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My Love Story~Chapter 16: Semester End

{If you have not read the previous chapters of my love story, start here}

At the end of March 1999, It was just 30 days til I was to depart the U.S. soil and head on my world adventure to the Holy Land. Though I thought all along I wouldn’t actually go (I hoped Matthew would beg me to stay) it was looking more and more like a reality. It was a month filled with excitement and frenzy, but also the reality that after this semester, I didn’t want to see Matthew anymore. I was emotionally drained of all the wonder in our relationship, and I’d resolved with myself that I was just a good friend to him. I couldn’t carry this on any more. I still longed for him to love me back, but I wanted to just have fun and enjoy the time we’d have together before it was all over with my travels, the summer, and a final semester for me at BYU the next fall.

I had changed my major to Human Development and realized I COULD graduate in August with just 7 credits left, but thought I’d come back in the fall for one final semester, adding in a few fun classes. Being done with college worried me–then what? I thought I might come back to get my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, so it didn’t seem so final. My roommates Hali and Amy were graduating, moving back to the mid-west. Abbi secured an apartment with another friend in another complex. The 3 of us lived together for an amazing year and a half, and came together by chance–by a tender mercy.  The boys of apartment #20 found a house on the other side of campus they would move into summer term, and fall semester as well. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, and since my time was so short, I figured why not stay put in this complex for my last semester, even though everyone else would be gone. I got together with my high school Texas friends still, but a lot of them were getting married or moving back home.

One night, us Houston-ites went to the Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz basketball game in all of our Texas glory. The girls had a big sleepover at Natalie’s house, which was SO fun! We had some fun high school days, and getting together was so easy and fun.  My older brother Ryan (top left) and his wife Alayna organized the whole event.

rockets game

After my fun night with friends, Matthew asked if I wanted to hike the “Y” with him. I hadn’t done that in years, and it sounded fun!  BYU is nestled in the foothills of a bigger mountain, and perched for all the city to see is a giant “Y” in cement. It’s a fun tradition to hike up to it every once in a while, with switch backs, it takes about an hour from the base of the mountain.

Most of the activities we did were with our roommates, but this time it was just the two of us. I enjoyed myself, now that I told myself we were just friends, and had to awkwardly grab his hand for assistance once we reached the top of the “Y.” We sat on the rocky white cement and looked down on the beautiful valley below us. There were other hikers spread out across the huge letter on the mountain, and we asked someone to take our picture. Of course I had a camera with me (back then there were no cell phones with cameras).

hiking the Y

“He’s just too nice” I told myself, “he’s grateful for our friendship, that much I can see, but he doesn’t see a lasting relationship” I kept telling myself.

I just couldn’t decide if I should give him the could shoulder, or pretend like everything was hunky dory, laughing all the while I was suffering inside.

After we returned from our hike, we went our separate ways to study and what not, but in the evening, the boys of #20 found themselves in my apartment with my roommates. We started a massage chain, and I shared with Matthew my favorite country song at the time by Mark Wills, “I do, cherish you.” I loved that song so much. I knew he wasn’t a country music fan, and I found myself listening to less and less of it in college, but this song spoke to me:

“I do…cherish you….for the rest of my life, you don’t have to think twice…I will….love you still…from the depths of my should, it’s beyond my control, I’ve waited so long, to say this to you….if you ask me do I love you this much….I do.”

I wanted him to sing that song to me so bad. To look into my pain filled eyes, and tell me everything would be alright. That he loved and cherished me as much as I hoped.

When only my roommates were around, I’d sing it loudly around my apartment, dance and sway to an imaginary person (who was singing back to me) and they’d just laugh at my antics. I was a  hopeless romantic.

I kept a smile on, kept having fun, kept pretending that I was cool with how everything was panning out.

With the weather turning warm, and in the spring time at BYU students have been zipped up in jackets all winter, that when the spring comes, it’s a new awakening.  Co-eds sprawl all over the grass on campus, and my roommates and I joined along. The Utah grass is so soft…no bugs…it’s just as good as a mattress. The sun is out, but it isn’t hot–it’s perfection.  As I sat with my roommate Amy one spring day, I read up on some spiritual nourishment. I recorded in my journal my thoughts of the day, “The earth is full of beauty, and life offers many opportunities to develop rewarding relationships with others.”

The first weekend of April in our church is reserved for a bi-annual General Conference. Our standard Sunday meetings are different, and we tune into a weekend of hearing the words of our living Prophet and Apostles. It’s now streamed via the internet, but when I was in college, we could watch it on TV in our apartments or in church buildings. Matthew, Sam, and I wanted to be less distracted, so went to a church building to watch the broadcast that weekend. As I sat there that day, my emotions in turmoil for the questions in my head about my life, I felt a peace come when our Prophet President Hinckley spoke about our Savior Jesus Christ. I felt so much closer to my Savior that semester as I heavily leaned on prayer and scripture study to help me chart my own personal life’s course.

I was coming down with a cold, and following an afternoon nap, Matthew stopped by to check on me.  He gave me a nice foot massage to relax, while his brother Sam and my roommate Hali baked a pie in the kitchen.

The next day, I had a former roommate, Tamara, from my Idaho days come visit me. We stopped by #20 so she could meet all my “friends” and I borrowed their computer to check my email really quick. As Tamara waited for me, I found an email from our other roommate, Christie B., and I blurted it out to her with her first and last name, and Matthew came out from the kitchen and said, “Christy B? From Washington?” I said, “Yeah, from Kent, Washington” and he said, “that’s my cousin.”  WHAT?!? Crazy!”

Matthew accompanied me to the Provo Health Center where I received all sorts of immunization shots in preparation for my trip to The Holy Land. I was still feeling sick, and while we sat in the waiting room, I rested my head on his lap while he played with my hair. Seems normal for friends, right? Yeah,that’s what I told myself… On the way home, we had a conversation about the importance of scripture study, and patterning our lives after the Savior, not just reading His words. To read and seek for inspiration and personal revelation.

As we walked home from the health center, it began to rain. He had an umbrella that he held, and mostly covered me while he got wet. So chivalrous. He suggested I take a class with him and C.J. in the fall. I thought that odd. That didn’t seem like such a good idea to me, since I planned to sever ties at the end of the semester.I started to write a letter in  my head to Matthew. My farewell letter, my “thank-you-for-what-you’ve-taught-me” letter, but it kept changing. He really did teach me so much through his example and goodness.

I got a letter from my mom in the mail, and though I wasn’t super open with her all the emotional turmoil that I was going through, she seemed to know. She said, “Kristen you deserve someone who will treasure you and you help realize you are special.” When I told my roommate Amy, she echoed,” I have no doubt that you will marry someone incredible, how could you not?”  Through all of the emotions I had, those words lifted me. If it wasn’t the amazing Matthew, it would be someone else amazing.

Amy and I had several classes together, so studied for finals together. We were studying in the commons area with hundreds of others studying, when I dared her to throw over the balcony our bag of Twizzlers Nips. I was shocked when she did it! We were quite slap happy and laughed hysterically at our antics. We laughed all the way through our class instead of writing out a thoughtful essay for a grade. That part really shouldn’t have been that funny. I went on an afternoon walk with Sam, and he tried to get out of my how I was feeling towards his brother, but I wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t.

roommates at byu

My roommates and I were feeling it–the beginning of the end. Our time as roommates was ending, and we were living it up with the bonding and laughing  hours into the night. Abbi gave me a super early Christmas present. Tied up with a big peach bow was her brown Doc Martin shoes, the pair that I wore nearly every day. They were hers, but she decided I needed to keep them. It was a gesture that seems so small, but meant so much. Emotions were high, as our time as roomies was drawing to a close. I was starting to feel free of the bondage that held me–seeking Matthew’s affection. Though I seemed to be seeing him more and more, I was thinking about my big trip and my roommates, and not as worried about what would happen with us.

hali

I kept counting down the days to myself and to my friends for when our lives would change: 20 days, 10 days, 5 days…the countdown was for my departure out of the country, which was exciting, but it also meant the end of an era, which was sad. The Era of US–it was a great one.

On a Sunday afternoon, Matthew and I went for a walk, and he helped me memorize scriptures for my religion final. I felt it was a good way to spend the Sabbath (I generally didn’t do school work on Sundays). We plopped ourselves on the grass in front of the cougar at the football stadium. We sat there for hours as I brushed up on the 30 scriptures I was to have memorized for my final the next day. Still, when I read those scriptures, I think about that day. It was a good day. My stomach was no longer in knots, I felt free and happy and looking forward to the future. I craved being with him, but I was pretty sure I was going to survive ok without him.

studying

As I was pulling away, he was drawing closer. He was putting his arm around me as we walked, stroking my arm during a movie, sharing a blanket in the chilly night air, but I was pretty sure it didn’t mean anything. Why would it? After all this time, why now?

Finals finished, co-eds left town, and I had just 2 days left  until the jet plane was taking me to the other side of the world. I was giddy with excitement for the adventure ahead. I had so much to do in the way of packing, I couldn’t let myself be sad to part with my friends and roommates. Matthew helped me put together a going away gift for my roommates–I made them each a mini scrapbook with pictures and stories of our time together in the past year and a half. I took all the pictures, and I wanted to make sure they had the memories, too.

byu roommates

roommates

On his last night in town, Matthew took me to Salt Lake to the Hansen Planetarium light show. He was re-creating our first date from a year before. It was a U2 lazer show, and when they played WITH OR WITHOUT YOU, I got a tear in my eye. Honestly, it didn’t seem I could live WITH him when he didn’t feel the same, but living WITHOUT him seemed so  painful. We got home pretty late, and we had a quick goodbye. No dissecting of our relationship, no talking of what would happen to us over the summer and miles apart. I had brought it up so many times in the past, I figured if he wanted to bring it up, he could. But he didn’t. I felt ready to move on.

It was 1am, and I was up til 6am with my roommates cleaning our boxed up apartment and singing to loud music.  Just before I drifted off to sleep, I penned the emotions in my heart–that goodbye letter to him, saying all the things I couldn’t say in person, but felt he needed to know. I slept for 2 hours when he came to wake me up just before driving out of town. He gave me his yellow Speed Rabbit t-shirt (that he got at a pizza place in France on his mission) because I wont a bet. I can’t remember what that bet was right now, but for some strange reason, I loved that shirt on him, and was happy to have one small piece of him with me. I made him some butterscotch cookies, and stuffed a few pictures with my letter in a box. I told him to read it later. It was an uneventful goodbye. With just a lingering hug, he was off to California, and in under 2 days I was headed to Jerusalem.

byu

{next post–the letter and so much more}

My Love Story~Chapter 15: Just Friends

{If you are new to my love story, you can start from the beginning HERE.}

The timing was off. Would our timing ever be ON?  Being with him I felt so much happiness, but when we were apart, that constant knot in my stomach never went away…for months. It was agony. Choosing to stay away from him for a day or two gave me a sense of power over my roller coaster of emotions. Though I was in a endless state of wondering, I never felt hopeless. Though I longed for Matthew’s affection, I knew that if he didn’t love me that way, that someday…someone would. After all, I had a pretty steady boyfriend in high school and earlier college that I broke off….I could love again. I was trying to fall out of love with Matthew.

It was just 6 weeks until I was to depart for a summer study abroad program to The Holy Land. Jerusalem? Egypt? Jordan? How could I NOT be excited? I got my passport all ready to go….excitedly shared it with my friends….but I still kept thinking that maybe I wouldn’t go. If Matthew asked me to stay…I would stay.

Once I decided we were just friends, I was able to let go of my expectations with him a little. I was able to be my crazy self and laugh with him, laughing with a boy I liked seemed so rare…I was generally much too serious, or what I thought was “mature” in a relationship, I needed to relax and have fun. He was really good at coming up with random impromptu fun, which was delightfully unexpected from what I saw of his generally mellow personality.

My roommates and I decided to throw together a little skit for our church Talent Show. I had to urge my roommates–beg them–to join me on stage, they were such good sports!  We sang a little song called, “I like to ride in a shopping cart” which is a playful kids song written by Abbi & Hali’s uncle. I wish I could find that now…roommates… Continue Reading

My Love Story~Chapter 6: Small Moments

{If you are new to my story, click here to read from the beginning.}

Looking back, I realize how truly blessed I was to have such an amazing core group of friends in college.  This time in my life truly shaped me, and I was lucky to land in a spot surrounded by people with the same goals as I had. I  couldn’t ask for better roommates.  We all lifted and motivated each other, had regular gospel discussions, had the same goals of marrying good God fearing men, and just laughed and laughed together til wee hours of the morning every night talking about those boys that we hoped to marry one day.

An excerpt from my journal on November 17th 1998 reads:

I talked with my roommates about how Matthew could never love me. I wonder if he ever would. Something inside of me is really startingIf there ever was anything for him, was it ruined when I dated Sam?  I’ve started to get nervous when I’m around him–it’s so strange!

Of course, this is after a nearly year long crush, a summer of casual emailing, dating his brother, then breaking through the awkward barrier to conversational friends.

Matthew and I spent a lot of time together–often with some of our roommates–in a group setting. Another gal joined our apartment #20/#39 group, Alice. I first met her while playing Monopoly with Sam & Chris.  She and I became fast friends.  She liked to stay up til crazy hours with me, and I loved her spunk and energy.

She, Sam, Chris, & I would pal around, that is…until Chris met and got engaged to her roommate after 10 days. Oh yes, they are a success story to this day.

Every once in a while, I’d drop into #20 and Matthew would be alone.  One time, he told me that his sister, Jane (who lived on the other side of campus and often stopped by), told him that she likes me and thinks I was nice.  Wow, so he was talking about me to his sister?  I found it easy to chat with him about anything. He was a great listener, but not only that, showed interest in what I was sharing with him, and would ask follow up questions to what I was blabbing about. It was easy to talk about deep and important things we had learned at church or our religion classes.  I always knew it was very important to me that a major quality in a boy I’d marry was someone who was devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ as I was. He did not disappoint. It isn’t just a belief, but a way of living, and he showed me daily in how he lived that it was important to him.

Just before Thanksgiving break, Matthew  helped me plan a surprise party for my roommates. I was just looking for an excuse to need his help with  something. He walked to the grocery store with me to buy supplies, and that day I wrote, “I have fun with him, but I realized that as far as it wo uld ever go. He’s still dang cute.”  The roommates and I went out to eat, and Matthew stayed back with Alice and got everything ready for the big surprise. It was fun to be sneaky and execute a plan like this.

Our gang would watch movies together, and we’d coined the phrase, “free love” because we would scratch each others backs or massage each others shoulders, knowing that it didn’t mean anything. We were just family like that.

Alice & I assisted the boys of #20 in our church congregation talent show.  I even leant my sports bra to C.J., so he could stuff it and look more like a girl.  They wrote a parody on BYU dating life, it was hysterical.

It was a fun night. During this time, I kept writing in my journal over and over how grateful I was that Sam and I were still great friends. We still hung out a lot, and though my heart was falling for Matthew (even though he wasn’t showing much interest), I still had lingering feelings for Sam. But I continued to keep those tucked away, and feel happiness in our great friendship, and his continued urging for me to date Matthew.  I felt very wishy-washy.  One day I’d had a major crush on him, the next I didn’t feel so much.  I’m thinking since I felt so unsure about he felt, I just couldn’t figure out where I stood.  The Counting Crows CD played over and over in apartment #20, and the song Sullivan Street became my theme song.  At the very end:

I’m almost drowing in her sea, She’s nearly crawling on her knees, it’s ALMOST everything I need.

Who knows what all of that meant, but the last line of that song really resonated with me.  When I thought about Matthew, I kept thinking….ALMOST everything I need. Something wasn’t fully there…I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I felt flighty. I had (for a long time) had a big fear that I’d never actually fall in love for good. In every past relationship I’d had, I got to the point where I just didn’t feel anything anymore. Then I go and write,

He is perfect. Almost too good to be true. I think it is. I’m just a good friend to him. I don’t even know for sure if this is what I want.

At the beginning of December, I found myself having long talks with him, inviting his roommates over for dinner, giving him back scratches, flip flopping in my feelings, getting the flu, studying for  finals, writing a research paper, getting jealous that Sam was showing attention to my roommate Hali, and just unsettled.  I was really close with my roommate Amy. We had several classes together, and I told her my in and out feelings about everything. We’d known each other a year at that point, and though I was close to all 3 of my roommates, she was probably my closest confidant, who always gave me sound advice. When I spewed my concerns with my wishy washy feelings, she was there to calm me down and help me see the bigger pictures.

On our last night all together before we all parted for Christmas holidays, we had an ice cream party with our boys.

 I still had my last final in the morning, but a bunch of others were done and leaving town. They continued playing and I had to go back to study, despite urges by a few for me to stay. I stayed up late studying, then in the morning before my final, I called down to the boys to borrow something for breakfast, and when I went down to get it, everyone looked at me with a super solemn look on their face.  They were ashen white, something happenend. What happened? Matthew & Sam told me that one of our friends had a terrible accident. They had been in the hospital with them all night with them, and still unsure how things would turn out. I ran out sobbing.  I went to the field next to our complex and fell to my knees crying at the same time as I prayed for comfort and to understand. I still had a final to take. How could I concentrate in the state of mind I was in? Somehow, I felt responsible.  If I didn’t have to leave the group to study that night, maybe something would have been different. (I won’t go into much detail as this isn’t MY story, but it has a lot to do with OUR story).

I bombed my final, but wrote on the back to my teacher everything that had happened that morning, and said my concentration wasn’t there.  To this day, I think that paragraph saved me, because I got a C- in the class (I was already a low B). Our gang was all parting ways for the 2 week Christmas break, and I was sad to leave my friends–they had become my family–my comfort zone.  They knew what I was experiencing because they felt the same way. My brother and his wife picked me up in the afternoon, and we stayed at my grandma’s before our flight out to Texas in the morning.  I felt out of my body, not myself, distant. I was still sad for my friend, but I felt major physical pain in worry and concern for them. Still felt somehow responsible for the accident. I thought that going home for Christmas would help me feel better, but I felt so alone. I didn’t want to talk about what happened with my family, I just kept it all inside.  I cried myself to sleep that first night home. In the morning, I did what I thought would help me feel best, and that was to hop on the computer and send a note to the person that I knew would undestand the same sadness as I was feeling:  Matthew.

 

 

My Love Story: Chapter 5 ~Another spark

In the weeks after Sam and I called it off, it wasn’t always so smooth sailing.  Some days we’d be buddies hanging out with our friends, or even had late night chats about nothing in particular, other days were awkward with hurt feelings. I’m grateful that he saw, as I did, the importance of our friendship, and when things felt too weird we were open with each other about it.  In hindsight I realize, that isn’t a realistic transition in any situation, but I valued his friendship too much, and was willing to work for it.  We were adjusting into our new relationship.

I remember well a Halloween dance/party our group of friends planned to attend together. I wasn’t too excited to go, but figured I couldn’t just sit at home on Halloween night.  My roommate Hali had a fun orange wig that I propped on my head, and though it felt silly at first, I later enjoyed the character I was playing for the night.  I ended up having fun dancing with lots of friends that night, despite some jealous feelings I felt towards the boy I just broke up with, and girls around him.

One day, I went down to the boys apartment to use their computer to check my email.  Back in those days, not everyone had their own computer, and when online, it was also using the phone line to dial up. Matthew was home while I checked my email, and he and I chatted for a bit after.  We had become more comfortable with each other in the past month, conversation flowed much easier.  He told me he had a friend, Hal, that he wanted to set me up on a blind date with, and I mentioned a friend, Liberty, in my ASL class that I wanted to set him up with.  A double blind date–would that be fun? I remember he asked me questions about what I liked in boys and I mentioned 3 H’s:

-honest

-humble

-happy

As we talked, Sam and Chris came home and heard us chatting about setting each other up, and then left the room shortly thereafter. Later, Chris told me that he and Sam were going on a double date the next night. Though it cut me a little, I knew it was the next step in our friendship.  It was time one of us made a move.

Another time I was down checking my email in apartment #20, I had my back to the main part of the room, and smiled from ear to ear as I heard Matthew busting out lyrics to the Counting Crows CD playing. “Omaha….somewhere in middle America…”He was always so reserved, it was fun to see that side of his personality. When I tried to go back to my apartment, I realized my roommates left and locked the door and I left my key in there. When I went back to #20, Matthew said he could bust it open, and with the jimmy rig of a credit card, he popped the door open. Nice–I think.

In early November, I had a chat with Chris about this, that, and the other, and mentioned to him that before I met he and Sam that semester, I had a little crush on Matthew.  Apparently, he & Sam had assumed that, but I told him I didn’t want him to tell Sam. I wasn’t sure if it would hurt his feelings. Chris reminded me he was trustworthy, but in my heart, I knew where his true allegience lied.

Early November brought the first big snow that stuck to the ground. Being a Texan, it was still so exciting for me to live where it snowed! I was walking home from campus and ran into Matthew who was also walking home.  We were making plans for our double blind date when Sam came up behind us and asked if we wanted to help him build a snow throne. The 3 of us worked together for a while, and after a bit a handful of others joined in.

I was starting to feel more carefree and less anxious about my present situation. I was grateful to have escapes from reality to my brothers home, my best friends Natalie’s, and a few other friends from my Texas home. I was more relaxed, and felt more confident in general.  It’s interesting reading through my journals that I kept on a day to day basis. I remember this time frame as such a blur as to when I started to have feeling for Matthew again, but then I read an exerpt from November 8th that says, “Matthew & TJ came over to eat pumpkin pie that my roommate made. Hali and I sat at the table with Mr. Matthew and chattted for quite a while. He’s so adorable. I didn’t want him to leave.” I hadn’t really thought of him in that way for a while. He and I became better friends and considered each other “off limits” from my dating his brother. I see hints in my writing that I’m starting to notice him again. Another entry says, “I cleaned my apartment and talked with my roommates about how Matthew could never love me. I wonder if he ever would.”

Conversation with him was much easier than it used to be, it was so enjoyable. I got to see who he really was, instead of just crushing on his cute-ness. I wonder what he thinks–if he thinks about me. I’ve started to get nervous when I’m around him–it’s so strange. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel that something will happen.

I went to a symphony concert on campus with the Duke brothers.  Wasn’t that an interesting pickle I found myself in. Several friends planned to go, but backed out for various reasons at the last minute. There I was sandwiched in between these two boys that I had a spectrum of feelings for. I tried not to pay too much attention to either one, so the other wouldn’t think anything. I wrote in my journal that night, “It’s too impossible. I told Matthew he’s a mystery to me.”

A few days later, Sam and I went grocery shopping, and he said, “I have a random thought…have you ever thought about asking my brother out?”  It caught me completely off guard.  Of course I had never mentioned to him in all of our time spent together that I had been waiting on pins and needles the previous summer to see if Matthew had emailed me.  Didn’t tell him how much I was let down when school began that he didn’t ask me out, didn’t tell him that I was starting to feel those feelings for his brother again. I pretended as though the thought had never crossed my mind. He went on to say, “You guys are good friends, I think he would complement you well.” I then asked if he thought I’d complement him, he paused, and said yes. I was happy that he brought up the subject, and with that conversation, gave his stamp of approval. That was very thougthful and mature of him. Though I wasn’t so convinced anything would ever happen.

Matthew and I had actually planned our double blind date for a Friday evening, but at the last minute BOTH of our friends cancelled.  What are the odds??  Instead, we got to gether with all of our friends, and he taught us how to make French crepes that he had learned on his mission to France. A man who can cook–nice. My roommate Hali told me that she noticed Matthew looking at me a little differently. That night, he used the word “jubilant” to describe me, and those words couldn’t have been any sweeter to my ears.

One Sunday evening in mid November, a group of us had gone to a musical concert and as we walked home in the evening, Sam was in the back lost in his thoughts. I pulled back to chat with him, and he offered his elbow for me to link into. Our steps slowed as the others carried on, and he said to me, “I’m going to tell Matthew that he should ask you out.”