Life in the kitchen was pretty fun. I definitely felt a bit disconnected to what was going on with camp as a whole since I was mostly worried about helping feed the masses but, I was getting to know my coworkers better and I really liked the work itself. I also realized pretty quickly how gracious God had been to put me on the kitchen staff that summer rather than on the counseling staff because Program Staff and Counselors hardly had any off-time together. My job in the kitchen didn't clash with Steve's nearly as much. We were able to steal a few minutes here and there to talk and sometimes at night we could get a bit of time.
By some strange stroke of providence we just "happened" to get the same night off too. One of the Program Staff, who did the schedule, knew we were dating and was really kind to do that for us. The first Tuesday night that we were both off together, I didn't know quite what to do. I really wanted to hang out with Steve but, I wasn't about to ask him to go out so, I just made my own plans to run errands in town.
As I was walking to my car I saw Steve sprinting to the parking lot. Breathless, but grinning he said, "Wait! Do you, uh, want to hang out tonight?" "Nice," I thought to myself. "This guy is pretty awesome but, it definitely shows that he doesn't have that much experience with wooing girls." I decided quickly to put all of that aside though. He can learn. What matters is who he is, not whether or not he's a smooth operator. "Sure." I agreed. He climbed into the driver's seat and off we went.
When we pulled into Scotts Valley, his hometown, we ended up at the local Baskin Robbins. After getting our ice cream, we made our way out to the tables outside in the warm summer night air. And we started talking and didn't stop for hours. The more we talked, the more the pressure started to fall of our shoulders. We had already admitted our feelings. We had finally defined what we were. And now, we were just learning to enjoy each other's company in light of our new status, like we had before. It was the first night we started getting comfortable in our new skin. We were figuring things out. Things were starting to feel less "business" and more natural. Not that it wasn't necessary to iron things out, but it was so nice to just soak each other up without a bunch of extra pressure. We laughed and laughed and we shared deeper things. When the Baskin Robbins staff started to pull the tables inside, we knew it was time to go, so we reluctantly went to my car to go back to camp.
But it was clear. Neither of us wanted the night to end at all. And we had until midnight. So right before we got back to camp we pulled off the road just a mile before the main entrance, opened up the moon roof and watched the stars to drink in every last second of that night. Before I knew it, Steve had his arm around me and he was running his fingers ever so gently through my hair. Not much was said. Neither of us had much to say at all. We were just being present trying to take it all in.
Yet as we pondered the beauty of God's amazing creation, way up in those majestic mountains, we knew that God was doing something pretty amazing in our lives. He had brought us together in such a thoughtful way and He alone was allowing us to take such pleasure in His plan. And it was clear, we were both enjoying His gift to us more than we ever knew we could. It had definitely been worth the wait.
* * * *
The summer passed pretty quickly. We spent many Tuesday nights going out in Santa Cruz and at times went north on Highway 1 to walk along the beautiful beaches that lined the rugged California coastline. There was one beach in particular that we frequented often and after falling so in love with it, we termed it "our beach". Many times, in order to squeeze every last second out of those nights, we pulled off the road right before camp and watched the stars before driving into camp at the stroke of midnight. It was during those times that we had some of our best talks about life, our faith and where we thought "we" were going. In between date nights, we did our jobs, talked when we could and kept things quiet. Slowly, over the summer, a few more people found out we were dating but at that point, camp was winding down and most people didn't give it much thought.
Often on the weekends, we went and visited Steve's family since they lived so close. Steve would sleep on the couch upstairs and I slept in the guestroom. Then we all went to church and had lunch afterward. It was a nice rhythm and I got to know his parents and siblings much more than I did before. All in all, it had been a perfect summer.
But August hit and it was finally at an end. I was headed up to spend a few weeks with my parents before Cal Poly started in late September and Steve was staying in Santa Cruz until then as well. We knew it might be some time before we saw each other again. Seeing each other every day at camp had spoiled us! The thought of being apart for a few weeks was definitely daunting. But we knew, in the end, it was just a matter of time before we'd be in San Luis Obispo again.
As Steve walked me out to my car to say "good-bye", he knelt down, grabbed my hand and gave it a tender kiss. He had never kissed me before. We had only held hands and at times, he would hold me close but, there had not been any kissing and that had been on purpose. In the beginning, he had told me it would be some time before he would kiss me and I had no idea when it would occur.
When I drove away I kept replaying the whole scenario in my mind. Had I imagined it or did he really kiss my hand? Yes! Yes, he did! Because if he did, then that meant we were at least on some sort of track for a real kiss sometime soon. The thought of that whole element of our relationship scared me to death but it also thrilled me to the core. I had liked this guy for months now. We had been dating for the whole summer and we both liked each other even more now than when we started. So it seemed natural that would follow. But I'd have to be patient. This Steve Dauphin was very logical and methodical. He'd kiss me when he was ready and when he thought we were ready for it. I kept telling myself these truths over and over in my head.
Yet, in reality, after that kiss on the hand, I didn't know if I'd be able to hold out for much longer.