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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Don't Rule People Out

Our marriage was born in 2001, so it is kind of a millennial. something that is hard to define, but cool nonetheless.
I had coffee with a friend whose marriage recently ended. They didn't have children. In fact, both Don and I were in her wedding. Just to let you know, every wedding that Don and I have both been part of, has ended in divorce. We are the nursing home cat who visits people right before they die, of bridal parties. If you ask us now, we will politely decline.
But she said, "You're so lucky, when will I get my Don?"

Don is a remarkable human being.  He is kind, and funny and loyal. Not only to me but his friends, family and students.   But when we started dating, he didn't look great on paper.  He had just quit his job and was moving from the West coast to the East coast in two weeks.  He sold everything that couldn't fit in his car. He was done with Hollywood and wasn't looking back.   I didn't hold that against him.  I  knew that he made me laugh, and our conversations came easily, so for the two weeks  we were inseparable.

On the day he left, I gave him a mixed tape; this was before burning a CD was even possible for normal people.  I gave him a travel bag full of snacks, a book, and hugged him goodbye.   I didn't ask him to stay.  I wanted him to, but how could I have made such a request?

I flew home to Indiana to celebrate my 22nd birthday with my family the following day.  I cried to my brother, mother, anyone who would listen wondering if I had done the right thing by letting him go.  I got my answer when showed up at my parent's house 2 days later with a birthday card.  He drove 600 miles out of his way for a girl he had been dating for 2 weeks. My parents didn't exactly know what to think of this long-haired tattooed guy from Hollywood, but I didn't care.
People put so much emphasis on what a person does more than how they make you feel.

Two months later he moved back to Los Angeles, and as our best man said at our wedding reception, Don told him the reason he came back was: " because of this incredible girl..."

I was still in college.  At times I had $3 in my bank account.  Our dates consisted of a lot of creativity and meals made at home.  But that was enough to consider me "incredible".

We grew together and everything that we have, we earned as a team. I don't see that as luck. I see that is understanding the person you are committed to.

People say that marriage is hard. I wouldn't agree.  It has it's ups and downs but so do my best friendships.  Nobody can piss me off more than he does, that is for certain. And he does some things, like puts ketchup on his eggs and just the thought of it makes me want to vomit, but I get over it and there is always a new day tomorrow.
I explained to my friend that a lot of women would have just overlooked Don because he didn't have a job or didn't have a title. He fit in the "other" catagory.  Maybe a lot of guys would have overlooked me for the same reason. And the fact that I am an extreme early bird, well, that really makes people angry sometimes.

But had I judged him before our first date, and said no,  I would have missed out on seeing the things that show his true character.  I would have never known that this tattooed actor would some day feed my Dad ice cream in the hospital when my dad lost the use of his arms and legs.   That this guy without a fancy car would fly to Florida in an instant to take care of his Mom who is sick and bring her flowers.  I would have never known that he would make an outstanding daddy someday.   Or that he would be completely supportive in anything I want to pursue. As for a career, that came later.

The same is true for any meaningful relationship in my life. I can't rule someone out because I think we aren't compatible. My best friendships are usually born when we have one thing in common, like a gym. Then over time, I discover how much I can learn from someone who is on a completely different life path than I am.

Marriage is weird, and fun, and challenging and I would never have expected to be where we are today. There have been some amazing times and those experiences are what carry us through tough times.

We settled back in my hometown, where he went 600 miles out of his way just to give me a card.  The place I swore I would never return. I always thought that if I moved back home after college that I had failed at life.  The opposite is true; it's not where you live that makes you successful. It is the people with whom you surround yourself.

Success to me is in the times of lazy Saturday mornings while I'm sitting enjoying my coffee on the couch, or walking to a neighbors house for an impromptu family dinner.   The food and wine will be forgotten, but the relationships built from one thing in common, end up being the most important.

Don't rule people out because of what they do, or don't do or have or don't have.  You may be missing that perfect relationship or friendship that is just right for you.