No. 7 – New Normal

Fourteen days. That’s how many days were left until I would get to see Kendrae again. We tried not to go longer than two weeks without seeing one another. I was already counting down the days to our next visit, just seconds after leaving him. Trips every other weekend were a delicate situation for two people that worked around ever-changing schedules. Kendrae was working as a produce stocker for Kroger and I was waitressing at Crow’s Country Café. Taking weekends off to visit him meant losing money on Friday and Saturday nights. Not ideal for a recent college graduate saving up in hopes of moving out as soon as financially possible. But we were making it work.

The car rides from Longview back to Van Alstyne were always the worst. Buckling down for a three-hour sentence in a car with nothing but wide open road and no company to keep me but my thoughts. Were we crazy? We had only been dating for about two months before I graduated and moved back in with my parents. Were we pouring all our time, energy and what little finances we had into making this relationship work? Were the gut wrenching goodbyes normal? I prided myself on being independent and enjoyed spending time alone, so how could my heart long for another person this way? Had I just wanted a boyfriend so desperately, that I shoved Kendrae into the mold I created long before he came along? Could he really be as wonderful as I believed he was? And that was just the first five minutes of the trip! I turned on the radio in an attempt to choke out my trail of nagging questions and emptied my mind, focusing solely on the road.

Later that evening after my trek back to my parents’ house, I settled into my room for the night. I sat on my bed and stared at the wall in a trance for an unknown amount of time, until the vibration coming from my cell phone snapped me back to present time. I had a text message from Kendrae.

“Thanks for coming to see me this weekend, my love. Sorry I had to spend a lot of it working. I miss you already. 14 more sleeps until we get to see each other again. I love you, Sarah. Good night.”

My confusion about the direction my life was headed slowly slid down my body like the extra layer of skin I no longer wanted. The tenseness eased through my back and shoulders from the colossal weighted question mark I had been drudging around with me. If we were crazy, we were crazy in love. Real life Kendrae far surpassed any mold concocted in my head. And time had no barrier on the deepness of our connection to one another. I would not allow my mind to run wild and self-sabotage this relationship. Embrace this, I so badly wanted to scream at myself.

Why was this so difficult? I knew the answer before I even finished asking myself the question. Years of negative self-talk couldn’t be defeated so readily. The sweet and nurturing love of a man like Kendrae, were losing the battle to the power of my thoughts. My scars deeply rooted in my feelings of unworthiness. None of these questions and uncertainty plagued me when I was around Kendrae. They were too smart to know that one look into his eyes, and they stood no chance. No. They slowly surrounded me in my state of vulnerability. Launching a full-fledged attack and forcing me question how a man like Kendrae could ever be interested in a girl like me.

The physical distance seemed to insert an emotional distance in the middle of our relationship. Like a giant magnifying glass enlarging every little detail. Every emotion heightened; every silence loud. I didn’t know how to express all of this to Kendrae, and I didn’t know if I wanted to. But I did let him know how much I missed him. I missed him so much my body ached from it.

So, I typed a message that skimmed the surface of my feelings. “I miss you too, Kendrae. I miss getting to see you after finishing tennis practice. I miss studying and working on homework together. Spending our Friday night watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. I miss seeing you every day. I miss getting to hug you whenever I wanted. Basically, I just miss you, and I hate that that’s normal.” I hit send with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

His tender text assuaged my plaguing thoughts for a moment. But just as quickly, my self-doubt and unworthiness swarmed back in to stake their claim. But this was not a battle I was going to give up fighting so easily. If I truly wanted my relationship with Kendrae to blossom, I had some gardening to do.

How quickly our normal had changed. As I laid my head on my pillow and swallowed the lump in my throat, I did the only thing I could muster up the strength to do: I prayed. Not with words. Not with a song. But with my tears. Each tear that streaked my face was a heartfelt plea for better days. For guidance through this fog. For the strength to combat my own deeply seeded insecurities. For a love that could conqueror all that lay ahead of us. I had the words love conquers allinked on the side of my body. And I desperately wanted to believe those words. But I couldn’t help but wonder: was love really enough? Could our love conquer it all?


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