Jeremiah and I are headed towards our one year anniversary. We hit eleven months on Saturday, June 23rd, and today marks two years since the “Bagel Talk,” when Jeremiah asked me if “you’d like to get to know one another?” and assured me that I was a level above his other “woman friends.” One of these days (when I don’t have a dull business paper moodily awaiting completion), I’ll blog our love story, a tale of intense sweetness, pain, and blessing, memorialized in journal pages, IL<3VERMONT bumper stickers, underlined Bible verses, and water-color postcards. For today, here’s a snippet from my journal …
My prediction was true, in a topsy turvy sort of way. This is a summer of love. A couple of weeks ago, June 25th, in yet another rain storm, Jeremiah asked me to be his girlfriend, more or less [actually, the official decision that we were “dating” came two months later, after everyone else had already started referring to us as a couple. In fact, I didn’t call him my boyfriend until a few weeks before he brought up marriage for the first time. Shy, slow-moving lovers! Geesh!]. In a little bagel shop on Church Street, I listened to him tell me about growing up in Cabot, next to the creamery and graduating from a class of 20; I watched him pull apart his bagel sandwich and eat not one bite; I noticed the AE logo on his jeans, avoided his eyes, and fidgeted with my juice bottle. “So, Grace,” he said at last and courageously launched into an undisguised speech of nerves, intentions, and growing attraction. He was beautifully spoken and charmingly blunt. “I’m really nervous,” he said after stumbling over the important part of me being the “only one,” and I smiled.
Actually, smile is about all I did. I smiled, said thank you a gamillion times, and miraculously managed to croak something like, “Well, I admire you, too, Jeremiah.”
The sweetness and, like I told Hannah, movie-esque-ness (pouring rain, cobbled street, busy cafe, skinny girl, romantically nervous man, and serious conversation hammered out with oblivion to eavesdroppers and metropolitan mayhem) of our time was lynched by my wooden tongue and incapacitated ability to express love.
At one-thirty, I scurried back to Helen Porter, feeling miserable and unfinished. Jeremiah was amazing, but I felt like I left him hanging. Jeremiah’s end of the conversation was void of pretense and abundant in vulnerability. Meanwhile, I struggled madly to admit to even liking him, and mind baubbled about for perfect words, complimentary and endearing but not risky and certainly not revealing. I was fine watching him make a spectacle of his intentions while I defaulted to prim muteness. I sat there smiling silently until it was time to leave for work.
Since, I’ve written a simple letter clarifying my admiration of his virtue and his humor. We’ve spoken several times on the phone (topic: farm fields, farm fields, Vermont farm fields!), and last week, he drove up to Luke and Katrina’s to meet more of my intense family. We grabbed a few moments alone for conversation, good conversation, and I even hugged him in the driveway before heading down the mountain to work. This Sunday, I’m going to visit his church, enter his world a bit, and afterward, we’ll find a pretty spot for more conversation and picnicking.
Neither Jer nor I have done this before. There’s a preserving sweetness to our ignorance. We’re both so innocent, romantically cautious and fiercely individualistic. I have no clue how to be in love. I really have no idea how to best bless Jeremiah as his girlfriend. I don’t know how to be honest without being too honest. I don’t know how to shower him with all the joy and loyalty I really do want to give but also let him understand my humanness.
A summer of love? I guess so. But, a summer of sloppy love. I’m learning that love really does have a lot to do with perseverance.
I think it’s wonderful to have these records of our love to look back on. Perhaps it’s self-depreciating to publish these accounts on-line, but 1) no one reads my blog except for you folks reading now (most of whom have known me forever) and 2) there’s a reassuring humiliation in seeing how far we’ve already come. Reading my journals, I realize how seriously I took everything, how self conscious I was. Hugging Jeremiah in the parking lot was monumental. Even, eating together, just the two of us, in Burlington held a shocking freshness. I love that, at 20, dating was a whole new experience, and I was as shy and second-guessing as a just-hatched butterfly spanning her wings. However, I love even more the familiarity, comfort, security, and undisguised rampage of honesty that comes with even one year of marriage. This joy that comes from simply being together, freely, is wondrous. Lately, every minute detail of married life seems a treasure: eating dinner together, watching Jeremiah sweep our floor, trading car keys, weeding our garden, nibbling on radishes, searching for apartments, yelling in frustration, waking up to eachother’s unshaved, unmade-up faces. I love this love of ours.
Happy two year anniversary of the “Bagel Talk,” folks!