My relationship with Chris didn't last very long, though. He transferred to another school, and he thought we just weren't going to be able to make it work. I was sad, but it made sense. Besides, I was very much a tomboy and the "going out" thing wasn't quite my forte. I did really like him though, and we were still friends for quite a long time.
It was years ago, the last time we saw each other. But he was still handsome and baby-faced, even though he was well over 6 feet and towered over me. I was married with a child, and his wife was expecting. Life had changed so much since we were young and innocent.
When I was in the 8th grade, I remember a guest speaker coming into one of my classes to speak. I was attending a little Christian school then, and the speaker was lecturing on "adult" type topics: dating, abstinence, self-control. I can't say that I remember most of what he spoke on. It wasn't my "scene", and I couldn't relate. But there was this one comment that I will ALWAYS remember. He mentioned that we should, "Start praying now for your future spouse."
I thought that was a novel idea. I had never really given it much thought before. I mean, goodness, I was only in the 8th grade! But his point made sense: It'll be important to you someday, and it's a big part of your life, so start praying about it now.
So I did. I prayed that God would give me a husband just like Christian. He just seemed to have everything that I figured I would want in a husband. I decided to break it down for God and make a list:
-Not too tall. Preferably short
-Athletic, preferably plays soccer (my favorite)
-Baby faced, like Christian was
I know this sounds funny, but I was serious. This was my list I gave to God. My "Christmas list" for a husband, if you will. Everything that I thought I would like in a guy, Chris had. So, I just ran down a list of his particulars. I guess I figured that if God could do it once, He could do it again.
And whenever it would cross my mind, I would remind God about my list. I probably did that for years.
Sometime during that 8th grade year, I met a girl named Jes. Jes was a year younger than me, but we hit it off really well, and the age difference just never seemed to be an issue (like it can be when you're that young). It's funny, now that I look back on it. Jes and I were very different people when we were younger. She was often shy and reserved; I was loud and boisterous. She was homeschooled; I wasn't. We didn't go to the same church, so we didn't see each other that much. Actually, I can't tell you why we ever got so close, but we did, and she's still one of my very best friends to this day.
Sometimes we would hang out at my house, and sometimes we stayed over at hers. I really liked going over to her place---there was always something going on there. She had 2 brothers and a sister, a dog and some cats (I loved animals, but we really couldn't have any at my house), and the kids next door from them were all but related to them, so they were over all the time too. Her house was a depot of activity, and me, being the people person that I am, loved the craziness of it all.
One of the first times I was over, she was introducing me to all these random people. Some of them I already knew, and some I didn't. But one person in particular I had never met before, and I guess I really didn't on that day either.....
He was half way under a dishwasher.
I mean half way---all you could see was the guy's legs. Jes introduced him as her older brother, and he stuck a hand out and waved. Maybe he said hello, but it was probably muffled. I mean, he was really under the thing. I didn't know a person could fit their head under a dishwasher like that. Nevermind half your body.
"So that's your older brother?"
"Yeah, he's 16."
16 was a whole TON older than 13. I just hoped he wasn't one of those irritating older brothers who was going to crash our slumber parties or pour milk in our Cokes. It wasn't until some time later that I actually got a look at the guy. He was skateboarding down the street. And he was terribly short. I could now understand the dishwasher thing.
When I went to high school the next year, Jes and I didn't see each other that much. We never stopped being friends, but life pulled us in different directions for a while. It wasn't until her parents started attending the church where we went, that I saw her more often. It was always good to be with her.
By this time, I was 16. A sophomore in high school. I was driving, and I had my own car. Even though I was still tomboyish at heart, a lot of that type awkwardness was gone. I was older, less geeky, a little more sophisticated. I actually cared about what I wore and how my hair looked. It wasn't top priority, but at least it was a priority. Big steps, for a girl like me.
I was starting to notice boys now too. Man, some of them were pretty cute. Feelings like that were a little strange to me, but not uncomfortable. Interesting. I hadn't had feelings like this since Christian. Yet, no one seemed to have his qualities. The things I liked about him. Oh well. I was only 16 anyway.
But then it happened.
I was in church one Sunday, sitting with my friends, when all of a sudden he walked in.
It was Christian.
But it wasn't Christian.
But he sure looked like Christian.
It was.........Jes' brother.
Chris. Home on a break from college.
The former skateboarding, squeezing under half the dishwasher, older brother that I could've cared less about.
He was........he was........
How did I not recognize a guy like that for the past three years I'd been around Jes?
He was "Christian", my prototype husband.
Every time I was around Chris, I was drawn to him. He always caught my attention. It was terribly uncanny, how much he looked like Christian. He was still short (my height, which is short for a man); his hair was cut in the "flat top" style that you see on military men. He was built like an athlete, and played like one too. And he didn't even look close to the 19 years he had under his belt.
As time went on, it become apparent that I wasn't the only one interested. So we started doing things together when we were out with friends. But we had never gone out to do something together alone. He called me one day to ask me if we could date, exclusively. I was so excited, but nervous as to what my father would say about dating a guy that was so much older than me. So I told him we would be considered "buds" (I know, cheesy), and yes, we could go out together sometime.
And the day came. It was a first date, of sorts, but being only 16, I was in new territory with the whole "dating" thing. I guess Chris picked up on this, so he decided that we would just go out and do something low key and fun:
He took me to a soccer field.
I knew he was the one.
3 years later, I married the man I prayed for. He ended up fulfilling every little childish requirement, and then some. I know some people say there's no such thing as "love at first sight", but I beg to differ. It may not have been love at first sight when we first "met" near that dishwasher, but it sure was when I was old enough to have sight for love.
This year will be our 10th anniversary, and I'm more in love now than ever.
Yet, I've learned more of what love is over this span of time. It's not quite what I thought it was when we started out. I guess most married couples get that eye opener after a little while. But for all the ho-hum times, stressful days, and meaningless irritations, I still can't wait to see him walk in the door at the end of the day. I still don't like sleeping alone. I feel weird when he hasn't had the chance to call from work. Something's not right if he's not nearby on his day off.
I can't imagine life without him.
And by the looks of us, you might not get that first impression. I'm a pretty independant person. I like to be with people, yet I have a self confidence that says "I can take care of myself." He, on the other hand, doesn't mind being by himself, doing something quietly while the world mad-dashes around him. He's also fairly independant. There are many times where it seems as though our worlds are connected, but spinning on their own axis, only touching once a rotation.
This is partly because of our situation in life. He has a job with crazy hours, and I have a house full of kids to attend to. We don't necessarily want it to be this way, but at this stage of the game, we have no choice. It's a part of life, and it's the way things are right now. These things are not the pretty side of marriage. They're not what you imagine when you dream about being together and raising a family. You never expect to be so tired at night that you really never talk. You don't forsee having no money and plenty of bills. You would never want to consider the possibility of having a child with a fatal illness.
But marriage is really like that. It's like a rock, out on the lawn. It's nice and warm on one side. Perhaps tinged with a color that shines in the sun. A nice place to sit and spend some time.
But on the other side, it's dark and cold. And there are grubs and slugs under there.
The cold, dark side isn't bad. It's just a side of the rock. It has it's purpose, and it's good points.
But it's not the side you think about when you consider that rock in the yard.
Sometimes you're on the warm, sunny side. And sometimes, you need to explore the dark, cold side.
That's just married life.
Today, I read a comment that a child made.
A five-year-old little boy was asked, "Why do people get married?"
To which he replied, "Cause they love each other. They can sleep together, kill slugs, and have fun."
I guess Chris and I have had to spend more time under the rock than we'd like to. But I'm so glad we're exploring it together. Dealing with all the un-wonderful things in life is so much easier when you're doing it with someone you love.
So, it's times like this, when the kids are in bed, and the stress of the day has stopped shouting, when I remember how much I love my husband. For all he does for this family. And for all the things he means to me.
I remember that I chose him. I remember love at first sight. I remember the butterflies he put in my stomach. And now that we've been married these 9+ years, I feel as though I can also say that
I love the man I kill slugs with.