Life went on much the same as it always had after the GH got on a plane and flew away. Although, I’m sure there was a lot more wistful sighing at regular intervals on my part. We started emailing after he left Hong Kong and arrived in Madras.
Until the next Sunday.
I had met the GH’s dad once before. I may have exchanged a few sentences with him that day in Mexico. That was the extent of our interaction. I didn’t even think he knew my name.
That Sunday evening, during service, there he was. Then he pulled me aside and introduced me to some friends of his who were also from Canada. So we made polite small talk.
That was a bit awkward.
The next Sunday, there he was again. This time he walked straight up to me, pointed to the guy on his right and said, “Carrien, this is GH’s younger brother E.” And then he walked away. We stood there looking at each other for a second, and then had a bit of a conversation as well.
It was getting weirder and weirder.
So I emailed him, and told him I thought his family was checking me out. Why would they be checking me out? They hardly even knew me.
“Er, I may have something to do with that.”
His family thought it quite odd that he would spend his last few hours with them on the phone with someone else. So when his mom drove him to catch his plane the next day she started probing a little.
“So, how was the desert?”
“Well, I didn’t go alone.”
“Mmmhmmm, who is she?”
“Well mom, let me put it this way. Would you like to see a picture of what I think your future daughter in law may look like?”
And then by all accounts she nearly drove off the road. They talked about it, and me, and she agreed that perhaps this was the right time, and that I might be the right one. And then he gave her an awful picture of me just waking up in a sleeping bag that she tucked into her purse and prayed over for the next several months until we finally met.
He told me all this in an email. And then he typed, some what nervously, “I’m not so lacking in social graces as to propose over email, but you may as well know that unless things have changed significantly by the time I get back, this is what I’m thinking. Let me know if I should just forget about it.”
Surprisingly, this did not scare me off. I say it was a surprise because other people in my life had mentioned marriage before, and I had run away screaming, metaphorically speaking of course.
So they had been coming to check me out. Talk about nerve wracking. I guess I passed though, or he said something, because after that I didn’t see them again.
We kept emailing. We sounded each other out on every topic imaginable. We got to know each other as well as two people can through correspondence. We had a lot more in common than not.
I finally admitted to myself that I was caught up in love with him when some pictures he sent me arrived in the mail. Pictures of himself surrounded by a bunch of the kids he was teaching in Bangalore, pictures of him with colored powder all over his face during some Hindu holiday. I don’t think I had realized until then how cute he was/is. It wasn’t what I had been thinking about. But my was he cute. I spent a lot of time looking at those pictures, and every time I did it would make me smile.
In May it was getting close to the time that the girls and I were to return to Canada. The GH asked me to go and visit his family. We didn’t know when I would be going to the states again, if ever, and he wanted them to meet me. So the girls and I, in our giant white 15 passenger Ford van made the longish trek from PB to Rancho Bernardo to his father’s church one day. And there were a lot of kids there, lots of little kids, and they were all related to the GH it seemed. (he’s the oldest of 8. The youngest was 4 at the time.) His mom came toward me and the first words out of her mouth were, “Are you the girl whose picture is in my wallet?”
“Uh, I don’t know. You have a picture of me in your wallet?”
And she showed it to me, and we sat and talked, and she said she didn’t want to be all pushy and interfering so she hadn’t come to where I was to meet me, and she wasn’t going to invite me over for dinner in case I felt like I had to go, but if I felt comfortable and if I wanted to, would I please call her and invite myself over for dinner sometime soon? And she said it like that, in one big, breathless run on sentence.
So I invited myself over for dinner, after taking a few weeks to work up the courage. And they drove a long way to gather me and take me to their place. I loved it as soon as I got there. The little kids running every where, the goats and the dogs and the big sprawling rancher. Everything was big happy noise and confusion. It was like a Sunday afternoon at my grandparents, only quieter.
Just like with him, right away I felt at ease. It felt like coming home.