beginning

it was hot and muggy the summer of ’95
               (kentucky summers are always hot and muggy)
when i sat at their dining room table
          -todd and deann-
and they said that
roger voth
should be here soon – maybe that’s him now!
probably some middle-aged guy with a wife and three kids
            (i assumed)
but then…
“hey, roger’s not married… ruthie’s not married!”
and she punched him on the arm,
          laughing
and i thought…
well, i didn’t have much time to think
because we were down the stairs and out the door

and i shook his hand
and silently rearranged my thoughts
to include this young, good-looking
            single
missionary-speaker-guy
who had just told me hello
(he was probably wearing a pink “Mennonite” shirt
and a sombrero)

then there was the night hike
where the line of guys and the line of girls
take turns holding hands and talking about themselves
until the whistle blows
and you move on to the next person

he held my hand as we walked on the grassy slope
by the big rock-
walking back from the fire ring
(i didn’t want to hear the whistle blow)

but it did

and the week went on-
with a conversation after chapel
and a “hey, what do you think of ruthie?”
(matchmaking middle-school girls)
what can a guy say to a question like that?
he had an original response…
            “she’ll make someone a good wife someday.”
of course, they relayed that news to me quickly
and gave me something new to think about…

oh, and then there was the kiss
the one that didn’t happen
that i said i was still waiting for
            when asked in a group of staff
            in front of all the campers
            (we were supposed to be answering
            some of life’s pressing questions that they had-
            someone believed
            it was important for each of us to tell about our first kiss.)
i felt proud of being able to say that
in front of him
because i knew it would mean something to him
            and i was right

but, i was just a “little high school girl”
            (i still remind him that i’d already been to college for a year)
and he was twenty-five
so, after an awkward goodbye
where we happened to meet in a room all by ourselves
and a (sort of) promise to write,
he drove down the driveway, back to oklahoma,
not trying to think about that girl from north carolina,
            but doing it anyway

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