Once Upon a September

cowboy bootsAdorable little Mia wiggled out of my lap to jump up and play tag with the other girls, so from my position on the floor, I started gathering up the art supplies scattered all around me. All of the children’s parents began trickling in to pick them up from our kids’ ministry after the early morning church service had concluded, so I took the opportunity to create some semblance of order of the colorful pipe cleaners and discarded colored pencils.

As I reached for yet another uncapped marker from my cross-legged position on the floor, a dusty pair of boots appeared in my peripheral vision just before their owner plopped down on the purple foam mat beside me. I glanced up and recognized the tanned face – deep brown eyes set above a warm smile – so I greeted him without thinking. “Hey. Seth, right?”

“Yeah, and you’re… Aurora?” He rearranged his long legs to get comfortable, and my eyes moved from his tousled brown hair down to our church’s teal volunteer T-shirt tucked into his faded blue jeans.

As I nodded in confirmation, I realized two things: I also knew Seth’s last name, but I had no idea how we knew each other. I had no memories of this man, but I was certain I knew him. I had vague recollections of possibly meeting him in college, but I went ahead and asked out loud, “How do we know each other’s names? I mean, I knew your name was Seth, but I don’t remember ever talking to you before.”

Seth leaned forward and correctly named both my alma mater and class year, as well as my major. I was impressed. Apparently we were in an introductory engineering class together our first semester freshman year. We probably met for the first time on some humid September morning, me in a T-shirt and soccer shorts, hair pulled into a tight ponytail. The would have been over ten years ago, but Seth remembered exactly which class it was. “Professor Till, right? At 8:00 AM?”

“Yes! He used to give pop quizzes all the time! I remember waking up late one morning and sprinting to class in my pajamas so that I wouldn’t miss the quiz, but I was five minutes late, so he wouldn’t let me take it.” I smiled at the memory. “I was quite the overachiever,” I added with a laugh.

Seth and I reminisced about our college years; then we moved along to each asking what the other is doing these days. In the midst of the current downturn in oil & gas, about a month ago Seth got let go from a major OG company in the area.

“That first day of being without work, I sat around in my boxers eating oatmeal, but one day of that was all I could handle. The very next day, I started volunteering my engineering services to a buddy’s small EP company, and they actually just wrote me a paycheck this week.”

I was impressed by Seth’s work ethic. He’s not the kind of man to sit around a sulk, and he told me that he refuses to take an unemployment check. His family owns a cattle ranch in the hill country a few hours outside of town, and he grew up learning the value of hard work and a man making a way for himself by the sweat of his brow.

I got so caught up in talking with Seth – I was so captivated by him – that when I glanced at the time, I realized that I was fifteen minutes late to church. “Oh!” I exclaimed. “Are you here to volunteer for the 11:00 service?”

He nodded, so I prattled on, “Well I volunteered at 9:15 and am going to the 11:00 service myself, so I’d better get in there!”

I stood, and Seth immediately stood as well. My mind flashed to a scene from Kate & Leopold where Leo stands every time Kate enters the room or leaves the table. Such a gentleman, I thought.

Seth moved forward to give me a hug goodbye, and he asked which midweek bible study I attend. I go on Wednesdays, and he goes on Tuesdays. “Well maybe I’ll double-dip this week and check out the Wednesday night group,” he told me with a smile.

“Yeah!” I chided my heart when it started racing. “That would be great. Send me a Facebook message, and I can give you the details.” I had already started slowly making my way toward the door, so I wiggled my fingers at him in a parting wave as I disappeared into the hallway and took a deep breath. What just happened? God, how did I not notice this man ten years ago? Where has he been?! Is this your perfect timing?

Our church was doing baptisms that week – or “bath-tisms” as seven-year-old Mia appropriately calls them in her sweet little voice – so the kids’ ministry volunteers quietly brought the children into the sanctuary to watch that portion of the service before taking them back to the children’s classrooms. Our sanctuary – a high school auditorium – seats a few hundred, so I was taken by surprise when, on his way out with his group of boys, Seth suddenly looked up and directly into my eyes. Our gazes locked, and he kept his eyes fixed on me until he vanished from view as he exited with his gaggle of boys. Only then did I realize I was grinning so wide that my cheeks hurt. He’d been grinning, too. We’re like a couple of high school kids! I thought with a blush.

When I got home from church, I logged into Facebook and saw a new friend request: Seth. My heart did a little dance. They say love finds you when you stop looking. Maybe – hopefully! – I’ll be among those who finds this to be true. ❤

Authentically Aurora

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10 thoughts on “Once Upon a September

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