I have seen him one evening a year, at a work event in November, since 2005. He was the caricature artist we hired to entertain our crowd. I worked the desk at registration and gave away door prizes. He became a familiar face and his talent was a consistent draw for our crowd. We were each living our lives; he in Minneapolis as a special ed teacher with a wife and son. Me, in St. Michael, with a husband and two kids. Over time, our lives changed and four years ago, he asked me out for a cappuccino. I was with someone at the time, so declined. The next year, my situation had changed and I asked him out for a cappuccino but his situation had also changed – he was with someone. The year following, we were both free, but the timing still wasn’t quite right and no cappuccino.
Last year, he wasn’t going to be at our conference in November. He was going to Florida to stay with his brother and his family, and then he would leave for three months in January to visit family in Iraq, where he was born. A week before he left, he asked me to dinner… and we finally had our first date – on Oct 3. And I was blown away! He talked and talked and I soaked it all in. We laughed and he said things only my heart knew I needed to hear. I drove away from that 3-hour date (at 8:30 pm!) screaming to my angels, ‘you’ve GOT to be Kidding! He is Everything on my list!’
I saw him a total of about 25 days between our first date and March 27 of this year. The circumstance of being physically away from someone your heart knows it loves… while not exactly fun, was integral in building the foundation for our relationship. He encouraged me to write, and FaceTime and Viber were our new best friends. I told him all my stories and tears and he shared his as well. Sometimes those stories don’t get told or processed until much later, if at all, in a relationship. I am so grateful we were able to share on such an intimate level, doing the excavation work, so our foundation could be built on clear, solid ground.
My heart knew I loved him, and he often shared that he loved me as well, but I’m a mistrusting, cynical woman with lots of fears and issues. Now, I had spent two plus years working solidly on myself after my last relationship, and I know I am perfect, whole and complete – but retaining that wholeness while allowing someone in…? This man has seen more of my crazy than I’ve let anyone else see. And I got plenty of crazy! I set an intention to share my wholeness, not hand over pieces of myself for ANYONE anymore.
His years as a special-ed teacher, and the patience and kindness and knowledge that one needs to be successful at that, allow him to ‘handle’ me with a care and consideration I hadn’t experienced. And, I tried to be offended that he was handling me, but I couldn’t maintain (and why?!) any real level of anger because it was so clear that it came from a place of kindness, understanding and love.
He asked me to marry him while I was visiting him last December in Florida. My heart answered, ‘yes!’ immediately. It took my mind quite a bit longer to catch up.
His life experiences are so different than mine in so many ways: coming from secure attachment in childhood, a rural upbringing in the marshes of Iraq, traveling and studying abroad. Living through a war in his country and becoming a refugee. Working with Human Rights in the aftermath of war, using his art as protest and therapy. Leaving his homeland for good, coming to America and becoming a citizen and making a beautiful life here. He’s traveled extensively, speaks 5 languages and has 3 degrees.
And me? Well, I haven’t done any of that. I’m just me. And he says he loves me and intends to stay and build a life with me. I am incredibly happy! How could it get better than that?!
I’ve loved a lot of people in my 50 years on the planet and I am grateful for the gifts and lessons that each person has imparted. I truly appreciate each and every one. Now, I am ready to love this man for the rest of my life… and be loved by him.