In honor of my 30th birthday and in honor of the 9 year anniversary of him asking me to marry him I decided to steal this amazing Essay written by my amazing husband. Please enjoy as I do every time I read it.
“I never blog. I know some people find it cathartic, but I hardly ever feel the need to. When I write, I use paper. On the computer, I use 750words or simple text files. I keep e-mail documentation of my work so that I have a backup, and that’s most of the writing I do. Songs go on paper long before I type them.
So it’s strange for me to be writing a blog post. I almost made it to two years without updating this thing (last post was August of 2009). Why now?
Well, I started seeing someone.
It’s the most amazing thing. I had put everything into my last real relationship. I gave up friends for her, fought with family for her, and basically turned away anyone who didn’t care to help us make it. We needed all of the help we could get, and in the end, there just wasn’t enough going our way. And by that I mean I was such a miserable wreck that a 15 year-old kid was able to steal my girl.
I spent months hurting. I had been through breakups before, but this was entirely new. I bet everything on her, and I lost everything. I begged God to give her back. He said no. I pleaded for one more chance. He refused. I gave up on everything else because I had so little left to care about. I became a zombie. It took a lot of long nights and longer days alone for me to be okay, and even then I wasn’t okay.
Eventually I asked God why it had to be this way. I heard one of the truest and harshest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Very much like in the Inheritance Series (Eragon et al), they talk about how knowing one’s True Name in the language of power can be devastating, since it is the essence of who you are, God’s response to my frustration was clear, and it hurt, but it was truer than anything anyone could have said at that time: “you don’t deserve one of My daughters.”
I… I stopped the car in a nearby parking lot when I heard that. It was true. I had been reacting badly to the breakup, acting selfishly, trying to placate my fears and pains in unhealthy ways. I was a fool, and very much acting like it. And I was so angry about it that I went out that night and changed my attitude within the behavior I was displaying. I sat there and philosophized about why I was acting that way. Everything started to come into focus. Marriage is an investment, and I was not an earning asset for God, so to speak. I was a wasteful market. Talk about a sobering thought.
I started to change. I pulled some things together, stopped wallowing in pity, and decided to do my best to become the best man I could be. I felt like I had a decent start: I was generally intelligent, I was a jack-of-all-trades-though-master-of-none, I had a career started, even though it’s not the best paying gig in the world, and I rededicated myself to the service of the one true God. Now I just had to prove that I wasn’t messing around, and that I actually meant it.
I tried another relationship with a girl who felt something for me. We both knew that it wasn’t ideal, and there were a lot of things that didn’t line up between us, but it was good for both of us to not be alone. It ultimately fell apart due to the nature of my work, but she was a sweet girl and I wished her the best.
I don’t do well with being alone; this has been established over the last nine years. I’m the kind of person who wants a partner, someone to share experiences with, someone to talk to late at night, someone to muse over the mysteries of this vast universe and this infinitesimally small life with, someone to be good to, and hopefully someone who generally wants to be good to me. I will be selfish enough to admit that I want that comfort in my life.
Even after that relationship, I still knew that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wasn’t who I wanted to be. I still had work to do, and I finally settled into the idea of being alone. I hoped (and prayed, earnestly) that I would one day find someone who would see me for who and what I am… after I became a genuinely good man. I knew that I wasn’t there yet, so I let go of those dreams and became friends with loneliness. I don’t mean that in an overly Path-etic, emo, groveling sort of way. I just mean that I became acquainted with loneliness in a way that didn’t hurt so much. I want a Gibson Les Paul Custom, but I love the sound of my Epiphone Les Paul ’56 Goldtop remake. I want a semi-stable but committed relationship with a woman good enough to be my wife, but I came to appreciate the silence, solitude, and dull ache of singularity.
I spent about two months that way. I still tried to shut out some of the most negative feelings. I mean, I was engaged, and we were supposed to wed last summer. I should not have been falling asleep and waking up alone by this point. There was supposed to be someone else to share my life with. My bed is a lonely place (because of a lack of companionship, not a lack of sexuality, so don’t let your mind go there), so I started to fall asleep reading epics or detailed mangas, really anything to tire my eyes out until I couldn’t read anymore. When I woke, I would continue wherever I left off so that my mind could fully grasp the content of that part of the story, making up for any details my sleepiness had blurred.
I studied a lot. I spent a lot of time thinking. I wrote some angry journal entries, but I always ran out of steam halfway through and ended up with a sad wistfulness. I realized that all anger stems from either fear or hurt. Now, when I feel angry, I’m more able to think about why I feel that way, and see if there’s a way to deal with the source of my hurt or fear. It was a very Zen period, really.
For the next part of the story, I think I should explain something about myself: I am a very open person. I don’t really hide my emotions unless there is a good reason, like a violation of my personal ethical code. Whether they are good or bad, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve because I think honesty is a very good policy. Jeremy and Lydia, for this reason, often think that I am flirting with girls. Now, this either means that I have so much game that my off-game is better than most people’s on-game (a distinct possibility), or that I care for people in general and am genuinely interested in meeting them (the stronger likelihood, though only by a slim margin; I do have an incredible amount of game).
It was in the Zen period of being at peace with loneliness and enjoying who I was while trying to become better that our ministry took a trip to Florida for Easter Sunday. Jeremy was commissioned to paint for an Easter weekend performance. It was a beautiful weekend, and I would love to say more about the fantastic church and the wonderful people there, but I must save that for another day. Our band, The Amorous, was supposed to perform in Cincinatti for Easter, but the church where we were booked was broken into and most of their equipment was stolen a few days before the event. This freed Lydia and I to travel to Florida, which was a total sacrifice for us, but sometimes the ministry calls you to do uncomfortable things. (That last line employs a literary device called “sarcasm,” and you should acquaint yourself with it if you intend to read much of what I write.)
The church offered us an extra night in our hotel so that we could rest a bit after the services. They were extremely generous, and we were very grateful for the opportunity to relax after the joyful stresses of driving seventeen hours south for a service. We spent the Monday after Easter at St. Augustine, enjoying the morning and early afternoon on the beachfront and the evening in historic downtown amongst the shops. We even walked the circumference of the old fort there and took touristy pictures. Jeremy and I both bought a pair of Thai fisherman’s pants, which are the most comfortable things in the world and I now wear them multiple times weekly.
Driving home that night, I got a call from my close friend, Charles. He asked me to be the godfather of his forthcoming child. After a premature ventricular contraction (my heart skipped a beat), I accepted. It was a wonderful conversation and I felt honored beyond my station. In fact, it was while I was thinking that I felt honored beyond my station that I heard God whisper, “you’re a good man. You deserve this.”
Five hours later, I was hallucinating imaginary deer, hitchhikers, and taillights, so I found a rest area and asked Jeremy to drive for a while. This is a common occurrence for us. He woke up and took over, so I curled up in the backseat and promptly passed out. It wasn’t long until he felt that he couldn’t keep awake either, so we decided to grab a cheap hotel for the night. I will refrain from lengthening the story, but an entertaining summary of our hotel experience can be found here.
We woke, gathered our things, and took off. A few hours north, Lydia wanted to be able to just get out of the car for a while, so she asked Jeremy if we could stop at an upcoming Cracker Barrel. Honestly, I didn’t want to. I wanted to get home as soon as possible, and that meant not stopping for an hour to eat. But Jeremy acquiesced, so off to Cracker Barrel we went.
Our server was cute. She didn’t have a southern accent, which surprised and impressed me marginally, and she seemed very kind. It was an average Cracker Barrel experience until I asked for a refill on coffee. She smiled, and my neurons fired at incredible and unprecedented speeds, causing the world to pause for just a fraction of a second, and she said “sure,” and walked back to the kitchen. I couldn’t help but smile. She caught my attention like hardly anyone ever does. I wasn’t ready to say she was special based on a flashing smile, but she was definitely different than most of the girls I’ve met on the road, and this wasn’t even at a concert or service. She knew nothing about my job, nothing about my religion, and absolutely nothing about me. It was I who knew one thing about her: I wanted to see her smile again.
The coffee came, and before long, the biscuits followed. I moved things around in the little bowl of jellies and jams that Cracker Barrel puts on every table, but our bowl didn’t have what I was searching for. When she came back, I asked her, “do you have any honey?” She smiled again, and my brain did its same trick, this time pausing for two fractions of a second because I knew what I was looking for and wasn’t surprised by its presence. “Sure thing, let me get that for you,” she said, and smiled again, this time my brain solidifying all of the observations I had made.
With that third smile, I was hooked. I knew she was gorgeous, and overly kind. And I had picked up on one other thing that I instantly decided was crucial: she smiled when I asked her to bring something. I knew that this wasn’t a crazy masochistic tendency; being a server is hard work, and no one truly enjoys being troubled for menial tasks. She wasn’t faking, either. Her smile reached her eyes, and I realized that both were a reflection of her heart. She has a servant’s heart. At this, my heart tried to act like my brain and speed up, but it’s not as practiced at the sport, so it faltered a bit at the start and eventually pulled itself together and acted right. And by “acted right” I mean “started racing.”
At that point, Lydia scoffed at me and playfully chided me for being a flirt. I defended myself, naturally. I knew that I was not actively flirting. In hindsight, I realize that everything I’d done was reactionary. I wasn’t the stimulus, I was the response. She wasn’t resonating with me. I was resonating with her, drawn into tune with her frequency of peace and joyfulness.
I am a slightly spiteful creature, though, and at the accusation of flirting, I decided to stretch and flex my game muscles. You see, when I flirt, I don’t do things unintentionally. I calculate moves and words very quickly based on a variety of things I’ve read, seen, heard, and experienced. I am good at what I do, and I do a lot of things. If I am going to flirt, I am going to be darn good at it.
So, while denying that I was flirting, I decided to flirt. I should ease into it, I thought, so when she finally came back (which felt like forever, now that I was pointedly waiting for her), I asked for one more refill before we headed home. I was asking her for something, this time intentionally, and true to my observation, she smiled. Yes, I thought, I am good at this. When she brought the check, I mentioned “the drive home,” hoping to make small talk. She asked, so I told her we were headed back to West Virginia, and we chatted very briefly. This laid down the honest admission that I live far away, so a relationship probably isn’t feasible. It was the “bait” half of the “bait and switch” maneuver. If she were interested in me at all, then telling her how far away I live is a let-down, and it was entirely intentional.
She went to another table, Jeremy and Lydia headed out to the front to pay our check, and I dallied around. She asked if there was anything else she could do. Perfect. After bait comes switch. “Well, if I were local, I’d ask for your number.” She smiled and blushed. Perfect. And then, unexpectedly, she said something even more perfect, which defies the definition of perfection. “Aww, thanks, you too!”
“Oh, really?” I grinned.
“Yeah,” she grinned.
And then I turned and walked out the door.
I came out of the restaurant grinning like a fool. I told Jeremy about it, and he said “dude, give her your card.” I chuckled and said “don’t tempt me. I will.” He said “give me your card, I forgot to tip her.” So I pulled out one of my business cards and gave it to him. He jogged inside. When he came back, he said that she was on break, so he gave it to the younger girl behind the counter and asked her to make sure both the tip and the card went to our server.
I found someone that I wanted to flirt with. It made me sad that it was over so soon.
You see, sometimes you can do everything right and absolutely nothing will come out of it. Sometimes you can generate a huge amount of romantic interest, but nothing surmounts the reality of particularly large obstacles, such as long distance, or a gap in maturity levels, or the Spanish Inquisition (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition). That is exactly what I expected. My Cracker Barrel server, Abbey, was fantastic in every way I could tell in such a short meeting, and I wanted to get to know her more, so I was glad to prove to myself that I am able to flirt when I want to, even though I doubt she’ll ever want to talk to me again.
The worst she can do is say no. Anything above no is good news.
I got home and popped in a DVD of an anime series I’d started before we left. I got a couple of episodes in and realized that I hadn’t posted on Facebook that I was home. A trivial thing, but still part of my ritual. No one ever comments that I’m home, but I still feel like I should put it there because someday somebody will. I pulled up Facebook and checked my notifications. One new message.
“Hey, remember me from Cracker Barrel?”
Premature ventricular contraction.”