Over the next few months, our relationship grew deeper and our love grew stronger. We took long walks in the snow and spent long nights at the library, till they ran us out, just so we could be together. We watched movies at the Joust and made frequent visits to the country kitchen for some late night hot chocolate. I found myself thinking about him day and night, anxious to see his face every morning and sad when it was time to say goodnight at my dorm door. I was falling…hard!
Each evening, after dinner, Devin would walk me to my dorm in the freezing ice-cold and without fail, he would untuck a small section of his shirt for me to put my hand. The fact that my cold hands were of concern for him, made my heart melt. That tough, cold, independent persona, that once intrigued me, was now gone and replaced by a more tender and caring one. One night, as we walked to our dorm he said, “I’m thinking about going home next weekend and I was wondering, would you like to go with me? And meet my family?”
I was stunned! This is the guy who drove me past his house and even turned around in the driveway but wouldn’t take me in to meet his parents…and now he wants me to go spend the weekend there? I tossed the idea around in my blond head for a second, wondering where I’d stay. Would I stay in their home? Then panic set in! Oh Lord, if I stay in their home he will see what I look like when I wake up in the morning. He’ll find out I’m a crabby morning person. He’ll have to see me without make up! Yikes! This could be a deal breaker for him when he sees me without a face! What if they don’t like me? Even worse, What if I don’t like them?
“Um, yeah sure” I answered cautiously, “but where will I stay?” He smiled and said, “you can stay with Uncle Curtis and Aunt Florence, they have a big house and two daughters, one is a year older than you and the other one is a year younger. Carla and Cheryl, you will love them…they’re like my sisters.” I was super relieved to know that I wouldn’t be staying in the same house as Devin. That would give me a few more weeks before I had to break the news to him that underneath my make up was a blank slate 😉 I agreed to the arrangements, and we were good to go!
This would be my second trip to the little town of Verdigris, Oklahoma. The last time we drove in the middle of a snow storm and I had to sit on the console for three hours. This time there was no storm and I sat all snuggled up beside Devin with his arm wrapped around me. “you are the perfect fit…did you know that?” he said with a gleam in his eye. “no, why do you say that?” “well, you fit just right, under my arm. You’re a perfect fit, Tonya.” If there was one thing I had learned about Devin over the past few months, it was that he is a man of few words and only says what he means, so every time he told me something, or paid me a compliment, I believed it wholeheartedly. With a full heart I said, “not only am I a perfect fit for you, but you are the perfect fit for me too.”
About half way through the trip, after a pit stop and hamburger in Joplin, Mo. I said, “my stomach hurts a little”. With eyebrows raised he questioned, “you’re not getting sick are you?” I knew I wasn’t getting sick but I didn’t want to tell him I had gas, so I just said, “oh no, it’s just rumbling a little bit, I’m fine.” “do you want some Tums?” I turned up my nose and replied, “yuck! No thanks”. “Well”, he said, “it might make you feel better.” “I’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” “well if your stomach is churning you may have gas, do you think it’s gas?” Unbelievable, I thought, I can’t believe he is asking me this! I just looked at him and said nothing. He continued, “well….do you?” “I don’t know, maybe”, I said regrettably. “well, if you’ve got gas then you better get it outta there or you’ll be miserable for the rest of the trip. Do you need to fart?” I could not believe what I was hearing! Did he just ask me if I needed to fart? I began to laugh and said, “what did you just ask me?” “I said do you need to fart? If you need to go ahead and do it.” I laughed even harder and said, “no! I’m not gonna fart in front of you!” “why not?”, he insisted, “it’s a natural thing, everybody does it…don’t you fart?” By now I’m laughing from shear nervousness. I knew that getting rid of the gas would make me feel better but I wasn’t about to do it in front of him in the car! That was worse than him seeing me without make up! “yes I poot, I don’t fart”, I said, “but I’m not doing it here in front of you!” “why not? I’ve done it in front of you, remember?” “how could I forget that?”, I said.
The ‘fart or not to fart’ debate went on for quite some time, against my wishes.
“ok, in all seriousness”, he continued, “it’s not that big of a deal. I love you. You love me. I’m not gonna laugh, so just fart already!” Finally, out of sheer frustration of him not shutting up about it, I finally did it. Yes you heard me correctly, I farted (pooted) in front of Devin, knowing full well that this could be another deal breaker. My mother would die if she knew I just did that, I thought. After the deed was done, he snapped his head my direction, his eyes grew big as saucers, he busted out in laughter and said, “good lord! I can’t believe that came out of that little ol’ body! With that said, he rolled the window down in 20 degree weather, stuck his head out and began to gasp for fresh air. Well, needless to say, I was mortified. I reached over and knocked the fool out of him and yelled, “you told me to do it!! And you said you wouldn’t laugh! I didn’t want to do it! You made me!” He laughed about that for the next five miles or so. After a while I decided I might as well laugh along with him. What else is a girl to do?
After we made it to Verdigris it was time for another first. It was time to meet his parents. As we pulled on to the street he pointed out that it was named, Rohr Road. “you have a street name after your family?” “yep”, he said as he pointed, “Uncle Curtis lives there, Granny lives over there in that little log house, my brother lives over there and this is our house. We all live on original Indian allotment land”. The house he grew up in was small, white and set out in the middle of nowhere-ville. Behind the house was an old barn and to the right of the house was where his brother, Loren, lived. As we walked up to the door, Devin swung it open and yelled, “Osiyo!” They all rushed into the living room to get a good look at the girl Devin brought home. First I met his mother. I was surprised at her age, she must have been the same age as my grandmother. She was nice, she hugged my neck and welcomed me into her home. Next was Loren, Devin’s only sibling. He was dark complected and had black hair just like Devin but that’s where the similarities stopped. Unlike Devin, Loren was loud, opinionated, a big hugger and sixteen years Devin’s senior. When introduced, He rushed right over to me and with a huge smile, gave me a big bear hug that practically picked me up off of the ground. He slapped Devin on the back with brute force and said, “well, brother, you did pretty good. What is someone so good lookin’ doing with someone as ugly as you?” he then let out another roaring laugh and hugged Devin just as hard. Then I had the pleasure of meeting his dad. He was a big, gentle man who walked as if every joint in his body ached. He came over, gave me a hug and welcomed me warmly.
After the formalities were over, it was time to meet Granny. For three months I had heard Devin talk fondly about his Granny and Grandad Rohr. Granny, who was in her eighties and had lived right down the road all Devin’s life clearly held a special place in his heart. Her home was a little log house that had been covered in tar paper and was surrounded by big beautiful trees. The yard was immaculate and spotted with flowers. As we approached the door, Devin didn’t knock, he just swung the door open and yelled, “Osiyo!” Granny hurried to the door wiping her hands on her apron. She had heard the rumor that Devin was coming home. Her eyes lit up as he entered the room. She was small framed with snow-white curly hair. It was evident she was the beloved matriarch of the Rohr family. Devin hugged her neck and introduced me, “Granny, this is Tonya. I wanted her to meet you and I want you to teach her how to fry potatoes.” She chuckled calmly and spoke softly, “well, I don’t know about all of that son.” She smiled at me and said, “it’s nice to meet you, y’all come on in and have a seat.” Her house was warm and smelled like bacon. No wonder Devin loved her! We chatted a while, then Devin said, “how’s Grandad?” The mood suddenly changed when she said, “he’s not doing so good son. You need to go visit him, he’ll want to see you”. Her face was sad as she told him how bad he had gotten. Devin quickly lightened the mood and said, “well granny, I’m hungry, got any taters?” He got up and lifted the tea towel that covered the usual tater plate and there they were, waiting just for him. I could tell that nothing made granny happier than having him in her home, eating fried taters.
Next on the list was Uncle Curtis’ house. Their house was just up the road a piece. It was big house and looked to be fairly new. We walked to the door and once again, no knocking needed. He opened the door, stuck his head in and yelled, “Osiyo!” in unison they all said, “Osiyo!” in return. “what does that mean?”, I whispered. “oh, it means hello in Cherokee.” Wow, these people really are Indians , I thought. One by one, I met Curtis’ family. They were friendly, warm, fun and made me feel welcome as soon as I walked in the door. They took my bags and showed me my room. Carla was the oldest daughter. She was very sweet, soft-spoken and smiled constantly. Cheryl was the younger one. She was kind of like Loren, clearly the life of the party. Us three girls hit if off immediately and had a blast talking about Devin. They told me everything I wanted to know…and then some!
The entire weekend was a success. The dinners, the get togethers, and laughter was great. I especially loved being out in the country. Even though Devin’s family and the way he was raised, was completely different from my family and upbringing, I liked what I saw. I hoped they liked me as well, especially Granny!
After a full weekend, Devin and I headed back to CBC, but not before Granny loaded us down with homemade cookies. I could tell she hated for him to leave, she teared up as Devin said good-bye, fearful that Grandad would pass before he could get back. On our way home I found my place snuggled under Devin’s arm. We both felt good about the weekend and was glad the “meeting” part was over. As we drove down the highway my heart was full of love for Devin…we were a perfect fit. I looked up at him and said, “now I’ve met your family, how about you go home with me over spring break to meet mine?” To be continued…