Time in Willow Creek: 11 months, 4 weeks, 2 days
“So, let me get this straight. You think Kevin is gorgeous, funny, kind, supportive, smart, patient, listens well, and smells nice, you like him, but you’re just friends?”
“How in the world does that even work?”
Their friendship was a huge mystery to her. It didn’t seem possible for two people who are clearly into each other to not be into each other. In theory, she thought the idea sounded nice but would never be able to maintain her sanity in that situation. Juliana had told her of their platonic friendship many times, but it simply did not compute. In light of the conversation she and Kevin had on their date, Juliana decided to set the record straight once and for all and lay out the cards as best as she could. “Kevin like being friends with me. And I…” She thought of how to word her thoughts. If Hillary didn’t understand by now, she would never get it. Juliana simply didn’t have the words she needed and took another approach. The words to express the core of her feelings were very simple. She used them and hoped for the best. “I am not ready for marriage.”
Hillary looked askance. “Marriage? What does marriage have to do with this?”
Juliana sighed and took it slow. “When you…how to say…when you, ehhh, are of age?” Hillary nodded. “When you are of age, and you find a man you can love, you get married, no?”
Hillary didn’t mean to, but laughter erupted from her lips. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry. I promise I’m not laughing at you. I promise!” She calmed herself. “It don’t work that way here! At least not anymore. Back in my mama’s day, yeah, but…” She suddenly realized what Juliana meant. A light bulb went off, and she thought she would fix her problem and save their relationship from whatever doom she thought they were headed toward. “Juliana! You don’t have to marry Kevin right away! As a matter of fact, you don’t have to marry him at all if you don’t want to.”
This concept was puzzling to Juliana but slightly intriguing too.
“Look…if you want to be with Kevin, do it! If you don’t want to get married, don’t! There’s nothing wrong with dating for a long time if you need to figure things out. You’re young! You don’t need to be focusing on marriage right now. Just…have fun! Maybe even date other people if you’re not sure about Kevin. It’s ok! But whatever you do, do something! You’re so lucky and you don’t even know it. It’s so rare to find a man who will move Heaven and earth for you the way he does. He seriously loves you. I don’t care what y’all call whatever it is you’re doing! Kevin loves you!”
Juliana hung her head. “No. He say we are friends. No more.” She tried to sound convincing more for herself. Between the things she noticed herself and Hillary’s unwavering conviction, it was hard to continue believing he only saw her as a friend. However, she maintained the commitment they made: no more allowing others to influence how they feel about each other. She put it out of her mind, but it was hard.
“Well y’all need to figure it out! If you can’t recognize what you have, someone else will, and she’ll be a lot more convincing than you.”