Occasionally a dinner party can be heaven.
Last night Nick and his old friend Zaya (who I was technically meeting for the first time but who I’d already decided I liked based on some emails and stories) made dinner for Anne and I. The food was unspectacular, the wine was nice and getting to watch TV and chat while the men discussed life over the pots and pans was welcome.
Then we all sat down together and the best part of the evening started.
Zaya came with a mission to get to know me, and I had a similar agenda. And so a mutual interrogation began.There were funny questions and personal questions.
Than Zaya asked me a question that I rarely get asked and that I rarely talk about.
“Why did you marry Nick?”
Although I write blogs about my life and talk openly about things most people consider private, I am actually quite a reserved person. There is a layer of openness that I show in my writing but beneath it are my deepest feelings. Loving Nick, the reasons why I married him, are deep inside me. He knows. But not a lot of other people really know why. He’s tall and good looking and kind to the core, those are all obvious reasons that answer the question before it’s asked.
But Zaya has known Nick longer than me and heard Nick wax poetic about me when we first met. And as he later rephrased it, what Zaya was really asking is how does an engineer white kid from the suburbs marry a (half) Latin girl writer who grew up in Africa.
The first part of the answer is that my labels are not as cool as they sound. Growing up in Africa and Central America was not something I did on purpose, it was something I was unwittingly (and gratefully!) a part of because of my parent’s choices. And that Nick could play up his own labels to sound cooler, he is French (from France!) after all…but that’s just not the kind of person he is.
Which brings me to the second part of the answer. Which for some reason makes me kind of weird and uncomfortable. I’m used to people thinking Nick is madly in love with me and that I like him (I exaggerate but you get the idea). He will tell anyone who will listen why he loves me. I will occasionally tell my friends, sometimes family members. But it’s usually a back-handed compliment or an overly earnest observation that I can’t say while making eye contact.
Nothing of what I’m about to write (I promise I’ll stop stalling now) will be news to him. He knows.
But that fair and funny question from Zaya last night galvanized me to make a public, non-Facebook status, free of smug-marriedness declaration. What better place than the internet. And I continue to stall…
So here it goes.
I married Nick because he was the first guy I dated. I had had a string of bizarre, bad, childish pseudo-boyfriends before Nick. But he was my first bring-home-to-meet-the-family boyfriend. He was the first guy I ever liked who I wasn’t embarrassed of liking on some level.
The string of pseudo-boyfriends preceding Nick were very one dimensional characters. They were the types to make grand gestures that seem nice in movies but are horribly uncomfortable in real life. They were the types to fall for my manipulations and who brought out the worst of my dramatic nature. They were guys who could never fit into my real life of family dinners and Sunday School.
But then there was Nick. Who on one of our first non-dates (it took us awhile to admit we were more than friends!) helped me deal with my niece taking off her poopy diaper and spreading it all over the carpet during what was supposed to be nap time! Nick, who my little sister actually liked and became best friends with. Nick who learned to teach Sunday School lessons to toddlers (and rocks at it!). Nick who absorbed my negativity and never returned it, helping me to get over being a melodramatic teenager (well…mostly).
Nick, who if you ask him to do something will stop whatever he’s doing and go do what you asked. Not because he’s whipped or a pushover. He does it because he genuinely likes to do things for other people, because he genuinely likes being helpful. In a life full of women (me, my sisters, my best friends, our niece, his mom) this quality makes him worth his weight in gold!
I also married Nick because he was never going to hold me back. And because I knew that he was willing to go to the ends of the earth if God asked him to. Nick is, ultimately, a leaper. He leaps and trusts that everything we’ll get worked out. Or as Zaya put it, he is swimming in the ocean, out in the middle of the ocean and he’s not worried about it. And I wanted someone to swim with!
I married Nick because he is the kind of good man you should marry. And I wasn’t about to miss out on my chance to marry one of the good ones.That may not sound like the great romance of two young lovebirds. But at the end of the day it’s not about that. It’s about having someone who makes this cranky lady laugh and helps me chill out when I’m wound so tight I’m ready to snap. It’s about being married to someone who I will always respect and look up to (and not just because he’s ginormously tall!)
Re-reading what I’ve written I’m chuckling to myself because I wonder if most people will think “Uhm, you are actually really obvious Ashlee and we all know why you married Nick.” Which just proves my suspicions about how much of what I perceive of the world is actually all in my head! I also hope I don’t come across as sentimental or precious (puke face) because that would make me sad. Because I have really good reasons for being married to Nick at age 23. But, as is inevitable with age and wisdom, I will probably read this in 20 years and think “Oh how sweet. Wasn’t I just precious.”