Once I made it to my room and crawled into bed I couldn’t go to sleep for all the voices in my head and butterflies in my stomach. The voices were quoting, verbatim, everything Devin had said earlier that night. Did he really say everything I thought he said? Did he mean it? I reached for my Christmas card and read it again and again…yep…he said it alright! So many things were happening at once…provoking so many emotions…so many questions. Was I confused about my feeling for Devin? Was I mistaking ‘friendship’ love with ‘romantic’ love? And what about the boy back home? What about him? Oh lord what had I done! He was at home…waiting for me. What was I supposed to tell him? And how? I had so many questions that I didn’t have answers to. But in the midst of all the confusion and questions…there was one thing I knew for sure, the night of December 22, 1983 would be forever etched in my mind and on my heart…a night I would never forget.

The next morning brought with it one more unexpected twist…as if I needed another one. We woke up to a blizzard. I had never experienced anything quite like it. This snow storm was nothing like what we had played in the week before…this was different. The wind was blistering cold and it carried snow flakes…actually they were more like snow clusters…the size of my fist. The wind was blowing with such force, it felt like knives piercing my tender southern skin. I knew right then and there, winter was not my favorite time of the year. The rolling blanket of snow on the ground was a sight to behold, and snow-covered Christmas trees as far as then eye could see were absolutely magical…but having to get out in that sub-zero nightmare and walk across campus in it, was another thing all together!

Ginger and I were scheduled to fly out of Springfield later that morning so we could be with our families for Christmas. I was so excited to see my Mom, eat her food and open Christmas presents that I could hardly stand to wait another minute. When we finally made it to our class, we began to hear rumors of canceled flights due to the storm. I panicked. I have to get home, I thought, I am NOT spending my Christmas in Springfield! Ginger and I went to work trying to figure out how to get home. We knew we couldn’t drive. The roads were too bad. And flying out of Springfield was out of the question. It was suggested that we try flying out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had never been to Oklahoma and didn’t know how we would get there but I was sure willing to try. After much talking and planning it was decided that Ginger and I would hitch a ride with Scotty to Tulsa and his family would then make sure we got to the airport….and ultimately home!

After our finals, Ginger and I met with Scotty and crammed all of our luggage into his Camaro. By the time we were done packing our cherished belongings into every square inch of his car…there was no room for me to sit. The back seat was chocked full of stuff and Ginger was in the passenger seat…so that left me sitting on the console…with my legs on either side of stick shift. If my mother knew I was doing this…she would die, I thought….but I’ll do anything to get home!

I had not seen Devin that morning because of our different class schedules. I looked for him, hoping I would get see him one last time before I left. I wondered how he would act towards me. Would he still feel the same? Would it feel awkward? I looked for him, asked his friends if they had seen him…nothing…no one knew where he was.

It was time for us to go, we couldn’t wait any longer if we wanted to make our flight. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to get to say good bye…I hadn’t even had a chance to give him my number so we could talk over Christmas break. We all piled into the car and Scotty began to drive off when suddenly we saw someone running towards us in the blowing snow! It was Devin! He was running our way, waving his arms to flag us down. When he made it to the car he was out of breath and had a grin frozen to his face. I found myself feeling like a giddy school girl inside. I was thrilled to see him one last time before I left. Scotty opened his door and let me out. I threw my arms around his neck and said, “where have you been? I was looking everywhere for you? “I was taking my final,” he said, “and I still have one more to take. I heard you were hitching a ride to Tulsa with Scott…I’m so glad I caught you before you drove off.” We chatted quickly in the freezing cold, he gave me one last kiss and helped me back in the car. As we got ready to drive off, he bent down and stuck his head in Scotty’s window and said, “please be careful Scott, you’re carrying some mighty precious cargo in here.” He smiled, gave me a wink and then we were off.

If there were any questions or reservation before, about his love for me or my feelings for him…they just melted away with his last statement. I played the words “precious” and “cargo” over and over in my head all the way to Tulsa. I had never felt so loved, valued or cherished before. I was falling for a guy with a weird last name and all I could do was whisper…thank you Jesus! To be continued…