It was the fall of 2001. We had graduated, gone on our senior trips and were both now living in Logan, Utah. A small town an hour and a half north of our hometowns. We both decided to live in the dorms. Steve was living with two of his buddies from high school and I was living with 5 random girls that I had never met before. We lived a short walk away from each other and needless to say, we were making that short walk multiple times a day!
Steve was on the football team and the expectations and demand were extremely high on all incoming freshmen players. Steve had to be to football at 5am and then after a full day of classes, study hall and practice, poor Steve wasn’t back to his house until around 9 o’clock every night. Needless to say, he was physically and emotionally exhausted and we hardly got to squeeze time in to see each other.
I convinced Steve to take a communications class with me so that we could spend more time with one another. A class that was all about news stories and ethics ended up being the hardest class he took. I would pass every test easily and Steve struggled. He would be so confused how I didn’t have to study and still got good grades. I remember after our final exam, Steve was actually kind of proud of how well he had done. He had gotten a B+ but the fact that he had gotten his highest score of the semester, he was so relieved. He asked me what grade I had gotten. I looked down at my grade. Folded up the paper and mustered up all the fake disappointment I could. “I did really bad. I got a B-.” He bought it. He hadn’t seen me fold up the paper with the big bold A on the top. I let him be the smartest in our communications class that semester.
Half way through the semester, Steve had turned in his papers. In the LDS culture, that is sort of like applying to go on a church mission. We had been waiting for weeks to find out where he was headed. We were going to be apart for a long two years with no phone calls and no visits. I was dreading that. Finally, a Wednesday in November, Steve’s phone rang. His mom was calling to let him know that he had received his giant white envelope with his mission call inside. Today was the day he was going to find out where his life, and my life, was headed.
We made the hour and a half trek back to Salt Lake. Steve walked into his parents house and headed straight for the envelope resting up again the vase on the front table. All of Steve’s family and friends gathered around him as he slid the seal open on the envelope. He pulled out the papers and with shock and excitement Steve read to everyone that he was headed for Buenos Aires, Argentina and would be learning Spanish. He was overjoyed. All he had wanted was to learn the Spanish language so this was a welcome surprise. I was genuinely happy for him.
The next two months were a blur of preparation. We spent so much time together at his apartment that my roommates and I barely knew each other. To be honest, if I saw them on the street today, no way would I have any clue which people I had shared an apartment with for 4 months of my life. Steve was all I cared about. I was overly smitten and thoroughly in love. I was dreading him leaving me the following January 30 for South America and the clock was winding quickly away. My heart was breaking by the minute.
Finally, it was January 29, 2002. Steve was scheduled to report the next day. We cried and held each other. The possibility of us growing apart was extremely high and the chances of us marrying when he returned was pretty much non existent. We were 19, in love and so scared to be apart.
I remember when we were hugging each other goodbye. Our eyes were swollen and red. We were losing our best friends that day and we couldn’t stop crying about it. It hit me while we held each other, we needed to make this count. We both did. I remember distinctly what I said to him. “We have to be apart. We know this, so let’s make it worth it.” I wrote down my goals for while Steve was gone and handed them to him. A promise that when he got back, not only would I be older and wiser, but a more full version of myself. I was going to make this time apart count! And so was he.
Links to past stories of us: