One thing I've come to notice is how life isn't what you expect. Meaning that a lot of the benefits/realizations/friendships I've received have come from moments when I didn't expect anything of the type to take place.
I could go with the laundry list, but I think I'll stick with what's relevant this instant.
You see, when my old pal Ellen (not the one with the talk show, though she is planning on chopping her hair off) invited me down to her home for the day, I was expecting to trade war stories of my single life and her newly married life. I was expecting to rehash and revamp our friendship. I was expecting to get to know her husband a bit more.
I wasn't expecting what I got.
(Yes, I got all that I expected, but there was something else. And it went like this.)
Ellen is one of two long time good friends who are married, and the only one I have "hung out with" since the name-change. Tonight was my first experience as the third wheel to a married couple; it wasn't awkward, that's not what I'm saying. I just...
There's something different about love bonded by marriage when it's not your grandparents or you parents or the spunky young couple that moved into the ward when you were thirteen. There's something different about seeing a peer--someone you passed notes to in Junior High, someone who went to your first Jason Mraz concert with you (and the Jonas Brothers...), someone who fangirled over the same low-level boyband that never got off the ground--there's something different when someone who was once like you is...
I guess I just never really realized what marriage--and love--looked like until this late afternoon, in the backseat watching them out of the corner of my eye interact. I'm not from a broken home: I've had good models on what a successful relationship is, but it took my parents some 27 years to get where they are. Ellen and Sean are at seven months (in two days). This is what those 27 years looks like at the starting gate. This is what it would look like for me.
And I realized I haven't had that. I haven't had that flawless comfort and banter, that connection that still buzzes in the dead air between the passenger seat and the driver's. I haven't been linked like that. And it's not a thing that magically happens when an I Do is spoken or whatever it is that takes place at the alter in the temple takes place. I'm sure that helps, but the link comes before that. The love comes before that.
And as much as I've wanted it and been willing to give it, as much as I've tried to make it happen, I haven't had that yet.
And that's what I needed today for. That's why I had to gird up my little car and head into the valley. That's why Ellen invited me. That's what I needed to get that I didn't expect.
Every "relationship" I've had hasn't been that, not yet. And it doesn't mean I'm in the wrong or failing. It's just suddenly I'm aware there's more to be looking for than I have been, and that yes love is hard, but it doesn't have to be as difficult as I'm making it. It doesn't have to hurt as much as I convince myself it needs to. When it's right I should be happy; without having to talk myself into it. If it hurts, if it feels as disgusting as it does right now then it's time to walk away.
It's safe to walk away, knowing that the day will come when I arrive somewhere expecting to order an ice cream or interview for a job or whatever it is, and I'll walk away with something else. I'll walk away with someone else who won't have to hesitate in taking a risk and chasing me and who wants to include me in his life and surround himself in mine, who will have the faith in what he feels and the trust that God wouldn't let him make such a drastically wrong decision, but that sometimes we have to make a choice before He nods His head or guides our eyes in the right path. Sometimes it takes the exercising of our flawed reasoning to activate the divine hand of our Heavenly Father; sometimes we have to take that blind step in the dark and exert our efforts before He intercedes His. And someday, somewhere, there will be someone who realizes all of this in as narrow of a window as I do, and together we'll see more clearly. And together we'll progress.
And I guess that's love. And that's what I'm looking for.