It was the last day of our freshman year, single-handedly, the BEST year of my life up to that point. Finals were over and the parking lots were full of moving trucks and tiny cars covered in cheap possessions accumulated over the school year. I had decided against living with my parents over the summer. I had tried living with them at the beginning of the year and discovered that 1) once you’ve been on your own, coming back is asinine, and 2) I felt too disconnected as a commuter student with ORU being 90% on-campus living. So moving in with my parents over the summer didn’t really seem like an option to me. No, I chose something far crazier: going back to California to stay with my aunt, her two sons and her friend’s daughter in a tiny two-bedroom apartment. That meant saying good-bye to Lukus for an entire summer. We were still “just friends” and I was scared he’d lose interest over the summer. Heck, I was scared I’d lose interest over the summer.
Lukus would be leaving the next day to spend the summer at his parent’s home in Oklahoma City. Yep, somehow I found myself falling for an Okie, something I’d never dreamed would happen to me. It’s not like he came from a small-town, ranch family, or any of the other clichés people conjure up when they think of people from Oklahoma. It’s just that I knew what Texas guys were typically like, and Oklahoma was right next to Texas, so wouldn’t there be an Oklahoma type? If there was, Lukus certainly didn’t seem to fit it. He had no accent, he dressed like he wanted to be a rock-star, he didn’t care about “down home livin’” and preferred the city to the country. He was interested in art and culture and didn’t have any of those awful, traditional views of women and male/female roles. He did come from a large (six boys!), traditional, home-school family, but he was extremely independent and didn’t mind my boldness, my honesty or my sense of adventure and independence. He didn’t have one way that he talked to his guy friends and another way that he talked to me. I liked that. I liked that he saw me as an equal, not a sex object and not a priceless, dainty treasure, but simply a person. We were friends. And we were saying goodbye. And I liked him a lot. And he didn’t know. And three months is a long time. And we only had one day left together.
So after our packing and dorm-room cleaning, we headed out for the night. We saw a couple we knew from ORU making goo-goo eyes at each other and we started talking about how pathetic it all was, dating, mind games, playing with people’s hearts, stupid couple terms like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. We were so jaded and yet so naive.
We stopped at Taco Cabana for dinner, and amidst all of our cynical talk of frivolous relationships, Lukus tells me casually over a stuffed burrito that he has started to have feelings for me and he’s been praying about “progressing our relationship.” All of a sudden, I was no longer hungry for nachos, but kept intentionally eating, trying to seem as casual as he was acting. It wasn’t particularly romantic and sounded more like a business plan than a guy pouring his heart out. I didn’t know what to think. Fast-food Mexican, last day of school, just talking about how stupid dating is, and all of a sudden he’s “praying about progressing our relationship?” Somehow, everything I’d wanted to hear over the last several months came out so foreign and formally. Was this Lukus the person? Or Lukus the finance major? Or Lukus the home school kid?
Over the next couple hours worth of talking and walking in the park, the conversation began to flow more naturally, and I realized that Lukus had never done this before, and though I had, neither of us wanted to jump into anything and mess it all up. The reason it came out so formally from Lukus was because, in his mind, and rightly so, to start a relationship with someone meant that you’d thought things through to the point that you could actually see yourself marrying that person. This was no casual cliff-dive. Why would you mess around with love? Why start something that doesn’t seem like it has much of a future? What’s the point in that? When I realized that Lukus had been considering the possibility of actually marrying me before he ever even told me he liked me, it was a lot to take. I appreciated the fact that he wanted to protect my heart so much that he wanted to wait to make sure we had something potentially real, but at the same time, it was quite a leap to go from, “I like you” to “I can see us possibly getting married someday.” He was suave enough not to say that, but suddenly, it all made sense why this guy who had been hanging-out with me exclusively for the last several months had never admitted that he liked me. Then, all too soon, it was time to say goodbye.