Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Restoration of All Things (Part 5)

In the beginning of that first semester back home, I felt like I was watching the conflicted suspenseful part of a movie. The part where there is some kind of misunderstanding between the characters or something, and you are just wolfing down your popcorn and waiting to see how it's going to turn out.

Things were progressively getting weirder and weirder with Eddie, and I didn't see him outside of church. I thought way in the back of my mind that maybe he was avoiding me, but mostly I just figured he was busy.

And there was always church. Reliably every Sunday and every Wednesday, I would see him in the intimate little setting of the Hanwell's living room. I would fidget and make too much eye contact with him and then wonder if he was constantly looking at me because we were friends and he felt more comfortable sharing things whilst looking at me, or if he was constantly looking at me because he thought I was staring.

At the same ridiculous time, I couldn't figure out if I was looking at him because he was looking at me or if I was looking at him because I was staring! I was beginning to feel more crazy than comfortable around him.

After the church meeting, he would frequently offer me a ride back to my dorm (because I had taken up walking to the Hanwell's house instead of driving) which I almost always accepted, as it often turned into an opportunity to spend a little time together and I would take that as some kind of evidence that his absence was all in my head and everything was okay.

On one such an occasion, he drove me to the University Center and asked if I wanted to go upstairs and look online with him and try to help him figure out a design for his next tattoo. He said that he had scheduled the appointment for getting it for the next day but he still wasn't sure what he wanted, exactly. Of course I wanted to do that! By the end of the evening, he had chosen something to the effect of a guy laying on the "ground" with a tree growing out of him. I seem to recall his desire for this to represent the depth of his craving to lay down his life (figuratively, of course) for something beautiful. That he longed for the things that he spent his life on to be valuable and, in short, a blessing to the Lord.

I went back to my dorm room lovestruck and longing. I hoped I would see him again before church, but I doubted very much that that would happen almost as much as I was certain that if nothing else, I would see him again at the next church meeting.

I am compelled, here, to add a disclaimer. It might appear that I most valued this new little church more for the fact that Eddie was there than for any other reason, but I must immediately refute this. I was actually a bit concerned at the time that the Hanwells, Lynday, and Verona (church attendance fluctuated, but in the beginning there were usually just the five in the family, Eddie, me, and our two friends Lynday and Verona) would think that I was mostly there for Eddie.

In reality, yes, I was hopeful and wistful, and I longed for him. I did sit on the edge of the couch and peek out the glass window in the door hoping to see him trooping up onto the porch every time I heard any kind of shuffle or bump outside. I was always sorely disappointed when it was only the cat, and I did do an internal leap of joy when it really was him. However, had he not been there at all, this little church would still have been my favorite place to spend my Sunday and Wednesday evenings.

Campus Rock had been an unreceptive and cliquish wading pool. Hillsong was a whirlwind of clamor, hustle and fuss. After all the time I had spent in both of those places, this quiet, intimate, and cozy little home church was absolutely nothing short of a breath of fresh air. There was room to question freely and to study things out together as long as we needed to. This was the "something deeper" my soul had been longing for, and I left each meeting feeling (apart from whatever I was feeling about Eddie) full and satisfied. It was so simple and unassuming, yet so profound and valuable.

One night, at the end of a church meeting, Eddie came over and sat down next to me on the wood floor next to the fireplace and said, "Can I take you back to your dorm tonight? I think we should talk."

I told him that I had driven there that night, and he looked surprised and a little puzzled and said, "You have a car?"

I blinked.

How could he wonder if I had a car? He had ridden in my car many many times! Cold snowy nights after Contra dancing, he had fallen asleep in my car as I drove us an hour and a half back to school. I had put Nickel Creek on the stereo so that he would have something soft to sleep to and I would still have music to drive to.

"Um. Yes? I have a car..."

But he was determined.

"Oh. Ok, well, drive to the University Center and meet me in the parking lot. We'll go to the cafeteria and grab something to eat while we talk."

I think my eyes literally turned into stars. As in, gold stars. Gold stars like the stickers your teacher gives you when you stay in the lines whilst coloring in kindergarten. We were going to "talk"!

So I sat across the table from him in the University Center cafeteria.

Uh oh. His eyes looked sad. This wasn't going to be a good talk. This was going to be a hard talk.

Crap. I knew it.

"Sarah... me and you... ", he was staring at the table as he said it. "It's just.... not going to work out between us right now. I am in a really confusing place lately and I have things I've got to focus on ........" There was more fudging and hedging and then finally he just stated, "I can't handle a relationship in my life right now."

Huh. That was all I could think at the moment. Just... huh.

He went on to say, "I also need you to know that while you were gone, I noticed that I ... I didn't really do as much."

"What do you mean?", I asked. I was taking this all in. I would be confused later, but right then I was just absorbing it for further processing at a later time.

"I mean I just didn't do as much walking around. I didn't go as many places. Adventures weren't the same without you."

I think my eyebrows were scrinching together at that point, so I suggested we pay for our food in order to avoid having to say anything else in relation to that conversation.

After we paid for our food, I found a tub of Taco Bell hot sauce packets with silly things written on the backs of them. Eddie and I spent the next thirty minutes reading them to each other and giggling.

When my head hit the pillow that night I was bummed out but happy. I was just confused enough to remain a teensy bit hopeful.