What is Love

 I wrote this post some time ago actually for my personal blog. It seemed an appropriate post here. Ryan and I are no longer dating but the sentiments here are still applicable.

What is Love? I find myself pondering that question alot lately.

I was 14 years old when my little sister Esther was born. The birth was rather traumatic and my mom was not really in a condition to care for her for awhile. I kind of became her mother. By the time Mother was able to care for her Esther just preferred me for alot of things. One of which was putting her to bed. Each day when she went down for her nap I would take her and rock her to sleep and sing to her. One of her favorites was an old John Denver love song called Perhaps Love.
“Perhaps love is like a resting place A shelter from the storm It exists to give you comfort It is there to keep you warm And in those times of trouble When you are most alone The memory of love will bring you home
Perhaps love is like a window Perhaps an open door It invites you to come closer It wants to show you more And even if you lose yourself And don’t know what to do The memory of love will see you through
Oh, Love to some is like a cloud To some as strong as steel For some a way of living For some a way to feel And some say love is holding on And some say letting go And some say love is everything And some say they don’t know
Perhaps love is like the ocean Full of conflict, full of pain Like a fire when it’s cold outside Thunder when it rains If I should live forever And all my dreams come true My memories of love will be of you”
Everytime I would sing that song to her I felt sad when I sang the words “some say they dont know” because I felt like that was me. I felt like I had never really experienced love and therefore didnt know what it was. I was mentally going over those words in my head the other day and realized that while I have experienced love of many kinds I still fall into that category of those who just dont know.
When I was younger I thought that Love was falling so madly and passionately in love with someone that you would do anything for them, that they become your everything and you would fight to the death for them. I dreamed of a Knight in Shining armor coming to rescue me from the injustices of childhood and whisking me away to some faraway land of adventure where I would never again ask for permission and where he would stand with me in a field of flowers and watch the sunset as the wind blew gently through my hair.
When I got a little older I was intrigued by the idea that “true love” is about giving not taking, and I saw myself dying for the man I loved. I especially loved the idea that love is letting go. Its loving enough to let them go and when you do they come back.
As I entered my twenties I decided to put childishness behind me and realize that love is a feeling that grows between two people who have lived and sacrificed together and devolped a quiet peaceful feeling of togetherness and home and that that was what true love was. I decided that love is something that grows not something that is born.
At one point there was a guy I knew. He was kind and sweet, we spent every free moment together, we had adventures, we sat together quietly and just talked for hours or watched movies, we served each other, played together and I cared alot for him. I knew that he wanted our relationship to be more than what it was but I just didnt feel anything else toward him. I told myself to just try it and that it didnt matter if I felt those kinds of feelings toward him because love could grow. But I couldnt bring myself to do it. There just wasnt a spark there. I wondered if I was immature.
More recently I met another guy, we went on several dates and I realized that here was a good man. He too was kind and sweet, funny and a good listener, he was open and easy to take to, he was comfortable and we seemed to have alot in common. He worked in the temple, was a ballroom dancer, grew up on a farm with lots of brothers and sisters, he loved to sing and play the piano. He made me feel beautiful and smart. He seemed to have it all. And he was good looking to boot! …and I loved him like I love my roommates. I hoped for the best for his future, I hoped we would stay in touch and be friends but once again there just wasnt a spark there. I began to wonder if my immaturity and false idea of what love was would cost me ever having one at all.
All I really had to go on was a dream that I had as a young girl where I had felt really and truly in love with someone. It was a feeling unlike anything I had ever known but I knew that it was a feeling that was worth waiting for and I promised myself I wouldnt settle for anything short of that feeling. So I was holding out.
One day I went on a date with a guy I often refer to as Ryan. I didnt really know him. I thought he was cute, and something about him had caught my eye but that was about all. We sat there in our seats watching the 4th of july fireworks and he turned and said something to me and suddenly I was flooded with a feeling that I remembered well from my dream but that I had almost given up hope of ever feeling. I didnt understand why I was feeling love for a guy that I didnt know. It hadnt “grown” like I had thought it would have to. It just was suddenly there. Ryan was easy to be with. The first and only guy I had ever gone out with where it didnt feel at least a little bit like work. It was easy and comfortable to be with him and yet there were fireworks like I had never before experienced. Let me tell you about Ryan.
Ryan is not dashing and chivalrous, in fact more often than not he forgets (or just doesnt think its important) to open my door for me. He is not tall dark and handsome. He is not the daring, sweet and somewhat dangerous cowboy like Bill Radnor, (the cowboy I first fell in love with from the book Home Mountain). In fact not only is he a city boy through and through but he is also allergic to horses! Ryan is not the type to pick flowers for my hair, and to rescue me from anything really. ( I think he would much prefer it if I could rescue myself)
Yet I love him as I never knew it was possible to love. You know how you never lose patience with your self because you trust yourself to do your best. You never worry about what path you will take because you trust your own ability to reason and make decisions. I trust Ryan that way. I always wondered how I would trust someone enough to put my life in his hands but I do. I know his heart and I trust in the goodness that I see there. I know he will make mistakes just as I will and I know I wont always agree with him but I trust the person that he is. I love how the differences between us broaden my perspective. How when he talks politics to me I learn so much about things that aren’t normally apart of my realm of thinking. How his open casual way of talking challenges my own self perceived honesty. I love how much fun we have together and how when he smiles really big his eyes crinkle at the corners. I love his sense of humor and how we can talk for hours and never run out of things to say. How being with him just feels right and how after over a year of dating it still gives me butterfly’s in my stomach when he holds my hand. I love how he is the first person that I want to share anything with.
Ive always heard and believed that the person you love will bring out the best in you. I believe Ryan does but not in the way I expected. I have seen my flaws more clearly as I have dated him and I have learned and grown immensely in patience, in faith, in honesty and confidence. I have learned to trust, I have learned to risk and through it all I have learned to love. Love has grown between Ryan and I. I have come to feel that when I am in his arms I feel that old feeling of coming home after a long trip and seeing the familiar white fence that meant I was home. It feels like both the powerful passionate feelings I anticipated as a child, the selfless desire for anothers happiness over my own that I believed in as a teenager and the gentle, peaceful love I thought would grow when I was in my twenties. Now at the ripe old age of thirty Ive determined that I still dont know what love is and its ok because whatever it is it has exceeded all my expectations and met all my needs in one way or another. Perhaps, love really is everything.

Swept off my feet

So my second date was actually in my opinion the most interesting of all the awful dates I’ve been on. Read on and you will see why. When I was in second grade I went to a school for all the children in our group ( we refered to our community as a group instead of a church) I often saw my best friends older brother and I developed a little crush on him. I never really spoke to him just looked from afar. At any rate I moved away after second grade and didn’t see him again.

Then one day shortly after I had joined the LDS Church I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise. the voice on the other end informed me that it was this same boy. Lets call him Andy. Since I hadn’t even really known him or talked to him in second grade I was rather surprised to get a phone call from him almost twenty years later. I’m here to tell you it was a little weird. I asked him how he got my number and he said he had simply called my dad and asked him for it. Honestly even though I had left the group I was still rather surprised that my dad would give a guy my phone number. But he had and now I found myself actually on the phone with Andy. I wondered if he still looked as good as he did years ago.

He told me that he was in town and asked if I wanted to spend the day with him. Everything in my head was telling me not to go. The whole situation was weird, and he was a guy! It just felt wrong! I kept thinking I cant do this! Tell him no. But then another part of me would think. You are LDS now you can do this. Its ok…no its something you really need to learn how to do. If nothing else this will be good practice. Or at the very least it will be interesting…

And it was. I said yes and an hour later he showed up at the door to pick me up. He was looking as handsome as I had remembered in a black double-breasted suit and a dark blue shirt that accented the blue of his eyes. He had warned me that he wanted to take me someplace nice so this time wanting to look my best I had picked out my favorite dress and done my hair as best I knew how.

The day was surprisingly comfortable. We hung out, had some fun, talked about mutual friends that we hadn’t seen in some time and just generally had a good time. He took me to dinner at a nice restaurant, insisted on opening my doors for me and held my chair for me as we sat down to dinner. Honestly I was not quite sure how to handle such gentlemanly behavior. But I had a feeling I could get used to this kind of treatment.

After dinner we went dancing. He was a good dancer. I had taken some dance classes and was feeling a bit better about dancing these days. I had at least learned a basic waltz and a few other dances so that I could do a little ballroom couple dancing. I had been wearing heels all day so after several hours of dancing my feet were killing me. As we were leaving the dance we stopped outside the building and sat talking on the edge of a large fountain. I pulled my shoes off and rubbed my aching feet. “I don’t think I can walk another step in these shoes” I said, laughing.

He had been carrying his suit coat over his shoulder as we walked and he laid it over is arm and then in one swift movement swept me into his arms and carried me to the car. WOW! I didn’t know if I should be weirded out by that or swept off my feet. Literally. I decided to reserve the right take make an opinion on that later. In the mean time he still was rather attractive so I was going to just enjoy the rest of the evening.

When he dropped me off at the house I was relieved that he didn’t walk me to the door. He opened the car door for me, gave me a hug and then told me that he would love to see me again soon. I invited him to come to church with me the following day. He agreed and then left.

I went inside and called a friend to tell her how successful my date had been. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all! I told her all about the date and she seemed excited for me. Then she asked a follow-up question. “Let me get this straight,” she said, “you knew him when you were in second grade?”

“Yep”

“And what grade was he in?”

“Oh I don’t know… 10th I think”

“Oh wow so he is a little bit older than you. I’m surprised he isn’t married” she said.

“Oh, he is.” I answered

“What! what are you thinking?” She yelled into my ear. “You cant date a married man!”

Honestly it wasnt until that very moment that the realization dawned on me that yes I was LDS and I should be dating but now there were rules about who was available and who was not. And now an already married man was definitely not on the list that was available.

During dinner we had talked about his wife and kids. He had even shown me pictures and somehow It hadn’t clicked. In that moment on the phone with my friend it clicked and I had to laugh a little at how ironic that in my limited experience dating I had already managed to go on a date with a married man. So much for leaving my background behind!

That was my first date with him and that was my last. My friend sat between us as church and made it more than clear that the best thing for him was to just go on his way and leave me be. I was grateful to not have to do more than just tell him that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to keep in touch.

I hoped that at the very least I had learned some skills to take me into a more positive dating experience the next time.

Just friends?

You hang out together quite often, really seem to enjoy each others company. There has never been anything romantic between you and yet you wonder… could there be? Would you want there to be? Does he/she want there to be? Are we just friends? There are lots of variations to this kind of story and how it plays out. I’ve had a few of these myself. Dont worry I wont bore you with the details. However, it is an interesting question. Can guys and girls be just friends? I want to know what you think and why. And while we are on the subject enjoy this funny video clip I found on the topic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_lh5fR4DMA

Please, please, please leave me your thoughts. I would love to see what others have to say about this topic.

My First Date

First a disclaimer on behalf of the men that I date: If you recognize yourself in one of the stories that I blog about know two things. First, you made it to the blog because it was a really bad date, (could be your fault, could be mine but either way it wasnt very good) or possibly something about the way you date was so exemplary that I want to hold you up as an example of all that is good in the dating world. If that is the case kudos to you! That brings me to the second thing that you should know, no matter who you are or just how bad or good the date was I will at the very least respect your privacy enough not to use your name or details about you that might lead to other people recognising your identity. If the things that I have to say hurt someone’s feelings ultimately I apologize. However, chances are if ‘ the case you needed to hear it anyway…

Second a short disclaimer on my behalf…I never claimed to be great at dating, in fact many times I have bemoaned the fact that I can’t simply turn the whole thing over to a committee of carefully selected individuals who would choose a spouse for me and all I would have to do is show up for the wedding. Oh yeah and ultimately make the marriage work. But that’s beside the point. The point is as you read about my dating faux pas please don’t judge too harshly. Laugh a little if you want, cringe where ever appropriate, even leave me comments offering advice but just remember that I didn’t make the rules I just have to try to live by them.

And with that the story of my first date

I had been attending the Orem Institute of Religion for some time and was proud of myself for stepping so much outside of my comfort zone. Every day I was attending class all by myself, meeting new people, and learning so many new things. One day I was sitting in the gym having lunch and talking with various members of the choir. As I fixed my plate of food a guy came up to me and started talking with me. I was ok at first and then when he followed me to my seat and I realized that this wasnt going to just be polite conversation while standing in line but something that was going to continue on through the meal I started to get a bit nervous. I still wasnt all that used to having conversations with guys one on one. It wasnt horrible until suddenly there was this tension in the air and somehow I just knew…dont ask me how…I just knew that he was about to ask me out on a date. I scrambled to me feet threw away what was left of my food, mumbled something about needing to go home and headed for my car. He offered to walk with me and I didn’t know what else to do so I set a fast pace and prayed I would make it before he had a chance to ask.

Finally the car was in sight and all I had to do was keep the conversation on other things long enough to make it another few yards. I was closing in on it…had my hand on the door handle and then it happened. “I would like to take you out sometime” he said. I fumbled for words. How does one go about saying no? I had never really thought about it before. My mouth seemed to answer of its own accord and I was appalled to feel a smile firmly and falsely spread across my face.

“I would like that” I said. Inside though I was screaming, “No, say no jump in the car and pray you will never see him again”

“Great, can I get your number and Ill give you a call” he was nice and polite but he might as well have been a bear asking for permission to bite off my head for as much as I wanted to go out with him. “I can’t” I answered. “I have to go and I don’t have anything to write it on.”

“Thats ok. I’ll see you tomorrow at choir I can just get it then.” At least I was off the hook for the moment. I got in the car and tried not to cry as I drove home. What had I done? Why had I said yes?

The next day I didn’t think any more about it until I showed up for choir and as I walked in the door I saw him standing in the lobby. I panicked and ran to the bathroom where I stayed safely secluded in the stall until just a minute before the concert was supposed to start. I made it to my seat with just enough time to prevent him from talking to me. Now all I had to do was get out fast enough afterwards that he couldn’t talk to me then either and I would be home free.

It wasnt meant to be. Even though I managed (with a lot of careful maneuvering) to get out without having to talk with him that night he had gotten my phone number off the role and he called me a few days later. “I thought maybe we could go dancing” he told me. My jaw about hit the floor. Dancing! Are you kidding me! I wanted to yell. Simply being alone in a car with him terrified me. I certainly didn’t want to go dancing with him. That would involve him actually touching me! That simply wasnt an option.

“Actually, I have a better idea,” I tried to sound enthusiastic. “there’s this institute class that I go to sometimes. It’s really great. We could go to that!” There was a long pause on the other end of the line.

“Sure, we could do that I suppose, we can always go dancing another time”

“great sounds good” I said.” I’ll see you then.” I was about to hang up when he stopped me.

“where should I pick you up?” He asked.

“You don’t need to pick me up,” I said hopefully “its kind of far. I can just meet you there”

“I don’t mind,” he said.” Just tell me where and I will pick you up.” I didn’t know what else to say so I agreed and asked him to pick me up at a friend’s house so that he wouldn’t see the monstrosity that was my parents house and then I would have to answer all kinds of questions about our lifestyle.

Later I told Bro. B, one of my teachers about my predicament. He wasnt sympathetic to my plight at all. “What are you going to wear?” He asked. I wondered what that had to do with anything! I hadn’t thought about it at all.

“Well its tonight,” I said.

” I know, so what are you going to wear?”

“I guess I’m wearing this…” I said. “It’s what I have on. Unless there is some reason why that wont work?”

He went on to explain. Usually when you have a date he told me you clean up, wear something nice. And besides I still dressed like a polygamist with my long sleeves and ankle length dress. He thought that maybe I would wear something else.

“Nope, I think what I have on will work just fine.” I said. He left it at that.

The date itself wasnt awful…

We just sat and listened to the lesson. I did have to ride with him in the car but he had to keep his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel so I didn’t have to worry about him touching me or about making eye contact so all I had to worry about was making conversation. It wasnt as bad as I had anticipated until the end of the evening came and he brought me back to my friend’s house. Suddenly there was an awkwardness and I realized that I didn’t know how to make the darn thing end. I wanted it to all just go away.

“thanks” I said as I got out of the car. hoping he would just drive away and that would be it. But I could see him getting out and I knew it wouldn’t be that easy. “Heaven forbid” I thought. “I think he is going to walk me to the door!”

In fact he went in with me which wasnt all that bad. That way I didn’t have to have the awkwardness of saying goodbye at the door. We went inside and I immediately found my friend and disappeared in her room. After awhile he called into the other room and told me he was leaving. Ok see you later I yelled back. and It was over. First date down and hopefully I wouldn’t have to go through that again for a very long time!

Hello world!

You are probably wondering “Why A Cow in the Ocean?” Here is a story that might help explain.

John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic neighborhood.  On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a big juicy steak on his grill. Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were eating cold tuna fish for supper.
This went on each Friday of Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together and decided that something had to be done about John, he was tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn’t take it  anymore. They decided to try to convert John to Catholicism.
They went over and talked to him and were so happy that he decided to join all of his neighbors and become a Catholic. They took him to Church, and the  Priest sprinkled some water over him, and said, “You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now you are a Catholic.” The men were so relieved–now their biggest Lenten temptation was resolved.
The next year’s Lenten season rolled around. The first Friday of Lent came, and just at supper time, when the neighborhood was setting down to their tuna fish dinner, came the wafting smell of steak cooking on a grill.  The neighborhood men could not believe their noses!
They called each other up and decided to meet over in John’s yard to see if  he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent?  The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak on the grill, saying, “You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, and now you are a fish.”

I read this story shortly after being baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I laughed so much my sides hurt because I related so much to John Smith. You see I was born and raised a polygamist or as many refer to us a Fundamentalist Mormon. (That term can actually lead to a little confusion but that’s another story for another time.) Although I joined the LDS church willingly and was very happy to do so I often felt that I was trying to pretend to be something that I wasnt. I felt so different from everyone else that often when I found myself in a situation that I was uncomfortable in I would picture a cow swimming around in the ocean making fish lips. The image made me laugh and often relieved a little tension and helped me to realize that I owe it to myself to allow for a little room to make the adjustment from the world I grew up in to my new surroundings. After all just because you tell a cow he is a fish doesn’t make him one.

The one occasion that probably made me feel the most like a cow in the ocean was dating. An excerpt from my book “Lead Thou My Feet” will help you understand why dating was such an issue for me. In the story I had just developed my first crush.

“My mother sat me down then and told me the story of “The Pool.” It went something like this: Before I was born, when I still lived in heaven with my Heavenly Parents, I met someone who I loved more than anyone else and he loved me. We promised each other and Heavenly Father that when we came to earth we would find each other and be married. It was extremely important that this promise be kept and our entire eternity hinged on finding that one special person. Since we would not remember anything once the veil of forgetfulness was drawn, it would be up to us find out from God who the person was that we had promised to marry.

When you are born, it’s almost as if Heavenly Father puts a picture of the man you are to marry at the bottom of a pool and as you go through life, if you fall in love or have little crushes, you are throwing a handful of sand into the pool. If you talk to boys and do other things that you shouldn’t, soon that pool will become so clouded that you will never see the picture on the bottom. On the other hand, if you remain pure and ready to marry whomever the Lord tells you, then when the time is right, and after much fasting and prayer, the picture will be revealed.” (My book Lead Thou My Feet is not yet available to the public. If you are interested in reading more or in getting a copy of the book please email me at diddadowrite@hotmail.com)

Since we didn’t talk to boys, we didn’t date them either and so I grew up keeping clear boundaries and a definite distance from all boys. Once I joined the LDS church everything changed and instead of being encouraged to stay away from the boys, I suddenly found myself at 22 years old being encouraged from every side to date, date, date. (You can read the story of my first date ever on the date of the week page.) The idea terrified me…and entrigued me all at the same time. Perhaps that is the reason I write this blog now. This strange new world of dating, this rollercoaster with the highest highs, the lowest lows, the sweetest moments, the exciting twists and turns and the terrifying plunges into the unknown is something that has fascinated me from the beginning. Falling in love is universal, its something that happens to everyone regardless of culture, regardless of time, ever since Adam met Eve falling in love and everything that goes along with it has been written about, discussed, expressed through film, songs, books, and art. It has perhaps been the most consistent interest of men and women ever since the world began.