I’ve always been a road less traveled kind of girl. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me. I’ve been blessed with lots of opportunities. I’ve traveled some. I’ve been to the theatre, the opera, the symphony. I’ve also been to WWE, NBA games, and NFL games. I am a chameleon. I can blend in wherever I want, wherever I need to. And that one skill has helped me immensely.
Still, nothing in life prepared me for him. I wasn’t ready for some of his friends. (In my defense, not many people would be.) I wasn’t ready for his lifestyle. I wasn’t ready…for him.
The funny thing is, after a while, we met somewhere in the middle. He ventured outside of his comfort level, I straddled the line and we made a life that suited us. We entertained a lot. (That’s what happens when you have a man cave in a very friendly neighborhood.) We had our alone time. We had family time. And that was what was new and unusual for him. He wasn’t used to kids, even older, amazing kids like mine.
I’m a romantic…as if you couldn’t tell. Although I’m highly analytical, I’m highly susceptible to emotion. My heart often takes the lead. And him, for the most part, he backs away from his emotions and trusts his head. He, too, is a thinker…too often an over-thinker. I recognize this about him.
Our breaks, when they came, were a result of one conclusion on his part.
HIM: We’re never getting married.
me: I don’t care. I just want to be with you.
And I meant it, although I worried that because I loved him I’d never have a chance at a dream wedding or a happy marriage. I worried that being together would have to be enough. And sometimes it just wasn’t because while marriage is no guarantee, it does let the couple know that no matter what…at the end of the day…they love each other and want to be together. (I can hear you! I know not all marriages are like that. I know sometimes people simply feel stuck. Work with me!)
He tried to show me security by offering up living together. And it was amazing that he came to that conclusion. It was amazing that as territorial as he was, he wanted to share his home with me and the kids. It was amazing that he was willing to try. And we did try.
There were issues almost right from the start. For reasons I can’t explain, even though we are all as non-traditional as can be imagined, I thought that by living together we were going to morph into this 1950′s television version of the perfect family. I imagined him coming home and I’d have dinner ready and we’d all eat together. EVERY NIGHT. Only given his erratic and unpredictable schedule, that created tension. I’d be hungry, which is not a good look for me. And I’d be pacing and angry. I’d want to know what he wanted to eat. Too often he hadn’t had time to stop for lunch until late afternoon and wasn’t hungry when we were. And it made me stressed and tense and ugly. You know that saying…if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy? Too true.
So, there was that. And we never had fun together anymore because work lasted six days a week and he was exhausted. And I was spending too much time waiting on him to make plans, thereby frequently missing out on opportunities to do things with…anyone else. And though our strength was in communication, we hit an epic fail.
We both made mistakes. We talked about them over Christmas. We wanted to know if we could get past the hurts to build a future. And we hit the wall again. He couldn’t see us married. He wanted someone younger. He wanted someone he could start fresh with, not feel like he was coming in on the middle of her life. And how do you fight what you can’t change? Even if my real age quiz placed me way younger than him, and my birthday cake *gulp* told a little white lie, I would still wake up 8 1/2 years older every day. I had still robbed him of the firsts by marrying and having kids without him.
So, I decided to believe him. It used to be a cute little dance…his we’re never getting married dance…instead it seemed a reality. Self-preservation mode kicked in. I did the leaving so he couldn’t leave me again. I did the hurting so I couldn’t be hurt. And I tried to move on.
It was a good plan. My distraction was distracting me nicely. We were getting closer. He was devoted. He was caring. He was great. The new guy helped me recover…or so I thought. I was untouchable…or so I thought. We were over forever…I believed.
Then Laura called for me to pick up Girl Scout cookies. Then HE met me at the car. Then we spoke.
me: *sigh* Is there something you want to say to me?
HIM: I hate you.
me: *indulgent smile* No, you don’t.
HIM: Yes, I do. I hate you. And Bishop hates you.
I walked closer to him where he sat on the arm of the sofa in the garage. I know him. And I knew that if I was within arm’s reach, I’d be in his arms soon enough.
me: No, you don’t. You love me. And you’re hurt that I’m seeing someone.
He gathered me into his arms. He explained that he thought we were on a break, not that we had broken up. He explained that he had tried dating other girls, but I truly had ruined him for anyone else. He told me that all he ever does is think about me. And I know what he means because I do it, too. And he said so much more, so many amazing things. Most of it was said while he held me. He was doing that thing where he had to keep touching me because he was afraid of losing me once more. I pulled back slowly so that he would loosen his grip on me instead of hauling me back into his arms as he had done sooo many times before during this talk. He kept his hands on my waist.
me: I can’t break up with the new guy to date you. I can’t keep hurting people that don’t deserve it, only to have you hurt me, too. I can’t.
HIM: I don’t want to date you.
me: Then what are we talking about here?
HIM: I want to marry you, Nicki. I want to be with you forever. I love you.
And I just stared at him for a moment.
me: I love you, too, but I’m still old.
HIM: I’ll still love you when you are old and wrinkly. And that’s saying something coming from someone as superficial as me.
me: And you’ll have to love the kids, too.
HIM: I already do.
me: What are we doing?
HIM: Just go out with me tomorrow night.
And I did. Valentine’s Day spent with him two years in a row.
Come back tomorrow to read how first comes love…
And in the meantime…enjoy the song.
- know what you want