Thursday, August 4, 2011
My dears, this is for you. Marry a man who will feed you.
I visited him for the first time the day after Thanksgiving. Upon my arrival there was an awkward but tight hug, as we were “just friends” and both a little nervous about where this was or wasn’t going. Next on the agenda was the Hollidazzle Parade. Friends, family, random Facebook stalkers, if you have never been privy to the glories of the Beloit Hollidazzle parade, you have never truly lived. People turn out in 28o weather in their best jeans and hoodies holding their non-gloved small children to do the Wave while the high school cast of The Grinch stroll by shivering and throwing candy canes. It was a slightly different than what I was accustomed to, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. And then he said magical words, “I know the perfect place for dinner.” I braced myself for the long cold walk back to the car, but I found he had turned around to the building behind us and was holding the door open for me. If Trader Joe’s and Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls had a love child, Bushel and Peck’s would be it. Since I have a deep and abiding love for both of those places, I was enthralled. A fresh, organic meal with two of his wonderful friends, who have since become my friends too, fed my stomach and my soul. There was life outside of my little world, and it was good.
Two days later, as I was getting ready to head off to Milwaukee with a couple of the girls, he showed up with a Styrofoam box of piping hot whole grain cinnamon apple pancakes from Bushel and Peck’s. “I know you can’t really eat fast food, and I wanted to make sure you ate.” If my heart had not already been his, that moment would have clenched it. This beautiful man wanted to take care of me, no one besides my family and some good friends had ever given the appearance of wanting to do that.
The first time he cooked for me was dark wintery Wisconsin evening and his creation was a perfectly square sunny yellow omelet with a tiny bit of cheese sprinkled on top. Placing it precisely in the center of the plate, he presented it to me. This was the first time a man had asked if he could cook me dinner. Though it lacked salt and pepper (in his nervousness he had forgotten them), it was one of the best meals I had ever eaten. And somehow, my heart was lighter…happier.
February came and he was struggling with the idea that his future was finally here, whether he was ready for it or not. I was tired of the how he loved to take care of me and spend time with me, yet didn’t want to commit. I decide to take matters in my own hands….my dears, do NOT try this at home. In my love-addled brain I had come to the conclusion that if I kissed him it would be awful and I would finally be able to move on. So, one day I got all dressed up, tried to make myself as beautiful as possible and I met up with him. “Look,” I said nervously, “we can’t continue on this way. I’m going to kiss you and it will be awful and then I’ll be able to move on…..and you don’t have a say in this matter.” So I kissed him, I mean REALLY kissed him, and he kissed me back. It was intense and when I pulled back I expected him to say something about the fact that it WASN’T an awful kiss! “Did that help?” he asked instead anddddddddddddddd I wanted to punch him. I didn’t know what to say. I had been sure that this would help me move on, instead it cemented the fact that I was completely and totally in love with him. “Oh, yeah….sure,” I said, not meaning a single word. “I can still come over and cook pasta for you tonight, right?” he asked worriedly. What is a girl to do?
Easter arrived and things came to a head with a simple invitation for Easter Dinner. He had taken me out for breakfast for my birthday the week before. He had also accompanied me to dinner with my parents in Schaumburg one evening, which had ended in an awkward and confusing hug. Two days later, he asked for space. Anddddddd, I gave it to him. I didn’t answer his calls or texts. I ignored him at church and ate with others or alone. After three days of this alone time, it was time for our Easter production and I knew I would see him. However, I promised myself that I would find others to talk to and spend time with. After the performance was over, he approached me. “I’d like you to come to Easter dinner with me at my family’s house.” I stared at him in confusion. “We need to talk first,” I said, “Its final decision time.” And then came the conversation that would change both of our lives forever. I knew that if need be I could move on, eventually my heart would heal, but I could not stay in this half state of spending all my time and emotion with him. I knew I couldn’t allow my stomach, heart, and soul to continue to be fed by this man if there wasn’t a future for us. Turns out, ignoring him was the best thing I could have done. “These past three days have been awful,” he said looking completely worn out, “I realized that you’re the person I always want to talk to….to be able to tell what happened in my day and find out how your day went. You’re the one I want to spend my time with. And, I want to be able to sit down to breakfast with you for the rest of my life. I love you.” I had always said I wanted to be best friends with someone and then one day they would realize they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me. The process was a lot more painful than I thought it would be, but the end result was exactly what I wanted.
Two months later, on a sticky June evening, we found ourselves back at Bushel and Peck’s. It was the annual Art Show weekend and he was one of the featured artists. I had ran around all day making business cards, helping set up the table and the artwork, and trying to figure out the best pricing for each item. He seemed a little more quiet than usual, but I put it down to exhaustion and nervousness at how his art would be received. Many of our friends came by to check things out and we talked to a multitude of characters that Beloit is excellent at attracting. The night wore on and the place began to fill up. All the regulars were there, Mike the teddy bear-like foodie, Jim the lonely photographer, and many others. Live music was playing and then Greg, the emcee, stepped up to the mike to inform the crowd that the band would be taking a short break. Recorded music began to play in the background. I had just begun explaining a few business ideas that had come up, when I noticed that he was shaking. Beads of sweat stuck out on his forehead and his face was paler than I had ever seen it. “Are you okay,” I asked, “You look like you’re going to throw up! Hey, this is that song you played for me the other day….the one about The Question…..OOOOHhhh,” I said finally understanding. He got down on his knees, reached in his pocket and pulled out one of those little plastic containers from gumball machines that hold tiny metal rings. It was very familiar to me because every time we ate at Domenico’s I would finish the meal by asking for a quarter in order to purchase one. Then, nervously with tears in his eyes he asked. And my heart sang.
Three months later, I sat in our honeymoon suite. He had run out to find a dessert for me that didn’t contain chocolate even though I had told him repeatedly it wasn’t a big deal. “I want you to have something you can enjoy,” he had said. Finally after what seemed like an eternity of waiting….Click, the door went and there he stood, arms piled high with boxes. “I wanted you to have choices,” he said smiling sheepishly at my wide eyes. I melted.
This Saturday, it will be a year since we promised to love each other forever. There have been gut wrenchingly painful moments and perfect, irreplaceably happy times. We have begun to learn how to really love each other on another level that neither of us were very aware of. Daily we teach each other about life and love and how to deal with small victories and sometimes catastrophic losses. He has taught me how to truly feed another person. Sometimes I cook and sometime he cooks, but every day we work at feeding one another’s minds, hearts, and souls. Though I have much wisdom to learn, I do believe wholeheartedly that if you will marry a man who will feed you and whom you desire to do the same for your hearts will never hunger for something other.