us.

There we were at 9pm dancing together in a mostly darkened building, me this stranger from the internet who flew in on a whim and was flirting with one of his Senior interns. Or whatever I was doing…

Yet I was greeted warmly by everyone I met in Oklahoma. Because Oklahoma is warm like that. Most of them didn’t even know I existed, turns out Kel was a bit more private about his internet/phone friend than I was.

Eventually we returned to his duplex (which had half a Christmas tree in the corner in September and was home to not only Kel and Andy but also a few families of mice, several of whom I had the pleasure of meeting) and true to his word Kel slept on the couch while I got the bedroom.

The next day he parked cars at the football game, then we swung by Classic 50’s (Norman’s premiere drive-in soda stop) and decided to take a drive out to his childhood home where did a little tour and I met his mom.

On the way home he reached for my hand and I knew it was coming, the air was thick with unspoken romantic possibilities, terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

We got back to his apartment and sat across from each other, the inevitable DTR couldn’t have been more obvious, it hung like a cloud.

What were we doing? What was this?

I expressed my concerns as graciously as I could manage, it probably sounded something like this: “You’re a methodist and I’m hard core non-denominational (oh the hurdles I used to think were a big deal) you love Taco Bell and I’m sort becoming health-nut and OH YEAH YOU LIVE IN OKLAHOMA and I live 1,000 miles away, I don’t see how this will ever work”

In my heart I knew that I couldn’t just date Kel casually, that things would escalate quickly and that we were starting in the middle of “getting to know you” journey.

I never game him a definite answer, but still we kissed a little… or a lot…ahem… yeah…

So the next few days passed in a blur, I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what we did except I know that we shot a movie for his campus ministry advertising an upcoming retreat in which I was the heroine and wore the most unfortunate bra one could wear in running scenes, and shorts. There was jiggle but the thing turned out great … if you asked someone who wasn’t be watching my jiggle in horror.

Eventually it was time for me to get on a plane and fly back home, I can’t remember who picked me up from the airport but I remember this distinctly. Kel called me after I landed and said “I guess it’s time to tell my friends that I have a girlfriend in Michigan.”

To which I answered: “I never said yes, I’m still at a maybe” (I know, tease, B, mean… I agree. Bad 22 year old Leanne, Bad.)

Even with all the kissing.. poor Kel…Bless him he hung with me, told me to take all the time I needed.

So I took a few months, we talked and he remained patient, until one night I called him at two in the morning

“Okay Yes”
“Yes what?”
“You know… my answer is yes.”
“Yes… yes you’ll be my official girlfriend?”
“Yes.”

“Awesome, great news… yeah I’m going to go back to sleep though.”

I guess I deserved that.

To be continued….