My first few days getting settled in Durham, N.C. were busy. Mom and I had to find furniture for my apartment, unpack all of my stuff, and take care of all the little things that you have to do when you move to a new place.
It was a fun and special time because my mom lived in Chapel Hill as a college student when she attended the University of North Carolina, and then she lived in Durham after she married my dad while they were on staff with Campus Crusade at Duke. So, she had a lot of memories from that area and was able to show me around (at least the things that hadn’t changed in 20 or so years).
After a few days, the time was coming for her to head back home. I was excited about starting my new job, but also sad to see her go. It meant I would really be on my own.
One night, while we were unpacking some of my things in my new room, my computer made a notification noise. I had my laptop set up so that when I received emails on my personal account, it would alert me by making a noise and a little note would pop up on the screen telling me who the message was from.
My mom was sitting at my desk in front of my computer and I was hanging up clothes in the closet when the notification noise chimed.
“What’s that?” my mom asked.
“Oh, my computer is just alerting me that I received a message. There should be a little pop-up notification.”
My mom looked at the screen and then I heard her say, “GraceAnna, you just received a message from Grant Castleberry.”
“Really?” I felt my heart jump. I had completely put him out of my mind since the beach, and now I couldn’t believe his name was coming up again. I set down the hangers I was holding and came over to the computer screen.
I stared at the notification window for a moment. I’m sure it was nothing, why did I feel nervous?
“Well, aren’t you going to open up the message and read it?” my mom anxiously asked as I stood there.
“Yes, I will,” I replied calmly, pretending that I wasn’t as curious as I really was.
My mom got up and walked out of the room, sensing that I wanted to read it on my own.
I clicked on the email message that directed me to my Facebook page. As it loaded I wondered why Grant had suddenly written me. What in the world might he have written?
It seemed to take an eternity to get his message loaded up. When it finally loaded, I noticed that the subject line of his message was “Howdy.”
I thought that was an interesting way to say hello. I don’t think anyone had ever told me “howdy” before unless we were at a barn dance or something like that.
Of course, I didn’t know that was how Grant always greeted people and that it is the way that Aggies greet everyone – whether they know them or not.
I had a lot to learn about things like that.
It was August 5th, 2008.
You probably don’t remember me and were probably trying to figure out who I was when I sent you a “friend request.” My family came and visited the church years ago and we went out to eat afterwards. I still remember that your dad preached about false prophets. Kind of funny, at the time, for some reason, I thought that you were a whole lot younger than I was. I guess a year seemed a lot different back then…I’m amazed at your family’s legacy. Wow! By the looks of things you and your brothers have done some amazing things. That’s such an awesome testament to the type of parents yall have.
I came to your campus when Texas A&M played Clemson in ’05. I know, you don’t have to rub it in…but I want you to know, that we should have won that game. I guess it would have been your sophomore year. I loved your school though (the people were so friendly). I also think it’s cool how your older brother went to USC and then your younger is going to the Citadel. Needless to say, yall will have some awesome family reunions.
So your working for Campus Crusade now? What are your long-term plans? Have a great rest of the week, friend.
His message made me smile and I loved how personal it was even though I didn’t know him at all. It meant a lot to me the way he commented on my family and didn’t just ask about me.I had received messages from guys before, and never once had they asked about my family.
And I couldn’t believe that he remembered what my dad preached about 6 years prior.
My thoughts wandered to the Texas A&M/Clemson game that he mentioned. I remembered the game well because my brother Grant attended the game with me and was cheering for A&M.
After the game, we went down on the field together and spoke with some ofthe members of Parson’s Mounted Calvary (I didn’t know the name of those guys at the time – I just knew they looked like old fashioned horsemen).
I had no idea that Grant Castleberry was at that game.
I was sitting there staring at the computer screen when my mom walked back in the room.
“So,” she asked casually, “What did he say?”
I got up from the computer and motioned for her to sit down and read it. I walked back over to the closet and continued hanging up my clothes.
She read it and then said, “Hmmm, soo, are you going to write him back?
“Yes, I guess so.” I replied coolly.
I glanced at my mom and couldn’t help but notice the slight smile on her face.
The next evening, I sat down to write Grant back. I had waited an entire 24 hours to respond to his message. I didn’t want to seem too eager.
I typed out a response to every one his questions and I thanked him for his kind words. I read over my message several times. It sounded good, so I hit “send.”
“What are you up to?” My mom asked as she walked into my room.
“ I just wrote Grant back.”
“Oh, what did you say?”
“I just answered all of his questions and thanked him for writing me.”
“That’s all.Did you ask him anything?”
“No, I didn’t. Is that bad?”
“Well, no it’s not bad, but he probably won’t write you back because he’ll assume that you want to end the conversation.”
I knew my mom was right. I had been so careful in my response. It was something that I had become good at in the past few years – being really careful.
There were two reasons for this. First, I never wanted a guy to feel like I was chasing him. Secondly, it was a protective mechanism. I was afraid to get hurt.
I had been hurt before and now I was afraid to put myself out there. I was afraid to let that happen again.
But this was ridiculous, why would I not ask him a single question? I couldn’t deny that I was interested. I wanted to know more about Grant.
So I sat back down and quickly sent a follow-up message. I asked some random question about campus ministries at Texas A&M.
It wasn’t a question I needed the answer to, but I was leaving that door open, just in case he decided to write back.
Just as I was getting up out of my chair, I heard the notification noise on my laptop.
I sat back down. He couldn’t have written me back already?
He answered my question and asked me a few more.
This time I was bold, instead of waiting 24 hours, I decided to go ahead and write him back right then.
The next day, my mom and I ate lunch together before she left to go back to Beaufort. We sat across the table at California Pizza Kitchen.
We had had such a fun time together the past few days.
When I had first arrived in Durham, I hadn’t felt ready to have her leave. Now I felt settled. I knew I would be okay.
We talked about the next few weeks and the things I would be doing.
Then, my mom said with a smile on her face, “Well, it will be interesting to see how this whole “Grant Castleberry thing” turns out.”
“Mom, I can’t believe you are saying that!” I said completely serious. “We’ve sent a FEW messages to each other. That is ALL. It’s not like we are getting married!”
My mom just smiled.
To be continued…