Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Stories

One of my favorite questions to ask people who have been with their partner for a long time is, “do you remember the moment when you knew you loved them?”  It’s not the grand story of how they met or even how they fell in love.  Those stories could go on and on and on.  Believe me, as a story teller I’m a wordy bitch who can take FOR.EVER to tell a story.  But this question is just a snap shot of the love story.  I love the randomness of different stories. 
I love how mundane each and every story is.  Life isn’t a Nicholas Sparks book, but the love is still the same.  Sometimes the moment is like a lighten bolt making you stop and sometimes you don’t know the moment happened until you look back and remember, that’s when it all changed.  I also love how sometime the story teller is taken back to the moment and they are lost in the memory, slightly removed from our conversation.  
So for Valentine’s Day I want to share some of the stories I’ve heard over the years, starting with me and Juanito. 
Like I’ve mentioned in the past we have dated many times before.  The last time we dated it was before he moved to California for commercial dive school.  We were just having fun with no thoughts of a long-term future.  He was moving to another state to go to school to do something that would send him far away indefinitely.
Before he left we spent many of our weekends together driving to Northern Arizona to go camping.  On one trip we were packed into his little S-10 truck and I was playing DJ, mandating that we listen to Dave the entire trip.  He obliged.  We were talking and sharing stories with ease that comes with knowing someone for a long time.  I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly, but Juanito mentions how he went on a cattle drive one time. I called bullshit and he went on to describe the summer he helped move cattle from one field to another with a family friend.
The picture that jumped in my head of him on a horse in boots other than his Doc Marten’s was just foreign.  The guy who dressed in mainly black and listened to music that was really just screaming didn’t “get along little doggie” in chaps and spurs.  But for some reason it was right.  It resonated with me as my Grandpa was a cattleman in Nebraska when he was younger and a farmer until the day he died.  It also gave a whole new layer to Juanito’s personality. 
I remember not only being taken aback by the statement and the vision, but thinking: there is more here.  That’s all.  That is the moment that I knew that this wasn’t just dating but the potential for more.  While not a lightening bolt, it did stop me for a second or two.  I honestly didn’t think “more” would mean two dogs, a mortgage and a kid (or two) but it was the beginning.  The years before this were just our exposition and this was the start of our story.  Our great love story.
Sometime love stories begin and never end, regardless of time and distance.  Take C and D for instance.  C and D meet when they were 13 and 14 years old.  In a small town where everyone knew everything about everyone, she was the new girl and he was one of the Booger Brother (a story within itself obviously).  He worked at the local bakery, getting up early in the morning before school to go to work.  He picked up the nickname of Pinky in high school from showing up to school with bright red hands after washing the mixing drum with scalding hot water.  One early morning, C stopped by D’s house.  The night before her parents had been fighting and it turned physical as it often did.  D had slept very little and was up, sitting on her porch when C drove by.  He stopped and picked her up and they drove around, just talking.  D said that was the moment she knew she loved C.  He took her away from something bad and protected her.  He would always protect her.  In December 1965 C told D he loved her for the first time.  A few years later, D went on and married another person and had a daughter.  Eventually that marriage ended.  When she returned, now a “fallen woman”, C was still there, in that small town.  Almost as if he waited for her.  They were married in 1974 and in December 2013 he told her loved her still, just as he had done for the last 40 years.   I know this because when my mom told me this story she was lost in the memories for a moment and cried.  I cried too.  I’m crying right now infact.
Like with me and Juanito, it can be the littlest things that make you open your eyes.  Like in Sleepless in Seattle (one of the best movies ever by Nora Ephron, God rest her soul) when Sam is telling the story of his deceased wife.  How he was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and it was like,…home.  Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures.  M and S had been dating for a while, first secretly because they worked together and then slowly more openly with their friends and family. 

One summer S went with M to visit his family in Montana.  Meeting the parents can be a big deal but when S told me this story one late night it was as if it was the most natural thing in the world to go to Montana for a few weeks.  While they were there, S found out that her grandmother, whose health had been ailing, passed away.  She was devastated but didn’t want to interrupt M’s visit since it had been a few years since he had been home.  She planned to finish her trip and join her family in time for the funeral.  M told her to go and be with your family.  He was understanding and compassionate in her time of need.  That was the moment that she knew she loved him.  This is the moment when she knew that M was partner and not a boyfriend.  It can mean the world when you know that you’re supported and loved by someone who will put your needs above theirs. 

Sometimes the realization of love doesn’t happen in the moment.  B is notoriously a Type-A personality.  I’m pretty sure in the books that define these characteristics there is a picture of her.   She is a self-proclaimed over-analyzer.  As an over-analyzer myself I know that this makes it hard to be “in the moment” because we’re looking for the hidden meaning in everything that we tend to not let things just be. 

When I asked B my question, she said that when it happened she didn’t even recognize it for what it was until months later.  She thought that since it happened so early on in their relationship it couldn’t be real.  She said that it was Martin Luther King Day and they had only been dating for a few weeks.  B was at M’s house, both off from work and just hanging out.  It wasn’t what they were doing that was as important as how.  With ease and comfort, like when you know someone for a long time, they went about their normal routines of being at home.  Together.  It was easy.  She wasn’t thinking about what next five things that needed to done or accomplished.  Their conversation wasn’t forced.  She was just with him.  And everything else just was. 
What is funny to me is that when the love lightening bolt hits, it only hits one of the parties in the relationship.  If you ask Juanito when he knew he will tell you a completely different story than my death-metal-guy-turn-cowboy.  He will tell you a story of being snowed-in in Albuquerque, stuck with family, and talking to me for salvation.  I'm sure if you asked C or M or the  another M their stories would be different too.  Everyone has a great love story.  What is yours? 

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