The first was that the Hanwells opened up their home in a phenomenally gracious manner. They invited Joseph and I both to come and live with them in the following semester. I would live in Kentucky's room again, sharing a bunk with her this time. Joseph would live in an RV out back. Except the RV wasn't there yet. They would find one for him before we came back after summer break.
This family never ceased to give. We worked out an arrangement in which we paid a teeny tiny rent and tried to chip in on some utilities. I was happy for that, so we wouldn't feel quite so free-load-y. Mostly I was beyond excited that I would be living with my dear friends again.
The other thing was that Joseph came home with me for Spring break and met my family. He and my mom got along famously right away. He and my dad, though, not so much.
I think Dad was secretly hoping for the crazy-old-lady-with-an-alpaca-farm option. Then he would never have to witness the absolute horror of his only daughter falling in love with a guy. A guy who was a guy like he had once been a guy. Terrifying.
Dad and I sat on the couch and he looked at my 23 year old self and said, "Well, your mother tells me that you and Joseph aren't even kissing. So. Good. It's platonic. You're just friends. I can deal with that."
"No Dad, he's my boyfriend. We're in a relationship."
"So... YOU KISSED HIM?!"
"No Dad. I didn't kiss him yet."
"Oh. So, it's platonic. And you're just friends."
"No Dad. We're not kissing, but we are in a committed relationship."
"Well as long as you're not kissing and you're just friends... "
And when Joseph and I went downstairs to watch a movie, Dad came storming down every 45 minutes yelling, "YOU TWO BETTER NOT BE PRONE!!! I'LL BE DOWN AT RANDOM INTERVALS TO CHECK ON YOU AND YOU WON'T KNOW WHEN I'M COMING! YOU'D BETTER BEHAVE ACCORDINGLY!"
It was all I could do not to holler back, "Dad? You do know that 'prone' means 'face down', right?".
Hearing my pops use a word incorrectly was like happening upon coleslaw that doesn't taste like crap. It never happens. He must have been really frazzled over this business of me having a boyfriend.
Most of the time, my brother joined us for the movie watching, anyway. We were glad of the company. I missed Weezle, and I wanted him and Joseph to get to know each other.
I took Joseph to Fox Island during that trip to walk on the trails through Indiana marshland. We thought it would be fun because I had gone with my mom during the winter and we managed to see some cool wildlife.
Unfortunately the warm weather combined with wetlands created the perfect concoction for giant apocalyptic swarms of mosquitoes. We had gotten through the grassy field that separated the trails from the parking lot and a few yards into the first path when we heard the faintest buzzing. That faint buzzing turned into a massive black cloud headed our way at frightening speeds. One of us screamed "RUN!" and we took off for the car at a breakneck pace and didn't stop until we were safe inside. We frantically killed the few mosquitoes made it in with us, and watched horrified as hundreds more smashed themselves onto the windshield in their bloodthirsty quest to end us.
Sometimes I toy with the idea of getting a tattoo. I don't want a stupid tattoo though. I want a pretty one with deep meaning. For quite some time I wanted the sweet symbol our church was always drawing of the treehouse and the heart and the hands and all that. I wanted it to remind me that one of my biggest heart's desires is to be a safe place for the people God sends into my life.
I asked Joseph to draw something like that on my back where I wanted the tattoo so I could think about what it would be like if it were to be there forever.
So he did.
And I liked it. But maybe not forever. Not that exact rendition anyway. I also found out when Dad noticed a root sticking out from under my shirt that he might actually freak out a little if I got a real tattoo. I figured I'd better hold off for now.
Back in Cullowhee, summer came upon us swiftly. I helped Joseph move out of his dorm room after I moved out of mine. It was a grueling process that found me asleep in Joseph's closet before all was said and done.
Goodbyes were harder this time than they had been for Christmas break. We knew we would be apart longer. Joseph was excited, though, because he was about to spend two weeks in Europe for study abroad.
I hugged him goodbye quickly in the parking lot where he was meeting his group for the trip and we parted ways.
I went back to Indiana and spent the summer with my sweet family.
Joseph was first a hastily typed European coffee-shop email and then a slightly more bearable, but still somewhat melancholy cell phone or instant message chat box.
I missed him again. But I reveled in priceless time with my family.