We met when I was just 15. I had been dancing, skipping and singing my way through childhood while he had been traveling, thinking and talking his way to becoming a teenager.
He entered my world through a door, an old, rough, wooden church door—someone new, a stranger, a friend?
I walked toward him, smiling, wearing blue jeans and clogs with my hair black and curly as ever—slightly wild and unpredictable.
He bent slightly to go through the door, leaving his motorbike outside but bringing his smile with him inside.
He became my best friend and still is.
That summer we wound our way through each others lives—the same church, the same friends, the same faith, and the same parties to the tune of Pink Floyd, Tubular Bells, 10cc, and Eric Clapton.
Then he got called away. To college to train, to qualify and earn pieces of paper for something that he was already doing.
I wrote to him wondering why my mind wandered down the lanes of friendship to something more romantic.
He wrote back. Often. Describing his new life. Time passed, the school year ended.
He returned to be mine.
Then I went away. To college to find something I thought I was missing and realized I never needed in the first place.
I ignored his voice, I ignored his letters. Time passed, another school year ended.
I returned. While I was running, he stayed still.
I went back, to the place we first met, to the friends we shared, to the roads we walked on. I believed again in who I was. My identity was secure and safe, it had been challenged, but it had remained the same. He is faithful.
We were going to see a film all crushed in a car or a van—I don’t remember. I don’t remember who else was there or what we saw.
I remember we needed to pick him up on the corner on the way.
But more than anything I remember him walking towards the car and how time stood still. A crisp, clear kairos moment like the shutter in a camera closing in my heart. His head was down, his walk was long, his shirt was blue, his shoes were cool, and I knew in that Kodak moment that if I didn’t have him in my life I would be less of a person. That I needed his challenge, that I needed his laugh and that I needed his life, whatever that was, and wherever he went I would go.
I knew my mistake—I had been proud and foolish and failed.
I knew I needed to speak to him, to talk, to look at him, to persuade him.
We met, I talked, he talked.
He gave me hope and a three-point sermon.
We met at stations with flowers and plans.
He got on buses and slow trains.
I stood beside him.
We walked toward the future.
Sometimes a little afraid to dance—uncertain of what the dance was and what music was playing.
Sometimes our feet were heavy because we were carrying a history book full of our lives before.
I went back to school.
He went back to school.
He sent me a postcard (I have long since lost).
P.S. Will you marry me one day?
I sent one back (he lost his too).
P.S. One day I will!
We walked toward our future, traveling into this present life, holding each others’ hands.
Still needing his challenge and his laugh and still going wherever he goes.