[All photos from Unsplash]
This is a serial telling of my falling-in-love story. Read the story from the very beginning here.
From across states, Kristina and I send each other emails a few times a week. Kristina writes in one, "Liz liz liz!! I miss YOUUUUU. CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!!! Also, here’s the breakdown for the Mark sections for bible study this week - I may have assigned you in a section to study for kicks (even though I know you can't come) : ). Would LOVE to hear your insights on these sections!"
Every email from her feels like both the band aid and the cut, the balm and the wound - it's a reminder that I'm not with her and, perhaps more urgent, that I haven't heard from you in a month. And since I’ve decided to give myself a full stop from you, I can't do anything to change it. I know I need space - or maybe I need to give you space to miss me. At least I won't be knocking down your door.
So I spend my energies journaling about you, not even daring to pray that you’ll call or write or email or do anything to show me you've thought of me, but still hoping for a miracle. And no email comes.
I tell myself that it’s appropriate that you would not contact me. After all, my entire time in the state of Colorado has added up to four months — hardly enough to build an attachment — and then to make things worse, I up and left for a month. It’s not like we regularly chatted over the phone. And we're just friends, remember? Plus God must want me all to Himself. Just me and him, like always. And that's a good thing. Right? Of course. Glad we had this talk.
In between remembrances, God conversations, and opening dusty boxes, I go for walks, read, strum made-up songs on my sister's guitar, and watch movies.
In early May, months after our first meeting and a week or two before I head back to Colorado, I discover a DVD of “Dan in Real Life” in the media cabinet. I curl into the corner of the beige couch to watch a widower with three daughters fall in love with his brother’s girlfriend at a family reunion. He struggles and pines and flirts and waits. He loves his brother but: this woman! He can't hardly stop himself.
Finally, after three days, the girlfriend dumps the brother and drives away. The widower is relieved until she calls him from the road. They agree to meet at a bowling alley close by, and a relationship begins – and ends thirty minutes later when the entire family walks into the bowling alley only to find them kissing in an open lane. The brother slugs his widower brother in the face, and the woman runs out in tears.
Yet when all appears lost, the story takes a turn: the widower humbles himself. He admits he was crazy and inexplicably in love. And then he apologizes to his parents, and to his brother, and to his three daughters. And as he's apologizing to his daughters, castigating himself for pursuing love yet again when he knows very well how love ends, his daughters interrupt him. "We like her way better than you,” they say. "Go after her."
In the last scene, the widower and his daughters press their noses to the glass of a gym, where the audience sees the woman running on a treadmill. She sees them, grins, and slows the treadmill. The credits roll with the whole family - brother included - dancing at a wedding – their wedding.
I watch the movie to the very end, credits rolling by, and I can’t hold back the dam any longer. The movie has returned to the menu screen as I beg, “That. That’s what I want, God. Love, family, marriage, children. Aren’t these desires from you? Please, papa, please.” Exhausted with longing, I fall asleep.
The next morning I check my email. And I see an email from Jeremy. I blink, and then read:
From: Jeremy 5 May 2009 at 09:59
I just remembered this morning (kind of randomly) that I let you borrow my book Art & Fear.
How is it? Any good thoughts coming out of it?
talk to you later Liz.
I grin at God. "I don't know what you're doing, but it feels like a promise," I say, "And whatever it is, I'll take it."
I am writing and serially publishing scenes from my falling-in-love memoir, about the anguished, beautiful, and spiritual way that my husband and I met, fell in love, and married. Read about my plans for this in-progress writing project here.
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