Lots of giggling.
That’s what I heard walking into the post office. Working there during my university years was a good job, but it wasn’t exciting enough for uncontrolled giggling so I wondered what on earth was going on.
My coworkers were staring. I closed the door behind me. More giggling. Apparently no one planned to let me in on the joke so I decided to get on with my pre-work routine. Drop my bag on the counter and look inside my own box before delivering campus mail to everyone else’s.
I liked checking my box from inside the post office walls. Everyone else had to open locks from the outside. I got to see what they were going to get just before it happened.
This was fun to watch. Sometimes it was a note saying they’d received a care package. I delivered love notes, surprise candy, and favorite magazines. Sometimes I watched people turning locks knowing they’d be getting a demerit slip or bad news from the academic office. When we were having a slow day we’d wait for a friend to come in so we could grab his/her hand as he reached into the box. We may have enjoyed that part too much. (Maybe I should write an entry called “101 Ways to Scare people at a Campus Post Office”).
Occasionally people would forget we were working behind the walls and begin arguing, gossiping, or kissing. Understandably we couldn’t discuss anything we heard or saw at work.
But this secrecy was too much. I was about to tell everyone to either let me in on the fun or get on with my day when I realized what was going on.
My box was filled with small gifts. Things I liked. But the two large apples and bottle of honey really caught my attention. Should I be alarmed or flattered?
Every day I finished lunch by slicing an apple to dip in honey. I didn’t always sit at the same lunch table so who was paying this much attention? To know what gifts I would appreciate and my favorite dessert meant that someone had been paying attention for a while. That made me nervous.
My co-workers enjoyed watching me pretend not to care the entire afternoon. I could brush people off easily. I didn’t want to be mean, but was a little shy and wanted to guard my heart. A year or two earlier after a difficult breakup I told God I would not consider serious dating again unless someone pursued me the way He did. And even then I wasn’t making any promises.
But someone left gifts to spark my curiosity. On purpose. And it was working. I caught myself staring at my box instead of looking at my work. My imploring glances were ignored.
“We can’t tell. He made us promise”
Who was this person?
The afternoon passed. Walking back to my dorm in a fog of deep thought, I glanced up at The Greens. The Greens was the only patch of grass on campus. It was about the size of a nice back yard in the suburbs. To celebrate this small piece of green in the middle of all the concrete there were some picnic tables, benches, and a wooden gazebo.
It was the unofficial “define the relationship” spot on campus. I think most students, including myself, had used the gazebo for break ups or to reiterate “just friends” in other relationships.
Right before dinner it was unusual to see anyone on The Greens. But he was sitting at the center table near the sidewalk so I wouldn’t miss him. Daniel usually wore a gentle expression with deep thought behind his eyes. That afternoon it was all directed at me.
I held his gaze and stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.
“It was you?”
We sat and talked for a while.
Neither of us remember exactly how the conversation went, but I walked back to my room reeling a little from all the new information of how Daniel wanted to spend time with me and get to know me. And he was asking me to do this without apology or fear.
He had taken care to observe my life for a while when I was unaware to decide whether to pursue me with confidence and then asked for my time in a meaningful way. Impressive, but I didn’t know what to think. Flattered? Yes. Afraid this might be the start of God demolishing the fortress around my heart? Definitely.
Looking back at our first conversations I was truly surprised Daniel was interested in me. I transferred from a state university and had never been in a Christian school. I certainly did not meet the status quo of a loving, but highly conservative environment. Accidental demerits (ok, repeated accidental demerits)… difficult adjustment…culture shock. But he seemed to have it all together.
The first time I remember talking to him was in a chapel service. I mistakenly thought he was criticizing me.
Ladies were required to wear panty hose on campus and I had never owned many. On that day I’d forgotten to wear them. Probably because it was hot outside and wearing hose with sandals didn’t come naturally. I couldn’t afford more demerits so I rushed to my room between class and chapel and fumbled into the first pair I saw. With only seconds to spare I scanned my student I.D., sighed with relief, and slid into a back pew. Right beside Daniel. He was smiling. And maybe suppressing laughter.
“I like your nail polish”
“Thanks” I said, unsure whether to sound sarcastic. So I picked self assured nonchalance even though both my big toes were poking through the ends of black panty hose.
After we were dating he confessed to actually liking my purple nail polish. And that for the life of him he could not figure me out when we first met.
We had a few more conversations over the semester where he picked my brain about different issues. I was happy for the friendly conversation, but didn’t understand why he was curious about my opinions on so many topics. We had English together and he enjoyed hearing my journal entries during class, but I would not have guessed he was interested in dating me.
I asked Daniel today what he was thinking during our conversation on The Greens after he shared his feelings.
“Very happy to see you. Pleased you reacted in the way I’d hoped instead of rejecting me.”
Of course I went to my friend’s room immediately after to tell her what happened. (She was in our wedding later).
“Daniel Winslow said he really likes me and wants to know if we can spend time together”
She told me what she thought of him. It was positive. My trust is hard-won, but she was one of the few people with whom I was willing to share my undivided attention.
I admired the way she viewed her almost fiancee and their relationship. A few minutes of very logical, solid reasoning from her as to why Daniel would be a good person to spend time with…if I was interested. I had to admit I was curious about getting to know him more.
She ended with,
“Plus he’s got those dreamy eyes…” So I added that to the mental list of “Reasons to spend time with Daniel Winslow” and was thankful for fifteen minutes of sound reasoning before it was thrown in.
In a couple of months the unofficial “define the relationship” spot under the gazebo became the spot Daniel shared the direction of his life in detail. I wanted the same things, but was pursuing work in South America. Not South Asia. So many conflicting feelings.
I was starting to think I wanted to share life with him, but it would be a little while later and in a different country before I was ready to tell him… a story I’ll share in a few weeks.
©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
I normally end each post with resources. Most bloggers do. This week I don’t want to. Sometimes a checklist mindset isn’t helpful when it comes to relationships. Daniel and I think being intentional to pursue each other is important and using good resources can help. We’re always looking for ideas, but I don’t want to share a checklist. Reading a collection of ideas is great as long as they are not used to create impossible standards no man or woman can live up to.
It’s enough to say that as a woman I highly valued the personal way Daniel pursued me and the character I saw in him as we spent time together. Over fourteen years we’ve both grown so much; especially after mistakes. Thankfully God continues to help us learn from them. He has been gracious to remind us repeatedly through our life circumstances to pursue each other with intentionality and passion.