In August 2006, we started college, took a few classes together, and met each other between classes to walk to our next class together. I’m sure everyone on campus thought we were dating.
At the very end of 2006, I got sick. in 2007, I went back to school still sick. I was so miserable that semester. I still didn’t have a driver’s license, so I spent most of the day at school, because Dad dropped me off a couple hours before my first class, and picked me up at the end of the workday. Luke came to the rescue though. On MWF, we shared our last class of the day, so he took me home every day that he could for the whole semester.
I gave him gas money because he went out of his way to take me home. I slipped it into his backpack once a month when he wasn’t looking. He saved it up and gave it back to me on my birthday in late April, with a note that all but said I love you. Of course I didn’t read it that way at the time; I wouldn’t allow myself to see what should have been obvious, because I was so invested in making sure there was nothing romantic between us. I kept the note anyways. If that’s not a thing ‘just friends’ do, I didn’t want to know about it.
He was there for me that semester like no one ever had been. He loaned me his coat on a cold day (I didn’t have a coat). He listened to my problems. He bought footlong subs to share with me because I wouldn’t have eaten otherwise (self-care was not something I was taught). He even carried my backpack when I was too sick to carry it without a great deal of pain.
He was there the day I failed a paper around midterms and cried about it all through the next class. In fact, I later learned, that was the day he fell in love with me. Sitting next to me while I was crying, he was wishing he could do something to make it better. He realized he loved me and wanted to marry me.
Of course, he didn’t SAY anything to me about it at the time, or to my dad, so the conversations with my parents about me being ‘too far into the woods with Luke to go back now’ continued.
During that semester, I always said goodbye to him before his class in the music building. And every day before his class, an attractive girl would come sauntering out in her high heels, bat her eyelashes and say ‘hi Luke’ in what I thought was a flirtatious tone and sashay away. I hated that girl.
Also that semester, I got red highlights in my hair over spring break. They looked super coppery at first but i knew they’d tone down and look amazing in a few days. Well, I didn’t know I’d see Luke during spring break. “What have you done to your hair?” he hissed when he saw me. When we went back to school, a classmate complimented it. I think Luke turned green from jealousy — I felt triumphant. Then after class Luke told me it looked good — the first compliment he’d ever given me. He’d been in love with me for weeks at this point so you’d think he’d have been pouring on the compliments, but he actually seemed slightly more distant. It was very important to him that I not know he was in love with me until we were courting, because of purity and all that. It seems so silly now.
One day, at the very end of the spring semester, I was feeling particularly stressed and vulnerable about something. We were sitting on a little wall outside by the library — our wall. I told him what I was worried about, and he just listened. And then I don’t know exactly what happened in my heart but suddenly I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. That was the moment I think I fell in love, and I both felt guilty and wonderful, but I was also in denial about how deep my feelings went, because I simply wasn’t allowed to be in love before courtship.