The next morning when I woke up, I opened my Facebook app while still laying down to catch up on the news before I’d slowly drag myself out of bed, brush my teeth, and slather on my makeup for the day. My dad always called it “putting on the war paint.”
It was Thursday. One more day until I could leave this dreadful, lonely place and escape for the weekend. I was really looking forward to it, like I did every week.
That’s when I saw it. The Facebook notification. Oh no, they didn’t. My eyes went wide and an immediate lump formed in my throat. I had two close guy friends, one of which was married to my best friend and bandmate. Back in the day, when you had a new friend on Facebook, it automatically notified all of your other Facebook friends… I still don’t understand the point of it. These two guy friends of mine “liked” every new friendship I had, which also notified the new friend. AKA, hott farmer Josh.
In a normal situation, I didn’t care about this weird ritual they had. BUT, this was different. I thought, “great… Josh is going to think I’m a HUGE creep and I’m already telling my guy friends about him.” Like I’m some desperate housewife who falls in love with a farmer I met ONE TIME at a meeting about seed.
He’d have me pegged all wrong because the truth is, I was more independent than I’d ever been and “didn’t need no man!”
I waited until after 8 AM, trying my best to not seem completely out of my mind, and sent him a direct message apologizing and explaining the reasoning behind the “liking” of our friendship. I said, “They do that to every single person I friend on here because they’re a couple of jokers!” HA! Ha. ha….. Cue: nervous laughter.
When he didn’t answer right away I thought… Oh crap, he really does think I’m a creep. He wants nothing to do with me. I’ll be forever known as the creepy seed sales girl.
Oh well, I never have to see him again…. But this will haunt me forever if he doesn’t respond. If he doesn’t respond I’ll always wonder why he friend requested me in the first place, only for it to blow up in my face a short 12 hours later… I’ll never forgive my guy friends for this. Never.
Three grueling hours went by and “DING” (of course I had my sound on that day) Messenger notification from Josh Sass. I sighed a HUGE breath of relief when he responded by saying, “You don’t need to apologize, my friends are the same way, maybe worse”. Phew, that was the relief I needed. I could finally breathe again.
He kept the conversation going by asking me more about myself. “You said you were from up by LaCrosse, do you come down this way a lot?” Wow! He’s direct, I thought. Already wondering if I’m a frequent flyer in his neck of the woods. But I liked his directness. It was a refreshing change from the juvenile conversations I had over Facebook messenger with prospective boys in the past.
We messaged back and forth about my job, our college careers, and our common hobby of hunting in that first conversation. My responses were really quick, almost creepy quick, whereas he took a couple of hours to respond between messages since he had a life ya know. Farming. Harvesting. Switching heads on the combine with his impossibly strong arms and calloused, greasy, hardworking, incredibly attractive strong hands.
After a few messages back and forth throughout that first day, steel blue’s directness came flying out again. This time in the form of 10 texted digits. “It was really good talking to you today and I’d much rather text than be on Facebook. Here’s my number, I’d love to talk to you more…” My stomach leaped up into my throat.
WOW. This guy is really interested in me, I thought. Usually, when messaging a guy on Facebook, there are several days or weeks of small talk before actual numbers are exchanged, if at all. He’s a cut and dry kind of guy. It was incredibly refreshing.
We continued texting on and off throughout the days. It was mostly small talk, nothing really serious, but I enjoyed our conversations. I found out he had two brothers, one older and one younger. He farmed with his older brother and their dad. His younger brother was still in college at Iowa State. I talked about my family too and it was all very surface level getting to know you type of conversation. But I looked forward to those conversations every day. They kept me going.
I was away at a conference in Minneapolis a week or two later and we were messaging back and forth about harvest. Steel-blue was having some trouble with his combine and I just so happened to be at a conference with a bunch of middle-aged dudes in agriculture who knew a thing or two about combines.
So, I asked some questions to troubleshoot what was happening with the combine. I’d relay the info to the older guys I was with, and then give steel-blue suggestions based on their recommendation… but I didn’t tell him it was the older men giving me the info… I pretended like I was the combine expert. Smugly, I made a joke about the problem being because he didn’t plant the corn I was selling. And that’s when it happened… he took the leap of faith to move our conversations out from behind the safety of our phone screens. He said, “can I make it up to you with dinner?”
Once again my stomach leaped into my throat. I wasn’t used to guys acting like this. Acting like they were really interested in seeing me and moving things forward… he wasn’t interested in small talk or playing around with texting all day. He wanted more.
All of a sudden our playful conversation turned into a direct question and it was no longer a game. The ball was in my court and I had a decision to make. My entire future flashed before my eyes. I thought about what would happen if I said, “yes”.
If I went to dinner, that would actually be a date. I had caught on by now that he wasn’t playing games and was interested in me. If I ended up enjoying our time together, it would only make moving home more difficult for me. My move was less than a month away, and even though I longed to see him in person again, to be pierced by those steel-blue eyes, I was afraid “dinner” would change the direction of the future of my dreams.
You know, a cabin in the hills of western Wisconsin on 40 acres, with a long driveway you couldn’t see the house from the road, and me with my bow in my hand sitting on my front porch, alone, with a bag of peanut M&M’s. My future dreams had nothing to do with the state of Illinois, and I knew if I said “yes” to dinner that would mean I might be giving him false hope. I knew enough about him to know he deserved better than that.
My future in Wisconsin couldn’t involve Josh. He wouldn’t leave his 5th generation crop farm with the most beautiful, large, flat fields to chase a girl with a bow and arrow to the hills of the driftless region where a large field is 10 acres. I just couldn’t picture it. And I definitely couldn’t picture myself living in Illinois, hundreds of miles away from the ones I loved. I was miserable living down here and longed to be home.
I wasn’t interested in a long-distance relationship. I had tried that before with a couple of different suitors and it didn’t work out. But it did cost me a lot of time, heartache, and several dollars in gas from Kwik Trip.
I thought if I said, “no” he wouldn’t want to text me anymore. I wasn’t ready to completely cut off conversations with him. He was a bright light in my days. It was like a tornado of emotions was going through my mind. I did the only thing I could think of and replied, “mmmmm… idk”.