Once I boarded the plane, and it’s wheels left the Tarmac, it was then that everything hit me. There were a whole gamut of human emotions that were fighting for the lead. I was sad to leave Alabama. I would miss the southern drawl of its people, their generous hospitality, their slow and easy way of living, and I would miss the food…oh the food. Everything is fried, smothered in gravy, and more often than not, accompanied by a hot buttered biscuit. Then, in true southern fashion, it is all washed down with a glass of sweet tea. But more than all of that, I was going to miss my Momma. She was my constant support and cheerleader who showered me with unconditional love and encouragement. We hated being apart. But, as only a mother can do, she loved me enough to let me go and grow with her blessing. What a gift!

I had needed her support more than ever the past few weeks. The heart wrenching decision I had to make regarding the hometown boy was a difficult one, but having her in my corner was what I needed to get me through. There was still a heaviness that I carried, and the vision of him as we drove away, was still vivid in my mind. The few hours that had gone by was not enough time to shake the burdensome feeling I felt. With all of the guilt I felt…still…I knew it was the right thing…for both of us.

Before I knew it, my heavy heart began to lighten and the excitement of seeing Devin took over. I had found myself thinking about him all of the time. I couldn’t wait to see him and to tell him all that had happened and the choice I had made.

The next morning brought with it a dose of reality. My early morning was met with a blast of freezing cold air as I walked out the back door of my dorm. Oh how I hated the cold! Every inch of my skin jolted when the freezing gust of wind flew up my skirt. I walked gingerly down the sidewalk, careful not to slip and bust my behind. As I made my way around the corner of the building, I saw him! Devin was quickly and cautiously heading my way, trying not to slip on the ice. Despite the frigid air that was whirling around my body, I felt all warm inside when I saw him. I could already feel his calm soothing manner. He was all smiles as he walked up and gave me a big bear hug, lifting my feet from the snowy ground. “Hey good lookin’!” He stepped back to take a better look at my smiling face, and said, “man I’m glad to see you!” He took my hands, cupped them in his and blew his warm breath on them in an effort to warm them up, just as he’d had done before….stealing a piece of my heart once again. Then he stood beside me, put his arm out for me to take and we walked across campus arm in arm for the first time.

CBC was a fairly small school with only about 900 students enrolled, just small enough for everybody to know about everybody else’s business. When Devin and I walked into the cafeteria that day holding hands, heads turned. I could see people whispering and asking questions. “when did this happen?” “are they dating?” “I didn’t know they were dating!” I just laughed to myself and thought, no one is more shocked and surprised than I am! If anyone understood their shock, it was me!

We were not the only ‘surprise couple’ on campus we soon found out.

Last semester, just about the time Devin and I became good friends I had the pleasure of getting to know his roommate, Darrell Davis. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. I was standing in the cafeteria line waiting for my food, when I noticed a larger than life young man sitting at a table full of goo goo eyed girls. He was tall and handsome. He had a head full of light brown hair and a neatly groomed beard to match. With a magnetic personality he held every girls undivided attention as he spoke, including mine. There must have been ten girls crammed around that table, hanging onto his every word and laughing hysterically at all of his stupid jokes. “oh man I’m full”, he said loud and bold, as he pushed his chair back away from the table. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, he pooched his gut out as far as he could and slowly rubbed his belly with both hands, and said, “oh lord, I’m as full as a big ol’ gray dog tick”, then he popped open his eyes and looked right at the girls and said, “you know, the kind that pops when you step on it?” All of the girls screamed and protested loudly in unison at how disgusting he was, which thrilled his soul. He just threw his head back and let out a big belly laugh. He reminded me so much of my cousins back in Mississippi. I didn’t have any brothers so Rodney, Ikey and Jeffery were more like brothers than cousins. They were always carrying on about something and giving me a hard time. This sounded just like something they would say. I knew right then that he needed to be my friend. And he was.

Much to everyone’s surprise, and to the disappointment of many girls broken heart, Darrell had made his own connection over Christmas break with a girl named Crystal Engel. She was as beautiful as she was sweet. I was shocked at his choice I must admit. She seemed so gentle and mild-mannered, in sharp contrast to Darrell’s boisterous ways. But once I saw them together, I knew she was the perfect girl to tame the wild and crazy Darrel Davis. We were as proud for him as he was for Devin and I. Love was defiantly in the air!

Later that night I caught Devin up on everything that had happened with the hometown boy. “I told him it wasn’t going to work”, I said, “but not before he gave me a ring.” I explained. “a ring huh?” His tone never changed nor did his expression. “yes a ring. Not an engagement ring, just a ring. I felt like such a dog for ending it the way I did. I tried to give the ring back but he wouldn’t take it. So I kept it.” I showed him the ring that was on my right index finger. He looked at it and nodded in an affirming matter and said, “oh yeah, that’s pretty.”

That’s it. That’s all he said. I knew then that he was not the jealous, insecure, needy type that felt threatened by another boy. Nope. He was perfectly secure in himself and trusted me completely. I liked that about him…I liked it a lot. He never questioned me about the ring again and I wore it every day. I had after all wanted one for a year…and it was beautiful 😉

That night as he walked me to my dorm, the wind was colder than ever and I was frozen to the core. He put his arm around me and pulled me close as we walked side by side. He said, “here, give me your hand”, he took my hand that was wrapped behind his back and around his waist, then he untucked a small section of his shirt in the back and placed my frigid hand underneath it, and onto his warm skin. The suddenness of my icy fingers on his bare skin took his breath for a moment, then he smiled and said, “there, that should warm them up.”

We walked arm and arm all the way back to my dorm. He gave me a kiss goodnight. When he left he took another little piece of my heart. If I’m not careful, I thought…he may end up with my whole heart. To be continued…