In order to do the magazine, Luke and I had to email back and forth. Luke got to use his own email, as his parents had no problem with him having a private email address, but I had to use my mom’s email. She read every single email I sent and received, as a way of chaperoning us/making sure things didn’t get romantic, I guess. Our words were scrutinized and sometimes used against me.
Luke and I finished our first issue of our magazine at the end of 2005, the middle of our senior year of highschool, and in January 2006, I went on a mission trip to Puerto Rico for 9 weeks. I talked to Miss S on the phone regularly, but sometimes called when she was too busy so I talked to Luke instead. I was lonely so I just yakked his ear off. He talked very little. We were not particularly close at this point, but I think we grew a little closer while I was gone. The Hobbs all sent me mail when I was away, and Luke and I continued work on the magazine from a distance.
At some point in the spring, after I got back, I took the SAT, and was thrilled to see a familiar face. Luke and I sat at the same table, and finished the last part of the test at about the same time.
I couldn’t drive yet, so I had to call someone to come pick me up when the test was over. Luke waited with me and I felt so safe and cared for. He didn’t offer a ride home because I wasn’t really allowed to ride with other teens at that point (though mom complained to me that he could have just brought me home if he was going to wait with me, so I was puzzled).
A couple weeks later, we went to a preview day at our future university together, a couple homeschool students in a sea of public schoolers. He’s tall, I haven’t mentioned it yet. I’m only average height. I would have felt intimidated by all the unknown people (I hate crowds), except I stood right by Luke the entire time. His presence was large and it made me feel safe and I treasured that. We were starting to get much closer. I had a major crush by this point.
I turned 18 and we graduated from high school in April. Our homeschool group did a graduation together. In late June, I went on another mission trip, this time to Bogota, Colombia.
I read some book on purity on the plane, I think it was Before You Meet Prince Charming, and I felt very ashamed to have such a strong crush — it wasn’t holy and pure to give so much of my heart to someone else before we were even courting. The trip was only 2 weeks, but I missed Luke so bad it hurt, and I hated myself for it. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to miss him, since we weren’t courting (which is silly, because even in that culture, people are allowed to miss their friends). I didn’t really miss my family, things were often stressful at home and if you haven’t noticed by now, my parents were somewhat controlling. Being far away was a nice break, I just wanted someone to share it with.
I also felt ashamed of missing Luke so bad, because I didn’t know if he missed me. I knew I’d be brokenhearted if he ever married anyone else, but I didn’t know if he felt the same way. So I knew I was in trouble deep.
While on the trip, trying not to be so attached to Luke and trying to make friends, I flirted with some of the guys at our host church. One night, near the end of the trip on the bus, one of them that I had gotten kind of close to reached out and took my hand. I felt cared for. Safe. So I let him hold it until I had to get off the bus. And then the guilt and shame came. I had never held a boy’s hand before (unless you count the awkward dance when I was twelve). I had meant to never hold anyone’s hand until I was courting, maybe even until the wedding (I had read some books about no-touch courtships), and I had ruined it. I felt like I was trash.
When I got home, I confessed to my parents. They were livid. They wailed, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ They threatened not to let me go to college since I obviously couldn’t control myself around boys. Dad asked me ‘What will Luke think of this?’ What would Luke think of me now? I was basically a slut — if he had ever wanted me, he might not want me now. But amidst my shame, I felt a little indignant. After all, Luke and I weren’t a couple. He didn’t own me.
It was around this time, both before and after the trip, that my parents started talking to me about being too close to Luke. They weren’t sure exactly what I should do about it (and Dad’s frequent talk about how I should marry Luke was NOT helping anything), but it was bad, and it was apparently all my fault. If I married him eventually, it would all be ok. But he hadn’t said anything yet, and of course as the woman, I couldn’t say anything (please remember, Luke was still 17 at this time, I was just barely 18). If I didn’t marry Luke eventually, I was basically dooming my future marriage because my parents were convinced I was in love with Luke — which according to purity culture, meant I was impure in my heart. I don’t actually think I was in love yet though. I probably could have been, had I let myself feel it, but I hadn’t. I certainly cared about him a great deal and loved him as a friend, and but I wouldn’t say I was ‘in love’. That came later.
Even so, I felt a great deal of shame and frustration over my emotional attraction to Luke, even over our friendship. But that was mostly when my parents were fussing at me about it. And it didn’t stop me from scheduling classes with him or continuing the magazine. (Not that my parents requested that I stop either of those things. I think they just wanted to vent their frustrations at me.)
Luke, by the way, had no idea any of this was going on.
Sometime in that time period, I had a dream. Luke and I were alone, and he was holding me up in the air, like I was pretending to fly, and I felt so peaceful and so happy. It was a simple little dream, but I woke up with a smile on my face. I felt embarrassed, but I treasured that dream, like it was a prophetic thing.