Part Eight – Changes in Illinois

Changes in Illinois 01

‘cause there’s nothing like seeing each other again
No matter what the distance between
And the stories that we tell will make you smile
Oh, it really lifts my heart.
-Phil Collins; On My Way

Changes in Illinois 02

October finally arrived and with it came crisp autumn weather and an impending trip to the Midwest. My brother, Connor was going to be traveling with me and excitement was high as the day for our trek came closer and closer. The entire Harrison family had been working like crazy to get their house addition finished up and ready for guests and Naomi and I both wished we could have been there to roll up our sleeves and help them with the preparations. Still, they got it all finished and the day for Connor’s and my flight was here.

The flight seemed so much longer than three-and-a-half hours and when we finally landed, I texted Austin to let him know that Connor and I had arrived. Then my phone started ringing. It was him calling just telling me where to go and where he would pick us up. I was so excited. Connor and I waited. And waited. And waited. Obviously, I was overly anxious and my stellar brother can attest to the fact. Eventually Austin pulled up and Connor and I loaded into the car. The ride to the Harrison’s house was uneventful, but I loved it. We made small talk and I studied the huge Illinois sky out the window of the car. Little did I know that I would be making that same drive from the airport to their house again less than a year later.

Once we arrived, most of the other people attending the gathering were already there except for Naomi who’d be flying in the next day. It was dark and I was so tired from traveling all day, but I do remember dragging my bags into the house, through the kitchen. Enter my future Mother-in-Law. She was sitting in the kitchen talking to someone, but, the minute she saw me come in, she enveloped me in a huge hug and made me feel right at home. I decided right then and there that I loved Mrs. Harrison.

Changes in Illinois 03

It was a beautifully crazy week. Even though it was a thoroughly exhausting week and completely different than the gathering in Virginia, but it was amazing in other ways. Austin was the host and he took his role very seriously. He made it his priority to make sure that everyone was enjoying themselves and, as a result, I didn’t get to spend much time with him just hanging out as friends. While Austin lead the group, Drew, Connor, Naomi, and I took awkward selfies and chased each other around the City Museum and explored the zoo. When I saw Austin, I could tell he was tired and I missed him, but I respected him so much for the way he was working so hard to ensure that everyone else was doing okay. There were little things, though. Like getting him coffee and bringing it back to the house for him and watching his face completely light up. Like getting a text from him saying, “You all do realize that I am not ignoring you, but doing my best to be a good host to everyone. Right?”

Changes in Illinois 04

As a whole, I had a tremendous time that week. I got to spend time with so many friends whom I had met in Virginia and there are others that I was blessed to meet for the first time. Getting to spend time with such a phenomenal group of people was spectacular. In the midst of all of that, there are several memories that are prominent in my mind when I think about that week in October. Those memories include making ice cream with Mrs. Harrison and listening to ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz while Austin, Drew, Ben, Connor, and I drove to pick Naomi up from the airport. Another favorite was finding one evening to sit next to the guy who was quickly becoming my best friend and talk to just him in the midst of a crowded room.

Changes in Illinois 07

Somewhere in the good-night texts and the early morning just sitting and talking by the cornfield. Somewhere in the first-airport-hug and the “I miss you” message. Somewhere in the  group hike and creek stomping. Somewhere in the midst of that week in Illinois when I hardly got to spend any time at all with Austin, I found myself starting to really begin to hope, for the first time, that we could be something more than friends.

Changes in Illinois 06

All of my doubts from my insecure summer of transition had vanished. Watching the way he lead the group and the way he treated his family members and just being able to laugh with him and tease him and watch his careful, steady, and wise approach to life… I had started to love this guy who had become my best friend and I couldn’t do anything about it besides wait and trust and hope.

Boarding the plane from Los Angeles to St. Louis, I felt secure and certain as to who I was and what I wanted in life. For the retuning flight home, however, everything had changed. When I arrived at the gathering, I wanted nothing more than to just enjoy this time with some of my best friends. When the week was over, I had become a girl who was starting to love a guy as more than just a friend with not even a hint of an idea of whether or not he felt the same way.

It was a complication that I didn’t need nor did I want so I began to earnestly pray that God would take away what I was feeling for Austin because it wasn’t beneficial or productive for the season of life I was in. It was a distraction and it wasn’t appropriate. After not too long, God answered my prayer.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather