Our letters continued through our junior year of high school and our friendship continued to grow as we got to know each other through a continual game of 20 questions. What’s your favorite music? Favorite class in school? Who do you hang out with? What do you do on weekends? How’s your job? The back and forth may have seemed trivial, but it gave us insight into the routine of daily life and of our likes and dislikes.
One of the funniest things I remember is that he wrote saying he was listening to Swing. I wrote back, “Who’s swing?” He replied, “Not who, what. Swing is a style of music.” For being a musician, I was clueless. If it didn’t show up in my piano lessons, band music, choir music, church orchestra music, or on the ultra-conservative local Christian radio station I had no clue. I told him my “wildest” music was Steven Curtis Chapman. He was afraid to admit that SCC was his tamest.
In one letter I asked him if there were any “girls” in his life. Kedron’s answer was quite telling.
Girls, ha! Funny question. Since school started, 3 or 4 girls have “liked” me, but what does that mean? See, they have to qualify. #1 they have to be a Christian! #2 they have to live like it. So no, no new “interest.”
Another main topic of conversation was the upcoming conventions. There were 3 conventions a year that both our families would attend – a weekend regional in Indianapolis in October, another weekend regional in Columbus in March, and the week long national in Iowa in July. My family was unable to attend the Indianapolis in October that fall. Ked was devastated.
What’s up? It’s all your fault! You just killed my day! I’m so sad. You just HAVE to go to Indianapolis! It just won’t be the same!
You are one of the goofiest guys I know! I’m glad you’re sad. Well, I’m not glad you’re sad, but glad you’re sad because I’m not going to Indianapolis. Well, whatever! I’m sorry we can’t come! 🙁 I really wanted to!
(Can you say tongue tied??)
In another letter, somehow the topic of being shy came up.
HA! I used to be shy, but one year at this Indianapolis convention thing, Some girl, no lady, said, “Hi.” Hmmm…do ya know her? See, it’s all your fault again. I was shy, but when YOU said “hi” that day, I was shocked. I thought why did she say hi to me? We had never talked before that. So I said, hey, if I want someone to talk to I’ll have to talk. I used to be very insecure. I was picked on a lot in junior high, for being a new kid and a Christian. But I think I’m over that.
Yeah, I know that girl. She’s crazy. I have a hard time believing I’m the reason you’re not shy anymore. Why’d I say Hi? You seemed nice, I knew you from the Ohio convention and my Dad and your Dad are friends. So me being me, said Hi! I was surprised when we got to talking a lot, but I’m also glad we became friends and was even more surprised when you called the first time! I’m really glad I can say you are my friend. It’s a privilege.
I can’t wait to see you in March! I’ll write again before then. (Several times if you’re lucky!)
He wrote back, just slightly excited about March.
Well, were going to have to have a long talk in Ohio. I think this letter will be short. Like you said, we’ll have more to talk about.
I can’t wait till next weekend! OH FCM! I hope I don’t break my arm skiing.
Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in Ohio. So, when ever.
March finally came. We hadn’t seen each other since the national convention in Iowa last July. Eight months had passed. Eight months of letters, eight months of high school, homework, and youth group activities. Spring couldn’t come fast enough.
The Ohio convention was a small convention, and I had a couple…um….stalkers. There were a few boys from the Ohio convention that had crushes on me over the years. One would call me occasionally and talk my ear off, to the point where I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and that’s really saying something! But when I’d see him at the convention, he’d hardly say two words to me. Another one, who was a few years older than me, wrote me a letter once pretty much saying that I was supposed to marry him. God had said so. That pretty much freaked me out. So, leading up to this convention I had asked Ked for some help. I knew I was going to need rescued from one boy in particular, and I had given Ked a heads up.
The weekend of the convention finally came and we were inseparable. We got our long talks in and juggled a lot, and he rescued me so adeptly when I needed it. The stalker never knew what hit him. I have a picture from the convention where I’m holding 3 juggling rings, wearing my red hat I wore when performing, and I’m giving someone (presumably my younger brother) the stink eye. Ked had flirtatiously stolen my camera and snapped the picture. (Back in the day where it was film, people! Each picture counted, and cost money! I’d much rather he snapped a picture of himself seeing as the only picture I had of him was of his shoulder in the newspaper from the summer before!)
On the last evening of the conference we had someone take our picture. We stood awkwardly next to each other, our shoulders touching. I felt electricity up and down my spine, but tried so hard to act normally. We traded name tags at the end of the convention. Trading name tags usually signified the relationship was “special.”
I liked him. There was no denying that now. But in my teenage mind, I had no clue how anything could ever work out. When you’re 17, don’t have a vehicle and live 200 miles apart, and there’s no internet, text messaging, instant messaging, or email and long distance phone calls are expensive, you might as well live halfway across the world. Still, when I lay in bed at night, I often dreamt up scenarios of how we could bump into each other later in life as adults, and how we’d rekindle this teenage friendship and it could grow into more. I’d drift off into sweet dreams.
July seemed so far away.