Everything that happened and every way that we grew led us to this moment.
By now, Levi has written me one letter and I've written him back, my stomach full of butterflies and excited for the beginning of what I thought would be a fun and sweet correspondence.
In Chapter 5, the first letters back and forth between Levi and myself lay the groundwork for something deeper later. That's pretty much the fancy way of saying these first few letters are where we get to know the basics of each other. And rather quickly, too...
This one is long, so grab a snack and cozy up to your computer screen!
Chapter 5: Groundwork
My parents and I exited the movie theatre after seeing War Horse chatting with each other about the movie. My mom was still blowing her nose from all the crying she'd done, and my dad was raving about the beautiful cinematography and use of color. How Steven Spielberg could do no wrong. I rode along quietly in the back of the car, not really thinking about the movie. I mean, I'd enjoyed it all right, but it wasn't quite enough to distract me from my new pen pal.
"Levi," I thought. "Hmm. Levi. I've never known anyone with that name. Might take some getting used to."
And then I smacked myself on the forehead (but not really because that might concern my parents). Get used to? We'd each sent one real e-mail! Goodness, calm down, Mary Beth.
When we got home I went ahead and turned in for the night, drifting off to an old episode of How it's Made and munching on some leftover marshmallows. I claim that it was Christmastime and I am not to be held responsible for my actions when my parents put a TV in the guest bedroom and leave perfectly good, sugary treats unused in the pantry.
As I slipped into my dreamless sleep (I rarely dream) I wondered how long I'd have to wait for another e-mail...
The next day was filled with nothing, some more nothing, and then a bit of nothing. It was awesome. I don't know about you, but doing some much-needed nothing is a lot more relaxing when you're not at your own home. If I do nothing at home all I can think about are the things I have to do and that are waiting to be done on my To-Do List. It's not relaxing at all.
My mom and I had plans to meet my dad after a late meeting at a new Italian place in town. I finally showered (because, otherwise, a day full of nothing requires zero showers) and dressed myself. As I sat on the guest bed, my damp hair wrapped up in a towel, I checked my e-mail.
A communication from eHarmony!
Almost at the exact same time as the day before, Levi had responded back to my e-mail. Bouncing slightly up and down on the bed in excitement (this will be a common theme in this story), I tapped in my password for eHarmony. There it was. My newest e-mail from Levi.
It began, "I'm glad you didn't give up on me. :)"
Over the next 9 letters (5 from Levi and 4 from me) we learned an incredible amount about each other. Levi would write every day around 6:00 p.m. and I would write him back that evening. Levi was already back at work, so his routine became a little something like this:
1. Get up early in the morning.
2. Immediately check for my e-mail and read it for about half an hour, grinning to himself.
3. Jump up and rush to get ready for work.
4. Think about what he was going to write to me that evening.
5. Get home from work around 4:00 and start writing, painstakingly planning each word.
6. Send off the e-mail around 6:00 with nervous butterflies in his stomach.
7. Eat a bachelor-style dinner (think: lots of sandwiches and chips).
8. Play bass or a video game until he was ready to sleep on the living room floor.
As for my part, I was still in Kansas City with my family and nothing to do and no responsibilities, so my days were varied. Needless to say, I did a whole lot of nothing in the morning, a bit more nothing in the afternoon, and then anxiously waited for my favorite e-mail of the day. They always said the same thing ("eHarmony Match Communication Received!"), and I guess they could have been from anyone, but I knew they were from Levi.
And, incidentally, after about four days' worth of e-mails (that's 8 letters for those of who who prefer specifics), I turned off all my matches. It only made sense, you know? If he was taking the time and effort to write me thoughtful e-mails every day, he deserved my full attention.
And, incidentally, Levi beat me to that step. When he'd gotten home from Christmas with his family he had two other women wanting to talk to him, but after seeing that I'd written to him, he closed out every match and turned off matching. He was determined to give me his full attention, even though he'd only read about 8 lines worth of e-mail from me at that point.
I mean, come on. I was already having my suspicions, but if I'd known all those things I would have known for sure that he was a keeper.
In these 9 e-mails back and forth we learned so many things about each other. How could we not? We were writing at least 1,000 words to each other each time. And in my case....more. A lot more. Ok, I'm wordy. Haven't you noticed yet?
- Levi told me about being a calm and laid-back guy, a man of few words, and introverted. I told Levi about being a bright and bubbly woman, optimistic, and extroverted.
- Levi told me about his enjoyment of playing the bass and guitar, and the bands KISS and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I told Levi about how I play the violin and piano, and how I like a wide range of music--including the band most likely to make him roll his eyes, Journey.
- Levi told me about being a terribly and lazy student in school, and how he especially hated English. How he planned to just backpack for his life instead of going to college and then he ended up with a Master's degree. I told Levi about loving school as a kid and my favorite class: English.
- Levi told me about disliking football and baseball, but really liking soccer and hockey and some Australian rugby. He told me about being "the least competitive person you'll ever meet." I told Levi about loving football and baseball and about being super competitive when I played anything--including card games.
Goodness, at this point you might be wondering what we found in common! Or just what it was that kept us writing to each other. Besides simply sounding sweet and open there were some key things:
- We began to talk seriously about our faith. We discussed how frustrated it makes us when people mix faith and politics so much that the lines blur between one and the other. We lined up perfectly in those areas, which was key.
- We had both gone to our respective towns in much the same way: looking for adventure, alone, and to cries of, "You're crazy!" and "When will we get to see you again?!"
- Star Wars.
Music to my ears. In my next letter I told him about my own Star Wars fixation: books, posters, multiple t-shirts, a Monopoly game. In his next letter Levi decided to show off and test me by throwing out the term "tauntaun." Not only did I know what he was talking about, I one-upped him with a video back.
Perhaps I can properly explain how this Star Wars theme encouraged us to keep writing to each other by giving you the subject lines of our e-mails. You know, writing a subject for an e-mail is actually a tough thing to do if you write to someone every day about non-business related things. Ours eventually morphed into a conversation in themselves...
- Letter #5 (from MB): Star Wars, hmm?
- Letter #6: Yep...Definitely Star Wars!
- Letter #7: You said Tauntaun!
- Letter #8: Are tauntauns herbivores?
- Letter #9: Dear Lord, I hope they're not carnivores...
- Letter #10: I doubt it...too expensive to feed a carnivore
- Letter #11: Exactly...that's why I don't own a tiger
- Letter #12: 20 lb. maximum for domesticated carnivores
- Letter #13: Rough day
An abrupt ending, I know, but we are on the brink of one of my favorite parts of the story. Trust me.
Next Chapter (Chapter 6: Rough Day, Part I) Previous Chapter (Chapter 4: Email Numbero Uno)