Well anyway, I hope you don’t mind but this is where the story gets kinda boring. I mean not really boring, but just you know…not as exciting as some of the other parts will prove to be.
When we left our future couple, Ali had moved back to Florida and Nate was buried somewhere under a snowdrift in upstate New York. Actually, most of the time I was in my room which we kept at a moist 80 degrees or so and cracked the window just a bit. Given the copious sunshine that particular winter, from inside my second floor room in Hungary dorm (23, desk against the far window FYI), it almost seemed like Florida…unless you had to go outside for anything ever (like class) and then you were greeted with the not so moist -20 degree air. Somewhere around in here I started using Hungary 21 as an office and was able to view most the campus as they went about unawares. It was from this vantage point that one day I noticed one Rachel Seal and Dennis Andrews walking around for what seemed like hours. This deserves mention because in the foreknowledge of God who works all things according the counsel of His will and good pleasure, Rachel and Ali had become best friends prior to her (Ali’s) return to Florida. This is really the only way to explain how they became friends, unless you allow for chance happenings in your understanding of reality (which I don’t). Rachel and Dennis of course eventually got married (you walk the trail so many times and there you go) and I’m sure there is more to their story, but Rachel wanted to be mentioned and well, I needed something to make this part of the story more interesting. So keep in mind from now on Rachel and Ali = best friends.
Fast forward to April (of 2005). I am standing in JFK airport about to board a plane to Buenos Aires by way of Atlanta. In Atlanta I would consume a Starbucks product for the first time. In Buenos Aires I would become reacquainted with my lost forgotten Spanish language skills. And right before boarding, Bekah and I broke up over the phone. Much could be said about the nature of the break-up but Bekah could see things better than I could and as well as we meant, it just wasn’t a good match for either of us. Argentina would give me time to ponder this more, but not until I spent the night sleeping next to Billy Bob in a semi-upright position in metal tube hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet on its way to the southern hemisphere. And that is all you need to know about that.
Upon arriving safe and sound back in the States, I endured what would be the first of many lay-over experiences in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL). Upon further arriving safe and sound back in New York, the spring quarter winded up quite rapidly and as far as this story is concerned, in a rather non-descript way. It is not until summer that this story actually gains any momentum, but unfortunately not much.
For the summer, being the future unit leader that I was to be, I decided it would be all about my guys. This of course only meant as irony would have it that by the end of the summer I would be dating someone, but it made for a rather intense focus on discipleship in the meantime. Even in pursuing Jenny (the one I was dating by the end of it all) I think I kept a pretty good focus. Ali seemed to share this focus as well. Not on my guys mind you, although she did see one of them in a whole new light (i.e. Kyle Phillips), but on her girls as I’m sure Holli, Belle, Danielle and Laura can attest to (did I forget anyone?). But just as I got a bit distracted, Ali herself also got a bit distracted by a rather “bad idea” as I put it to her in our next documented interaction that took place over by the climbing wall. It was probably closer to the end of the summer, but there was a bit of drama surrounding Ali and one Mark Travis and if my memory serves me right, I had the opportunity in passing to share what I thought. Upon seeing them interacting I simply shook my head in sight of Ali and said, “What a bad idea.”
This would prove to 100% accurate and was quite helpful advice at the time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t completely heeded, but the Mark Travis/Ali subplot is not a very integral part to this story at least from my perspective, just as the Nate/Jenny subplot is not all that crucial or particularly interesting either. Needless to say we both continued our trend of dating other people. We did have one other interaction toward the end of the summer when Ali made an ill-fated decision to dye her hair a rather awkward shade of…well…a hair color that just didn’t work. I decided again that a comment was in order, but I can’t really remember quite what I said, although it was in the GTAC parking lot on the way to evening meeting. Probably more was communicated through my facial expression than whatever I actually said. That’s one of the more fun things about me; sometimes I have emotions that show on my face and sometimes even a voice inflection or two. Ali was finally able to experience both of these more fully over this particular summer.
I warned you that this part of the story isn’t particularly interesting, but it does further the story somewhat. We both grew quite a lot over that summer, but when it was all over, I returned home to Knoxville and Ali headed up to Virginia to go to Liberty. I would start Liberty online in February of the following year (2006) so technically we went to Liberty together briefly. I unfortunately was in Tennessee and going to class at my computer in my studio apartment (slash my parents attic with amenities). I had started working at Starbucks upon immediately returning to Knoxville, as well as for MCR (my transporter job) both of which I still work for (the former in a rather loose sense).
This proves to be a rather decent stopping point, for we are on the cusp of the darker part of the story, but like all good stories, it gets darkest right before the dawn and if most of the crap hadn’t gone down when it did, Ali and I might not have had anything meaningful to talk about come April 2007, but then again, I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, just pull out your map or atlas out and go ahead and relocate the marker for Nate from New York to Tennessee by way of Florida and the marker for Ali needs to move from Orlando to Tampa and then to Lynchburg, just so the stage is set right.