The intended two and a half hour trip took much longer than we had hoped, because of the storm. The Turn Pike was hidden by a thick overlay of compacted snow, leaving no visible lines or borders as a guide. The milky white clusters were as big as saucers and could send you into a hypnotic trance, watching them as they hit the windshield. On more than one occasion, we were forced to pull over so Scotty could scrape the frozen snow from the head lights. The roads were in such horrible shape, that one would think it impossible to drive over 25 MPH, but that was not the case for Scotty. He was determined to get us to the airport on time….plus…I think he enjoyed the challenge of navigating a vehicle in such harsh conditions. As I sat, perched on the console of the car, I thought to myself, If my mother knew I was in this car…in the middle of a snow storm…with a speed demon…and no seat belt….she would have a cow!

Finally we made it to Claremore, Oklahoma safe and sound. We pulled into Scotty’s parents drive, they graciously met us at the door and welcomed us into their home. Upon arriving we found out, once again, that our flight had been canceled, and once again, I was devastated. I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever make in time for Christmas? As disappointing as this was for me, there was someone who would be even more devastated than I…my mother. Oh, how I hated calling her with more disappointing news. After many phone calls back and forth, between my mom and the travel agency, we were finally able to secure another flight early the next morning with a brief layover in Dallas. The weather man was predicting that the storm would clear by morning so we felt sure we would make it home in time.

In the mean time, Ginger and I were in a town we had never visited before, staying in a house we had never been to before, with people we had never met before. We were surrounded by uncertianty…but we were also surrounded by a gracious family who gave us a warm bed to sleep in and we were grateful. We gathered in their living room, making light conversation with Scotty and his parents, trying to avoid any awkward silence. We talked about our drive in from CBC…what we wanted to eat…and the possibility of going to see a movie…basically anything to pass the time. In the midst of our nervous chatter, the doorbell rang, Scotty’s dad left the room to answer the door while the rest of us carried on with our evening plans. I could hear the voice of the person at the door but didn’t think much about until I realized the voice sounded familiar. About that time Scotty’s dad entered the room and said, “look who’s here!” I looked up and there stood Devin. I was thrilled! I jumped up and hugged his neck, it felt like every inch of my face smiling, I just couldn’t help myself. “I didn’t think I would see you again before I left”, I said, “I figured you would want to spend time with your family!” “nah”, he said with such a solemn face, “I wanted to come see you one more time.”

Seeing him, being with him, evoked emotions and feelings that I had never felt with another boy. A sense of calm came over me. His quiet confidence and calming manner made me feel safe…like I was home. There was just something about him that fit me. He seemed to be everything I was not…I couldn’t explain it…not even to myself…all I knew was, I was feeling things I had never felt before…ever…and I liked it.

“Hey Buddy”, Scotty said, “glad you could make it” Devin came in the room, took off his coat, sat down and joined in on the conversation. We laughed and talked for about an hour…we discussed our new flight times, what time we needed to leave in the morning and who would be driving us to the airport. After tossing around some ideas of going to see a movie or grabbing a bit to eat…Devin, feeling our evening plans were going nowhere fast, leaned over and whispered in my ear, “wanna go out for a ride?”

Before I knew it, we were walking out the door to Devin’s car. He walked me to the driver’s side, opened the door and let me in. I slid past the driver’s seat and found my place in the middle….right next to Devin. “where are we going?” I asked him. “oh just driving around…I’ll show you where I live”, he said. “your taking me to meet your parents?”, I asked. “No”, he said unapologetic, “we are just gonna drive past the house”

That sounded like the weirdest thing I had ever heard!

“we are not stopping?” I asked, “why don’t you want to stop?” “I just don’t want to stop tonight” he said. That was it! That’s all he said! No explanation. No conversation. Just weird. Within minutes he made a left turn off of a dark country road onto a country-er road…he then made a right onto an even more country road. “that’s my house right there”, he said as he pointed out the left window. He pulled up in the drive way, put the car in reverse and backed right back out again. He really isn’t going to stop, I thought. There we were, out in the middle of nowhere, down the countriest road I had ever been on, looking at his house….but not getting out… and not meeting his family. I just didn’t get it….and he wasn’t talking. “Now what?” I asked, “where are we going now?” “I have a secret place I want to show you”, he said. He took a left off the highway down another country road. Then he took a right into a small dark parking lot, he then drove through the parking lot, around the building, and onto an open field out back. I thought I was in the middle of nowhere before when we drove past his house. I was wrong. THIS was the middle of nowhere and here I was….in it! I was a little nervous to say the least, and a little angry. I wasn’t good enough to meet his family, I thought, but I’m good enough to go make out in the middle of a cow pasture? I don’t think so!

“Where in the world are you taking me?” I asked, insisting on an answer. “I thought we’d just stop here and talk a while”, he replied. “here?” I asked, “I think this is private property isn’t it? I don’t think we are supposed to be here…arent you afraid we’ll get in trouble”. ” Nah”, he said with complete confidence, “We lease this land to run our cows…were fine”. He just kept driving…and smiling until finally, he came to a stop, put it in park and turned off the headlights.

This was all happening so fast, I thought. Two days ago Devin and I were just friends…and now….I’m in the middle of a cow pasture, in a town that I don’t know the name of, in the midst of a snow storm with a guy I know little about. What was I thinking?

Once he parked the car, I assumed he’d turn into an Octopus….then awkwardly I would have to take a firm stand and make him take me home. I would be wrong. Refreshingly, he did exactly what he said, we talked. We talked about our families, our past relationships and our future hopes and dreams. The more we talked, the more I learned about him, and the more I realized I liked what I saw. This cold, dark, unemotional guy I thought I knew was actually quite the opposite. He was tender, caring and wise…and he made me feel like a priceless treasure. I found myself falling…falling hard.

After we had talked for a while, I felt compelled to tell him about the hometown boy who was waiting for me back home. I told him everything, how I felt, how confused I was, and what a good person hometown boy was. He listened intently with genuine concern to everything I said. There he sat…listening to my emotional drama…calm and self assured…not worried at all…with 100% confidence that it would all work out for the best. How could he be so sure? I thought. How is he so calm and solid all the time? He took my hands and pulled me close to him. There it was…the calm…I could FEEL the calm in him…it was like a warm blanket to my soul. He told me he loved me, thatbhe would miss me and that everything was going to be alright. I didn’t know how he knew that…but I believed him.

The next morning Ginger and I were up with the chickens and plum giddy with excitement. The snow had finally stopped and our flight was on schedule. Scotty’s parents drove us to the airport, after we said our goodbyes and made our way to the ticket counter, we checked our bags and began the chore of finding our departure gate. I had flown a handful of time…but never by myself. Neither one of us was sure what to do or where to go. We were basicly the blind leading the blind.

It was Christmas eve morning and thousands of people bustled about the airport, lugging their bags, corralling their children while carefully guarding their Christmas treasures. The storm had canceled many flights over the previous 24 hours, which resulted in a travelers nightmare, which in turn, made this an even more frustrating task for two unseasoned travelers as ourselves. Finally, after a few wrong turns we found our departure gate. We boarded the plane, found our seats and waited for lift off. In no time we were in the air and on our way to Dallas for our connecting flight.

When the plane landed, Ginger and I took off for out connecting flight like two thoroughbreds just let out of the shoot. Not only did we have to change planes…we had to change airlines, which meant finding our luggage and re checking our bags! What we didn’t realize, was our connecting flight was on the opposite side of the Dallas Fort Worth airport in a completely different building! Ginger and I knew we didn’t have much time to make our next flight…and if we missed it…there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it home for Christmas. We re-read our tickets to double-check our departure time, terminal and gate number, then we checked the big screens to make sure everything was still on time and thankfully it was! The only problem now was how to find the gate. We put our heads together (which didn’t amount too much) and found what we thought was the right terminal. We ran as fast as we could all the way to the end only to find out, it was not the right terminal. That’s when we realized that our connecting flight was nowhere near where we were. Our plane, that was ready for takeoff, was on the other side of this unbelievably huge airport.

We took off running, like O. J. Simpson in his famed Hertz Rental car commercial, toward the direction of terminal and gate. I had on heels and was having a difficult time keeping up with Ginger while dragging my suit cases behind me. “Ginger, slow down, you’re going too fast! I can’t keep up and my feet are killing me!” “no” she said, “we can’t slow down…just keep running!” To make matters worse…if it could get worse…we were laughing so hard we were about to pee ourselves…but clearly there was no time for a potty break!

We were told we had to take the tram to another building. After running, for what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the right tram with very little time to spare. When we got to the entrance of the tram we were horrified to find one more road block. “Oh dear Lord, we have to pay 50 cents to get on!”, Ginger said frantic. “you have got to be kidding me” ,I said in disbelief. We threw down our bags and began feverishly digging through our purses for change. As luck would have it…neither one of us had any change! This is it, I thought, I’m going to spend my Christmas Eve right here in DFW airport with Ginger, all because I didn’t have correct change! Out of sheer desperation we began asking perfect strangers if they could help us out. They must have wondered why our parents would let two, small town, naive girls that didn’t have enough sense to carry change on them, fend for themselves in a big city airport on Christmas Eve. I didn’t care what they thought at this point…I just needed 50 cents so I could go home and see my momma!

Finally, out of sheer pity, some poor soul helped us out with exact change which enabled us to get on the tram. We had no idea if our plane would be waiting on us or not…but as we ran to the gate and made our way to the ticket counter, we found…much to our relief…that they had held our plane! Finally, I was almost home!

Home….and all that would be waiting for me there. My mom, my friends, my family and our Christmas traditions. With all of these things in the forefront of my thinking, I couldn’t forget about the hometown boy who was also waiting. Oh how I dreaded dealing with all of that. He was such a great guy that deserved better than I could give…it made me sick to think about what I had to do. I tried to find the calm that I had felt in Devin just the night before…the assurance that everything would be fine. I hoped he would be right. To be continued…