I was driving in the car yesterday, and got to thinking. Yes, I know I should have probably already been thinking since I was driving. Technically. Whatever. A song was on the radio that triggered memories for me. The song was about the throws of passion and excitement in a new love. The longing and yearning of the song was nice to listen to, sure. But, it caused me to start wondering…what does it all look like when it isn’t exactly brand new? What about when it’s seasoned? When it has marinated for a good while? (I’ll try to stop referencing food right now) But really, what does love look like when the season for newness has passed?
7 years ago (almost exactly, just shy of one day) I was just beginning my job at Pier 1 Imports in town. It really was my first day. I had a big blue apron on and my hair was a mess. I was eagerly looking forward to 4:30 – I was meeting someone special that day. For the past month and a half my evenings and mornings had been taken up with internet chats and emailing. I’d been writing back and forth via email and AOL daily with someone. I couldn’t tell you why, and I still can’t, I felt the way I did about someone without even hearing their voice. Why I felt this way when we had only met once before. I couldn’t tell you why it felt familiar, why it felt right. It all seemed a little crazy. A lot of people around us thought we were crazy – a lot. There was a decent bit of nay-saying and I was even warned to reconsider what I was doing.
This special someone was in the military and I was informed that he would only want “one thing” after returning stateside from a deployment in Iraq. 7 years later, this person will admit, “well OK, maybe a part of me was after something, you know, “fun.” But that wasn’t all.” Boys will be boys. It all didn’t matter. I couldn’t tell you why, but the plethora of opinions at the time didn’t matter to me. This world will tell you, be you – be free. Do what you please. The second you have hold of something that is valid, though, “great minds” will want to give out advice – tell you what they would do. Sometimes, it burns me up the things that this world would condone but then at the same time shun. Had I listened, I would have missed out. That would be putting it mildly.
I was hurting at the time. It had been a…strange past few months, which is putting it mildly. But, I was also resolved of one thing – all that had happened to me wouldn’t happen again. I was determined to not be made a fool of again, and admittedly, my pride was in full swing. Then, I was caught up in not letting myself get hurt again, but now I realize that relationships need to be based on something more or they’ll rot away inside. I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again with someone. Now I know that I was truly longing for the things in someone that I had missed the handful of times I had tried with someone else.
I needed someone that I could respect. Someone who stood on his own two feet. Someone who could nurture and protect without smothering or controlling. Someone wise, but who didn’t take themselves to seriously. Someone who could, would and wanted to provide but with a servant’s heart – a way of showing me what they had to offer me because they felt I deserved it, not because they felt that they had to put on a show or make a point. Someone who led by example, who lived by example. I see these things now, but didn’t know how to put them into words then. It’s so funny how even when we aren’t seeking or pursuing the Lord as we should, that he is still so merciful to intercede and guide when we don’t think that He is.
I was working at Pier 1 that day, a big blue apron on, hair a mess, pants covered in dust. I saw a red truck pull up out front and a Marine dressed to the 9’s step out. I warned him to stay away, that we would meet up after I got off of work. He didn’t listen. Gah, I should have known then. He came inside while I tried to use a mirror in the break room to “fix” myself someway, somehow. He wasn’t quite as tall as I remember and his arms were hard as a rock (girls will be girls, too.) I asked if I could leave early, just a few minutes. Probably NOT a good idea on someone’s first day, but hey, am I still working at Pier 1?? It don’t matter!
7 years later, I’m up blogging about this someone. He’s asleep in the other room or at least trying to sleep over the sound of my incessant typing. It’s his birthday today. He didn’t quite make it home in time for his birthday 7 years ago, but thankfully he was here for his mom’s. He would miss the following birthday by serving in Iraq again. We didn’t share one of his birthdays together until the third year we were together, or a Christmas for that matter.
When I think of the newness of love, I remember the rush of seeing that truck pull up. Our subsequent trip to Giant to get flowers for his mother and Blockbuster to pick out some movies – we settled on Joe Dirt and Napoleon Dynamite. I love those moments, I do. But when I think of now, I think of slow dancing spontaneously in the kitchen because we’re stealing a moment after putting our children to bed. I think of the tradition of a big Veteran’s Day morning breakfast and his pound of bacon he insists that he needs. I think of laying face to face on the pillows, talking about how neat it will be when he finally finishes school. I think of the familiarity in the conversations that we have. How rich, how deeply rooted they are. You can’t have both, you can’t have new and seasoned. Or maybe, you can.
The deep roots you lay down get you through the new things to come. I know him, he knows me. No matter what happens when he graduates, what new things come our way, he’ll have my support and he is well aware of that. Maybe this is part of God’s ultimate design. Sure, I won’t ever meet anyone new or have those first few new moments or rushes again. I have someone instead who knows what my favorite flowers are, how to surprise me with a night off from cooking because he knows just when I need it and who knows what my favorite cereal is. And he has someone who knows how he likes his underwear folded, remembers to make his sandwich with extra spicy brown mustard and who understands that he will never ever want to share his peanut butter eggs.
We have plenty of new, actually if you think about it. We have new years, new seasons, new days and new mornings. New songs and movies. New foods to try or shops to shop at. New places to explore, new memories to make. Sometimes, we forget about all of those things. I always viewed getting married as promising to take your best friend on all of your journeys. People insisted that it will be harder and near impossible to finish or accomplish much once you’re married. That somehow, the greatest things can only be achieved autonomously. I disagree. I’ve done my greatest “work” since being married, and I think it is safe to say that Rob feels the same (he better.) I’m glad I have a few things in my life that are steady and strong to go along with the uncertainty. I’m glad we make new moments.
Here it is, another new year and another birthday for my favorite guy. I’m not sure what things will look like in a year, but I do know that we’ll be here, Lord willing, together. Or some variance there of. The point is, I’ll probably have new things to write about every so often, but they just will happen to be about the same amazing person or people.
I’m glad you were born, Rob LeCompte. You’re my very most favorite thing, pretty much ever. And I love you, so so much.
Ashley P. LeCompte