I apologize in advance for how lengthy this post is. I'm a writer, what can I say? Enjoy!!
Charlene (better known as “Chai”) was an introverted middle child who loved to read and write. One chilly November morning in 2006 she went to visit a church a few cities away with her family. She was raised a Pentecostal Christian but had not been to church in years and was a little reluctant to enter the sanctuary. At the time she was trying to get out of a rather abusive "relationship"...she technically was not in a relationship with this guy but he had taken "ownership" -for lack of a more suitable word- of her when she came in as the new girl at the high school. Yes, Chai was a 17 year old in an abusive relationship. She was literally tormented and stuck! So, attending church with her family on that glorious Sunday morning was, sadly, the least of her concerns at the time.
As she listened to the worship her worries began to fade away. Surprisingly enough, she was enjoying herself and the atmosphere. The word was brought forth and service ended. She left the church that morning and did not return for another four months. In the meantime she continued to struggle with the very persistent and controlling guy who made her life hell.
Christmas, New Years, and Valentine's Day came and went...
When Easter time rolled around Chai's family again visited the church. The worship was unlike anything they’d ever experienced before, when suddenly, as if orchestrated by none other than the Almighty God Himself, the woman leading worship moved from where she was, clearing the view for Chai's eyes to behold the beauty of the handsome and entirely focused drummer *pause for angelic harps* In that instant something from deep inside her said "There is your husband." A bit startled and somewhat scared (she was definitely not in search of a boyfriend, let alone a husband) she shook that thought away and tried not to stare at him too much. Despite wanting to find him in the congregation after he got down from the drums, she focused on the awesome word that was brought forth by the Bishop.
Her family continued attending the Sunday services and slowly but surely Chai and her siblings, Dily and Bruno, began to attend Wednesday night's Bible studies and become more involved in the youth ministry. As the weeks went on her spiritual life was getting back on track. And, although she was preoccupied with school, her current “relationship,” and her new passion for Christ, she couldn't help but notice the absence of the drummer after that Sunday. That is until one Wednesday evening. She sat in the front row of Bible study class, as she had become accustomed to, naturally being a teacher's pet and all *wink*. As the teacher talked, the classroom door opened and in walked (queue the fog machine and dim the lights) none other than the drummer. “Hey, JT” said that teacher. Charlene, being the cool and collected girl that she is, made a mental note of his name and kept busy "reading" her Bible and "listening" to the teacher, all the while wanting to look his way. In casual conversation, she later learned that JT was the son of the Bishop, his name was Jeremiah, he had been away in college and would soon be home for summer break. Soon enough summer break came and she saw JT every Wednesday and every Sunday...and every single time he took her breath away. From her (many) observations of him, Charlene learned that Jeremiah was of few words, stuck to a few friends within the youth ministry, and was very firm in his faith. As you can probably tell, she had a major crush.
One day Bruno came home with a couple of the guys from the youth ministry. And lo and behold, among them was...none other than JT. Chai hid in her room for the duration of their visit like the brave soul that she was. These visits became regular. Jeremiah even visited Bruno a few times without the rest of the guys. For each visit Charlene sat in her room hearing the conversations and laughter wishing she had the courage to join their company. She finally decided that she wouldn't hide in her room anymore; the next time he/they came over she'd casually wander around the house, stopping in to pretend to watch whatever show/movie it was they were watching. And that, she did. On one of his visits, though, Charlene found a reason to run to the comfort of her hiding place. What was that reason, you ask? When Charlene snuck a peek at Jeremiah's handsome face, as she often did, she found that he too was looking at her. Back in her bedroom she could not stop thinking about him and the fact that for a moment in time their eyes were locked on each other's. He was looking at her! She was on cloud nine. The next time he was to come over she situated herself in the living room, watching tv, waiting. Amidst the chatter that day she learned that he loved sneakers, music, and basketball. He even did the Soulja Boy "Superman" dance and made everyone, including Charlene, laugh. Jeremiah in turn learned that Charlene’s favorite color was orange and that she was not very talkative around new people, although her mom, Nelly insisted Charlene wouldn’t shut up among family. With each visit that summer, they each broke out of their shell a little more.
August came around and Nelly’s company was having its annual company picnic, except this year it would be held at a local amusement park. She was not in the mood to go, so she gave the tickets to Charlene and her siblings to go with friends. Charlene took this as an opportunity to spend a day with Jeremiah. She asked Bruno for his number and called to invite him to join the group. He agreed to go and she was all smiles. Once at the park, Charlene wanted to ride the ski lift and Jeremiah offered to get on with her. Two others also volunteered to ride too. This would have been entirely fine with Charlene except these “intruders” sat right in between her and JT. Yet despite that and the fact that Charlene got into an argument with a woman over lawn chairs (she was now saved but still under construction), it was great day. After this her family went on vacation to Florida and Charlene took every chance she could to log into Myspace from the computer in the room in hopes of seeing JT online. They chatted several times. Charlene could not wait to get back home and see him again.
A few months went on with them in this same limbo. Her main reason for not being open about her feelings for him was because she was still stuck in her mess of a relationship and didn't want to involve Jeremiah in it. What he didn't realize was that he made her feel like she could stand up for herself. Every time she talked to him, every time he made her laugh, every time his eyes disappeared when he smiled, she knew that she had to be free. And the day finally came. Charlene was walking in the school hallway and that wretched unnamed boy came up behind her and relentlessly followed and harassed her for not answering his calls or texts. When she refused to be that scared little girl anymore he became angry, and like the disrespectful poor excuse of a man that he is, he put his hands on her. Charlene felt her blood boil as every ounce of courage within her forced out as loud as possible “LEAVE ME ALONE!” She then ran into the first classroom she saw and asked the teacher for help. The teacher escorted her to the Dean of Students’ office and it was arranged for Charlene to have security escort her to and from classes. After numerous more ignored calls, threats, and unannounced visits the chase ended and Charlene was....free.
In the weeks to come Jeremiah's college would have an "open house" weekend coming up, where visitors could stay at the school and experience what attending it would be like. He invited Bruno, Dily, and Charlene to attend and they each packed and bag and went. Jeremiah pulled some strings so that Dily and Chai could stay with his close friend, Christal in her room. The girls got along well and met a lot of Jeremiah's other crazy friends. The campus was absolutely beautiful, tucked away in a quiet corner of Barrington, Rhode Island. It was rather chilly out as October or November was already here. On one of the frigid walks to the campus chapel, Jeremiah offered a shivering Charlene his jacket, she accepted it and thought this is what it'd be like if we were together. Thoughts like this bombarded her brain often. She thought of the heart breaks she had suffered in her young life and wondered what it'd be like to be loved by a man that was solid, respectful, beautiful...different.
The holiday season came and life was very merry. Christmas shopping was in full effect and the Christmas tree was up. One evening as Charlene’s family went about their usual nightly routine, a call came in. Bruno answered the phone “Hey man what’s up?” the person on the other end spoke and “Yes, that’s fine by me, she’s right here, hold on.” He then handed the phone to Charlene, “Hello?” on the other end of the call was a very nervous Jeremiah. Between a slur of ramblings he invited Charlene to the annual Christmas Banquet at his college. She (more than) happily said she’d love to go. They hung up the call and she quickly made arrangements to find the perfect dress to wear. The day came and Charlene paced impatiently in her red halter dress and freshly applied makeup, nervously checking herself in the mirror from time to time. The doorbell finally rang and when she opened it, there stood Jeremiah dressed for the occasion with a bouquet of beautiful roses in hand. Boy was she impressed. They rode to Rhode Island listening to his favorite bands and discussing rock music with his ridiculously funny and active friend, Nate, who had accompanied him on his ride. They arrived to the dinner where a few of Jeremiah’s friends were especially pleased to finally meet Charlene. After the dinner, or lack thereof (the food ran out before they got there!), they went out with his friends to a really cozy "underground" restaurant where they enjoyed each other's company. That night Christal was kind enough to let Charlene stay in her room again. They laid in their tiny college dorm beds talking about life and for the first time ever Charlene confessed that she was “crazy about Jeremiah.” The next day Charlene said her goodbyes and started on her ride back to Connecticut with Jeremiah. It was awfully quiet. They tried to make small talk but it was just not happening. After an hour and a half of silently staring out the window and thinking of all the things she wanted to say to him, Charlene finally built up some courage. She turned to him, he looked at her, and she asked "Do you like me?" After stuttering and choking on his words for a few seconds (which Chai thought was extremely cute btw) he said "Yes, I do." She smiled and turned to face forward and said "Good. I like you too." She peeked over at him, his ears were red and he was smiling. "Good," he said. They were then able to talk and laugh about how long they had liked each other, how all his friends knew about it, how she kept her crush on him from everyone, and how he is terrified of heights but got on the ski lift that day at the amusement park just to be near her. They talked every day after that. And every weekend when Jeremiah came home he'd visit Charlene and they’d talk and watch movies and play a Little Mermaid memory card game. (Her favorite movie was always the Little Mermaid.)
On their first unofficial date (everyone who was supposed to go bailed on them…luckily) they watched Juno and enjoyed a simple and easy evening. As for their first kiss, well it went like this: Charlene had just gotten out of work and was walking towards the parking lot. As she neared the last of the walkway steps, Jeremiah walked out from her right. She was so surprised and extremely happy to see him, she was not expecting to see him on a week day. They quickly went to her house to spend as much time together as they could before he had to go back to school. Somehow in the process of looking for a DVD to watch Charlene and Jeremiah both ended up leaning on the armrest of the couch by the TV. There they shared a perfect and comfortable embrace. When Charlene pulled away to finish searching for a movie to watch, Jeremiah pulled her in closer. Close enough that the heat from both of their bodies collided and warmed up a five mile radius. He looked her in the eyes and leaned in towards her lips. Charlene then closed the remaining gap between them, turning her head up until she felt the smoothness of his lips with her own. In that instant this became her favorite love story.
On January 27, 2008 after Sunday service, Charlene went home and saw Jeremiah's car parked by her house. How unusual she thought. She parked the car and went inside. She looked into the kitchen where Jeremiah sat at the dinner table with her parents. They got up and went about their normal duties. He, on the other hand, turned to her and asked if she wanted to play the Little Mermaid memory card game with him. She agreed to and all was well until Charlene saw him turn one card over that had something stuck to it. He quickly turned it back over. She reached for it to see what was on it and in a panic Jeremiah flung a handful of cards to the floor and asked Chai to help him pick them up. She didn't move. She couldn't understand what was going on and why he was acting so…weird. What did he see on that card? Why did he panic and throw the cards everywhere? What was going on? When he finally placed the cards back on the table they continued with the game. It was her turn: Flounder and Sebastion - fail. His turn: King Triton and Ursula - fail. Her turn: Flounder and Prince Eric holding Ariel; the card with a piece of paper taped to it - the paper read "I'd like the chance to show you love and romance. -J.T." - WIN!! Charlene was completely speechless! She had once mentioned to Jeremiah that she never believed in romance, she was a firm believer that it only happened in movies. And here she was sitting in front of the first guy to ever do something romantic for her. And she could find no words to answer him with. When she was finally able to speak all she could say was "Sure." He let out the deep breath he had been holding since she turned the card over and went over to her and hugged her. Then and there she knew, these arms would be the ones to comfort her, protect her, and keep her forever.
It's been almost five years now and I am even more head over heels for and in love with Jeremiah than words could begin to express. He is simply incredible and I am so glad that he is all mine. We are planning to take the next step soon and I'm just so thankful to be given the opportunity to be loved by the most amazing, respectful, adorable, and handsome man to ever set foot within my path. I could have never imagined that I’d get to be so blessed.
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