Thursday, July 2, 2009

Part Two

This morning I pulled our cake topper out of the freezer to thaw. I had never opened the box and as I lifted the lid, I could not help but smile. Surrounding the cake were some of the flowers from our wedding, frozen, but the petals were soft. I pulled out a cream rose and twirled it around in my fingers. My happiest memories were made on that day and this rose was part of it all.

PART ONE

Marrying A Medical Student: Part Two

We had an unconventional start. We were friends before benefits, which was a first for me, but we built on that foundation. He told me that I wasn’t a republican and I told him that his clothes never matched. We began to think about the future, a future that would have to involve jobs and bills. A grown-up future that was, at that point in time, looking somewhat bleak. He wasn’t accepted to medical school so he took a teaching job an hour away. After suffering through eight months of unemployment I decided that living together, albeit in sin, was better than being lonely and broke. My six year bachelorette hiatus was up and as we donated two boxes of unused body lotion to a gay and lesbian shelter to make room for his razor in the medicine cabinet, I realized I was entering into an uncharted stage of commitment with great hesitation and a pinch of excitement.

It was actually a pretty fulfilling time; I found a job with a reproductive rights organization and he taught suburban tenth graders about evolution and mitosis. We were able to pay the bills and travel. He golfed and I was involved with a local community theater. We volunteered for causes we believed in because our time and able bodies were the only expendable resources we had. We reveled in our adult relationship, yet embraced the future with a sense of uncommitted individuality. It had been a year and my heart was content when I first whispered that four letter word that begins with “L.” His response: “Thank you.” I was crushed and somewhat discouraged. I let my guard down after unequivocally promoting him to live-in-boyfriend status, and now, no confirmation in return. But despite my disappointment, I was not interested in moving back in with my parents or having to explain to yet another guy that yes, I sometimes listen to rap music and why I hate cheese on my salad. I wasn’t going to throw away the potential I saw in him because he wasn’t ready to utter three monosyllabic words. He wasn’t ready. So for two years my heart’s confessions continued to elicit a congenial, but unattached response.

I remember the day he told me he loved me for the first time. I remember because it was the day I was leaving for Chicago for a business trip. We had been together for over two years and I felt like I waited forever to hear the word love, nestled softly between I and you. Instead, just as I left for the airport he blurted them out quick and sharp almost as if they had been said a million times before. I remember being furious at him for saying it at such an inopportune time. No magic. No tears. As I sat on the plane casually flipping through the free magazines of things nobody needs or wants, my colleague casually asked if I had a good morning. “Yeah, I guess.” I answered nonchalantly,“...my boyfriend said I love you for the first time, I think.” I was so rushed with the panic of traveling alone to a city I had never been to before, I had no time to absorb the highly anticipated moment that I had wished for over the course of our relationship.

Six months later, my fully committed boyfriend was accepted to medical school, quit his job and made an offer on a three bedroom ranch with a basement. We never discussed the rushed ‘I love you’ and it became a common salutation. Somehow the short phrase that I waited so long to hear was simply uttered before hanging up the phone on my way home from work. I guess at that point, felt like commitment was more than a salutation. Commitment was found in the life changes that we were about to make, a house, medical school, and me as the bread-winner. I got a job at the medical school doing research and using my degree. We missed having extra money to eat out, so when my cycling instructor left to have her second baby, I began teaching the class. The former independent warrior inside of me roared at this new opportunity to embrace the “sugar mamma” gender role, but the traditional ideals of society had me taken aback with doubts of investing in an uncommitted future. I thought about my mother’s aspirations of me marrying a doctor. Although it was a long time ago, I was pretty sure she mentioned he would be rich and thinking back, she never said anything about scraping by with a poor medical student. She never said, “Honey I want you to find a great guy with a great job and then support him when he quits his job to incur a quarter-million dollars in debt to become part of a service profession that may result in putting family second.”

My sweet mom, the wife of a police sergeant, knows all too well about occupational necessity of putting family second. No one can ever prepare you for what your life will be like, no matter how hard they try. They can give you advice, offer up little hints and antiquated epithets beginning with “When your dad and I first met…” But no one from either of our humble middle-class upbringings could offer up a realistic perspective into what this new journey would be like. Simply, “It’s probably going to be hard.”

If it was going to be hard, I needed some reassurance. Not in the form of a ring, but I wanted to see his future with me in it long after the tests were taken and patients were cured. We laid in bed late on the eve of his first day of class, a year after he rushed through his I-love-you, and he told me the story about why he chose that particular morning to tell me his feelings. He told me he laid awake the night before my trip thinking about how I was nervous to travel alone and how he wished he could be with me to help me navigate the airport and the big city. He said that he wanted so badly to take away my fear and replace it with confidence and that was the night he realized what he had been feeling was undeniably love. The night he told me that story was the night that I saw my future. I realized the silent support he provided me was one of the reasons I chose him. He embraced my fears as his own, yet he let me face them myself and become a stronger person in the process. With this man standing beside me I was slowly becoming a confident traveler, and furthermore a more articulate professional, and loving partner.

To be continued...

2 comments:

me said...

You were very patient. I waited just shy of a year and I was not patient. I finally asked if he would ever say it; and his response was to tell me "i do". So I made him say it. He just recently admitted that he had fallen many many months prior. He is a very logical guy; and can forget sometimes to let his heart lead. Thats where I come in.

So longest comment ever. Thanks for sharing your part 1 and 2 and I look forward to the next :) Have a HAPPY Anniversary!

_Sarah G

narfna said...

This is such a happy story.