A Leap of Faith

rva-fireworks-james
Hey there cute teacher. Just wanted to say thanks for all you do. Too bad you are so far away. Good luck in your search, but I doubt a girl like you will stay single for long!
– Bennett

Well hey there handsome firefighter. Thanks for what you do as well! You’d be surprised. It doesn’t seem like there’s much to choose from here in Virginia. Guess they don’t make them like they do down south.
– Julia

And that’s how it started. We both knew the distance that stretched between us and yet we couldn’t seem to stop talking to one another. Bennett was a 33 year old firefighter who lived just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He had the most adorable southern accent, laughed constantly and seemed like the total package. I literally smiled when I first saw his profile picture on my computer screen. You just had to smile at a face like his. Were the girls in Georgia all idiots? How was this guy single? I wondered. So I asked him. He told me that he had tried women in his area and they were all crazy and controlling. “Looks like I need to expand my search. Oh wait, I did.” He added.

Bennett: I was wondering the same thing about you. I just can’t see how you are single. Are all the men in Richmond gay? I’m not being catfished am I?

Me: Yeah I forgot to mention I’m a 40 year old man living in his parents’ basement playing World of Warcraft…MA! THE MEATLOAF!

Bennett: Wow..you threw a Wedding Crashers quote in there. I think I’m in love!

We texted constantly throughout the days, he called me every time he had a break, and whenever my phone made any kind of noise, my stomach would flutter with excitement. I think it would be fair to say that we were positively smitten. He was the sweetest guy I had ever talked to (not even an overexaggeration) and talk we did! Our first phone conversation lasted three hours. This from a guy who confessed early on that he was “so not a phone guy.” He honestly made me feel like..well..like someone special. He told me once on the phone that he loved listening to me ramble on about things (a little habit of mine..especially when I get excited). He soaked up everything I said like a sponge. Took every opportunity to tell me how amazing I was. I have to say, I felt overwhelmed by it at first. It isn’t easy for me to take one compliment much less a whole slew of them. I feel like I instantly get awkward and want to correct someone. “No, you don’t mean that. You couldn’t possibly be talking about me.” A little baggage left over I suppose. It’s annoying you know, having ticks like that. I used to have such confidence..now I spend way too much time in SelfDoubt Land. A very wise woman (Mom strikes again!) once told me that no woman should ever need a man to build up her confidence or establish her self-worth. That is a tower that must be constructed from within. She is right.. I know it. I just feel slightly lost sometimes with how to build that all by myself. I don’t know which materials to use…where to start. I’m like the little pig building her house of straw and hoping a wolf doesn’t blow it down.

Each time Bennett and I got off the phone after another marathon call, it was as if his words had become bricks..and each time he told me how special I was, I felt those bricks stacking up..giving me strength. We had so many things in common. So many experiences, so many hurts, so many goals..all aligned in the strangest way. He GOT me. All of me. I felt in a way as though my heart spoke in my chest. “Oh!” it seemed to say. “There you are!” I don’t know if it is possible to begin to fall in love with someone you’ve never even met. If you had asked me before all this happened, I would have told you an emphatic “hell no!” and moved on with my day. Now I’m not so sure. With Bennett, I didn’t feel damaged, I felt..perfect.

On my birthday I received a card in the mail.

Julia,
I went to get you a birthday card and found this one instead. I have no idea what God’s plan is in all of this. I do know that you brighten my days and make me feel good. I wonder..can this really work being 8 hours apart? Can a relationship start and continue to blossom over long distance? I don’t have the answers, but I do have faith. I do know how you make me feel. With that being said..I am taking a leap. Let’s see where it takes us. I believe we were put together for a reason. Time will tell exactly what for. You are such an amazing person that I am just so thankful to have the opportunity to get to know someone like yourself. I can’t wait to see you. Maybe I can be the happy ending to your book.

Bennett

sigh…

Am I in a Nicholas Sparks novel right now? I really hope not. I know how those things end and it’s never pretty.

We soon agreed that meeting up was something we both wanted..and ASAP. I mentioned some plans for the Fourth of July and he jokingly asked if I needed a date. “Yes!” I responded. I wasn’t joking. And though it was slightly terrifying, we made plans for him to come up July 2nd and stay for a few days.

Bennett: LEAPING!
Me: Pretty big cliff there. Hope you aren’t afraid of heights. 😉
Bennett: Not when you are there waiting.

He made me speechless. Which, if you ask anyone who knows me..that’s pretty hard to do. The days seemed to pass so slowly but then suddenly it was here. That morning he sent me a video from the road. “Good morning beautiful!” He waved and grinned into the phone. It hit me then..this was really happening. This man I hadn’t stopped thinking about for more than minutes at a time was coming to see me. I was so excited I could barely stand it. I paced the house nervously, straightening pillows, wiping down counters that were already clean..my dogs padded anxiously after me, their nails clicking on the hardwood as I moved from room to room..unable to keep still. And then Lily let out a bark of warning, racing to the living room window with Koda close behind. Their frantically wagging tails made my heart race. He was here! He pulled up to my house in his truck and as he walked up the sidewalk I raced out of my house and into his arms. It felt like I had always known the place where my cheek fit in the curve of his shoulders. “Hi Jules.” He whispered into my hair. He told me later that he could feel me trembling against him.

We had four perfect days. He was everything I was hoping for…Strong and smart and generous and funny. He made me feel cared for..put his hand at the small of my back to guide me..held my hand in his as if it were an extension of his own. One night we went down to Brown’s Island and watched fireworks on a blanket by the river. Licked melting gelato from our spoons and walked barefoot on the cool grass. When night fell and colors exploaded in the sky, he pulled me against his chest and I wished with everything that I had inside of me. I wished that this man..with his sweet hazel eyes, constant grin and loving heart..could be mine.

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