I guess I should have seen the warning signs. Looking back they were whispered truths I chose to ignore. He was a college, All-American basketball player and I thought he was wildly handsome. When we first started dating I ignored the signals. Little things, like when we took a walk and he pointed out trees and plants and called them by their genus and species. He could wax eloquently about the habits of ant colonies and knew that a beaver baby is called a kit. He wasn’t flashy and our dates consisted of fishing and hiking. His language was peppered with quotes from Monty Python and Star Wars. I should have heeded the signs, but love is blind and I chose to ignore what others already knew. I married a biology nerd.
Looking back, I can see a progression of images and stories that have brought me to this point. I have survived and tolerated bugs, scorpions and spiders frozen in time within my freezer. All for the name of science and some weird classroom jewelry making experiment. Poly-resin, bug jewelry making for a high school biology class. Because, admit it ladies, who doesn’t want spider bracelets or a scorpion necklace. Tiffany & Co. and Pandora can’t hold a candle to the exquisite beauty of poly-resin beetle earrings. These beautiful earrings are the equivalent of a “little black dress”, they will detract your gaze from a bad hair day or bumpy hips and are considered avant garde.
I’ve survived rats loose in my car. Yes, he begged me to purchase four large rats to feed his anaconda-sized classroom snakes. The saleslady had me pick them out and I had to pretend they were going to be beloved pets. I bought the creatures and placed them in my car. I still needed to run into another store, so I left the rats contained in a cardboard box within my vehicle. Upon return to my car, I was lifting bags into the back of the Suburban, when one of the hairy creatures jumped from the wheel well by my arm. I screamed in terror and fell back on my butt onto the asphalt parking lot. I ran into the store and pleaded with complete strangers to come and capture rats that were loose in my car. Every person looked at me strangely, laughed uncomfortably and backed away from me slowly. Finally I convinced a teenage boy with a $20 bill to come and capture the rodents and replace them in a new box. Yes, I lured a teenage boy to my car for $20…the shame and humiliation.
I have been exposed to death and dissection on a weekly basis. One morning I opened our freezer to a dead bat pinned to cardboard. The explanation was that it had hit the grill of his truck and he thought it looked so cool.
A few weeks later someone had called him about a “perfectly preserved” dead fox on the side of the road and they thought of him. “Does that seem strange that people will call you about dead animals?” I asked him. No answer was forthcoming and the fox went into the freezer until he could decide the best way to show his students. It’s been there 2 years….
A large heart bleeding on my kitchen counter….
And crickets in a bag by my cereal. Because he needed to feed his lizards. Unfortunately one of the bags broke and two dozen crickets were loose in my house. So logically he rounded up all the kids and they played a game finding crickets. I believe they may have captured 4; the rest have colonized in my walls.
All this to say that hindsight is 20/20. Had I known what I was marrying, I may have run the other direction. However, I am so glad I didn’t.
Spring seems to bring romance and my Facebook newsfeed seems to be filled with wildly creative proposals, prom invitations and choreographed wedding songs. I’ve been inundated. I do like the creativity behind it, but lately it’s got me thinking about what real romance and love is.
I want my daughters to find a man whose romance is not flashy, because love is gritty and tough. I want them to find a man who isn’t about viral videos and cameras. I want them to find a man who is all about Christ.
I want them to know that to me romance is a man that gets up for the third time to help clean up vomit from his three year old and then tucks her back into bed and lays by her.
Romance is a man that holds his wife sobbing in a bathroom in Bulgaria because she is scared to death that the adoption of this newest child might ruin their life.
Romance is a man that kisses skinned knees, hurries home to play with his kids, and drops to his knees to pray when his first born daughter has a cardiac condition that renders him helpless.
Romance is pushing out the trash for the thousandth time, changing countless diapers, and reading a bedtime book that was memorized long ago.
Romance is telling his wife she is beautiful even as middle age has creeped upon them and his gaze upon her is just like it was when they first met.
I may have missed the signs and married a biology nerd, but never once have I regretted my choice. His love is not flashy, it’s steady, it’s committed and it’s chosen every day. That’s the kind of love I believe should go viral.