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Love at second sight

I ran across this post I wrote back in February that for some reason was never published. Here, for the record, is how I met Drew.

I first saw him early one Sunday morning as we both volunteered at church, though our roles could not have been more different. He was on stage, warming up his keys during sound check with his band; I was hovering quietly in the back of the auditorium, in the shadows, setting up my cameras for the five-hour stint to come.

Park Community is a large church with several rotating worship bands. This particular band wasn’t one I had seen perform in the 10 months I’d attended the church. I noticed that, unlike many of the people I’d seen perform here, he played his keyboard as if it were a real piano. No synth, no electronic noise. It was beautiful. And as I white-balanced the cameras, I noticed that he wasn’t bad, himself.

Stop that, scolded my brain.

But I literally couldn’t stop looking at him, since I was the one running the cameras. Maybe I could introduce myself between services, I thought.

Stop that, scolded my brain. You know you aren’t supposed to be thinking like that.

Between services, I ran for coffee. He was there, right there, just in front of me.

I said nothing. I got coffee, worked the second service, and left as quickly as I possibly could.

Seven or eight months before, I’d been struggling with the idea of being alone. I’d spent years focused, laser-like, on pursuing my education and my career. A relationship would only get in the way — and the very few (two, plus various one-off dates) relationships I’d had in those years proved it. I never let myself think for very long that I “needed a man.” But now that I was in a place where less sacrifice was required of me, I found myself getting more and more wistful twinges for “someone.” Someone with whom to go on adventures and go on grocery runs, someone to be silly with, someone to talk with. Sometimes, all I wanted was someone who would give me a hug. I was, frankly, tired of playing the tough woman who didn’t need anyone.

During one of the more forceful bouts of loneliness, I dropped to my knees and started asking God for this guy I didn’t even want to admit that I longed for. And clearly as if I heard the words aloud, I got a response.

You need to be okay with the idea of being single forever.

I cried. I cried the next day when I asked and the answer came back just as clearly. I called my best friend, who suggested that perhaps it was “an Abraham and Isaac” moment, where I was being asked to surrender something I had begun to put too much into.

“Don’t tell me that,” I told her. Don’t give me hope.

If I really were going to be single forever, I was sure as hell going to make the most of it. I got involved in volunteering at my church. I worked weekends, trying to get up to speed with some of the many skills I lacked. I took up drawing again. I prayed continually that God would use me where He needed me, however He needed me. Gradually, the idea of perpetual singledom lost its edge.

But every now and again, I’d catch myself looking at a guy, thinking, “I wonder what would happen…” I discovered the best course of action in those circumstances was to run. If I didn’t let myself daydream, if I continually gave that up to God as soon as it happened, I was mostly okay. Most days, it didn’t even cross my mind that I’d found it hard to give up the idea of a relationship.

Two weeks after I saw him the first time, his band played again. For the first time since I left Phoenix, I heard worship music that truly resonated with me.

I run camera twice a month. It “just so happened” that I was running camera this Sunday, also.

Between services, I ran for a cup of coffee from the cafe. I speed-walked past the band, standing in a corner talking. As I passed them, something hit me in the gut: You should tell them how much you enjoy their music.

Nope. I don’t talk to people I don’t know. I need coffee. I kept walking.

You should really turn around and tell them how much you appreciate their playing.

I’ve learned that such prompts are usually not from me and ignored at their own risk. So I turned around and walked up to them, and said I just wanted to tell them that of all the groups I’d heard play at this church, they were my favorite thus far, eliciting big grins from them. They introduced themselves: Gabby. Nate. Drew.

I excused myself and went to grab that coffee. At least I was encouraging. I worked through another sermon, and then, fighting my desire to hang around and see if I could run into Drew again, finally made myself go to the garage and unlock my bike.

Never before and never since have I encountered anyone at those bike racks. On this particular day, Gabby was wheeling her bike up as I was unlocking mine.

“Hey, we’re going out to brunch, and you should join us.”

That sounds fun! …but knowing me, it will probably just be awkward. I looked at the sky. It was going to start pouring any minute, and if I biked home, I was most likely going to get caught in the rain.

So I let Gabby take me back upstairs with her, where a short discussion about who would ride with whom followed. I rode with Drew and Anu, the band leader. (I may or may not have volunteered to go with them.) Drew, in what I learned was a rare move, made small talk.

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a web developer for the Tribune.”

“What language do you use most?”

Oh, that’s cute. He knows enough about programming to know there are different languages. “Python, mostly.”

“Python’s all right.”

Thinking I knew the joke he was about to make, I interrupted him. “I’m not talking about the snake.”

Without missing a beat, he continued, “The only thing I don’t like about Python is that it’s weakly typed.”

I believe my jaw actually hung open. I managed to ask, “You code?”

“I’m a programmer, yeah.”

We talked through brunch effortlessly. The silences were just as comfortable as the conversation. It was a strange, strange feeling.

I rode back to church with Nate, and would learn much later that Drew and Anu were conspiring about how to get my contact info, since I was Facebookless. Anu gave me his email address under the guise of wanting to invite me to the next group gathering. “I love connecting people,” he told me.

Drew asked me out for a cup of coffee (“You do like coffee, don’t you?”). I’ve never looked back.

But I’m certainly looking forward.

Published in My Life in Boystown