Saturday, July 31, 2010

Right at the Center (Pit) of Things

Grace: I want you to marry ******.

Mom: Why???

Grace: Because he has armpit hair.

No response. Mommy can't respond for a full 7.8 minutes because she's laughing so hard.

Grace: It's not THAT funny! And stop laughing at me!

Mom: Um, all grown up men have armpit hair. That's the deal.

Grace: Well, he has the most of anybody.

More laughing.

Mom: How exactly do you know that, Gracie?

Grace: I don't. I just think that he does, so that means he's a MAN, and you should marry him.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Acting Romantic

Over the weekend I gobbled three super fun books, one of which was Shannon Hale's "The Actor and the Housewife." The central question of the book was whether a happily married woman can have a close, purely-platonic friendship with a man, especially a man who is the personification of female fantasy. To put it in terms more relatable to me, IF I were happily married to a great guy, could I also have a charming & platonic friendship with Hugh Jackman?

I don't have an answer to either of those, the question as posed in the book or the question as related to me.

I appreciated how the book pushed me to think about it in different ways and in far greater detail than I expected. The ensuing mental foray was intellectually and emotionally engaging, and I really like writers who challenge me. Not saying this was Sartre or Beckett or Seamus Haney, but still.

What caught me off guard was that I didn't really want Mr. Romantic Movie-Star-Guy. At all. The guy every woman in the world was supposed to be lusting over did nothing for me. I was insanely jealous of Becky, the protagonist, because she had such a perfect guy sitting at home. Fictional, yes. Perfect...seemed that way to me. Oh wait--her almost-perfect husband liked hunting, so I guess he wasn't perfect. Just close.

What I learned (because this blog is, after all, my attempt to make sense of male-female relationships via fiction):

you can have your flowery speeches and sweep-you-off-your-feet guys in tuxedos and private jets to private islands and cameras flashing on the red carpet.

A guy who loved you well before you loved him back, who waited patiently for you--and still does--, who rubs your back and cleans up your vomit through morning sickness and starts doing dishes when he walks in the door, who loves your family even when they're crazy and loves you even when you're crazy, who never looked at another woman since you, who moves out of his comfort zone to do things that matter to you.... Yeah, that's what I want.

The world can have the Felix Callihans; I flipped head over heels for Mike Jack.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Keeping the Faith

I think I may have mentioned before that commitment to God is a "must" in any potential Future Guy. I think I may have rambled on about the merits of a shared dedication to a higher cause (maybe even quoted Hugh Jackman...).

For whatever reason, I feel like teasing this one out a little. Lucky you guys.

Here's one big ol' huge reason:

Relationships are scary. Dang scary. Going through a divorce was possibly the roughest thing I've ever done, and that's saying something. I hope I don't ever go through it again. Losing someone you love is horrid. Feeling betrayed is rotten. Tearing apart two lives that were stuck together hurts. Entering into a relationship, especially once you involve "commitment" and vows made, opens the door for all kinds of possible hurt. One of the reasons we place so much social convention and restriction on marriage is to underscore the seriousness of the act, and the potential destruction that ensues when the commitment isn't taken seriously.

An acquaintance of mine lived through a house fire that seriously injured both her and her young daughter. She became nearly fanatical about fire safety, pointing out hazards that most would scoff at. She has been dedicated to saving her friends and family from the pain she endured.

Fire does tend to make one cautious.

However, rough as divorce--and the lousiness that preceeded it--were, I'm still here. That I've survived with any modicum of sanity and humor intact is due solely to fabulous friends, hefty catharting, and a God big enough to rule the universe and good enough to hold me close through rocky times. Since He provides the friends and bears the catharting, I'd have to say the ultimate credit for pulling me through goes pretty much completely to Him.

I've learned, in a more intense way than I wanted, that the sting of disappointment, loss, and brokenness can all be swallowed up in His love. Learned it not just in a theoretical way, but in a deep-down-in-the-marrow kind of way.

Trusting Him takes the scary out of trying relationships again. Well, almost. I won't be walking into it on my own, squeezing my eyes shut and hoping for the best, feeling that I'm turning over heart, soul, and everything in me to another person's safekeeping, risking everything on hopeful trust in another flawed human being. Of course I'll be doing that to some extent--that's what love is. Someone once said that becoming a mother is to forever have your heart walking around outside of your body. Choosing to love someone is to acknowledge the possibility that you might get hurt. Your love could be the sweetest, most trustworthy person on the planet and still be smashed by a bus two blocks from home, and you could still suffer. That's the nature of love. But trusting God first means the peace to let go of paranoia, cynicism, and doubt--all hardcore relationship killers. Trusting God means relaxing, allowing space for love and trust to grow between two mortals. Trusting God means there is something bigger than myself, and I can turn over all the negative baggage and move on unencumbered. Knowing God's with me gives me the freedom to let someone else be with me, too.

God is my rock and my foundation. If I'm ever going to build a marriage, it's got to be on that Rock, my sure foundation. It would logically follow that Mr. Future Guy's got to have that same appreciation for solid grounding in Him.