Even though it was the end of September when we arrived in McAllen, we stepped off the plane into a sweltering 104 degree afternoon. My aunt who is a missionary in central Mexico (and my mom's sister) surprised my mom by traveling to the airport to meet us! She planned to stay
around 3 days so her and my mom could get some much-needed sister time.
At that time, Rey was working at a Christian school for deaf children. Since Rey had classes that day and did not have papers to cross the border, the director of the school, Ramon, came to take us to the school, where we would be staying. I had really hoped that we could stop by Rey's university to see him before heading to the deaf school. However, Ramon told us that traffic in the city would be horrible so he would rather not try it. I tried to look as though I was "ok" with that.
So, that meant waiting more hours to see Rey. He thought he'd be able to get to the deaf school by 5. Then 6. A teacher decided to give the class a big exam. That night. Of course. 8 o'clock came and went. And this whole time, I know he is less than an hour away from us. It was suffocating!
Finally, around 11 we got a phone call from Rey. He was on his way! At that point, my aunt, mom, brother and I were in the kitchen of the deaf school. My mom said why didn't I go down to the parking area to greet Rey when he got here? I said sure and walked through the black darkness to the parking lot. The deaf school is out smack dab in the country. Miles from the main road. Set off a dirt road. Most houses around don't have electricity. The deaf school just had some single light bulbs hanging from different areas. The darkness was a complete blanket, causing the stars to twinkle brightly.
And, making it obvious when the headlights of Rey's car came shining down the road, since cars nearly never passed. I kept telling myself maybe it wasn't Rey's car. Having delayed excitement for so long, I steeled myself for yet another dissapointment. Then, the headlights turned off the road and onto the long lane leading to the deaf school. That's when my heart stopped beating. I went into a complete panic. This was it!
So, I did what any sane human being out there would do. ihidbehindavan. Cough. Yeah, yeah. Ok. I ran behind a nearby 15 passenger van, and hunched down. Hiding. And looking out from underneath the van, my heart beating loudly in my ears. Rey drove in and parked about 20 paces away. A few moments passed before the car door opened, and I saw feet lower to the ground and begin walking. Towards the kitchen... which meant towards me. I finally decided that it would be hard to explain what I was doing if Rey caught me back there--so, I put on my big confident act and stode out from behind the van as though I had been walking out from the main building.
"Hi." Grins. Bear hugs. Long hugs. Rey crying into my hair. Me so happy that I thought I was floating. Rey taking my hand as we walked slowly towards the kitchen, stopping every 5 paces or so to make sure this was really real. He was here, he was real. And I did still really like him. A lot.
We rejoined the rest of the group in the kitchen. They proceeded to bombard my man with all kinds of questions until it was time for all of us to go to bed. We said goodbyes with the hope of actually talking deferred until the following day.
The following morning (Friday) was spent at the deaf school. We all got to know the kids and the ministry there. Had lunch with the rest of the school. The 4 of us took Rey to his university so he could take a test. When we went by the classroom to get him afterwards, all of his classmates giggled and said, "OOOoooOOOoooOOoo!" Rey bolted out of there red as a tomato and pretending like nothing had happened. We all went over to the school gym to watch a volleyball game going on. Went into town for lunch at a restaurant. All of us. Rey is a charmer, and he had my mom wrapped around his finger in about the first 20 minutes. It seemed every hour, she was exclaiming over some other wonderful thing Rey had done. I joked with Rey that at least if he and I didn't work out, he could always count on my mom to be on his side!
We all went back to the deaf school, and Rey was rather firmly reminded it was getting late and wasn't he tired? I offered to walk him to the door. He stopped at the door and raked his fingers through his hair. Agitation was clear on his face. He said he was wondering when him and I would get to talk. You are leaving on Monday morning and we still haven't been able to talk at all. I said I didn't know, I hated it too... But it was really the call of my momma at that point.
Saturday morning, October 1, dawned and I was up early. Frustrated at the fact that our dreams were blowing away in the wind again. He was about a block away, but we still weren't getting to be together. I decided to pound out my annoyances in an early morning run. When I got back, I saw Rey talking earnestly to my mom. Something about his posture made me sure that it was a conversation I did not want to butt into.
I ran up to the room my mom and I were sharing and sat nervously on the bed. What were they talking about? What was Rey saying? What was my mom's reaction? I was too nervous to even shower and change. I just needed to know.
After about 32 eternities, mom came up to our room. Pursing her lips as though she was about to explode with some wonderful secret. Eyes sparkling like she was enamored.
What did he say? What did he say??
He said he loves you. And he wants to know if you love him back.
I was quiet, heart pounding.
You know, Liz. He really is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of guy. When I asked him what he loves about you, he answered that you two really haven't had any time physically together. Which I agree with, and has been a concern for me. But, he said--so, I have fallen in love with her heart. Her heart is so amazing.
At that, both my mom and I got teary eyed.
What am I supposed to do??
Well, I think it is only fair that you go tell that young man what you feel for him. Do you know?
Good question! At that point enough stars and butterflies were swirling in front of my eyes to make me a little unsteady. What was I going to say? How would I take these emotions and put them into words.
Ahhh. Why is being a big girl so haaard?? (Yes, I will take some cheese with that whine, thankyoumuch).
I forced my trembling legs back down the stairs, towards the office where Rey was. I was still sweaty and dissheveled, wearing running shorts and a T-shirt. Bed head and sticky. A really winning combo. I suggest it.
I opened the door to the office. Rey sat in front of the computer, his back towards me.
I sat down at a table in the office and stared off into space, thinking of something cute and relevant to say. I started mumbling some mishmash about this whole unofficial boyfriend/girlfriend deal. How we'd wrote each other about wanting to talk about that issue when we were together.
In my raising, it was never ok for a girl to pursue a man. I was feeling very uncomfortable in trying to hint Rey into asking me to be his girlfriend without sounding like the pursuer.
As Rey jumped over all the psycological circles I was talking around, he finally came to the right question: "So, what would a guy need to do to officially be your boyfriend."
With my heart in my throat I said, "Ask me."
At that, Rey stood from where he was at the computer. He moved the chair over next to mine, and took my hand. Looking steadily into my eyes, he told me all the things he'd come to love about me. And that he was sure his love for me was the forever kind of love. And, he was wondering if I would accept his request to become his girlfriend.
Now I was the giddy one, "CLARO QUE SI!" Of course I will!
We laughed like two crazy people. Or two people crazy in love. Two people who had dreaned of this moment, but had wondered every day if it was just "not meant to be". Laughing because we had always known it was, and that it was good.