J, Breena, Megan and I headed out to Rob’s place as soon as the pizzas were ready. It felt like a really long way away, nearly a half hour from campus, but the drive was gorgeous. It wound through down town Salem, past Willamette University, over the Willamette River and out highway 22. Just about the time it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere we turned off of the highway to the right.
Funny, I have driven this highway numerous times when I attended Western Oregon University last Fall. I never would have guessed there were even houses back here. Especially not the house of the only guy in the world that now had my attention.
I wonder if I’ve passed him along the road? Maybe I’ve seen him run? Perhaps we’ve been stopped at a stop light next to each other and had no idea that we’d become fast friends. I’m not the most observant person in the world but certainly I’d know if I’d seen him before. His smile was unforgettable!
It didn’t take but another 30 seconds before we were taking another turn, this time down a gravel driveway. Soon we pulled up in front of a barn. An honest to goodness, tried and true real life pole barn! It was little more than a tin shack on the outside but the scenery was gorgeous. It was set on 12 beautiful tree-lined acres and just across the street was an entire filbert orchard. It was so serene.
I couldn’t help but chuckle when I realized that Rob actually lived inside of this barn. The down stairs of the barn looked like any other barn you’d imagine. It was full of storage stuff and work related paraphernalia. There weren’t any animals in this particular barn at the time, though there was plenty of space for them.
Just about the time I was beginning to wonder if this was some kind of joke we were lead through a door to a small finished room and then up a flight of stairs. As I rounded the corner I found myself standing smack dab in the middle of Rob’s bedroom. It was painted blue with two half sized closets and a small bathroom just off of the side. Just beyond his bedroom was a tiny kitchen with a small counter and bar stools acting as a table and chairs. It had a teeny little dishwasher and really pretty cabinets. Huge beautiful windows lined all three sides of the barn visible from the kitchen making it one of the most bright, beautiful, vibrant places I’d ever been. For a moment I almost forgot that I was in a barn that boasted less than 500 square feet of living space!
The living room had a brown lazy boy style chair, two yellow flower printed chairs, a red couch with black pillows and a small black coffee table. And it had big picture windows that revealed the most amazing views. In fact, in the distance there were several deer looking for their supper.
They weren’t the only ones looking for their supper, the five of us were insanely hungry. I was especially hungry after smelling the pizza in the car for the past half hour!
So we dug in and enjoyed some pizza, soda, games and great conversation together. It was nice being in such a small group of people. It was much easier to get to know my new friends on a more personal level in this kind of setting than it would have been if we’d attended that other party.
I had shared parts of my story the night we had chatted at the retreat the previous weekend, but clearly Rob was interested in hearing more of my story because he continued to ask me some pretty pointed, somewhat personal questions.
Again, for the third time in as many weeks, I felt like I was on the hot seat. This time I was sharing a bit about my family and my home life growing up.
As my life story unfolded that night it became clear to Rob that I wasn’t just your average immature 18 (almost 19) year-old college freshman. I had been forced to grow up way too fast and because of that I had a lot of life skills that most of my peers didn’t have. I was easily 18 going on 25, maybe even 30. I had often been told that I had wisdom and maturity beyond my years and that apparently became evident to Rob that night as well.
Through his series of questions that night he determined that my age (or lack thereof) wouldn’t be a deterrent to him taking an interest in me. I unwittingly passed another test that I didn’t know I was taking!