If you're just now tuning in, please take some time to read the first parts of the story:
Part One - Camp
Part Two - The In-Between
Part Three - Camp Again
Part Four - Happy Birthdays
(Also, I decided to go back and add dates to the stories. I feel like the timeline is confusing. Especially since parts three and four are within a time frame of about a month.)
I ended part four after our birthdays, mine comprising of a party in which I selfishly declined to deal with my failing relationship with T and Mark's b-day comprising of both of us going skydiving together, and later, Mark breaking off his relationship with G.
June 30, 2007 - August 13, 2007
Mark comes back from the wedding (and from breaking up with his gf), finding Kim and myself up talking. Kim and I begin to go to bed, but Mark asks me if I would step outside with him real quick. I'm curious, full of butterflies and shame, and follow him outside. He says simply, "The stars are amazing, and I had to show them to you." Needless to say, they WERE amazing. He gives me a hug, and we go back inside, heading to our respective rooms to sleep.
The next day, I head back to my apartment in San Marcos. T is away on a mission trip, and I feel relieved that I have an excuse for not calling him. It's July 1, and I have 3 days before I have to be in Missouri for the second half of summer to work at another camp called Camp Barnabas. Mark comes back down to San Marcos, and we hang out until I leave.
Though at this time I am technically still dating T, I feel like we aren't together anymore. Mark has become the focal point in my life, and I feel sad about leaving him when I head to Camp Barnabas. I really really like him. I tell myself that I'm ready to break it off with T when he gets back from his mission trip, even if it has to be over the phone, since I'll be in Missouri. I am determined.
But I also feel like it is kind of a goodbye to Mark as well, since I've never had a good track record for keeping interest in someone when I can't see them for a while. I decide that if I still like him and he still likes me after being away from him for 6 weeks, then either we've got a good thing going, or I've really matured.
I start the drive to Missouri with a friend, Mykey, who is also working at Camp Barnabas for the second half of the summer. He asks me about life, and I blurt out to him everything that's been going on with Mark and T. He encourages me to break up with T, and to start slow with Mark. It's good advice.
But when we arrive at camp the next day, I find a computer to check e-mails (this was back is 2007, before smart phones!), only to find that T has already e-mailed me. It's a break up e-mail. In the e-mail, T says many things that make me mad, sad, guilty, and happy all at the same time. He calls me out on me not liking him anymore, and me not even making an effort. Hence, the shame. But he also says some things that really irked me, proving to me that he didn't really know me that well. For instance, he says that he spent tons of money on me for dinner dates and concerts and that I should've been more grateful. I sit there reading that, thinking that if he had really listened to me, he would know that all I want to do is to go outside, swim in the river, have a picnic, etc. I don't need to see a new band play every weekend. I also feel sad because he obviously cared for me more than I did for him.
I write him back, telling him that he's right, I should've been honest with him about my feelings, and I should've ended it a lot earlier. (I decide to skip telling him off for spending his precious money on me.)
But, ultimately, I am happy. I call Mark to tell him. Kinda weird, I know, but that's what I do. He's so happy, and asks if we can start really getting to know each other. We talk about how both of our recent break ups may cause a rocky start of a new relationship, so we decide to just be friends for now. To take things slow. (I later realized that we were both very silly at the time in thinking this. Of course we were pursuing each other. AS A COUPLE. But, sadly, we were both still full of shame, and wanting to make everything 'right' in any way we could.)
Camp begins. Mark and I talk on the phone on my off days, and throughout the first 3 weeks, I get a small handful e-mails from Mark (e-mails at camp are printed out and handed out as mail). They are usually just short funny stories about something that happened in his day. One e-mail is about how he got stung in the butt by a bee while in a competitive race, another is an e-mail written completely in Olde English, and yet another is written like he is the Dean of Admissions for a university, and he is telling me the rules of his school and the qualifications I must have in order to get in. I love his e-mails. They're perfect for me - fun, spontaneous, weird, optimistic, and the perfect length (unlike someone else's letters...ahem).
But one day, he sends me snail mail with a fun care package put together by himself and my best friend, Cynthia. The care package is comprised of silly things, like wind-up toys, a kite, a mini Nerf gun, and a whoopie cushion, among other things. But the letter. It's a serious one. He tells me in the letter that he is praying for us, and that he thinks that I'm a blessing to him and others all the time. He says that he loves that I'm willing to do things, to try things, and to just experience life. But the best thing he says is that he loves that I will admit to failing and admit to not being perfect, which has been a great witness to others.
At the time, I needed that.
I had been feeling so guilty and imperfect, and God spoke through Mark, telling me that it's okay to not be perfect. God made me realize through Mark's words that people don't need other people to be perfect for them. A perfect person doesn't exist! Jesus is the only person that needs to be perfect. I realized that in my imperfections, God can work wonders.
And I realize what a blessing Mark is to me, and what a gracious God I have for Him to send Mark my way. This is when I begin to really cherish him.
Mark decides to come up to camp to be a volunteer during the last week, in August. We're both so excited, and start counting down the days until he arrives.
When August comes around and Mark arrives at camp, he is paired up with a boy with spina bifida, and I have my cabin full of teenage girls with different disabilities, but all in wheelchairs. It is the hottest week of camp, and definitely the busiest for me. Mark and I don't have a lot of time to even talk with each other, but we write letters in a notebook back and forth. It keeps us from wanting to forsake our duties to be with each other while still sharing pieces of ourselves with each other. I cherish each time I see him with his cabin having fun and being silly with the boys. He even tops the week off by singing "My Girl" to a girl he befriended who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, effectively wooing all the ladies in the room. A few guy friends of mine from camp (some who I am in the worship team with) try to act protective of me since they can tell Mark and I like each other. I tell them off, letting them know that he's known me longer than they have.
|This photo was taken during the "awkward" night at camp. We all dressed weird, and acted awkward. It was awkward. As awkward as this photo. (This is, in fact, the only photo we have with each other during this time period. Hah, oh well!)|
Camp comes to a close, and as Mark and I are driving back to Texas in different cars, I realize that I'm just as enthralled by Mark as ever, and I marvel at the fact that I was able to keep interest in a boy for so long.
Mark calls me while we are driving through the Ozark Mountains, our cars side-by-side on the highway. He says, "The scenery is so beautiful...and the mountains aren't so bad, either." I roll-my eyes and smile gingerly. Wow, I think to myself. If I can still like him after he says something THAT cheesy, this must be the real deal.
End of part five!
Remember to come back for more! Even though the next part may be way into the future. I'm just so bad at this! :)