I have to admit, I had to read the previous post just now to see where I left off. It's funny how we forget, and how we remember for that matter. It's been fun for me to sit and recall the good and bad of our little journey. And to relive the emotions I had. I would never have believed you if you told me then where I'd be today, but that's not important now, is it?
After he had walked away in that parking lot, I was stunned - speechless. I had a million thoughts going through my head. I went back to campus with my roommate and we talked. She asked me, "If there wasn't another guy, Shelly, would there be a George in your love-life?" I didn't know how to answer that. I wasn't in LOVE with anyone! Or at least I didn't want to be. I was 18 years old. And besides, he wasn't my type. Just a skinny 155 pound kid barely taller than I... but why did it feel like I had just said goodbye to my best friend? I blocked all my feelings out as best I could and finally got some sleep. In the morning as we were getting ready to leave, I tried to catch a glimpse of him. I didn't even get to wave goodbye.
My parents had come to pick me up from college. We went to lunch with a couple of my girlfriends, and we began to discuss the George saga. We joked and laughed, but at one point, things didn't seem so lighthearted anymore. I talked things over with my dad. I gave him the letters George had written to me so he could evaluate the situation. He said nothing more than "I like this George fella". And smiled.
Once I got home, I began to check out books from the library about George's country, the Communism that ruled it for 45 years, the fall that took place in 1989, and anything else that could tell me a little bit about this boy who had become more and more intriguing to me. As I was researching my new-found topic that summer, my mom walked into my room and said "So, you're going to marry this George fella, aren't you?" I just laughed her off, and began to share what I was learning.
I had a visitor arriving from another state soon. I had been out on a few dates with the guy, and I liked him, but nothing was serious - never serious. He and his family had to drive across my state for a wedding and they decided they'd stop in and have a meal with us. It was a Sunday. We were all at church, and they joined the services, then we had lunch together. It was very pleasant and we had a nice time getting to know his family. I really liked his mom. But things didn't feel different even after that meeting. So, we said our goodbyes and my dad wanted to stop into the store before going home. As we were walking down the aisle, I just stopped and gazed at the items in front of me. Endless shelves of nothingness is what I saw - just off in a daze. "You're not thinking about the guy who just left here, are you? You're thinking about George", Dad said. He was right, but I didn't admit it.
When I got home, I pulled out that piece of paper with the contact information for George. I wrote him a letter that day. I don't remember what it said, exactly. But I had to write. I had to know what was going on with him. And so our correspondence began. Nearly every week, I'd write or receive a letter in the mail. I had also written to the other guy telling him that I didn't think we should continue dating, since I really wasn't interested in more that having a friend. I didn't want a boyfriend at that point, and even though I had turned 19, I still considered myself far too young to make any crucial decisions about love. :)
So, the studying of Eastern Europe continued, as did the letters from afar. I was hopeful, and happy. I knew that no matter what this became, it was a priceless relationship from which I had only gained a better understanding of the world. This "George fella" was like no one I had ever met, and I was only better for knowing him. I looked forward to the end of the summer and the start of the new semester. I had decided to return, and skip my plans to pursue the apprenticeship program for law that I had been interested in. I would just finish my degree here, and if I wanted to study anything after that, I'd consider it later. For now, I had decided I wanted to be there.
I had arrived one week early to fulfill my work scholarship obligations. It was a fun work-filled week. I had chatted with my friends and roommate about the happenings of the summer, and we joked and laughed about what it all meant. They'd predict who I was going to end up with, and we'd all have fun trying to decipher what deeper meanings any happenings in our lives had. But that week came to an end, and all the students were now to arrive. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I stood in one of my favorite dresses and waited. I was working in the dining hall, so I had a pretty good view of anyone who came on opening day.
And then, I saw her. The host mother for George in the US. I went to greet her, and smiling, I inquired about George. "He's not coming", was all she said. Her children were there so I began to chat with them about the opening day festivities, but quickly found an excuse to leave. I was still working, so I just went to a station where a close friend was working and said to her, "He's not coming back! Why am I here?"
"You're in love with George, Shelly, aren't you?"
It was the first time I admitted it to anyone - even myself.
"I think I am", I whispered.
But it didn't matter. He wasn't there, and how would he ever know now? I was 19, and didn't need to think about such things. I couldn't be in love, and I tried to talk myself out of it - to no avail. I was miserable without him.
Before his host family left, the mom found me and put a piece of paper in my hand. "Call him. I'm sure he'd love to talk to you."
But what would I say?