AMY GRANT CHRISTMAS & UNREAD LETTERS
I wanted to write the story of how Blake & I met & ultimately how our dating relationship started. It’s kind of a long story, so I’ve split it into parts– this is the final piece, part 4.
Our conversation was just before Thanksgiving break, which worked out nicely because everyone was going home. The only thing we had to see each other for was volleyball intramurals. We were co-captains for our team. I didn’t speak to him, but I did shove into his hands the exact amount for my movie ticket & meal from our date. He also drove by my dorm to pick up his Amy Grant Christmas cd I had borrowed (Yes, y’all—Amy Grant Christmas was what he needed for his ride home).
We managed to avoid each other during the small chunk of time between Thanksgiving & Christmas. Ramie, Andrew, Blake, & Elizabeth had all worked at that summer camp the year before & would work the New Year’s camp together, too. Ramie came to my parent’s house in Tyler to visit after the camp was over, & she delivered the news that Blake & Elizabeth were back together. It was heartbreaking, but I didn’t cry or turn into a puddle of disaster over it. I acted like this wasn’t big news, & my biggest challenge would be learning to completely avoid the guy. This was harder than anticipated. Ramie, Allison, & me had earned enough credits to move off campus a semester early, so our house was the new hangout, & unlike the dorms, co-ed approved. When everyone was over, I lingered in my room, found reasons to leave, or reasons to stay behind. My mom worried about me & encouraged me to go on dates. Let me be clear here—I had never dated. I had been in two relationships, but I had never dated. I went on two dates. One with Stu, a football player (this is not as impressive as it sounds), & with Bryan, a guy from my fitness class, whose first comment to me in the car was that I was the same age as his little sister. Both dates ended with me wanting to move to Australia & never look back. The only plus about these dates was that I managed to schedule them for Wednesday nights so I would miss our group’s Chick Fil A dinner & small group & a certain someone would find out where I was. This move was about as close as I got to reality tv manipulation. I wanted him to know I was just fine & getting along without him quite nicely. Only, I wasn’t. I was hanging out with everyone again, but I was sad doing it. It all felt ridiculous not being able to move on from a guy I’d never dated. But what I was grieving was our friendship.
I talked to my youth pastor (& ironically, the guy who would later marry us), & he told me I needed to go home for the weekend to spend time with my family & the familiar, & to gather my thoughts. It was the same weekend Blake was traveling to A&M to see Elizabeth. In pure Jenna-fashion, I wrote Blake a letter. It wasn’t one I would actually give him to read, but something I could somewhat memorize & deliver to his face with clarity & without fleeting emotion. I drove back to Abilene ready. I finally felt strong again. I was ready to stop removing myself from our mix of friend, I was ready to treat Blake like any of the other guys. My words were memorized. I don’t remember if I texted him first or if he texted me. We found ourselves in the car together at Sonic. With my words on the tip of my tongue, he said, We broke up, & it’s over for good this time. At first I was mad inside. My words were ready, & he just buried them without even hearing the first one! And he didn’t even say he wanted me—he just said he had ended it with her! But there we were. It wasn’t romantic, but it was his way of choosing me for the first time. We spent about a month rekindling our friendship—patching up hurt feelings (mine) & building trust (mine). On the car ride home from church on February 10th, I told him if we were going to keep acting like we liked each other, he should probably make me his girlfriend. And he did. We went on our first official date four days later for Valentine’s Day. And we chose anyone else after that.*
*& we kept working on our relationship…
…& we vowed to love each other with our whole hearts every day for the rest of our lives.