So, ahem, picking up where I left off.
After putting the ‘move’ on Leigh Anne, and failing miserably, things were a little awkward with between the two of us for a few weeks. However, my solemn vow not to speak of the incident with her held true. I did end up telling my wise friend (who had told me to take it slow) about what happened. Her reply to me was the verbal equivalent of a facepalm.
The awkwardness subsided, thankfully. Leigh Anne and I went on another trip together as part of a larger group and things, more or less, returned to normal. By the summertime, I had mostly written off any romantic feelings I had for her, even though I still nursed them. As the school let out for summer, all of the staff went our separate ways for break. However, I did go to PFO in July 2013 to meet the next batch of people who would be headed to work at the school. I got to see Leigh Anne for a little while, as she was visiting too, and actually briefly met her family. I only found out later that she had told them the whole story. Thank God I didn’t know it at the time, I would have just shrunk into a corner and not spoken to them (also, her Dad and youngest brother are both 6’7, so all 5’9 of me was a little intimidated anyway.)
That summer, with romance not really on my mind, I began asking God to help me understand what love is. Not in just a general sense, I wanted to understand His heart for the world, for the country of Afghanistan, and for me in particular. I began studying it in scripture and praying about it much more often. I wish I could summarize all that I learned, but I gained more of a gut understanding than an intellectual or philosophical concept. That’s honestly the best way I can explain my new view of this immense subject.
The summer came and went, and I was soon back on my way to the flip side of the planet to begin a new year. I was in a new position and things settled into a routine. The main difference was that I was now working directly with the school’s principal and his wife, doing development and fundraising. Ken and Erin, are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. They were not only long time (compared to myself) residents of Kabul, but they were doing it while raising four children. They have wisdom coming out of their ears. It was during one of my many conversations with them that talk turned to love and romance. This spawned other conversations about what I was learning in my own spiritual life and eventually wound its way to Leigh Anne. Ken, in the deadpan way only he can acheive, more or less told me that a wonderful woman was (almost literally) right next door. Confused, I asked him who he meant. He and Erin both laughed at me, saying that if I couldn’t see it, I was an idiot or intentionally blind. Fortunately for me, they spelled it out. This was truly the beginning of when actual love, not just infatuation, began to develop for Leigh Anne.
I began to pray about pursuing her. I had failed so miserably the first time and I wanted to do it right. I talked to her as often as I could without being suspicious, almost always in groups (she was not about to be alone with me again), and often online through messanger or other electronic means. As fall came around, the inhabitants of our compound began to make plans for fall break trips and, as luck would have it 😉 I ended up going on the same trip as Leigh Anne. A group of us went to visit some friends who had previously worked at the school, but who now lived in Uganda. It was an incredible trip! We went on a safari and stayed in a camp for (I think) four days. Our camp wasn’t fenced so animals regualrly wandered through our it. I had an evening encounter with a hippo that I won’t soon forget.
There were many many memorable experiences and I had a lot of time to talk to and continue to get to know Leigh Anne. Most of them were good, even though I made a fool of myself as often as not (which I think helped).
The trip also gave me good, restful places where I could enjoy a quiet time. Sitting and overlooking the African continent while reading the bible, journaling, and sipping on coffee was an excellent boon to my spiritual life.
I also found myself unmistakably drawn to Leigh Anne. I got to see her in a lot of different situations, both fun and stressful over the week of travel and adventure and decided that I did indeed want to pursue her. However, before anything like that could happen, I had to confront the elephant (or maybe hippo) in the room with us.
On our way back, Leigh Anne and I had both planned (independently) to take a couple days in Dubai before returning to Kabul. We stayed at a guesthouse and ended up spending some good time together. Some other friends joined us as well.
We were crammed into the back of a taxi and I had to put my arm around her to make space. I made some idiotic comment like ‘don’t worry, I’m not trying anything’ as a joke. She did not find it funny, at all. This was the first time I had even mentioned the infamous evening to her in six months. I only found out later how ticked she was by my casual reference.
Finally, before we got on our flight home, Leigh Anne and I had some time to sit and talk before boarding. I finally got the gumption not only to talk to her about the rooftop, but also to apologize. She wasn’t offended by the incident, thankfully. I explained my thought process behind my ‘gesture’ and owned up to badly misreading the situation. She was very gracious, but direct. She told me that what I did was equally confusing, surprising, and weird. She also said that she, at that point, did not have any romantic feelings toward me, whatsoever. (I conveniently forgot this part of the conversation).
I decided to be direct as well. I told her my feelings, but that I wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship, even if she had been. I had things I needed to sort out first, but that it was my intention to pursue her, beyond friendship. I’ll let her share her thoughts on that conversation in a future post…
All of this to say, I put my intentions in no uncertain terms. She obviously did not reciprocate, but… details. Over the course of this school year, I intended to pursue her and to do it right. And, for better or worse, she knew I was coming.
I know this was a longer post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it. I would love to hear from all of you as to your thoughts on our story, whatever they may be. Leave me a comment, and, if you’re enjoying our story, subscribe to my blog!
Thanks for visiting friends, more on the way.