Months passed quickly as they do when you’re in a new relationship. My days were filled with getting to know Andrew in between our busy schedules; he was playing football/going to seminary and I was cheering and studying business. On our first date, I found myself driving to pick Andrew up because his car battery died. Needless to say, he was a little embarrassed. I learned very quickly that Andrew was no handy man as he spent 30 minutes in his garage looking for a tool that was attached to the top of the tool he was using. That night, we ended up at Walmart to buy a new car battery; that’s where Andrew said he fell in love with me. He later gave me a poem he wrote about how he fell in love with me.
I remember hearing that Rafael made the football team and the whole squad was so excited and proud of him. I remember the spring football game in 2006 in which both Rafael and Andrew played. After the game, I ran over to Andrew to congratulate him and when we looked for my dad and little brother who came to see Andrew play, we saw them talking to Rafael. Andrew didn’t seem too pleased with that. I remember later that evening Andrew made a comment about how Rafael was “chatting it up” with my little brother, Pres , while Andrew showed Pres around the locker room. Rafael and I never spoke at that game: I’m not even sure he saw me. It would be another couple of months before we would see each other again.
Six months into my dating relationship with Andrew, our conversations about our future were getting more intense. We were falling in love and Andrew was sad that I was leaving for the entire summer. That summer I was planning on working at Kanakuk Kamps (the world’s largest Christian sports camp) as a camp counselor. Little did I know, an old “friend”, was planning on working there, too. I arrived at Work Week (which is the week before camp officially starts and just the counselors meet to prepare the camp) and to my surprise I saw a familiar face—it was Rafael. I told him I had no idea he was working at Kanakuk and specifically at K-2. I was a little nervous to see him because of how things ended, but at the same time, I figured he had moved on. So I did my best not to act awkward.
(me and some of the campers at Kanakuk K-2 in 2006)
One night at camp, the staff put on a talent show for the campers. I thought to myself it would be a cool idea to show the campers, up close and personal, what it’s like to partner stunt, so I asked Rafael if he wanted to stunt with me as our talent for the kids. He agreed and we teamed up as we had done so many times before. He threw me in the air, we did a couple of tumbling passes and everyone loved it. It was fun. That was about the extent of my interaction with Raffy that week.
The following week some of the staff loaded onto a bus and headed into Branson, MO for a field trip. As fate would have it, or maybe Rafael planed it that way, Rafael was sitting by himself in a seat right behind mine. That’s when he struck up a conversation I was not expecting. I don’t remember the details, but I remember him telling me something along the lines of how he had feelings for me and never shared them with me, but wished he had. He said that he still had feelings for me and not being honest about his feelings six months earlier was one of his biggest regrets. When I heard those words come out of his mouth, I was speechless. I felt helpless and at the same time, I was so uncomfortable. I felt as though he had me cornered and there was nowhere I could go. At that time, I was in a full-blown relationship with Andrew; what did Rafael expect me to do, to say? How could he expect me to respond? In that moment, I remember also feeling anger towards Rafael. I was angry because I had given him the opportunity to express himself six-months earlier and he didn’t take it. I told him I didn’t know he felt that way and informed him of what he already knew- I was in a serious, committed relationship with Andrew. At the end of that conversation I remember telling him “it’s too late.”
During camp, none of the staff used the internet, cell phones, etc. Of course, on our days off, which happened about once a week, we could travel into town where we had access to technology. On my next days off, I called Andrew and told him about the incident with Rafael. As you can imagine, he was not a happy camper and I didn’t blame him. From Andrew’s perspective, Rafael’s conversation was disrespectful of mine and Andrew’s relationship. I agreed. From that point forward, I did my best to steer clear of Rafael, mostly out of respect for my relationship with Andrew. But at the same time, I didn’t want to look into Rafael’s eyes; I knew all I would see was the love he had for me.
On the bus ride, where Rafael finally shared his heart, I did not admit that I ever liked him or that I secretly wished, six months earlier, he would have just told me his true feelings so that I could tell him mine. My reason for not divulging that information was because, in my eyes, that door was closed, never to be opened again. Or so I thought…