Let's go back six years...
It was August 2009 and I had just returned from a 6-month study abroad in Belgium and was finishing up my last semester of undergrad. My friend, Lisa, was hosting a ministry event and brought in this preacher from Richmond, Virginia named Jon. I met him. He was a good preacher. That was all... for me, at least.
Over the next six years, we would stay in touch because of our mutual friend. We hung out, planned birthday parties, and prayed for each other. According to Jon and Lisa, there were many three-way conversations... I vaguely recall these chats. Based on a review of my text messages and Facebook messages, Jon was interested in me from when we first met. He would text/message me that he was praying for me or read an article I wrote or saw me on television (minus when he was dating someone). For me, these messages were not out of the ordinary-- people would send me similar messages often so I did not think much of it. Besides, those who know me know, I communicate best in black and white, and all his messages were left in my "gray box."
Fast forward four years....
Jon reached out that he was going to be in Jacksonville to preach. I happened to be moving that weekend and he offered to help. I said, "Sure!" Who would turn down extra muscles, and since my parents were helping I was comfortable with him helping. Well, Jon did not help me move because he could not find a ride. He was immediately put on the "no" list. I could have been a little more understanding though, I mean he was in town to preach and was limited on time and resources. AND, when we talked about it later, he had actually called every person he knew in Jacksonville, and even a cab but it was crazy expensive because I was on the outskirts of Jacksonville. It is crazy thinking about how rigid I used to be.
Fast forward two years....
He and our mutual friend are graduating from Liberty University in Lynchburg. I am at graduation to support her because I actually did not know he was graduating too (my bad!!). Right after their graduation lunch, we ended up randomly riding to graduation together because I liked his new car. During the ride, we had a very deep chat about life over the last two years (I did most of the talking). I even had the honor of briefly meeting his dad while we were in standstill traffic. Our conversation was stopped before it was over and so there was always an intent to finish.
After graduation he reminds me that we have to finish chatting. I am thinking, 'When is this going to happen?'
Our entire group heads back to DC (where we were staying) for the rest of the graduation celebration. In my mind, I did not know if we would ever finish that chat, which I wanted to because it was his time to do some talking!! LOL!
The next day I was headed back to Tallahassee because I had an out-of-town tour scheduled for a project that I had been working on for months. I am sitting in DCA and my flight is delayed and then it is cancelled because of mechanical issues. (I wonder what Jon was praying for lol.. I know he Thanks Delta for reconnecting us). I am working with the gate agents to make it back to Tallahassee before my group leaves the next morning and it just was not possible. I am bummed!! I call my friend to pick me up right before the last group dinner (which I would have missed).
We head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I quickly throw on a blue dress and pull my hair back in bun.
Guess who is sitting next to me at dinner? Jon!! Like really? So, at this point I really want to finish our conversation, and I picked up that he probably liked me ;). Then, comes another surprise, we have dinner for about 2 hours and he says maybe TEN words to me... Y'all can imagine I am confused and completely turned off. He was heading back the "no" list.
Of course, I then find out that he was suffering from a terrible migraine. Ooopppss!!! We all make it back to our hotel and I am headed to bed because I have the first flight out the next morning, and guess who texts me?? Jon!! :D We meet in the hotel lobby to chat.
We talked for about 3 hours!! More importantly, he did MOST of the talking. In our talk, he plainly shared his interest in me, how he had kept up with my life over the last six years, how he had thought about us dating, the challenges of a long-distance relationship, what he admired and respected about me, and much more. For those who know me, know I sat, listened, and nodded and answered a few questions, and asked several more. It just had not fully clicked that we were having THE black and white conversation.
The next day I am sitting in the airport and I am analyzing the conversation. I realized that I did not provide him with any feedback or acknowledgement that I liked him, too. I just was nodding and saying , "Ok." Sooooooo, with ALL the guts I had in me, I texted him a simple yet more forward than I have EVER been with a guy in my life, that I enjoyed our chat, the feelings were mutual, and I hoped we would be able to chat again.
The next day at work, red roses and stargazer lilies were delivered. I was blushing the rest of the day.
This was the beginning of a more intimate friendship.
He was a perfect gentlemen. When he called he would ask if I was busy. In every conversation, I could hear the excitement in his voice. He was inquisitive. He would text me in the morning and evening. It was (and still is) more than I could have imagined!!
My birthday was two weeks later and he was unable to make it to Florida. So, he planned a WEEKLONG VIRTUAL celebration. You read right!! A virtual celebration. Let me recap the week for you:
---- Sunday evening I received the itinerary for the week (with blocks of time for surprises)
---- Monday morning was an amazing 'Good Morning, it is your birthday week' call.
----- Wednesday he surprised me with one of my favorite things at work!!
----- Friday evening we had our first official date... It was virtual. And, he had my favorite meal delivered to my house. The cool thing is that we share a favorite meal: chicken carbonara! We both ate the same meal as if we were in front of each other. We ended chatting for almost THREE hours.
----- Saturday morning I arrived at Chelsea Salon for a massage, manicure, pedicure, and lunch. While finishing up my manicure, I was surprised by my friend Lisa. She then took me to St. George Island for beach time and oysters (a birthday tradition).
Whew... It was PERFECT!!! And, on Sunday, my mom called and asked, "What's on the agenda for today??" I shared with her the birthday week had come to an end! :)
We continued talking and getting to know each other over the next week or so. In passing I mentioned that I was speaking at an event in Lakeland in early June. A few hours later, Jon had looked at flights, hotels, and requested time off from work. Next thing I know, he was coming to hear me speak!!
Coming Soon... Will You Be My Girlfriend?