On the plane again, I stare out the window, my book resting in my lap. I had just spend a week in Paradise. Sure, some people might call it British Columbia, but those people weren’t in love with the most amazing, hard-working, handsome, rugged man to ever walk the planet. I had gone from a week of pure elation to face weeks of anthropology, linguistics, Latin and math. I glance at my watch. In less than twelve hours I will be back at work and just a few hours after that, back to school. I sip my coffee listlessly and nibble on the brownies Chuck’s mom has sent with me. Suddenly the loud-speaker comes on and the flight attendant announces, “I have a message for passenger Renee”…
My head snaps up, heart pounding. A message for me? Most likely it would be something about my grandma being late to pick me up, but why would they announce that over the loud-speaker? Then I heard the words:
“I have a message for passenger Renee...Chuck loves you.”
Now my heart is pounding like a hundred thundering stallions. How did he do that? How did he convince the flight attendant to announce that over the loud-speaker? I am so excited…I have to tell someone, to say something. I turn to the young woman sitting next to me. I guess she is just a little older than me, 20 or 21 maybe? She has on a green knit hat pulled over her shaggy hair. Like me, has a book in her hands. Unlike me, she is actually reading it. Her torn jeans, boots and flannel shirt tell me she is Alaskan too.
“That was me!” I said. “I’m passenger Renee”.
The young woman looks at me, her expression unchanging.
“Really? I thought it was me” she says dryly, turning back to her book before I can even respond.
My grandma is there (on time) to pick me up. I fill her in on my trip, update her about wedding plans and all about Chuck’s family. I don’t have much time to reflect. My flight arrives Sunday night and I have work and classes bright and early Monday morning.
Two months. I just have to survive two more months, one quarter of school, then it was Chuck, marriage and Hawaii! I throw myself into work and my studies like never before. Monday through Friday I babysit for two adorable little boys until noon, then go straight to the university for my classes. My last class ends at 5:15 then I drove home, brew a pot of terrible coffee (Grandma loves Folgers out of a can) and do my homework.
I must have thrown myself into work and school a little too hard, though. Every day it gets harder and harder to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 am. I’ve always been a morning person, so this is a new struggle for me. But get up I do. I head to my babysitting job, I make crepes for the boys, read them books and take then outside to play. Even by noon, when I leave for the university I’m still tired and dragging. My classes grow longer by the day. Surely they weren’t this long and hard before? It must be the excitement of the upcoming wedding.
I am plagued by daily headaches and nausea too. I can hardly eat and when I do it often comes right back up. No matter, I have the boys to care for and classes to attend. There is no way I am going to miss school and fall behind. My Latin class is a disaster. The professor is old, grumpy and should have retired about the time I started kindergarten. Instead he is one of those very old, very stubborn men who refuses to quit. He’ll probably still be assigning Latin writing assignments posthumously (< that’s Latin, you know). The class which started out with over 30 students now has just four. That’s right, four. A boyfriend and girlfriend couple (I still remember their names: Moss and Pritchett), a man in his mid thirties with a full-beard (long before hipsters were a thing) who carries a briefcase and a Pepsi with him to class, and me. The professor is demanding and speaks in monotone. None of this helps my sudden urge for daytime sleep. And night-time sleep. And, yes, an afternoon nap would be great too.
Chuck and I are still writing long, sappy love letters to each other and running up the long-distance phone bills. When we run out of new ways to say, “I love you” and “I miss you” we plan our future: I will complete my degree in linguistics at the University of Hawaii while Chuck works to support us (<– pretty sweet deal for me, don’t you think?) then we will apply to be Bible translators with Wycliffe. We will raise our house (hut?) full of little children in the jungles somewhere. They will run around naked, catching bugs to eat and climbing trees in their bare feet. It will be perfect.
But first I need to shake this darn sickness…by