To read part I, click here.
HSA. HomeschoolAlumni.org. It was a social networking website for homeschool alumni (kind of self-explanatory, right?). I had first heard about it the previous December, when we got a Christmas card from some old friends of ours, the Pletts. We immediately saw that one of the boys, Andrew, had gotten married, and we soon learned that he and his new wife had met through a website called homeschoolalumni.org. I remember looking at the site at that time and laughing it off for the most part. I wasn’t a member of Facebook or MySpace at the time, and social networking sites were hardly interesting to me. Besides, it seemed like, given the circumstances of my finding out about it, I would only be joining to “find a guy”. At the time, there were other guys on my radar, and I was hardly “desperate” enough to join a site like that. So, I forgot about it.
That is, until that July day when the Lord suddenly put a burning desire on my heart to join HSA. When I say “burning desire”, I really mean it. My family was on vacation at the time without computer access, and I literally could hardly wait to get home and join. In the back of my mind, I was merely wanting to meet some new, like-minded people. I was disappointed and frustrated, and I just needed something new and different. But still, all those things don’t explain fully that burning desire. All I can say is that it was obviously from the Lord.
Almost immediately I began meeting new and exciting people, both of the male and female persuasion. There was such a wide variety of members, and yet they all had the commonality of being homeschooled. It was neat, and I was excited. And then my mom saw that there was a “reunion” coming up in just a few short weeks. She thought I should go…I thought she was crazy. Going to Colorado with two friends had been hard enough, and I was supposed to go alone to Kentucky where I didn’t know anyone? Was she crazy?! Somehow between talking to the Pletts and learning that Laura was going, I signed up. I was so incredibly nervous. I used to have this tendency of throwing up when I was really anxious about something, and I’m pretty sure I threw up that morning before my dad drove me to the airport. When I arrived at the Louisville airport, however, I immediately met the neatest group of girls and suddenly all my worries were put at ease. I loved it! I met so many amazing people and had such a fun time…and everyone was so friendly.
There had been a few people I had talked to online that I was looking for in person. Boy, is that a weird experience! Everyone is undoubtedly is either taller or shorter than you expect, and their voice is never what you think it will be. Very quickly, I met most of the people I had talked to or seen around online. Except for one. Just a few short days before, a young man who went by “Andrew Cartwright” had written on my wall welcoming me to HSA. I had looked at his profile, noticed that he was 20 and had somewhat of a cowboy persona. I had always liked cowboys, and was immediately intrigued. And then I noticed his relationship status said “committed”. Hmm, I thought…lucky girl. I knew he was going to the reunion, however, and was still curious to meet him.
Yet, nowhere did I see this mysterious “Andrew Cartwright”. For some reason, I thought he was short and kind of round. Don’t ask me why, I just did. I saw no one who matched this description decked out in cowboy attire.
Then came the ECD, or English Country Dance. I was so excited about this. The first dance I was asked, much to my delight. Then came the second dance, and across the room I caught a glimpse of a very tall, thin young man scouring the room. He caught my eye, and I held my breathe hoping that he would come my way…and he did.
I don’t remember exactly how he asked me, but I did remember that somehow he knew my name. I was flabbergasted. I had never seen this guy before…or had I? I asked him what his name was and he said something to the affect of “My name is Andrew Baker (I go by Andrew Cartwright on HSA). I wrote on your wall a few days ago.” I was shocked. He was not at all what I was expecting. He was dressed like a cowboy, but somehow, someway, I hadn’t recognized him. And he had the most beautiful bright blue eyes…
I must have seemed so nervous during that one brief dance. I was still recovering from my shock. It ended as swiftly as it begun, with hardly a word spoken.
My mom and I had a bit of a joke about “roses”. It’s actually from some very well-known shows on tv that are, in essence, dating shows. I don’t endorse these…it was just a joke my mom and I had. On the shows, whoever the girl or guy is impressed with and wants to get to know better, they give a rose to. While at the reunion, there was hardly any cell phone reception. The best we could do were texts. The day after the ECD, my mom texted me and said “Rose?”. I was confused for a minute and wrote back “Who’s Rose?”. And then I realized what she was talking about. I wrote back, “CD” which stood for “Cowboy Dude”…our little nickname for a certain cowboy on HSA.
I never talked to him once the rest of the reunion, but there was something about this quiet, stoic man that intrigued me. I watched him from a distance. I looked carefully for this girl he was committed to, and I began to wonder, hopefully, if this girl had broken off with him and he hadn’t changed his status yet. I remember thinking he was so quiet and somber. I thought, “If he’s really so serious and grouchy, then I wouldn’t like him anyway.” And yet, I couldn’t shake the thought of this mysterious young man.
I went back to Arizona without speaking one more word to “CD”, although I still held hope in my heart. The day I received a friend request from him was a happy day. And then almost a month went by.
One day I logged onto HSA and saw that it was “CD”’s birthday. I told my mom and she told me I should write on his wall. Finally I got the courage and did…and he wrote me back. We wrote back and forth almost daily on each other’s walls for several months. The more I learned about this young man, albeit public and nothing too deep, the more I liked. Like I said…there was just something there. Yet, I wondered if he felt the same way. He certainly wrote other girls too…I was not the only one. But I let myself hope and laid it all at God’s feet. Meanwhile I poured myself into my new leadership role at Intervarsity.
Then one day I found out about an HSA outreach that was happening at the end of October in Michigan. I wanted to go, and was in the process of finding more out about it when I found out that “CD” was one of the organizers and leaders. I didn’t want to go just to meet him again, but it certainly did sweeten the pot. I was equally surprised when, in response to my posting that I would need someone to pick me up at the airport, he quickly offered to pick me up, since he was picking up two other people as well at the Indianapolis airport. I threw up again as my dad drove me to the airport.
The next several days was a wonderful time of service and fellowship. I didn’t get much sleep, nor did I eat much (my stomach was all in knots), but I was so happy and joyful. I met many new people and forged a lot of great friendships. “CD”, who, as it turned out, went by Andy, didn’t speak to me too much, but I watched him. I learned that he wasn’t somber and serious. Quiet and thoughtful maybe, but not what I thought he would be. I remember sitting in the living room one of the first nights we were there, playing with our hosts’ precious children. The youngest, a little girl, supposedly did not like men. And yet, she took a strange liking to Andy. She kept wanting to sit on his lap. I watched him with the little girl, rocking her, his white socked feet pushing back-and-forth against the floor. I remember thinking how good he was with these kids…what a great father he would be. And inwardly I mourned…mourned because I didn’t think that these desires, these stirrings within my heart could ever be.
I’m quite sure that I wasn’t the only girl with eyes for Andy, and I kept wondering what on earth would make him pick me over any other girl. There were sparks of hope. Times he looked at me, or sat by me. Times he talked with me. But mostly I watched from a distance. I watched how he worked. I watched how he interacted with others. I watched how he was so careful to guard the girls. And each moment of watching only made my heart ache more-and-more.
My father picked me up early in the morning, just as Andy was leaving to drive home too. Andy went to breakfast with us…I hardly ate anything. And then, later that day, as I drove home to Flagstaff alone my phone rang. I was coming through a rather steep and winding mountain pass, and didn’t want to answer the phone. I did venture a peek at the caller id though, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw who it was…Andy Baker.
The first chance I got I pulled over and picked up the voicemail. He said he wanted to thank me for coming and that he was checking in with everyone, making sure they were getting home safely. I nervously called him back and told him I was fine and thank you for everything. And then he said that he wanted our families to get together sometime soon. I hung up praising Jesus.