Tag: Love

24Sep

Love’s Interest

I encountered my first personal miracle on a crystalline December afternoon nearly five years ago. It snuck like whispered lightning into the suitcase-sized booth at Coney Island Hot Dogs where I was sitting with my boyfriend of one month, our knees kissing quietly under the table. We had reached the silent place in conversations where eyes start filling in the unsaid words, and I was thinking despite my best intentions…

Dating was not new territory for me, even though only one of my previous boyfriends could stomach the meager commitment of being called such, and then I was the one saying, “Oh, let’s not use labels.” In fact, the dating mantra was simple: Girlfriends are to be touched and not heard. I eventually clued into the fact that the guys in my life so far had been… well, something impolite to say (hint: starts with “jack” and ends with “asses”), and decided to become a nun.

Then I met Dan. Technically, we met the first day of Stupid English when he started whispering to me without realizing I was the tutor… and I oh-so-graciously shushed him. But I blocked don’t remember that particular incident. I do remember him coming over to see my roommate, me telling him she wasn’t in, and us suddenly realizing we had been talking for three hours. And then realizing we still had more to say.

I suppose that a relationship between two people who are preemptively opposed to the idea can only start as a series of small accidents, like falling deep into a conversation without realizing how. Like ending up on a movie date after all your other friends back out. Like listening to your own thoughts grown from a different soul. Oh, we convinced ourselves that we weren’t attracted, that our conversations were like Scotch tape that could be pulled off in an instant. Even after the awkwardness of knowing set in, we played it off as the stress of school.

After our third date (thought I was kidding about the denial factor?) and two solid hours of whispering, Dan finally admitted–as much to himself as to me–that he was falling for me. You would think after three dates, I would have come to the same conclusion, but my ego was clinging tenaciously to the idea that I. did. not. like. him. Even though it was already 3 a.m., I stayed up with my journal, trying to untangle a barrage of sticky emotions from the crevices in my brain. However, all I could come up with were two words: “It’s him.” I wrote them on a sticky-note and then threw the sticky-note away.

A week later, after I decided from a purely-intellectual standpoint to “officialize” our relationship, I very intellectually started freaking out. Nothing in my entire life has ever scared me as profoundly as holding Dan’s hand for the first time. I still don’t know why. After all, I adored our times together–how he challenged me, how he encouraged me, how he made me laugh. He emanated the kind of unassuming strength that I could lay the fragile bits of my heart open on. Plus, he had the cutest butt I’d ever ogled seen.

I guess I fell squarely within the cliché of women scared senseless by the prospect of true love. I wanted to keep emotion out of the picture. I wanted the safety of distance. I wanted desperately to break up before our hearts had a chance to intertwine. I knew I was hinging each day on irrationality, and I’m sure that Dan knew it too, but his endless patience provided just enough of a tether to keep my irrational, confused, terrified heart from tearing away.

So, despite my efforts to remain unattached, I wound up in a tiny Maryland town for Christmas break, meeting The Parents, putting up Christmas decorations, and walking through the snow with my fingers contentedly tangled in Dan’s. And, of course, sitting in a tiny restaurant booth trying to process the short history of our relationship. I looked up from my thoughts, straight into Dan’s smiling eyes…

…and in that instant, I fell in love.

Old Couply Pictures

One month later, I was dizzy from the sparkling significance of a new diamond ring. Six months after that, I was falling asleep curled in my new husband’s arms. And 4-1/2 years after that, I’m missing him ridiculously after only a few days apart. Of course we don’t always feel romantic–sometimes, we don’t even feel much like friends–and it’s easy to let familiarity dull our appreciation for each other. But love has a knack for expanding the treasures of memory, like money temporarily forgotten in a bank, and every time I revisit them, I realize I am richer than I ever thought.

23Aug

Husbands Are Nice To Have

Snapshots Of A Husband After Four Years, One Month, And Eighteen Days Of Marriage

He makes me fabulous cappuccinos almost every day and sits down to enjoy each soul-warming sip with me. Looking back at my distress when we started dating and I discovered he did NOT LIKE COFFEE, I’m rather glad I married him anyway. ::Wink::

He can figure out in 2.5 seconds why I’m grumpy (the reason usually boils down to lack of food, lack of sleep, or lack of creative outlet) and prescribe a cure, all the while patiently disregarding my rampant snarliness. (And believe me, I can get ferocious when hungry…)

He draws pictures on my stomach of the baby (in a dress, of course, to distinguish that she’s a girl) saying “I LOVE MOMMY!”

Even after lying down for a nap, he somehow senses when I’m crying in the bathroom because I feel like a terrible mother. Within a few minutes, he can find my sense of value and my smile and gently put them back in place.

Just before we fall asleep at night, he smiles at me the same way he did when the church doors opened and I floated down the aisle in a shimmering white dress to promise the rest of my life to him.

He was more than worth that promise.

1Jul

Donald Miller is the New Ex-Lax

So the title of this blog may contain coffee and clarity, but I’m enjoying neither at this moment. *Sigh* The problem is religion. (The problem with clarity, that is. The coffee problem is more likely caused by the desperate shortage of Starbucks nearby.)

Still reading?

Thanks.

It’s not just our current church, though the Presbyterians are [much] more liturgical than I prefer and find an enormous amount of foreshadowing in the Bible that I suspect may not actually exist. (“And we can clearly see that the hundred raisin cakes mentioned in 2 Samuel 16 foreshadow the glorious ascension of Christ.”) I’ve felt the same sense of utter deflation in nearly every other church service I’ve ever attended.

Admittedly, I’m still viewing Christianity through the sticky residue of a childhood in which every heartbreaking moment was called good and attributed to God. Perhaps that’s really the only problem. All I know is that I often leave sermons affected more by the absurdity of straight-backed pews, unspoken dress codes, and the word “partake” than by any relevant message.

I know that churches are really just groups of imperfect people who want to love God together. I know that many of these imperfect people radiate a rare kind of joy and genuinely care for each other. I know that church services are often built on decades, if not centuries, of tradition that has proven meaningful to many. I know that most pastors speak from a genuine desire to impart God’s relevance to their congregations’ lives. I know.

Yet when I sit in church, I find Prohibition-era morality presented as Biblical doctrine. (According to American theologians, Biblical accounts of wine refer to grape juice, and the term “drunk” actually meant “not drunk.” Just wait till Europe finds out!) I find self-deprecation taught as spirituality. I find petty issues like the sin of envy given more stage time than pressing questions about God’s identity and the point of Christianity in daily life. I find conditional acceptance based far more on personal appearance than on heart quality. I find long, lofty prayers full of words that no one but reverends and King James himself would ever use.

I don’t see curious neighbors, friends, or previously “unchurched” visitors. I don’t find church members talking about their personal troubles or concerns — especially not spiritual concerns. I rarely find a view of God that makes me want to spend eternity with him. He is the God who commanded puffed-sleeve dresses in the ’90s, after all. (Just kidding. Put down the pitchforks.)

I have no solution, but I feel more hopeful every minute I spend with people who can manage to love God while drinking beer and using language their grandmothers wouldn’t. (Just for the record, damn damn damn damn damn.) My general feeling of religious constipation lets up when I read Brian McLaren, Philip Yancey, and Donald Miller. My fingers are crossed for the “emerging church,” and I pray I can one day find my place in a group of people who are ready to rediscover God outside the box of American Protestantism.

Until then…?

30Jun

High School Daydreams

Ever since high school, Dave Matthews Band has made me think of about a guy I once shared brainwaves and heart-rhythms with. When I was 15, my thoughts were dreamy and slightly intoxicated with the hope of intertwining lives. My junior year of college, my thoughts were reeling from the Other Girl, the beauty pageant winner who voided every effortless laugh I had shared with him.

We never dated, but he inspired me to write and to live music and to run in the rain. Friends thought I would never need another muse. Friends thought I got engaged on the rebound from a relational paradise lost.

But the truth is that my muse was never mine–a fact I didn’t fully accept until he chose blonde hair over red. Once sober, I realized some other facts too: that his passion for life did not connect to a solid purpose, that our similarities of thought and personality would have driven us into a hole of brilliant moodiness.

I am earnestly grateful that I ended up recognizing a blurry-eyed obsession for what it was and saying “yes” to the right man. Dan’s soul provides the solidarity I’ve always needed, and our purposes for life blend together flawlessly. He keeps me laughing, but even more, he provides the optimism to balance out what I glumly call “realism.” Our eyes sparkle simultaneously when we talk about traveling, when we walk into a concert, when we snuggle together in restaurant booths.

One year ago, for our anniversary, Dan took me to a Dave Matthews show under the Pennsylvania stars. I stood barefoot in the grass, pressed up against my husband of three years, and never once thought about the boy that got away. I was supremely happy to be with the man who loves the red glints in my hair and encourages me relentlessly to be the Me I want most to be.

Now, with our second daughter on the way and an impending move to Italy to chase our dreams, I know more deeply than ever that I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my husband. You could probably call that a high school daydream all grown up.

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