Friday, June 21, 2019

The Fairy Tale that didn't get rained out

When I woke up at 3:58 in the morning last Saturday, I knew there was no way I was getting back to sleep.  I was confident of this unfortunate reality not only because the nervous energy resulting from the realization that I’d be getting married in just over 12 hours had already started coursing through my body but also because I couldn’t stop watching the periodic lighting strikes which, though a long way away, were already lighting up the early morning darkness.  

Our ceremony took place in a ravine (aka “the clearing”) at the far end of my parents’ farm.  Sarah chose that place not only for the natural beauty but also because it was there, on the back of a four-wheeler, that I first told Sarah I loved her.  As we watched the photographer posing Sarah on a bridge over ravine’s creek, my sister turned to me and stated, “she looks like a fairy and I mean that in a good way.”  It was at that moment that Sarah’s “vision” (as she kept referring to it) for our wedding ceremony finally made sense in my mind.  The arch, decorations, dress and even the wreath crown she was wearing all worked in unison to create a fairy-tale like aura to our ceremony.  The vision came together despite the fact that just a few hours earlier, we were quite concerned it was never going to happen.

In order to get back to “the clearing”, one must drive across a freshly plowed field.  After just a bit of rain, this field becomes impassable to anything heavier than a four-wheeler.  Eventually, the lightning which I had been watching at four in the morning brought along a downpour lasting almost an hour.  At 6:07 AM, my dad declared “the clearing” dead.  It appeared we’d be relocating the ceremony to the back-up spot, a shaded area on the bank of our farm pond.  While the back-up spot was an idyllic farm setting, it didn’t quite have the ambiance Sarah was going for.  By 6:08 AM, it seemed the only question we had left was whether the four-wheeler would be able to get through the mud and back to “the clearing” so we could pick up the arch frame we’d left there the night before.  

As my dad was driving back to “the clearing” to answer that question, he noticed the ground becoming less muddy, even turning to dust, as he drove further from the house and closer to “the clearing”.  In a surprising turn of events, “the clearing” had been resuscitated.  While we’d received over half an inch of rain at the house, “the clearing” (about a half mile away) had gotten just enough rain to settle the dust, which is the exact amount my dad had been hoping for (despite that “just enough to settle the dust” was usually a derogatory description of a rain shower when used by a famer).  As the ceremony began at about 4:45 PM, with the line of cars that had driven through the field parked along the top of the ravine, the weather was a perfect 82 degrees, partly sunny and with a gentle breeze.  While that breeze would eventually blow in a near tornado just as we were wrapping up the post-ceremony meal we’d shared back up at the house, at the moment our ceremony began, I was giddy with how we’d managed to pull off the perfect weather for an outdoor wedding.  

After a processional consisting of our elder niece carrying our younger niece, our daughter as a flower girl and our oldest son picking up and carrying our youngest son after he couldn’t convince him to walk, Sarah hugged her dad just as the medley playing in the background changed to “Bless the Broken Road.”  At that moment, my giddiness was overcome by tears of joy.  The real-time image of this beautiful woman, reddish-brown hair falling down onto a stunning white dress while flashing a smile lighting up everything in its sight, walking down the aisle with the intent of becoming my bride was, in my mind, juxtaposed along with the images of the “broken road” that had brought us to this point.  For a few minutes, the emotion was a bit too intense to keep inside, so it found an escape route through my tear ducts.  

Really, that “broken road” has been a large theme of my writing on this blog over the past couple of years.  Similarly, the theme of the homily given by my friend who officiated the wedding was “beauty from ashes.”  The time I spent in Breakthrough, four years ago this month as well as the therapist sessions before and after that intense month of counseling were, in a large part, focused on helping me acquire what I found formalized on my wedding day, a primary relationship that is healthy, fulfilling and mutually complimentary.   When I started that journey toward a healthy relationship, I had no idea what was coming at me.  On the other side of that journey, though I’m so thankful for how the pain of the past has contributed to the joy of the present.  Of course, now real life with Sarah (kids, bills, careers, annoying each other) begins continues.  I know enough about myself and my wife to know that this new journey, while not always easy, is going to be successful and fun and maybe even provide a few more moments which bring tears to my eyes.

In one of those weird twists to a story, two of my best friends who were both supposed to be groomsmen in my first wedding 19 years ago but, for various reasons, were unable to be in attendance, ended up being a part of this wedding celebration.  Michael, mentioned above, drove from California to Iowa to officiate the ceremony.  While I can’t state how grateful I am that he made it a priority to be a part of the wedding, I’m not quite convinced that his long drive gave him the right to declare “that’s enough” as I was enjoying kissing my new bride.  My other friend, Jason, came down from Omaha for the “before they say I do” party Sarah’s parents threw for us back in May.  Now that I’ve ensured that all my long-time friends have been able to participate in either my first or second wedding, I’m officially retiring from the wedding business… and continuing my life with one of the most beautiful and intelligent women this world has ever seen.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My Therapist Would Approve

“But I need all the cracks in my shattered heart, 'cause that’s where her love gets in.”  – Dierks Bentley

Blog world, meet Sarah Wissmann.  Sarah Wissmann, meet my droves of faithful readers. 
Wait… something about the above doesn’t seem right.  No, it’s not what you might think.  Of course, I have droves of faithful readers. 
Or not. 
Either way, let’s try this again.

Blog world, meet Dr. Sarah Wissmann.  Dr. Sarah Wissmann, meet my droves of faithful readers. 

While “droves” may or not be an accurate adjective, “Dr.” is most definitely an accurate title for the Subject of this blog post. I’ll admit to not being the least bit embarrassed by the fact that someone as smart as Dr. Wissmann finds our conversations mentally stimulating.  At least, most of our conversations.  Or maybe a few of our conversations? 
Nah, she thinks I’m smart, too. 

Here’s the skinny on Dr. Sarah.  She is educated, accomplished, published, emotionally self-aware, relationally intuitive, well traveled, a lover of Jesus, of a Methodist upbringing, progressive, thoughtful, a committed mom, a graduate of Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine while simultaneously NOT a fan of Cyclone athletics, a great kisser, a skilled dancer and adorable.  Stunningly, gorgeously, adorable. 

 If the saying “like attracts like” is true, Sarah’s choice to be with me is a compliment stretching the limits of plausibility.  Let’s not think about it too much, though.  After all, isn’t there some other saying about the mouth of a gift horse or something?  Either way, the compliment of her choice is an honor I plan to live up to. 

There’s another quality of Sarah’s that I find quite attractive.  In fact, this quality stands out among an arm’s length long list of attractive qualities.  Sarah is the exactly the type of woman for whom my therapist told me to hold out.  In this earlier blog post, I passed along what said therapist shared with me regarding the two different places from which someone can begin a romantic relationship.  

“1) Coming from a place of strength in which they’re okay with themselves and okay with being alone yet they choose to be with the other person or 2) Coming from a place of need, in which they have no choice but to be with the other person because they can’t bear the idea of being alone and they need the validation that comes from being in a relationship.  She explained that starting a relationship from the second reason is like building a house out of 2x4’s that are rotten on the inside.  At first, things look fine but eventually the house will collapse in on itself because no other person can meet nor fill that role.”

Sarah comes to me from the first option, from a place of strength.  From the time of her divorce (the story of which is hers to tell) until our first date, she dated minimally.  In fact, “minimally” might be an understatement.  Instead of going on dates, Sarah spent a lot of time in her therapists’ office.  Rather than sacrificing time with her kids by dating guys she in whom she was only somewhat interested, she decided to wait until she finally found someone who possessed the characteristics for which she was looking.  She has slowly shared with me, in the form of handwritten notes, the character traits which she sees in me that prompted her to “come out of retirement.”  In addition to learning from the mistakes of her first marriage, Sarah possessed the patience, self-confidence and discernment necessary for pursuing a second chance at love from a place of strength. 

Full disclosure – my own “broken road” was different than Sarah’s.  While she hardly dated at all, I spent a season as a professional dater of sorts.  Though that season resulted in clarity and growth it eventually had to give way to a Lenten season of grief and aloneness.  

With Easter came a shot at a new dating app, “Coffee Meets Bagel.”  A match with a pretty redhead resulted in an invitation for her to accompany me to Ruins Pub followed by a concert being put on by a friend of mine.  The pictures on her profile, while nice to look at, failed to prepare me for the misplaced heartbeat that occurred the moment her front door swung open and I laid eyes on the beautiful smile located just below those smiling eyes.

I mean, who wouldn't be interested in a profile like that one

I guess, if you resisted the first profile pic, you'd fail to do so with this one

Our very first message

Watching that girl dance is a
thing of beauty

Repping the other alma mater

Don't let the smile fool you, she was
sore after emptying that corn bin

That fateful evening ended with a kiss.  Not to toot our own horn, but our fist kiss just might be good enough to misplace a different kiss on this list.  At the least, it was good enough to draw protests from a young Fred Savage.  

"The rest", as they say, "is history" as we now progress toward a shared future.

Just cause she has a degree from there
doesn't mean she cheers for those losers

It's gonna be a few years till we celebrate her 40th

Finally, let’s just verbalize what everyone thinks the first time they meet Sarah.  Sarah is a perfect doppelganger to Amy Adams.  The resemblance is uncannily hilarious.  I can't think of anyone else I know, significant other or not, who resembles a celebrity to the degree Sarah resembles Amy Adams.  
Lucky girl.  
Amy Adams, that is.