How my husband and I began our romance verbally parallels the first season episode of “Scrubs” when J.D. and Elliott quickly ask each other, “Do you want to be my boyfriend/Do you want to be my girlfriend?” The two gazed at each other with new, neurotic intensity. Here was where eternal infatuation and companionship would last forever, n’est-ce pas? No…. For them, the episode ended in a break-up and uncomfortable lunches at the hospital. For us, it turned into the beginning of a lifelong dream. Our neuroses are melding into familiar knowledge and pajamas, understanding of expressions and pancakes on Saturday. He even knows when my smiles are tight and fake, signaling frustration. I love being happy in love, yet there’s empathy with people who get screwed over by relationships. It’s interesting how life turns into a double entendre. It’s also arresting when two very important events crop up in memory, and paint a beautiful pattern of how your life is shaped.
Something about the word courtship made me want to run from Joshua Harris and his first book’s lack of lip contact definition to my beloved online Merriam-Webster. “Conduct or attention intended to win favor or dispel hostility: homage ”; “1570’s, ‘behavior of a courtier,’ from court + ship. Meaning ‘paying court to a woman with intention of marriage is from 1950’s.” Likewise, a courtier is “(1) one in attendance at a royal court (2) one who practices flattery.” While these kinds of “attentions” can seem outdated and prudish, they were originally meant to actually exhibit a very strong care for the significant other. Instead of limitations on what can be done, the expressions of love are so multi-faceted and rich that they promote everything that is available for the lover’s sake. A man can still “court” a woman by offering the very best of himself. This loftier definition would be excellent to see in the flesh and among conversation with different folks. Favor is also a strong word that registers physical, emotional, and spiritual trust. My husband has my favor, and prayerfully I have his. It didn’t take very long for us to find that out about each other, but who cares?
The other painted experience, aside from the blissful throes of marriage, is my initiation as a disciple of Christ. It also happened fast and fiercely, leaving me room to contemplate for the next twenty years what I had actually done. I know the truth when I grabbed it, but I had to work things out slowly, painfully, and gingerly. For whatever reason, God has created me in this fashion and I’m beginning to not apologize for it. Free classes and GRE for the third time? Let’s have it! Long, arduous nights of attempting to perfect a thesis with classmates who are literary geniuses while the newborn cries? Yeah, well…This explosion-reflection theme is something that has brought me insurmountable peace and a man I’ve been gifted to love. No qualms here about how life is constructed. Perhaps one day I’ll get out of newlywed mode, but I sure hope not.
“Ash Is Falling”
Under the story of Pompeii
lies a classroom full of questions,
a harbinger or two in the uniforms
coated in navy blue and perfume and cologne.
“What do we know about their lives?”
they wonder wildly to each other,
intent on resolution and a secret look
from two desks over.
“Nothing and everything,”
she says with cunning maneuver,
listening as they gasp
over unfinished essay drafts.
Hearts racing madly
by penciled, cared-for psyche,
explosions of love
match these volcanic tragedies.
“I’m glad we knew”, they whisper at thirty.