I've always been a hopeless romantic. I love to hear other people's stories, write love poems, Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday, gosh, I even love the e-harmony television commercials!
But being a hopeless romantic doesn't stop people from wondering and questioning love. I've asked myself many times "How do you fall in love?" and "How do you know it's love and not infatuation"? I've even thought to myself "I'll never fall in love because I don't think I can tell the difference between love and infatuation!"
My story is one that might not seem unique to a lot of people but if you can try to put yourself in my place for just a little while, maybe you'll understand why it means so much to me. My story is all about hope and faith. Now, without further ado:
I was 11 years old when I first met Christopher Holton. He was 15. My family lived in the mid-west and moved west to join a church where my father would be helping to serve at. We would be staying in a trailer belonging to Christopher's family , and live on their land until we found our own put on their land. They very graciously told us we could come and stay forever on their land.
I was so happy to be moving because I had no friends my age nearby us in MO. In 2002 the pastor of the church in AZ, along with several others, helped us to move down. When we got there, Mr. Holton, an electrician, was on an out- of-town job with the two eldest boys, Christopher and his older brother. At the time, I didn't know the family at all. I had seen them a number of years before at a church convention or something but I was very young at that time.
We got settled in and the next day my sister and I hung out with the Holton girls. One of them, Kristy, was my age and we got along very well, becoming friends quite quickly. That evening, Mr. Holton returned home from the job.
I remember introducing myself to him which now makes me laugh because I was so young. =) Kristy was talking to her dad, so I just looked around and that's when I first laid eyes on Christopher. He looked back at me on his way towards the house then disappeared inside. Being 11, I didn't really give much thought to boys and this was no exception. He was just a boy you know? The time between that day and the day “it” happened isn’t important. I’m not sure how much time passed but it was at least 6-8 months. By that time, I had become great friends with Kristy and all the other girls in the neighborhood. I also obviously knew Chris too. I didn’t know him really well but what I did know was that he aggravated me to death. Every time Kristy and her sisters had to leave from playing with us, it seemed like Chris was always the one to let them know. In my opinion he just wanted to spoil our fun. I picked on him almost every chance I got. One Sunday night, Kristy and I were playing a game in their living room and Chris was sitting nearby reading a newspaper. He kept aggravating us, saying we were “gossiping” etc. The phone rang and all the kids were going to play Red Rover at the pastor’s house. We went down to join in. Well, Chris got picked to be a team captain and to my chagrin, he picked me to be on his team. I was a little aggravated and thought he was just trying to get the upper hand. Then, to make me more annoyed, he made me stand right next to him. He held my hand too tightly, and it was painful. I told him but, little good it did.I had to stand next to him for at least most of the game, even when I had to come back after failing to break through the other team.After the game, my hand still hurt. I remember seeing Chris leave, and I think we exchanged a glance. I went home not thinking much about that night, except for the pain in my hand! The next day, Kristy and I walked down to the volleyball court to watch the boys play.We hadn’t even gotten halfway to where we wanted to sit when Chris suddenly yells out “Hey Emily, wanna’ play Red Rover?” I was kind of embarrassed and yelled back emphatically “No!” Kristy and I walked to my house (we now had our own trailer just down the road from the Holtons) and on the way she said “Chris like’s you”. I told her no and said “You think so?” She said “I dunno’” but her tone clearly suggested she thought he did. Whatever. Why did I say that?! She asked if I liked him. I think I said “Yeah, he’s okay, I mean…..”He was so aggravating and annoying! Still, it was kind of peaking my interest. Then walking back from our house, we saw Chris and Kristy asked him if he liked me. IN FRONT OF ME. He said said something casual like “Sure”. I don’t really know what I did. The next few months is basically a blur. All I know for sure, is that I developed the most gigantic crush on Chris. If I knew only one thing about him, it was he had me head over heels for him. I didn’t aggravate him anymore. I tried hard to just be nice, unless I was with the girls, then, the embarrassment of my attraction to him usually made me shy away from saying anything that showed it. His attitude towards me changed too. He was really nice to me, except for of course, when he was with his peers playing volleyball. Then I felt more like a little kid around him. So he aggravated me because I wanted him to show how he felt but he was always so quiet. We began to have major problems in the church during the middle of the first year we lived there. One Sunday Chris’ family didn’t come to church. I found out after, that they weren’t going to come anymore. I remember standing there thinking that things would get worse. They did. Without going into detail, we eventually had to move off the Holton’s land along with the Pastor. I remember the night that my father told my older brother and my sister and I. He said we might move to North Carolina. He would be serving in a church there. I still feel proud of the fact that I didn’t just break up in front of him. But as soon as he was done, I went into the bathroom and let it all out. How could this be happening? I was now 13 and my world was crashing down. Then suddenly, I realized “I’ll have to leave Chris!”. The devastation and hurt I felt in that moment was unbearable.Not long after that night, Dad decided we were going to move to NC. I was heartbroken. All my friends were here in Az and he was just going to pull us away from that.My parents went to look for a house in the summer of 2002, and in September, we moved. The last words I said to Chris were “Chris, just go” when Kristy wanted him to leave so he wouldn’t see her crying. We stayed at a neighbor’s house that night. Dad wouldn’t let us go out for one last game of volleyball. He wanted us to visit with the neighbors because they had done a lot for us during our stay in AZ. I remember thinking to myself “Emily, this is the last time you will see Chris, so look”. So I looked and the last I saw of Christopher Holton was him walking back towards his truck. We got settled into our new home a week later, and it was a nice neighborhood. But my heart was not here. It seems now that everything happened so fast and I didn’t have the time I needed to deal with the pain I was feeling. I shed a lot of tears for Christopher. I cried because I missed him, because I had felt so strongly about him and he would never know, I cried because I didn’t let him know while I lived there. I cried because I didn’t know how to identify my feelings. I only knew they were stronger, and more real than anything I had ever known. I cried because I had no idea how he truly felt about me, and I would never know. It was so hard to bear all of this at 13 years old. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced and to have to face the reality of the situation was even harder. Over the next few months, I settled into life here and even though I didn’t have any good friends I was doing better. My sisters and I kept in contact with the Holton’s regularly. One day, I was on the computer on aol and Chris’ younger brother Scott was on. I said hey and he said it wasn’t Scott, and when I asked who it was, he said “Guess” so I said “Aaron”. He was Chris’ elder brother. He said it was Chris. I couldn’t believe it! I told him to prove it and he said “It’s Chris, believe it or don’t” Then I knew it was. We talked for probably 15 minutes, and he was saying it was boring there etc. He finally said “I gotta go” “I MISS U” “bye” I was floored! He actually said that to me! At that point in my life, even getting him to say something like that was almost unimaginable. Ha ha. Then, I was 13 too. I talked to him again some time later. We actually began to unveil our feelings just a little. He told me I was the only reason he was on aol and at one point in one of our conversations, I said “I never knew you liked me that much; you never told me” he said “Yeah, I should have told you while you were here”. I was so happy to finally be able to talk to him again. But that was not to last. My mom found out about us talking and didn’t approve. So I obeyed, as painful as it was, and would just put up an away message when I got on the computer. One day though, it was Chris on again, and not Scott or Aaron. I couldn’t stand to just sit there and never talk to him again so I wanted to explain it to him why I couldn’t talk. We talked for at least 30 minutes and it was the most painful yet sweet conversation I ever had with him. I told him it made me sad to think that we would never see his family again and he said “Oh you will”I don’t remember everything we said but there’s one part that will stay within my memory forever. I said “I miss you more than you’ll ever know” and he said “I do too know, because I miss you just as much”. My heart swelled with awe and heartbreak. Then I thanked him for being a friend and it hurt like a knife. A friend?! How about the greatest and sweetest guy ever? How about thank you for being my one and only? I cried so hard after that. It took me a good while to get over that. Everything fell apart for me within the next year. I began to have a strong conviction that I should stop communication with Kristy. I broke our friendship off and hurt her feelings so badly. I didn’t want to, I just thought it was what God wanted me to do. I began to think, “How can I like Christopher and not talk to the rest of his family?” I decided that wasn’t possible. But letting go of something like that was much easier said than done. I tried for a long time to just ignore it. It didn’t work. I would always come back to the situation in my mind and wonder what it would have become if we had never moved from AZ. I still wondered how he felt and, I still tried to answer all the questions that I couldn’t.I got a job when I turned 15 and I was able to focus more on other things. For a year, I became older, wiser, went through all the normal teenage emotions haha, and yet, I still came back and questioned the situation between me and Chris. I would examine it and tell myself that it was infatuation, and stupid. But I never stayed content for a long time with that answer. I couldn’t figure out anything. In 2005, I was 16, and still working at my job. One night, I came home from work and my sister said she had gotten a letter from Jessica, one of the Holton girls. Jessica and Nicole had become very good friends and kept in touch constantly since our move.She said there was a letter for me and she didn’t know who it was from me. It had come with Jessica’s letter. A thought flashed across my mind that it was from Chris. But that was next to impossible wasn’t it? My heart pounding, I began to read it. It WAS from Chris. At the time, I was going out with a guy that I didn’t like in the least but I was young and stupid, and my desire for male attention led me to agreeing to see him in the first place. But I REALLY didn’t like him. In the letter Chris said he’d heard I was going out with a guy and hoped it wasn’t true or something but that if it was he wished me the best. I remember thinking “Oh Christoper, he has no chance next to you” kind of thing. Like, he totally blew any thought of this guy out of the water. I was crying by now and my sister wanted to know who it was from. Most of my siblings were crowded around by now and I think I began to read it out loud and then suddenly, Nicole began laughing along with my other little sisters. She proceeded to tell me that it was a joke. She had written the letter and I had actually sat there and started crying. It was the most cruel joke I’d ever been the victim of. I don’t know what I did, but I’m sure I probably let her have it. Well, over the next few days probably weeks, I was quite depressed. I finally decided, I would write Christopher. So I did. I told him I was sorry for being a flirt while I’d lived there in AZ and I told him I still liked him. I told him if he liked me to write back and I think I said that if he didn’t, I would just assume he didn’t like me. I stood outside wondering if I should mail it, and told myself “Yes, just do it Emily”. The moment I woke up the next morning, I regretted it. I prayed so hard for God to not let that letter get to Chris. I figured if his parents saw it, there would be big trouble. Not for just Chris but me too. My mom had no idea I had ever had that last conversation with Chris on aol. There was no way I could let her know all about this. She wouldn’t believe me anyway right?I never heard back from Chris. I wasn’t surprised. I was sad but I never expected him to write back. I went through major depression throughout the next few weeks. I finally told my Mom. I had already been telling her about how I was having a hard time getting over him. I was so upset with myself for writing him that stupid letter. She would tell me that I had to move on etc. Before the letter being mentioned I was surprised when she said that maybe I should go out and see if he still liked me. Just to settle my feelings. But she thought I shouldn’t when I mentioned the letter cause’ it might look like I was chasing him.I guess I just let it go after that. I began to pray and ask God that if it was His will, to let Chris and I see each other again etc. I held onto this small fragment of hope that I barely could distinguish and I tried to trust the entire situation to God.I remember too, at some point last year, 2006, I made a wish, and it was to fall in love with a great Christian guy. I was going through that time when the hormones are driving you crazy! No wonder I made that wish.Things were much better after that, and I was finally, after almost able to tell myself that yes, I had liked Chris but it was in the past and I had to move on. I had previously thought that if you felt that strongly about someone, it couldn’t just end for good if it was love. Move ahead to June 6th, 2007, Wednesday. At this point, I’m 18, and have just graduated from highschool. I’m making plans to attend college in Florida in the fall. I’m at new job, well, have been for about a year. My life is going pretty smoothly, and college looks to be the only big change in the future. Little did I know that today would bring the biggest surprise of my life.It’s morning, I get up, have my devotions and go start the computer. I always liked to get on in the morning. I log into my myspace and notice I have new messages. I was a little surprised and curious who could have written me because I don’t get many messages.I went to my inbox and saw that the subject was simply “Hi” and the user, who didn’t have a photo was “Ti”. I figured it was someone wanting to be friends or something. I clicked on it and began reading but my heart fell to the floor when I read the words “Hi Emily, this is Christopher Holton. My heart fell to my stomach and every feeling I had ever held for Chris, but thought I had buried, the memory of how amazing he made me feel, the feelings I had for him 5 years ago, it all came rushing back as soon as I read those words. Chris proceeded to apologize for having not written in over two years. He said if I was interested, he would love to get to know me again. He said he was writing because he needed someone to talk to, and that he was really lonely and couldn’t stand it anymore. When I had finished the note, I couldn’t really do anything but sit there with my mouth hanging open. I looked at my dad, who was sitting not 4 feet from me but he was engrossed in his laptop so he didn’t catch the stunned look on my face. My heart was pounding so loudly that I thought he would hear it, and I actually got up and walked out of the room just so he wouldn’t! I walked outside on the deck and I stood with my hands on my hips and just looked around in great surprise. Mind you, my mouth was STILL hanging open!I couldn’t stand to just be quiet about it so I told my little sister who was outside. She told me to write back. Later, I told one of my other sisters and she told me to write back to. So, I did.I mentioned that I was sorry for having sent the letter to him in 2005. I told him all about my life, work, college plans, church stuff, etc. It was a pretty long e-mail!He wrote me back that night. I was floored when I read it. Not because he told me he’d gotten my letter in 2005, but because he said he’d written me back!!! He said all he could do was sit in his truck for 3 days at his job, and think of what to say to me. He said his reply was about 3 pages long and that it basically said he still liked me more than ever but that he was waiting on God before he pursued anything or anyone, and that that was why he hadn’t written since. He was extremely sorry for the mix-up, apologizing a little profusely. I didn’t know what to do. By this time, most of my siblings knew about him contacting me, but my older brother didn’t. So I told him, in hopes of getting some advice. He told me to worry about college first and just be friends for now.He wanted Chris’s myspace id so he could email him too. Then he wrote him and mentioned all this stuff about me that kind of ticked me off. I didn’t hear from Chris for a couple days or so and I began to think he was mad at me for having went and told Greg about all of this. Chris was always shy and quiet about having a crush on me when it came to being around other people. In the meantime, I asked a friend from church, the youth leader, for advice and he basically said what Greg had. He said to put this to him “Are you only writing me because you have no one else to talk to”? I’ll admit that I thought maybe Chris was only writing because, based on the letter in 2005, he he thought I still had a huge crush on him so I’d do anything for him, in a matter of words.Well, that was not the case, and I would find that out not long after! ***to be continued.