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The Crush Part I – a story of Estonia and love

October 16, 2010
by budgettravelsac

Tartu, Estonia

Many years ago, Estonia opened the door to my passion for travel. It was a whirlwind of excitement as I took my first international flight to a country, culture, and language I never even knew existed just a few months before.

The year was 1995 and I was a wide-eyed, naive college kid on his way to Estonia with a group of college kids to help out a missionary overseas. Looking back, a lesson I learned on that trip remains true to this day. When I reach out to help others, I am the one who is changed the most.

The same could be said of my trip to Estonia – both times. It wasn’t just the culture, people, and the adventure and adrenaline of travel. As a naive college kid, I connected with people I never thought possible.  Just a year after that second trip to Estonia, this happened – The Crush.

The Crush – Part I

So here I was back in Estonia for the first time in over a year.  All of my friends were going to be there – Ilmar, Maria, Meelika, Dema, Helena, and yes – Lisa.  Lisa was a beautiful girl with a sharp tongue and a sarcastic sense of humor.  She was fun to talk to as well as look at – when you could actually keep her attention.

Despite her personality, I couldn’t help but have a crush on this beautiful twenty-year old Estonian princess.  As I arrived at my friend Pete’s, I reunited with some of these old friends as we greeted in each other, chatted, and caught up on the time we had missed.  Dema, the 18 year-old who knows five languages, is at college now.  Ilmar is studying at seminary and recovering from the loss of his dad to cancer.  Meelika is studying at Tartu University and Maria is on staff working with Eric.

Lisa?  Oh, well she hadn’t gotten there yet.  She was busy with something for her band, Greenleaf.  Greenleaf is an Estonian band made up of college students with a keyboardist, guitarists, bakup singers, and of course, Lisa as the lead singer.

The first time I heard that sweet, soft voice it was like an angel from heaven.  I fell in love with the voice then and the woman behind the voice later.  The whole time I am talking with everyone, I can’t help but think about seeing Lisa again and how she is going to react to seeing me.  The more I anticipate our reuniting, the more nervous I continue to get.

While catching up with Ilmar, I see her walk in.  My conversation with Ilmar continues even though I have no clue what I am saying.  My conversation is with Ilmar but my eyes focus on the beauty of Lisa.  She hadn’t changed much from what I could see.  She was as beautiful as ever.

As she made her way in, she greeted everyone but didn’t even seem to notice I was there.  Yes, she definitely hadn’t changed much.  That was nothing new for Lisa because even when I talked, her attention always seemed to be elsewhere.  With each step towards me, my anxiety builds and my hands begin to sweat.  What would she say?  Did she even know about how I felt towards her?  What if I just told her?  Would she make some sarcastic comment and just crush me?  My thoughts are racing.

“Hey Lisa, remember me?”

The response that I got was nothing like I ever expected.  Lisa always seemed to respond to me with that “yeah, ok, whatever” attitude whether I just spoke to her five minutes ago or a year ago.  But this time, she threw her arms around me and hugged me as a completely unexpected joy and excitement filled her beautiful face.  She seemed really happy that I was there.  To me, this wasn’t the short, fiery, blond-haired, green-eyed girl I had known on my last two visits here.

“Jeremy, it is so good to see you.  I have really missed you and I would love to spend some time together catching up.  I am so excited to see you and glad you are finally here!  I don’t know what to say!”

Neither did I.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but it was definitely a nice surprise.  In the back of my mind, I was a little suspicious and wondered if after I got settled, her attitude would go back to the way it used to be.  In a strange way, I do like the sarcastic and unable-to-talk-to Lisa because she presented a challenge to getting to know her.  Now, here was the opportunity and it didn’t seem real.  I don’t know if I like it.  Maybe I am just not used to it.  But I still can’t dismiss her beauty and the crush I have had on her.  I only wondered if I had the courage to tell her.  However, fear tends to hinder my words and keep me from expressing my feelings.  I knew if I told her, the old Lisa would come back, throw out some sarcastic comment, and all would be back to normal.

“I’ve got some free time before I have to go study so do you want to go lunch or something?”

“Sure,” I said.  I was still in a state of shock, emotions of love, nervousness, and excitement swirling around inside.

Finding a place to eat in Tartu is not hard.  It is not a big city but it sure is a beautiful one.  It is a college town with cobblestone streets, huge, beautiful parks with trees and flowers, old Russian architecture, shops and restaurants, and evidence of a country that has a rich and deep history.  The people of this town and country are fascinating as well.  The country is not that big.  There are only a little over one million people composed mostly of Estonians with a good number of Russians left over from the collapse of the Soviet Union. The weather here in the summer is beautiful with warm temperatures and sunshine late into the evenings.

As we headed to lunch, all the wonderful things about this country and my memories from being here come flooding back.  No wonder I couldn’t wait to get back here, especially to see my friends and Lisa.

(To be continued….)

Check out how Estonia impacted me and listen to me share my story on the Rick Steves radio show about Estonia.

Tartu, Estonia photo (jarsjo)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Paolo permalink
    October 16, 2010 11:11 am

    My story is quite similiar. I falled in love 5 years ago with Külli, a beautiful estonian girl… Now we are married, 2 children… waiting for the third one.

    • October 17, 2010 12:36 am

      I have to admit that Estonian women are very beautiful! :)

  2. October 16, 2010 4:30 pm

    When a woman ignores you, she really is interested in you.
    On the other hand….

    Nice story.When’s the next instalment?

    • October 17, 2010 12:37 am

      Next installment will be next week. There are 6 parts in total.

  3. October 16, 2010 4:53 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit Estonia…intriguing story – will look out for part two =)
    My husband and I met while travelling…we’re married now, of course. It’s so romantic finding a person that you connect with when you’re far from home. Makes you think the stars aligned for you to find each other (or something like that :P )

    • October 17, 2010 12:38 am

      That’s a great way to meet! Stay tuned for part 2 next week!

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