My husband and I, like many married couples, can speak in a code that no one else understands. Sometimes it’s non-verbal, as with a particular look or expression (he rolls his eyes when he’s exasperated with me, I get “the look” on my face that my subordinates used to fear). Often, it’s a single word. I say “fat”, he knows the expected and desired response is to reply, “You’re not fat!”; he jokes that my gravestone will read “Here lies Amy. She was not fat.”
However, there is one thing I can utter that stirs up so much that I can’t always wrap my mind around the emotions that predicated it and those which it later evokes:
“We’re becoming just like that couple in Charleston.”
Back to the Future
In November of 2003 while still in California, I toyed with the idea of signing up with eHarmony. I was drawn to this particular on-line matching/dating company because of their adherence to moral values. What does that mean? It means the founder, a Christian doctor named Neil Clark Warren, designed the entire process around the end goal of marriage. Ok, admittedly at the time I’d strayed from the flock, but, I still totally agreed with his program, which was both extensive and methodological. It synced with my brain, I was ok with the time involved and with the cost of joining. And, yes, I wanted to meet someone to marry, not simply to date and hang out with; I’d had enough of that in the almost four years since divorcing my first husband. In the end, though, I decided it made more sense to wait until I was living in my new state to start the process of answering the 400+ questions required by eHarmony.
A month or so before I left California for North Carolina, I wrote this in my journal:
“It seems so hopeless that I’ll ever find someone. Maybe if I really give up, there he’ll be? Who is he? I haven’t a clue except I’m pretty sure I don’t know him yet.” 17 November 2003
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! How right I was! No, I didn’t know him yet; and I had no idea that when I arrived in Durham in January of 2004, I would meet my future husband in a mere two and a half months. In hindsight, it’s totally delicious to ponder what the just turned 40 year old me had waiting for her around the next bend.
Even more delicious:
“So, here I am home again with Nigel and Clyde. The lonely old woman and her cats.”
29 November 2003
Exactly one year lately, Mark proposed.
An Open Door
My first month or so in Durham was crammed with all the activities one goes through after moving into a new state, a new city, a new residence. The time literally flew by and before I knew it, it was Valentine’s Day. While both my brothers and their wives had been more than generous with their time and talents; assisting me in getting settled, showing me around Durham, having me over to their homes or coming over to mine for meals and conversation; it was, after all, Valentine’s Day so it was no surprise that I found myself one again alone and hanging out with my best buds Nigel and Clyde. I was still smoking (a little) then, so, I recall wandering around my townhouse trying to think of something to do but being in that mood of not wanting to do anything. I’d go out to the garage or the deck to smoke, then go back in and trudge upstairs to where I was setting up my office and stare at my laptop. I had a movie to watch, but no enthusiasm for that, either. What I was experiencing was a good case of the dithers. I was trying to decide WHAT TO DO; and was distracting myself by thinking I was supposed to do some task like go organize my make-up drawer or hang another picture on the wall. In reality, I was standing before a door that was slowly opening and was avoiding the moment when I’d decide to go through it or not (I recently read a term for this condition by a Princeton University philosopher: decidophobia). Well, thank God I finally decided to venture through the door and plunked myself down in front of the laptop to spend roughly two hours completing the questions for eHarmony.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken A LOT of what I’ll refer to as “personality tests” over the course of my life with the majority of them being for career development purposes. To be truthful, I’m not sure I’ve always been 100% truthful when answering the questions. I think it’s a human tendency to answer in ways that either we believe will make us “sound better” or in ways we think will please others. Of course, doing this can be an exercise in futility as indicated by the time I completed one of those “Your Ideal Career” surveys and was told I’d make an excellent Park Ranger. Seriously, I think I actually completed that one fairly honestly, didn’t think the answer suited, then re-took the test feeding it the “appropriate” responses until I got the result I thought everyone would like (Human Resources). In hindsight, I probably would have loved being a Park Ranger.
So, as I began the eHarmony test, I found myself doing what I’d always done; trying to pick the responses that sounded good. After about 30 minutes of this, I hit myself upside the head (figuratively) and thought, “What the heck are you doing? Answer honestly or else who knows who you’ll end up with?” And so I deleted all my previous answers and started over in anticipation that being truthful, even if it was an invitation to vulnerability, was the best course of action.
If I didn’t end up being matched with anyone suitable, well, there was always the Park Ranger option.
Up Next: Match Game