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My Love Story: Chapter 22~Houston Texas

{If you missed previous chapters of our Love Story, click HERE to catch up. Or for a refresher of Chapter 21, Mixed Emotions, read here.} It’s my 14th wedding anniversary, so I HAD to share the next chapter of our love story today!!

I arrived home in Houston on June 25th.  I hadn’t really told anyone in my family what as going on. It was all happening so quickly, from when I stepped onto US soil 5 days before, to my arriving in Texas for the summer. My older brother Ryan and his wife (of one year) Alayna were living with my parents for the summer while he worked a summer job. My (3 years older) cousin Mike was also living there for the summer, as he worked a summer internship.  My younger brother Russell (whom I was closest with) was an exchange student in Spain for the summer, and my littlest brother Kirk (12) was also home, so everything was kinda different at my house.

My family greeted me as I stepped off the plane with balloons and cheers. That was back in the day when people could meet you at your terminal.  We stopped to eat dinner at Red Lobster, and I told them some highlights of my trip. Most of my communication to my family the past 2 months was through emails, so they got to hear stories from my mouth. My parents had taken a similar trip to The Holy Land about 10 years before I did, so it was fun to tell them because the’d been there. I hadn’t gained the normal weight that most study abroad students gain, and my brother was asking me self discipline tips over dinner. I was determined not to, so exercised and stayed away from a lot of treats while over there. No one asked about Matthew, so I didn’t bring it up, either.

Once we got home, I took a drive with Alayna, and told her everything. She said that my uncertainty mixed with doubt was the adversary creeping in, and I needed to trust. I felt trusting, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted. I filled in Ryan and my cousin Mike later on, and the next day I casually told my mom that Matthew was coming for a visit in 2 weeks. She shockingly replied, “what day?” To which I said, “July 3rd” and she blurted,”that’s in a week!”  Oh…so it is.  I knew she was pretty excited, she always liked Matthew, but she tried to conceal her excitement because she knew of my uncertainty.

I had been thinking about him a lot…trying not to be sick from nervousness, and getting excited to realize it WAS just a week away that I’d see him. It seemed odd to me that I could change my way of thinking so much. Alayna told me that the peace I felt in Egypt (after our email parting ways) was a blessing so I could enjoy my time there instead of being sad.

I got to talk to my wise  17 year old brother when he called from Spain. I told him I was bothered with myself for being so inconsistent with my feelings and he said, “who cares???” No one cares. It snapped me out of “judging myself” and I thought…I guess it really doesn’t matter.

June 29th journal entry:

Wow! Today I have felt extra nervous and anxious. I can’t believe he is actually coming. Matthew Duke, the boy that I’ve only dreamed of the past year and a half bought a plane ticket to fly from San Francisco to Houston to visit ME! Feelings have been coming back rather strong. I don’t understand how my thoughts can fluctuate so much. When I think of him, I just think about how much I love him and how wonderful he is and how good we would be together. It all seems too perfect for it not to work. We’ve both had our struggles and we’ve learned so much. What I am most afraid of now, is to see if his actions match his words. If not, it’s nothing.

I spent the day with my mom, and joined her at a halfway house where she taught life skills and parenting classes to mothers each week. On our drive home, I opened up to her the situation with Matthew. She was a good listener, and she said she once heard that when two really strong people come together, opposition is more intense because the adversary doesn’t want it to happen. Interesting thought.

I didn’t have much of an appetite in the days leading up to his arrival, I was just too nervous.

July 3rd journal entry:

I couldn’t eat. I talked to myself in the car all the way to the airport, trying to calm myself down. I sang church Primary songs for calming affect.  Waiting for the plane to land killed me. He stepped off the plane in a BYU t-shirt, just as I thought he would.  He’s a t-shirt kinda guy. We gave a quick hug and started walking. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all, laughing and talking non-stop. 

With my family waiting in the car, we went to see the Houston Symphony play Americana music at an outdoor theater.


July 4th

Not much affection between the two of us. Neither one of us knew what to do. We hadn’t kissed in 6 months, since that fateful frozen day in January. In the evening, we played cards with Ryan and Alayna, then they went to bed around 1AM, which left us alone and feeling awkward for the first time. We were both pretty tired, and after a lingering hug, said goodnight. I really wanted to talk (and…you know…), but the emotions of the day left me exhausted.… Continue Reading

My Love story~Chapter 21: Mixed Emotions

{If you are new to my love story, start here. To remind yourself of the last chapter, click here.}

As I flew across the world from Egypt to the United States at the end of my 7 week adventure, I felt a peace. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next in my life, and I was kind of excited about the clean slate ahead of me.

As the airplane touched down on American soil, my study abroad friends joined me in singing (loudly for the entire plane to hear) America the Beautiful. It felt good to be HOME.

I landed in Utah to stay there for a few days with my roommates, gather my stuff, then head to Houston for the rest of the summer. Amy and Hali picked me up at the airport. I had given them a play by play of the entire love affair with Matthew in previous emails, and they already knew that it was over, too. I was excited to just hang out with them, and forget about the whole thing.

roommates and friends

When we got back to the apartment, we had a delicious American meal: chicken and broccoli, with Sam and C.J. joining us. It was fun to share stories with the boys of my adventures, too. I felt carefree and relaxed–it felt so good! I knew that all of them knew what was going on with Matthew and I, and I was grateful that they didn’t ruin my happiness at being in the states with peppering me with questions.… Continue Reading

My Love story~Chapter 20: Moving Forward

{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}… Continue Reading

My Love Story~Chapter 19: My Boyfriend

{If you are new to my love story, start here. I got the sweetest email from a new friend in Vermont telling me that she was told by her friend about my love story, and sat and read for 3 hours straight all the chapters thus far. It prompted me (once again) to force myself to write the next chapter. This has been the hardest chapter to write, it’s taken me 3 months to sit down and tap it out!}

I felt like I was living in the Twilight Zone. One day I was an emotional mess, mourning the loss of a could-be love, then 3 days later on the other side of the world, I was telling strangers he was my boyfriend–and I hadn’t even seen him since. I was ok with not seeing him, not talking to him. I needed time to process everything that had happened. We emailed every day, and I asked a lot of questions, and he answered them honestly. I didn’t feel hurt, I just didn’t understand. I wanted to understand. I wanted some logic to help me comprehend what was going on with him the past few months. There had to be a good explanation. We wrote lots of letters. Both typed through email, as well as aerogrammes from across the world.

aerogramme letter

I wrote this in a letter to him:

I have many questions in my head. I had to train myself to build a wall against you, to block my heart from the pain I felt. I think I built it so think that  I will take a while to peel off the layers and tap into what I feel. It seems so strange that I wouldn’t just rejoice at some of the things you have told me. Part of me still doesn’t believe what you’ve said because I haven’t seen you. I don’t think I’ll really know until I see you again. I also figure that when you are with me again your feelings may change again. Would you have ever said anything to me about your feelings if I hadn’t sent you that letter? All I have to hold on to are the feelings I know I once had. You have a lot to prove. I do love you, I know that much. I always have.… Continue Reading