I gripped the black steering wheel on my car tightly as I drove down I-95 towards Savannah.
It was Christmas break and I was on my way to pick Grant up from the airport.
We had been talking about his trip for weeks. We had said so many times over the phone to one another, “I can’t wait to see you!”
I had been counting down the days since Thanksgiving. I thought this day would never come.
And now, suddenly, it had, and I wasn’t sure I was ready.
It’s always that way isn’t it? When you are waiting for something, the waiting seems so long, but then whatever you are waiting for suddenly arrives, you aren’t sure if you are actually ready after all.
I took a deep breath as I turned off the radio. I hadn’t heard a single lyric in the Christmas song that was playing, it was pointless to have it on.
I was wearing a yellow silk ruffle top and dark jeans. I had tried on about 15 outfits before deciding on this one.
Picking up Grant from the airport was a big deal. This was his first impression of me since I was an awkward teenager. I wanted to look pretty, but not too “done-up.” Casual, but not too casual. Dressy, but not too dressy. I mean, this was a complicated thing. No denying it.
It was almost too much pressure. I took another deep breath. Why did it have to be this way? Why couldn’t we be like everyone else in the world and just go on a regular first date?
And what if other people were right about us? I had had more than one person raise an eyebrow when I told them Grant was coming to see me for Christmas. “Wow, that’s either going to be an awesome 10 days or an awkward 10 days,” they had said.
Would it be awkward? I mean, I had never, ever spent time with Grant. Ever.
Okay, this kind of self-talk was getting me nowhere and only making me more nervous.
I pulled into the airport parking garage and turned off my car. I pulled down my visor mirror.
Ugh, why is it when you try too hard to look good you never look the way you want to?
I shut the mirror. And started to pray. I prayed that God would help me relax and enjoy my time with Grant. I prayed that our time would bring further clarity to our relationship.
I took another deep breath. I couldn’t deny I was excited. Grant was going to be in Beaufort for 10 days. 10 days!
I glanced at my phone to check the time. I had been waiting at the Savannah airport already for over an hour. I had arrived early, way too early. I wanted to make sure I was there to greet him when he arrived if for some reason his flight came in ahead of schedule.
Who was I kidding? International flights never arrive early.
My phone started to ring.
“GraceAnna, it’s Grant!” I’d never heard his voice sound so excited. “I’m calling you from my pay-as-you-go phone. You won’t believe it! We are in Jacksonville, Florida! Our plane got rerouted because of a storm. I probably won’t be there for another hour. I’m so sorry!”
“Grant, it’s okay! I’m fine. Are you okay?”
“GraceAnna, I’m doing awesome!” I smiled. If there was one thing I had already learned about Grant it was that he was the most positive person I had ever met in my life. He had been traveling across the world for over 24 hours without sleep, and now his plane was getting rerouted and he was doing “awesome.”
“But I’m just dying to see you,” he continued. “Well, and there’s this lady sitting next to me whose taking up basically the entire row. Wow, I’m so ready to be there!”
“Grant! Can she hear you?”
“No, I think she just got up to get a Twinkie!”
“Oh, Grant,” I felt my nervousness ebb as I started to laugh.
“I’m serious, GraceAnna. She’s at a Burger King or something and they are holding our plane waiting for her to get back. It’s ridiculous. Oh, got to go, There’s saying something about our plane about to take off. So I should be there soon. I love you.”
“I love you too, bye!”
I hung up the phone. The irony hit me. I just told him that I loved him and we hadn’t even been on a date yet. That was kind of funny.
I took another deep breath. It had been so good to hear Grant’s voice. I hadn’t been able to talk to him during his entire trip, which had made me more nervous. His voice had a calming affect. See, everything is fine! I told myself.
And I waited.
Grant’s flight number on the board started to blink. His plane had landed.
It had been about an hour since I’d talked to Grant on the phone when he was in Jacksonville.
I got up and walked to the top of the ramp before the security checkpoint. The Savannah airport is small, so there’s just one long terminal. I could basically see down to the very end of the terminal from the top of the ramp.
I saw a group of tired looking people heading my way.
Grant nor the Twinkie lady were in sight.
I was nervous again. I couldn’t believe it. Grant and I had been writing and talking since beginning of August. And now I was going to see him for the first time. This was huge.
What was it going to be like? What would he think when he saw me? Would he like my yellow top? Would I be like he hoped?
I stood there. It seemed that everyone else on the plane had exited before he had. People were hugging and greeting their friends all around me.
The suspense was killing me.
Suddenly, I saw him. I saw him.
He was wearing a maroon fleece, light colored jeans, and he had a Marine Corps backpack on his back. He was wearing maroon the last time I saw him 6 years before. It must be his color.
He was smiling at me. I waved.
I watched him walk up the long ramp. It was like watching a photograph come to life. I couldn’t believe it was him. I was in shock.
He finally reached the top and made his way over to me.
“Hey, GraceAnna!” he said in the familiar voice I had come to know and love.
He hugged me and I stared up into his face. Something didn’t feel right. I felt like I was hugging a stranger. I hugged him and closed my eyes. Everything was okay! I told myself, this is Grant.
“You’re beautiful,” he said as he just stood there staring at me.
“Thank you, Grant.” But I hardly even enjoyed his words because my heart was pounding out of my chest. What was going on? I had expected his arrival to be like a fairytale. This was supposed to be the culmination of every wonderful word we had spoken to one another over the past 4 months.
“It’s so good to finally see you,” I managed to say, but my heart was telling me a different story.
to be continued…