The drive home from Hume Lake was long and relaxed. My cousin and I talked for the entire three hour drive, but never once about the man in the red jacket. There was no need to mention what I experienced because I was never going to see him or talk to him again.
I was home by Sunday afternoon and back into my normal routine of life. Katie, Rachelle and I immediately began a group text desperately trying to hang onto the youthful and spiritual freedom we experienced while at Hume Lake.
By Tuesday morning, our text thread was hours long and full of inside jokes, the memories that impacted us most, and our vow to return next year. But I left one thing out of our text thread…I couldn’t stop thinking about the man in the red jacket.
Because I couldn’t stop thinking about him, I did what any normal female would do: I stalked him on social media.
Into Instagram’s search bar, I typed “Michael Bolton.” I was soon staring at a long list of fan pages for the musical artist, Michael Bolton. I started scrolling. The profile images were so small, it wasn’t immediately obvious which account might’ve been his.
Until I came across something I had seen before: “bolty5113”
I took my hands off my phone and sat back in my chair. “That’s him.” I didn’t need to open his profile for that confirmation. His instagram ‘name’ was the same as his hotspot name, which I remembered seeing when he tried to help me connect to WiFi days earlier.
I was at work when I made this discovery. I leaned forward, staring at his small profile picture and my shaky fingers hovered over the screen. I lightly tapped on his name.
Sure enough, it was him. I secretly praised God for the fact that his profile was open to the public. Very carefully I scrolled through his photos. My hands were trembling as my fingertips brushed over the still images of his life.
Without any warning, an idea popped into my head: “I should send him a message.” I heard myself with that thought and knew that it was completely out of character for me. I’m not the girl who does that. I was out of line with myself! “Girl, calm down. You are not sending him a message.”
Staring at my phone, I reached beyond it and picked up the phone on my desk. With shaky hands, I called my cousin.
“Hey, so remember those Irish guys we met? I found one of them on Instagram. Remember the tall one? I was thinking I should send him a message because it’d be cool to stay in touch with someone over there because you said that going to Ireland is, like, your dream vacation, so I was thinking it would be a good idea to stay connected so we have friends over there…”
I didn’t take a breath, I kept repeating my words, and I rambled until she interrupted me: “yeah! Send him a message! Wait, let me find his profile.”
Like those inner 12 year-olds we unleashed at Hume, my cousin and I discussed the cute boy I met at camp.
“Ok, but what do I say? I don’t want to sound weird.”
We all know that words are my thing. I write, I love to write! I’ve been journaling and keeping diaries since I was 7 years old! But this? This was uncomfortable.
It took nearly 20 minutes for me to put together a 3 sentence message. And it took even longer for me to send it. “Come on, just send it! What’s the big deal?” My cousin was growing impatient with my hesitancy. She still didn’t know about the weird attack on my heart over the weekend or the fact that I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him.
With the deepest inhale, I closed my eyes and hit ‘send.’ I don’t remember exhaling, but I remember my cousin being excited that we now had a connection in Ireland. A friendly connection, I emphasized to her.
I sat back in my chair and kept the screen on my phone open to the message I sent. Katie and I talked about her dream trip to Ireland and continued on with normal conversation.
Until I saw those little dots appear on my screen…
“Oh my God, Katie! He already saw my message! He’s responding. Oh my God! I can’t be in this screen! It’ll look like I’m waiting for an answer! Oh my God, he’s responding already??”
Sheer panic took over my body.
And I heard my cousin laugh….”oh my, you like him.”
I immediately lowered the tone of my voice. “What? No I don’t! Give me a break.”
But she continued to giggle and playfully taunt me, “yes, you do. You like him. I knew it! I could totally see it at camp.”
Finally, I admitted that yes, I did find him attractive at camp. And yes, my heart did weird things. And yes, I’m scared.
Over the next couple of hours, we carried on a friendly conversation about travel and how much we each enjoyed Hume Lake. My fingers were no longer shaking as I typed my responses to him.
Until he stopped my heart with his words: “did you happen to notice at camp I may have liked you? You’re so pretty and very sweet.”
My hands immediately starting shaking, my palms were sweating, my face was flushed, my heart was racing…my smile was so big, it was hurting.
I immediately called my cousin. She screamed into the phone, “I knew it!! It was so obvious!!”
And from that text began countless hours of conversation. Within hours we each shared the details of our past and within days we felt as though we’d known each other our whole lives.
I was comfortable with our communication, until after a week of texting he suggested a ‘video call.’
The night came when we scheduled a call and I had those nervous butterflies in my stomach all day. ‘What do I wear? What am I supposed to do? How does this whole FaceTime thing even work?’
And finally I settled…he was calling me at 10:00pm my time, which was 6:00am his time, so what he got was me in my pajamas with no makeup on and my hair in a bun.
15 minutes before he was going to call, I sat at my desk and prayed. I prayed that God would direct our conversation. I asked that He would expose something in Michael’s character if this connection was not from Him. I prayed that I would be able to understand Michael so he didn’t feel as though we couldn’t communicate. I prayed for God’s direction and protection over my heart.
And then, Michael appeared on my computer screen. He was more handsome than I remembered. Our conversation was effortless, our connection was so natural.
And after more than two hours of talking, I began praying that God would take him away.