I never wanna be the one to say,
How could I let you slip away?
And I’m never gonna watch you fall apart
I should have told you from the start
And I’m late but now I’m running
Please wait for me I’m coming
Never gonna wait another day
I finally found the words to say
I want you
-Andrew Allen; I Want You
After the visit early in June, life moved forward at a rapid pace. There was my grandfather’s funeral. Two of my very best friends got engaged. And my family was planning to pack up the mini van and drive around the country for the entire month of July. On July 1st, I boarded a plane bound for Maryland to spend a week with some wonderful friends there. The plan was for me to spend a glorious week with them before flying to Illinois and meeting up with my family who would be driving there and arriving few days later. I enjoyed every moment with my East Coast friends and, when it was time to depart for the next leg of my summer journey, I was looking forward to spending an entire week with the Harrisons. My inner emotional turmoil and mental confusion had calmed but I still wasn’t certain about anything. I remember telling one of my friends, “I think things are going well. He’s one of my best friends. I’m content with where things are right now, but I’m not ready for him to propose or for us to get engaged yet.” Little did I know that, less than a week later, my tune would be completely changed.
When my plane landed in St. Louis, I still felt very hesitate about things. As soon as I arrived at Harrison’s home, however, those hesitations began to disappear. I still don’t know what it was exactly. Maybe it was simply just being back in their home where I had first started to feel that hope for something more almost a year before. Maybe it was being with his entire family (all of whom I absolutely adore.) I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that, by the second day I was there and we went to a Cardinals baseball game together with his family and a few of his friends, I knew that I was ready to fall in love and spend the rest of my life with this man. Caught completely off-guard, I forced myself to relax and just enjoy the visit which wasn’t hard to do because it turned out to be a truly wonderful and perfect week.
We caught fireflies at dusk and went fishing and played countless card games and got frisbees stuck in trees and my younger siblings got a taste of farm life while I learned that I am terrible at bowling. Scones were baked and Mrs. Harrison taught us how to make cinnamon rolls from scratch and long car rides were made fun by singing along to the most eclectic playlists. We celebrated Austin’s birthday with him and I met more of his extended family. In short, it was a marvelous time just doing beautiful little things and enjoying the time spent all together.
This was the first time both of our families were completely all together and everyone got along famously.
Being there truly felt like being home. Being with them really felt like being with family. And also, being around so many tall and handsome guys all the time made me officially feel short. Really short. But, not only are they all ridiculously tall and handsome, but they are gentlemen too who are always offering to make me tea or open that door or get my jacket for me or get food for me. They spoil me and that’s the truth of it. They don’t let me win at games though, especially not at games on the Wii. There is that…
That week was the time I finally fell in love with the guy who was already my best friend. Just getting to spend that time with both of our families and savor the moments of conversation and of silence that we shared was exactly what I needed to thoroughly convince me. I finally realized that I really wanted to marry him. I just didn’t know whether or not he was convinced yet too.
Remember way back in Part One when I mentioned that the first thing I ever knew about Austin was the fact that he built lightsabers? Well, over the course of our years of friendship, we had talked about those lightsabers and he had sent me photos of what he was working on and patiently answered all of my questions. I loved hearing him talk about those projects and I was genuinely interested to learn. So, on our last night there before my family and I loaded back up into the mini van to drive to visit grandparents on the Eastern Shore, we all trooped down to the basement to help Austin with the sabers he was currently working on. It was one of the best evenings ever. Like seriously.
(Side note: I am so ridiculously happy that I am marrying someone who is as much of a geek as I am.)
…Then it was time for goodbyes. My family and I still had an amazing month of road-tripping ahead of us, but part of me was aching to stay. We had hardly left and I already felt homesick for Illinois. It had been a week of fun times with both of our families and deep conversations and lighthearted teasing and personal revelations. We knew that we’d be seeing the Harrisons again in less than month, but still, my littlest siblings cried as we drove away and I felt a kind of missing that I hadn’t experienced before.by