Upon request from a friend, I thought I would start a series this week on Marriage. “Mawwage is whut bwings us togethew today.”
To talk about my marriage with my wonderful husband, I must first go back about eleven years (has it really been that long??) and explain how I even got to this place. Our story actually begins with another man. Sounds juicy, huh?
The summer I spent in St. George Island was a long and difficult one. I spent a great deal of my time by myself in my room, a mother-in-law apartment donated by a church member, watching movies like Empire Records that I rented from the small movie rental shop a few blocks away. I read books, made silly magazine collages and just sort of contemplated my navel a lot. I also ended a relationship that quite possibly might have been a marriage in the works, not because the guy was all bad, but because I had reached a place in my life where I didn’t need a man to fill in the gaps. Being alone was actually ok, more than ok, it was right.
So after that long summer where I figured stuff out and “grew” I came back to college and decided to start actually studying. To stop going to Waffle House at 2 in the morning and actually take care of myself. I felt very free and happy.
It was the first day of class and I can remember walking down the sidewalk and passing this tall, blonde guy who was new. He caught my eye and I can remember turning around to scope him out. He was, to use a junior high term, fine. That was a Monday.
I didn’t actually meet Tall Blonde New Guy until Wednesday night. One of the responsibilities I had that semester was welcoming new students and helping them to acclimate to our tiny town with two traffic lights. In a school of 500 students, one can still feel very alone. So I worked my people skills and tried to help folks feel at home.
So Wednesday night, I stuck out my hand and in the course of a ten minute conversation, my life changed forever. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. What happened in real life was something like this…
ME: Hi! My name is Kearsie! What’s your name? (I was happy, bubbly, smiling but formal)
TALL BLONDE NEW GUY: Hi, I’m Lance. (Said with thick Southern drawl so to me it sounded like Laaannncce)
ME: (taken aback by Southern drawl as I am a Northerner) So, Lance, where are you from?
LANCE: I’m from Alabama. What about you?
ME: (with visions of rednecks and kissing cousins in my head and smile slightly faltering) …Alaska. So how old are you, Lance?
LANCE: I’m 20. How old are you?
ME: I’m 21. (I am now ready for conversation to be over as I am from a totally different world and older and wiser, and maybe smarter because I have no drawl)
LANCE: So what are you in college for?
ME: Um, Theology. I want to teach. Women, I mean, not kids and not in a classroom. Like large groups of women, but I don’t know, I’m just figuring it out as I go…(am feeling really dumb, perhaps the lack of drawl does not mean greater intelligence)
LANCE: Wow! That sounds great! I’d like to do the same thing but with everyone!
… kind of uncomfortable silence where we just sort of look at each other and politely smile…
ME: Well! Nice to meet you, Lance!
LANCE: Yeah, you too!
As it turned out, my friends became Lance’s friends and we began to do group stuff together, eating lunch, going to the grocery store, driving to church, that sort of stuff. Lance would let me borrow his car to run little errands and was a decent guy to be around. He was kind of quiet, but that was ok, because I am not. Or wasn’t then at least.
I had noticed several of the ladies at our little college were also scoping out Lance. They called him Calvin Klein behind his back because of his choice of jeans and some of them would personally ask to sit with him during church (a strange form of dating in Christian colleges- I know, weird). I talked to Lance if he was around, but I didn’t hound him, because I was still committed to NOT being committed. And plus, I was super busy. We didn’t have any classes together so it was mostly in the evenings that we would hang out, and mostly in group settings. But he didn’t seem like “potential boyfriend” anymore, he was just Lance. And that was ok with me because Lance is the kind of guy that you just want to know, he’s great.
A couple of weeks into the semester, Delana (a BFF from college) and I were driving in her car when it died about 30 miles from school. We were stranded on the side of the road and didn’t really know what to do so we called the only number we knew, which happened to be Lance’s room. He was out doing laundry but his roommate, Ronnie promised to fetch him and tell him we needed help. (Side note-Ronnie ended up marrying Delana)
Lance pulled up in his trusty Buick and exited the car wearing a monstrosity of an outfit consisting of overalls and a dirty shirt, no doubt relics from back home on the farm. Romantic notions fled instantly. I have now come to realize that I am allergic to grown men in overalls.
Anyways, Lance saved the day, called a tow truck, toted us back to college and helped Delana get her car fixed.
As a thank you, I cooked a big ole pot of chili and invited my closest friends to join me and feast. I even made cornbread from a box of Jiffy cornbread mix, that I grew up eating (I realize that this is VASTLY different to the cornbread from the south but I still like it better SO SHUTTY). Lance ate with gusto and every mouthful was followed with a compliment. I just attributed that to after several weeks of cafeteria food, chili was a nice change, even with cake as a side dish.
Then we went and “baptized” Lance’s car, because it was filthy. And as Lance had been hauling me around town, I figured it was the least I could do.
After digging around under Lance’s car seats and finding all sorts of prizes like fossilized french fries and Sun Drop cans, I came across an Atlanta Braves game schedule. Peering at it in the waning light, I saw that there was a home game that weekend. We discussed sports (of which I was a great contributor to the conversation, lemme just tell you) and Lance shocked me by asking if I wanted to see the game that weekend. I shrugged and said “Sure!” and went back to digging out food wrappers from under the seat. But inside I was freaking out. Was this a DATE? Should I plan to pay for myself? Would other people go too? And then I stopped thinking because I was being a total Girl and annoying myself.
So after the car was quasi-clean, I said goodbye and went back to the dorm.
Delana and I went running the next day and I fell in a hole and twisted my ankle. And then I was an idiot and took off my shoe. Suddenly my ankle was twice the size it used to be and man, was I in pain. We decided the ER was where we needed to be. But how to get there? Delana’s car was in the shop, no one at the dorms that night had a car so I told Delana to find Lance and ask if we could borrow his car.
She ran over, looking all beautiful and slim and trim and came back with Lance. I was a dripping, dirty, sweaty, bloody mess (I had also gashed up my knee). He picked me up and carried me to his car and insisted on driving.
He stayed in the ER the whole time with me and drove me home. I was high on painkillers and pretty out of it, but I do recall him driving to Walmart and buying me fabric softener (???) and making a run through Krispy Kreme, because nothing’s better at midnight than a fresh doughnut.
And thus began the love affair of Lance and Kearsie. More tomorrow.