Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Becoming

Dear Darling,

I’m not quite myself these days.

I’m becoming something different, and that’s both good and bad.

I’m forgetting things more easily. My communication skills seem to falter more. Interactions with dear ones in my life take a few benign but unexpected and challenging turns. I’m coming up short in ways to which I’m not accustomed. And I’m increasingly aware my life doesn’t even begin to resemble the plans I had for it.

Part of it is because I’m working myself ragged. This week I worked about eighty hours. There were patients that died, bled and projectile vomited. There were unexpected power outages, rare obstacles and difficult interpersonal conflicts to surmount. In addition to working, I minded someone’s house and pets, and wrote an article.

Part of it is a sleep deficit. Last weekend I was up for nearly fifty hours straight, minus a brief nap here and there. A couple of days this week, I was up over 24 hours straight, and one or two days I went 36 hours without showering.

Part of it may be because stark reality has a way of dispelling the shadowy fantasies of the future.

And part of it is because…I think I found you.

It’s not sexy for a man to admit he’s afraid, but sometimes I am. When life gets really real really fast, a lot of trimmings go out the window. Love is easier at a distance; becoming is harder than it seems.

In many ways — if this is you — you’re nothing like I imagined. You cast shadows as well as light. You are flesh and blood, and by necessity that forces the abandonment of a fanciful image which was only ever the product of my imagination. As such, it could never do anything less than portend its own heavenly equal. I foresaw once or twice, but it’s a facet of reality which only experience could conquer. And anyway, I think we all imagine both the past and the future more fondly than we ought as as it stretches out before us or behind; only a rising sun shows the path for what it really is.

In some ways, it has fallen into place so naturally that it requires a period of transition. One does not shift paradigms from perpetually lonely to companioned in such a short, fell swoop. It’s a lot to process and it takes time.

All these feelings combine to make me less than myself on some occasions. I’m not remembering every moment like I thought I would. If this is you, you call me out or catch me off-guard on things I ought to have remembered or known or said or done. Here and there, you challenge or disagree with me in some ways which I find at times uncomfortable. You make me question myself, or question if there are parts of myself I should let go of. There are actually things about each other to dislike or prompt hesitation. I’m not used to letting someone down and having to work around that. I’m not used to the right words coming out wrong. I thought I’d like everything you liked, just because you liked it. I don’t. It looks more like reality and less like my dream. The butterflies aren’t constant like I thought, my gut doesn’t feel like it’s dropping every time you look at me, and my head doesn’t get dizzy or spin. Maybe it’s because I’m so darned adaptable. I’ve taught myself to adapt to any situation, and ad-lib when I don’t know what to do. (No one ever tells you most of adulthood is ad-libbed.) Those instincts kick in even on something as big as this arrival.

And yet, I’ve never felt quite such a calling. It’s as though, within days of knowing you, I felt I was called to love and serve and maybe one day marry, regardless of anything else. It’s like you stepped off the train and onto the platform (“She’s here now!”) and I was waiting so long for that moment that I forgot for a moment what next to do. It wasn’t storybook, it was just real. I was holding ice cream, and you later told me you immediately thought “Who is this tall man and why have they been holding him back from me?”

We talked on that back deck for quite some time, while they all sat inside doing puzzles and exchanging glances with each other. We met again at the pool…then went to the frozen yogurt store…then went to your neighbor’s house. Then to the fireworks. Then I lost track.

We went canoeing, and I took you back to that farm where you were staying. We sat out on the back deck under moonlight on the swing, just talking. We talked about Christmas traditions and I tipped my hand with the phrase “whether or not we’ll do Santa.” We shared secrets. We shared dreams. And then…we shared a kiss. I always wanted it to be memorable, and although I had been planning something different, I realized it would never be more memorable than right there.

Now, we’re becoming. We’re becoming an us. It is now not a question of if we’ll spend every weekend together as much as possible, but how and when and where. I can see us becoming an item. Then a couple. Then husband and wife. I can see us both enjoying those days, nights, weekends, holidays, seasons and years together. Weathering the storms. Fighting and making up, the days of coming home from work to find the air a floating infusion of dinner and music, just like last weekend when we had to pause the movie while I went to work, and then came back to find the house filled with cooking and Sinatra.

The fact that it’s all so natural is itself worthy of freaking out.

Then there’s temptation. I feared to introduce kissing too early, lest we mistake its lure for the lure of each other. Lust sings more sweetly and tenderly than you expect. It pretends to be innocent, and awakens an unexpected ally deep within your soul. You fight not just it, but yourself. It’s harder when she’s willing to go a little bit further than you are…no matter how much you want to, no matter how much fire and ice fills my core even as I write about it.

But I’m not ready. I so wanted to be, but I’m not. I still have so much school remaining. I’m not prepared to be the provider like I wanted to be, intended to be. You actually are prepared, more capably than I. I had this plan, that I’d finish school and be ready and waiting, right here with open arms. A house and a job, a loosened tie, a mortgage payment and a 401K.

Those plans are fading into the distance in my rear-view mirror. Now we’re up against the clock. Time is working against us, and I’m behind.

You know what I miss? A mentor. It’s probably more of that storybook mindset of mine, but I miss having a kindly older man in my life, a grandpa or an uncle or just some Christian teacher, grounded in wisdom and wrinkled with experience. I want an imaginary grandpa, someone I can be absolutely myself to, someone who can help me work through questions. Questions like, how do you know if you aren’t just chasing that chemical high of kissing? How do you know the difference between fantasy and expectation? Do all the songs lie, or should I be worried that the butterflies don’t happen all that often? If it’s less head-over-heels and more quietly settling into place, is that a sign of reality or mediocrity? How do I know when to be the firm leader, and when to be flexible and forgiving? How do you know the difference between loosening up and compromising? The difference between being disagreeable and just trying to learn to work with someone else’s preferences? Between discernment and being judgmental, or between becoming boring and growing up, or between losing your roots and expanding your horizons?

How do you find the line between become something you’re meant to become and becoming something you aren’t? How do you decide when you’re holding on to the past versus remaining loyal to it? How do you know when love is? How do you know if you’re saving love, or if love is saving you? How do you know if you’re tolerating sin or forgiving it? How do you know the difference between changing for the better and changing to suit someone else? How do you know when you’re overthinking things versus just applying strict scrutiny and common sense? How do you know the difference between fearing commitment and distrusting yourself with consequences as immortal as marriage? How do you deal with that small measure of discomfort, and is it because of who they are, or because of who you are?

Fortunately, at the end of the day, there is always an answer of simplicity to quell insecurity, a question I my imaginary grandpa would ask with a chuckle: Boy, never mind all that for a minute…do you want to see her again? The answer is always yes.

For now, maybe that’s all I need.

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Questions | 2 Comments