Sunday, October 12, 2008

Love Story, Part Three

Part the First
Part the Second

So after that interesting phone call...

We met at the Stupe later that night, had an ice cream cone, went for a walk. I found him intelligent and interesting to talk to, but I was playing it cool--remember I was not wanting to jump into another serious relationship. He, on the other hand, was more intrigued by me than he had been by many a girl at Wheaton--because I didn't agree with him!

I barely remember this, but on that first date, he recalls making a negative statement about the college community--and he says I flatly disagreed, saying I didn't think everyone there was like that. He loved it that I didn't just go along with him, as he thought so many other girls would have. (Now, of course, I occasionally have to remind him that he once fell in love with me because I disagreed with him; why isn't that trait as charming now as it was on our first date??)

So he kept calling. One of our first dates was to a Phil Keaggy concert on campus. It was magical, mostly for that incredible guitar, but also because of the way I felt myself being drawn inexorably into a romance I wasn't ready for. On another one of our early dates, I walked with him to his off-campus house where, after years of listening to LP's and 45's, I heard my very first CD on a roommate's high-end stereo with Magneplanar speakers: it was Tricycle, by Flim and the BB's, an amazing digital jazz recording. (When we bought our own stereo after graduation, that was one of the first CD's we bought, and I love its cheerful bounciness to this day.)

He loved music, all kinds, and this was one of the things that attracted me most. He sang in the concert choir, he had played leads in musicals in high school, his parents had been professional singers (they had met doing Broadway shows), and he knew all kinds of classical and choral music that I didn't, since I grew up more with the radio than the stereo. On one date we listened to the entire Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Weber, following along with the libretto he owned because his dad was singing in the New York premiere performance of the piece. We both loved Broadway musicals, and he would often sing snatches of show tunes into the frosty night air as he walked me back to my dorm. (Later, I would learn that he was singing them to me, but at the time, I wasn't assuming that.)

He was smart--intellectual, in fact--which suited me well; but he cared nothing for grades, which shocked lil' salutatorian, teacher-pleasing me. He showed me a paper he had got back from a class, on which the professor had written, "Great paper. Next time write on the topic assigned. C+." I was dismayed, but he was delighted. "I didn't care about the topic, so I wrote about what I wanted to, and I learned a lot more. I don't care about the grade." (Yes, he unschooled himself through high school and college!)

This was serious thinking outside the box for Miss You-Have-To-Follow-The-Rules. I was becoming increasingly intrigued and attracted, despite my resolution not to get into another serious relationship. And I had to admit, he was the kind of Christian man I could see myself marrying--serious about his faith and putting God's call on his life ahead of his own ambitions. I knew too many Christians who seemed full of their own plans for their life, with every intention of fitting God in around them, of course--and that was not for me. I wanted someone who was radically following God first and foremost.

The first time he said "I love you," I was full of ambivalence. I liked him a lot--really, really liked him--but I did. not. want. to. be. back. in. a. serious. relationship! On the other hand, I didn't want to risk losing him either, as he seemed like pretty amazing husband material. I whispered it back...but I was so torn up inside about whether I meant it.

Back in my dorm room, the next day probably, I remember sitting on the edge of my bed and praying about it. "Lord, you know how much I'd like to NOT be in a committed relationship right now." Why not? the Spirit gently probed. Being completely honest with myself, I had to admit that I just wanted to see, if I were available, how many guys might be interested! I even had a couple of little crushes I'd have liked to see what could happen if.... I admitted to the Lord that it was mostly because of my own vanity. In that light, it seemed a pretty silly reason to give this wonderful young man the boot.

"All right, Lord, if you want me to go ahead and keep seeing this guy, I'm asking You to give me peace about it." I expected that I would sense that peace, or its lack, in the coming days and weeks, but--taking me by surprise--I was filled at that moment with a great sense of peace, a rightness, a sense of being in the center of God's will. It was so strong that I would remember it years later--in the lowest points in our married life, when I was tempted to think that I had made a mistake in marrying the man I did--and know that I hadn't imagined it. The Lord had clearly directed me into this relationship.

So I hung in there, and went with him to visit his Illinois relatives over Thanksgiving break. They called me "The Girl" all weekend; they hadn't been told my name beforehand, just that PR and "the girl" were going to stay at Grandpa and Grandma's and would meet the whole family on Thanksgiving Day. They teased me unmercifully and made me feel right at home! PR and I had never spent so much time together, and we loved it. We both remember having the most delightful time reading a dictionary together at his grandparents' house, sharing our love of words, with nothing better to do. (Hard to imagine, now, being that carefree....)

We made plans for PR to meet my parents and visit me in Ohio at the end of Christmas break. And then, a week before final exams...

I got sick.

Stay tuned for Part the Fourth....


Rosa said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jeanne! I'm looking forward to the next installment. =)


mama said...

I'm on the edge of my seat!!! This is wonderful :)

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Whoa ... somebody else who read dictionary entries to each other while they were dating? I thought we were the only word-nerds who did that!

Add me to the list of people really enjoying this series. Can't wait for Part the Fourth.

Kathyb1960 said...

AYEEE!!! That's a cliff-hanger if I ever saw one!

Looking forward to "the rest of the story"!

Kathy in West Texas

Amy said...

I am so totally loving this story! I am learning so much about the two of you, and I love your honesty . . . can't wait for the next part . . . on my seat . . . baited breath . . .


Summer said...

Now you can't leave us hanging . . . what happened? what happened?

Owlhaven said...

great story!!


Earthmommy said...

I am really enjoying reading this. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Jenny in Ca said...

I am enjoying your love story, very sweet!

I have to tell you that early in our marriage, we liked to sit around and read the dictionary to each other! Our favorite game was to give out a word and see if the other could define it, mostly it was Sky testing me, because I love words!