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surrender and the independent spirit…

Dave and I had a short courtship and a short engagement. I knew when I met him that I should marry him. It wasn’t that I was head over heels…I mean, I was, of course. It was that I knew this is the one I needed to marry. It was as if God spoke it in my ear. My response to God was a stop sign palm. I really did NOT want to get married. I was 25, just out of a long term relationship.  I had been engaged and living with someone, someone who turned abusive. I made this decision when I got on my own again and got settled that I loved my freedom. I loved my apartment. I loved my little blue car. I loved my cat…well, I liked my cat. I loved that I did not have to answer to anyone. I was not lonely, not looking for companionship, not looking for change.

I wanted to be exactly where I was right at that very moment.

And then I met Dave. I hired him for a shoot as a cameraman. It was my birthday, my golden birthday. I was 25 on the 25th of September. He showed up, flirted like crazy and convinced me to go out with him. I was so fiercely independent that I made him meet me (and a posse of my friends) at a bar near my house. The posse ended up leaving and we were left talking until the wee hours of the morning. I had walked to the bar, it was only 2 blocks. So at 2am in Chicago he offered me a ride home but I was not having it. I would walk. I was an independent woman after all, fully capable. And stupid, I admit.  That was stupidity, not confidence.

Luckily, I arrived home with no trouble.

For the next three months we dated steadily and had quite a few late night friendly debates about the things upon which we disagreed. Anyone who has argued with me will be either relieved or horrified to know that I was a stubborn and opinionated then as I am now. Sometimes, I admit, I argued for the sake of arguing. I kept looking for ways in which we were too different, too unalike to go forward.  I went so far as to suggest he date a friend of mine instead of me.

Then, it happened. Dave went on a trip to Mexico. I took him to the airport, it was December. He gave me his coat to keep for him til he got home because, well, it was Mexico, he wasn’t going to need it.

I sat on my couch every night in my little apartment wearing his coat, not because it was cold in my apartment or because I liked the coat. It was because I missed him. His coat SMELLED like him and I missed having him around. I felt completely idiotic. It was in this idiotic stupor that I realized not only did I need to lower my stop sign palm but that I really WANTED to let down that defense. I was ready. It was suprising.

So, short story erm…shorter…he proposed in January and we were married in May.  I think part of me wanted to get the wedding over with sooner rather than later because I was afraid I’d change my mind or that I would somehow poison the well and destroy the relationship. The whole thing is kind of a blur to be truthful.

Once married I kept up my independent antics that first year. Ok, fine, I keep them up even to this day. I still challenge and argue (lovingly, I hope) and stand my ground.  I hope I’ve become a better listener, learned some humility and realized more fully what it feels like to be loved in a truly committed relationship. So far, looking back I have not reached a place of ever wishing I had done anything else. I’m glad for this choice, thankful, outrageously grateful even in my most frustrated moments.  That’s pretty great, I think.

It’s strange now, thinking back to a few years ago when Orthodoxy first arrived on my radar, it was Dave who suggested it. My response was a firm “no.” I was not into that at all, not even interested in knowing more about it at that point.

He shifted his focus away then and onto more career or artistic pursuits but that discussion left a remnant in me. It was this discussion that led me to read more about the practice, to talk to those in the tradition, to listen better or longer than I normally might have. There was something mysterious and engaging to Orthodoxy. I guess I knew the moment we met that this was a tradition I would have to commit to, this was not a one night stand kind of relationship.

We could, of course, choose to merely be friends. This is possible. But as I sit here now, knowing what I know, wearing the deep scent of the time we have had together in this short time, I realize not only do I need to lower my stop sign palm but that I really WANT to let down that defense. I am ready. It is suprising.