He hadn’t bothered me in a while, so I thought maybe his feelings for me had faded. James started calling me his girlfriend after our first date, and I didn’t have the heart to correct him. One day, when I was 16, I invited James over to play board games, as we often did. Religion can muddy social waters, making loving, decent people do odd things. That little voice has gone on to lead me to a lot of wonderful things.
Soon after I learned of his feelings, I found out that my whole family had known all summer and no one told me.No one warned me of this tidal wave that was about to crash into my life.In tattered jeans and a Bible study T-shirt, I arrived home to a beautiful three-story house nestled in a gated community of the no-man’s-land of Pasco County, Florida.I had just spent two months in Bethlehem, where I sweated out my summer days shoveling gravel to pave a parking lot for a Bible college.James had many good qualities; he was smart, kind, calm, many would say handsome.
On top of all of these positives, he was willing to come to our family dinners and talk about church shit with my parents, stealing their loud Greek hearts like no one ever had before.I just felt lost; no one had taught me the skills needed to reject a grown man’s romantic advances. I think that moment was the first time I met myself.I assumed my parents would do something about this and not just leave me to fend for myself. All my life I had let people put me together and decide who I was going to be.I was 14 years old, cute, chubby, and still figuring out how eyeliner was meant to be applied.I was just adjusting to my life back home when my mother called me downstairs to tell me that James was stopping by because “he was in the area” and “had something he wanted to tell you.” Something felt off — I could sense it.James was the perfect bachelor for someone who cared about the opinions of her family the way I did.