April Fools 2013. I received a message on Facebook from a girl from my church. The message simply read:
"We should be friends."
It was a sentiment I agreed with, given that we mostly had the same group of friends. Along with a few other people, she came over on Sunday nights to watch Game of Thrones at my house - which was already a reason to like her. People who like that show don't mess around.
So, in my typical off-handed manner, I deflected with a question of my own:
"Like wear onesies to the park and people watch kind of friends?"
Have you ever people watched? It's fascinating. You make up little stories in your head for these people who are essentially cardboard cut-outs in the background of your life. A dropped briefcase, a rummaging through trash, a pause to tie a shoe. Combine that experience with the most comfortable piece of clothing ever and you're in for an activity that I would be perfectly happy doing with an acquaintance.
A ludicrous exchange ensued. I can't recall every silly sentence, but it was the first time I had a conversation with the girl who would eventually become my fiancee.
I'm no romantic, and the most boring thing I could possibly blog about is my life. I prefer to live quietly, tossing stones from a distance. I'm going to do away with all of that for the duration of this post, and smother you with so much sentimentality that you'll need to watch 300 after reading this.
It felt like things moved quickly after that first conversation, because they did. We agreed to hang out on a dreary Friday afternoon. I didn't know how to act or dress. I had planned a simple outing; we would go to the beach and then follow that up with coffee. A trip to the beach and coffee turned into dinner at a Thai restaurant. Dinner turned into a journey to the bookstore. The bookstore turned into a stop at a sketchy mini-mart, which turned into us going to my house. We proceeded to play "Two Truths and a Lie." Heard of it? Probably not, because it's most likely a game for middle schoolers.
But I'm good at it.
Before I knew it, eight hours had gone by since the time I had picked her up at her apartment. She took interest in my every word, asked all sorts of questions, pursued answers when I deflected, and generally shattered my perception of what would be a conventional evening of mild-mannered fun. Nevertheless, I found myself not wanting the night to end. Unfortunately, I was on a schedule. I had agreed to see a movie with some friends later on that night. I almost bailed out, but I stayed true to my word. She understood, and I reveled in the glory of Jurassic Park in 3-D.
A brief interjection. By the time this girl had entered my life, I had had zero success at dating in Seattle. I'll admit without shame that online dating led to ten or so dates that never really went anywhere. A short relationship here and there. At the beginning of 2013, I had resolved to find the girl I was meant to marry. If not, then I was going to start considering men.
Thankfully, we'll never know how that would have gone.
Follow all of that up with the fact that yes, most of my exes were in Texas (and my dealings with them had left many wounds that are still healing), and you are left with a frightened boy who has no small fear of commitment and an inability to love selflessly. I had become frighteningly good at recoiling from relationships. I had a tendency to manipulate. I never looked beyond what I wanted, ignoring the consequences that often swallowed the other person involved.
Looking back, I was not a very good person when it came to relationships.
I'll not say I'm any better these days, but this girl - she disarmed me. This girl, man. She made me want to take back all of the wounds I'd inflicted on others in the past several years. I was perplexed and slightly annoyed with how she wouldn't let me off easy - in anything. She wasn't a pushover. She was fiercely independent, made sure she was heard, dispelled my vague answers with more probing, made sure to let me know exactly how she felt when she felt a certain way, and didn't go along with all of my traditional thinking that came with my dating philosophies. She was exhausting.
But she laid claim to the ruin of my heart, and I found I could not - would not - push her away.
I must have really liked her, because it took me less than a week to kiss her. The story is a romantic one, and it involves me sitting in my car after dropping her off one night, reprimanding myself for not kissing her before she left - only to get out of the car, walk with resolve straight towards her, and before she could unlock the door to her complex - kiss her harder than I've ever kissed anyone before. But yeah, we'll share that story another time.
Before long, we were dating. And before long, we weren't dating. I was struggling with some questions in my past that I couldn't quite overcome, in addition to being terrified of entering a relationship with someone who I knew could level me if I allowed her to. I didn't allow her to. In fact, we started dating again and broke up a second time. If you're assuming that I was the one making these dumb decisions, you would be correct.
I didn't want to love. At least not in the way that real love worked - you know, the kind where you make sacrifices and invest in things that may or may not be there a few months down the road. I had become a skittish mess, eager to cut away things that could in turn cut me. But following the second break-up, or the second dumbest decision I've ever made, I could no longer put fear and selfishness in command of my heart. In fact, I wanted nothing more than to do away with the wounds that had been holding me down for years, even if it meant creating a few more in the process. And, by virtue of an arduous journey to a place where she felt like she could trust me again, my barriers were broken down, and I was able to truly love with the kind of love she had so willingly shown to me all along.
Soon enough, we were dating again. Then we were discussing marriage. Then she was sending me pictures of rings. I bought a ring, asked her parents for permission, had her meet my parents, and remained patient. Finally, I was kneeling on one knee in the snow on a cold February night, holding a ring up to someone who I could never look down on, asking them to willingly choose a life with me.
Spoiler alert: she said yes.
Of course, I've only talked about details that I feel (for the sake of this post) were worth mentioning, skimming over many wonderful and hurtful things. If it seems that I made this narrative overly fairy-tale like in its telling, don't worry - life's not like that - and life sucked for the both of us many, many, many times.
It's too easy to say she changed my world. She took what I knew to be a safe world and replaced it with a world where I could finally give all of my heart to someone else. She, this person whom God had in mind when He made me. I know this short post does absolutely nothing to describe how wonderful of a person she is, the adventures we've had, and the struggles we've endured. We're still working on that story. But I will say that if she can love me - a ceaseless whirlpool fraught with the shipwrecks of my victims - then anyone can be loved. Truly.
So Happy April Fools, you lot. The joke's on you, because I got her first. As for her, perhaps she'll make something out of this silly fool yet.
I love you, Blaire.