Disclaimer: This is one of many stories of how I met my wife, substituting real names for fictional ones from the Fire Emblem series. If you happen to know who I’m talking about, I ask that you respect these stories and keep any comments or names to yourself. Thanks!
Fall Quarter of my 4th year of college was a solid one. With a strong outlook and refreshed spirit, I was firing on all four cylinders as I kept up with my classes, participated in campus fellowship and served at church. Life was good, I was laser focused on the things that mattered (spiritual growth, friendships and stuff).
Leading into winter break, the grade and I had been planning on going on a cruise together. Apparently, it was a thing to go on a church grade cruise for senior year, as a handful of graduating classes did before us. I can see why it’s a good idea. People will be 21, so it’s a safer (albeit, expensive) space to go crazy if you want to. There’s no driving home drunk and your bed is right there on the boat. If not, there’s all the excursions and touristy stuff at port to enjoy. Or if you’re like me, you’d look forward to all the food on the boat (fancy dinners, buffet meals, 24 hour pizza).
Of course, grade cruise means that Lyn would be there.
I hadn’t spoken to her or interacted with her since that one Summer and I wasn’t going to start now. I was content with where I was in life and so going into the cruise, I had intentions to stand my ground and avoid her.
But then she approached me.
It was the first night of being aboard the ship and we had all gotten dressed up for the first formal dinner. After the dinner, we found ourselves loitering in one of the ship’s jazz clubs. We sat in a section of lounge chairs and were all enjoying the music and each other’s company. There was a pause in the song set as the band was taking their break and that’s when Lyn sat herself near me. She struck up some small talk with questions, but I tiptoed along the edge of being rude by giving her nothing but short and concise answers. She started to get fed up with me.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked, catching on to my evasiveness.
I replied with something along the lines of “I’m just playing it safe” and “Sorry, I don’t think it’s wise for me or for us to talk”.
She frowned a little. Then she looked me in the eye and said “You know.. It took me a couple a drinks to gather the courage just to talk to you..”
I exhaled and quickly looked around to the rest of the group. They were caught up messing with each other, hanging out with the band members and ordering a few more drinks. I thought to myself “alright, fine..” as I stood up and motioned for her to follow me. The Jazz club was getting noisy, so I didn’t want a serious conversation to be interrupted by the constant “what’d you say? I couldn’t hear you.” We didn’t chat for long before all of our friends exitted the Jazz club and saw us. Almost as if they knew this was going to happen, they didn’t question it and told us they’d be at the comedy club across the boat. We took the opportunity to move our conversation to the buffet hall, where we could drink some water.
As a side note, during my last couple of years of college, I had a knack for knowing information that I wasn’t necessarily supposed to know (ie. gossip and secrets). It was a mixture of being at the right place at the right time, hearing a stray sentence or two from people that weren’t whispering quietly enough, being friends with gossip-mongers and sometimes delving in the black market of trading secrets. When I would be able to reveal that I knew something before I should have, they would always ask how I knew, and I would always respond the same: jokingly saying “I’m batman!”
All this to say that within a couple hours of boarding the boat, I heard Lyn talking with some of the girls saying that she started dating a guy and his name is Hector (not his real name).
So imagine how boss I must have looked when we sat down with our cups of water and I said
“Look, I know about Hector..”
Her wide-eyed surprised face was priceless as she responded with “What!? How do you know that!?”
I knew going into this that I would have nothing to gain. After updating each other on major life events, the conversation was moved to more or the less the same of before. She wanted things to be normal between us so that we could be good friends again. I wanted to push her away in fear that old feelings would emerge and that I would only disappoint myself. But this time, it felt a little different. Our conversation was almost like a tactical game of chess. Every sentence was constructed carefully, and as much information was withheld as possible. It wasn’t like the speaking from the heart talks we’ve had before. Of course, I technically had the advantage being 100% sober and Lyn was slightly inebriated.
My brain lived Lyn-free for the past year and a half, yet here she was trying to invite herself in again. She kept pushing for our friendship. Again, what was her ploy? What was her true desire? Was I just a backup plan? Am I really that good of a friend?
Our conversation had an intermission so that we could use the bathroom. While Lyn was using it, she left her iPhone on the table. It was password protected as expected, but one little flaw that old iOS softwares had was that you could access the photo library via the camera of a locked phone. This time, there were no photos of us together. I skimmed through it and saw lots of photos of her and Hector. Good, he made her happy. As far I knew, her intentions for friendship were pure. She returned and our long conversation ended with me agreeing that I would try. A random text here and there to see what’s up and for the rest of this cruise, no more avoidance. Being a gentlemen, I still walked her to the door of her cabin. Our closing comments were about how we each felt that we might still be hiding something from the other. Afterwards, I retreated to the top deck to have a moment to myself and to reflect on the past few years.
Let me tell you, that conversation with Lyn messed me up. Remember, I was content with where I was in life, I didn’t need this. But selflessly I decided to be that friend she wanted, at the cost of some of my sanity. Reluctant, I aimed to move forward with her request.
You might be wondering, where were all of my friends and the rest of our grade? We had been gone for so long, yet we did not run into any of them this whole time. In our absence, our friends went a little crazy and at the respect of all those involved, I can only say that a clown fiesta occured. So crazy that it actually helped take my mind off of Lyn for the rest of the night.
After the cruise and before Winter break was over, I gave her a small Christmas present. It was just a gift card with a note essentially saying “cool, we’re friends again”. I signed off with a vague quote (gold star if you catch the reference).
“Even in the depths of hell blooms a beautiful flower of friendship, leaving its pedals as mementos, bobbing back and forth on the waves. May it one day bloom once more..”