28 August 2009

The Music Starts, Chapter Five

Tim ripped open the envelope, and just the sight of Aaron's slightly quirky handwriting filled him with the same delight as when they'd been together. Aaron had been transferred, work was slow but satisfying, he missed Tim, how was school? Tim read the letter over and over, savoring every word, recalling their time together and counting the days till Aaron would return. He wrote back immediately, of course, telling Aaron all about school and work and the challenges of adjusting to "normal" life again. He still missed Aaron terribly but the correspondence made things easier, and the demands of school were a healthy distraction.

And so it went for some time. Letters back and forth, with news, jokes, updates, questions, expressions of affection. Aaron progressing to senior companion, then district leader. Tim getting through a year of school, a summer of work, starting another year of school. The letters and cards continued. Tim had finally adjusted to not being a missionary anymore, though teaching at the Missionary Training Center certainly kept one of his feet in that world. It took a little getting used to, walking as a paid employee into the same place where he'd been as a missionary in training, then able to freely walk back out again the same day. By this time Tim had actually started dating casually, but was never interested in anything serious. He wanted to have kids and a family someday, but that was far in the future. While dating was fun socially, and certainly the politically correct thing for a guy his age at BYU, deep down Tim knew something wasn't right. He went along to get along, and at one point had four different girls chasing him, but there was never any spark. It always felt forced. No one ever made him feel like Aaron did.

Then one day a letter arrived with the information Tim had awaited for so long: Aaron's return date, and an invitation to come up for a visit as soon as Aaron was home. Tim was overjoyed, and actually jumped up and threw his fist in the air and whooped it up for a moment. His roommates thought he was nuts. Castle walls and cannons couldn't have kept him away from Idaho Falls, and the closer that homecoming weekend got, the slower time seemed to drag. When the day finally came, Tim risked speeding tickets the entire time he drove north, yet it seemed like he couldn't go fast enough.

Tim rang the doorbell. The door opened, and there stood a beaming Aaron Rayburn. Same smile, same sparkling eyes. Quick as a flash, Tim and Aaron embraced each other and just held on, only this time with as much joy as there'd been sorrow the last time at mission headquarters. Tim was so happy he nearly cried. Aaron introduced his parents, who welcomed Tim warmly and expressed surprise that he'd driven all that way. Tim diplomatically assured them it was no trouble and he wouldn't have missed it. He held back the real reason, which was that he loved Aaron more than anyone else he'd ever known and nothing could have kept him away now that Aaron was home again.

Hanging around the house and talking, out cruising around the city, running errands for Aaron's mom, getting pizza for dinner, the two boys talked incessantly for the rest of the day, their conversations punctuated with playful shoulder punches, back pats, neck squeezes, an arm briefly around a shoulder, savoring the delight of being together again. Tim could hardly believe it. All that elation came flooding back, more, in fact, because this time he knew there wasn't some looming date of long-term separation. The Rayburns had set up a rollaway bed in Aaron's room for Tim, but Tim didn't want to go to sleep that night. It would have meant taking his eyes off Aaron and he hated even the thought. So he fought sleep for as long as he could. They talked far into the night, all smiles and sparkling eyes. Finally, together again.

On Sunday Aaron gave his homecoming speech in church and sent more than few smiles and glances Tim's way. During the Sunday School class second hour, someone passed by and actually stopped to ask Tim and Aaron if they were surgically joined at the shoulder, they were sitting so close together. They both laughed. Tim didn't care. He could hardly feel the ground as he walked, and didn't care what other people said. The rest of Sunday was wonderful, relaxing, warm and bright for Tim, despite the snow outside. The Sunday dinner was delicious, the conversation delightful. It ended far too soon, and so did Tim's visit. He had a long drive ahead to return to school. So the two boys once again embraced, but this time without the sadness of last time's parting. Aaron would let Tim know as soon as his school plans were finalized. Tim could hardly wait for Aaron to join him in Utah. He wasn't quite sure where life would go for them after that, but as long as Aaron was there, he felt he could face anything.

The letters and phonecalls continued. Aaron was working to save money for school and wouldn't be able to come down before fall semester. Tim understood, he was working part-time too. In April Aaron drove down with friends and he & Tim had another joyous reunion, hung out for several days, explored, hiked, and talked and talked. They would have to be apart for the summer, but the letters and phonecalls continued as before. Tim eagerly awaited Aaron's plans for school.

Then one day in August, Aaron called with the news Tim had been waiting for.

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