After class a few weeks later I met Ian in the Student Center to hang out.
“So, tonight at the CSF meeting they’re going to ask who wants to be considered for leadership next year,” said Ian. He pushed back his demolished plate of nachos and rocked back in his chair.
I looked up from People magazine. “I bet Lacey can’t wait.”
“Where is your roommate anyway?”
“I thought I saw her across the room with Rob a few minutes ago. Maybe they left already.”
The ground floor of the student center buzzed with people. Everyone seemed to be bubbling over with the energy of the spring day. Many wore shorts and sandals, though my California blood wasn’t quite ready for that. Still, sixty degrees felt positively balmy after the deep chill of winter.
Ian wiped a smear of cheese with his stubby finger and licked it off. “What’s with you two recently? You used to be like peas and carrots.”
“Nothing’s changed. I mean, we’re still friends and all. It’s just that—she has Rob now, and I kind of get the sense that he doesn’t like me very much.”
“Who wouldn’t like you?” Ian said.
I blushed, wondering anew if Ian could ever think of me as more than a friend.
He continued. “I’m sure that’s just your imagination. Once she and Rob get past the honeymoon phase, you and Lacey will be Gigi and L.Jo again, just like before.”
“You’re probably right.”
“How about you?” he said with a knowing smile. “Interested in anyone?”
“Oh, not really,” I said, trying to suppress my own smile. My interest in him was supposed to be gone. I’d just gotten to the point of feeling like I could act normal around him. We were back to being buddies. At least, until a conversation like this stirred things up in my heart.
“Not really, huh?” He arched half of his unibrow at me. “Didn’t I see you walking down to the pizza shop with Elk River baseball’s power hitter the past few Friday nights? What was that about?”
“And what were you doing out so late? Anyway, if you already knew, why’d you ask?”
Ian’s wide grin revealed a mouthful of crooked, yellowing teeth. “Just to torture you a little. I was on my way back from my house church when I spotted you together. Brad seems cool. Isn’t he a Kappa Sig?”
“Something like that,” I said quickly, eager to change the subject. “So I guess you’ll be signing that clipboard when it comes around, right?”
“I’m definitely going to put my name up for consideration. Aren’t you?”
“I’m not sure it’s my thing. It seems like so much responsibility. It’s almost presumptuous to think I know enough about God to lead anyone else.”
Ian wasn’t going to let the matter drop. “I really think you should consider it, Gigi. Leaders should be someone active and growing in their faith, and I really have seen you grow a lot since we’ve met.”
“Last time I checked I was still five foot three.”
“Maybe I meant horizontal growth.” He puffed up his already plump cheeks like a fish.
“Hey!” I rolled up the magazine and playfully smacked his arm with it. “That’s just rude.”
“Serves you right for playing dumb.” Ian chuckled. “You know what I meant. Spiritual growth. God-sized changes.”
“Like what?” I couldn’t resist the chance to fish for a compliment.
“Quit being so modest. I bet you can think of at least one way you’ve grown since we’ve met.”
“Now that you mention it, putting up with you has certainly taught me patience.”
He gave an exaggerated nod. “Well, there you go.”
We laughed together.
“Seriously, Gigi, you should do it. After the way you dealt with being sick last semester, people in CSF look up to you. All you have to do is write your name on the clipboard when they pass it around. What’s the harm in that?”
“It seems awfully presumptuous. Like I’m saying I’m better—”
“Better than everyone else? Do you really think the Shepherd team is like that?”
“No, no, you misunderstood me. I know all the leaders are really great people, just like you and Lacey. You guys inspire me. You deserve to be leaders. In fact, you already are leaders, even without the Shepherd title. But the way I see it, you’re all at a different level than me. I feel like if I put my name down, then I’d be pretending to be closer to God than I really am. And if people look up to me like you say for whatever reason, then maybe the leaders would make the huge mistake of actually picking me. What would I do then?”
“Give them a little credit. The whole selection process is done by the Book. The Shepherd team prayerfully considers each nominee and they won’t pick anyone unless God confirms it. See? By putting your name down, you aren’t doing anything wrong or pretending to be anything. You’re just telling the Man Upstairs that you’ll let Him make the final call. Don’t you trust Him?”
“Of course I trust God.” I said firmly. Maybe that was what kept Ian from seeing me as more than a friend. Maybe if I were more godly, more spiritual, I’d be the kind of woman he—or someone like him—would want.
That night at Bible study, I sat on a sofa, sandwiched between Ian and Lacey. Though Lacey spent so much time whispering and giggling with Rob that we might as well have not been there.
For most of the year I thought I was lucky to have a roommate I could get along with and even be friends with, but this semester things had changed. Lacey seemed annoyed by me, especially when Rob was around. No, that’s not fair, I scolded myself. Some of the blame was on my side.
I felt guilty about lashing out at her after Oma’s death, but didn’t know how to make it right. I’d also been more than a little distracted by my own burgeoning romance. Since Brad didn’t really care for the CSF crowd, and I had so far avoided getting involved in the frat party scene he normally frequented, we kind of kept to ourselves. There was a part of me that kind of liked it that way – just the two of us in our own little world.
When the clipboard for leadership nominations reached our side of the room, Lacey signed her name and handed it behind my head to Ian. “Here, Ian. I know Gigi’s not interested in leadership, so you might as well take this next.”
Ian held the clipboard over my lap and looked at me quizzically. “Actually, I thought she was signing up… aren’t you?”
Lacey raised an eyebrow. “She is?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Ian retorted.
“Oh, nothing. Just surprises me is all.”
I thought I saw Lacey roll her eyes at Rob, but shrugged it off as my imagination.
After glancing from my roommate’s skeptical expression to Ian’s expectant face, I took the clipboard. “Yes, Ian’s right. I feel led to do it,” I said, wishing I felt as certain as I sounded.