I’m down in Orangeburg and bumped into my college roommate and her husband. As we laughed and talked and made our trip down memory lane we went on to mix with the crowd. Every once in a while my eye would catch her and she would smile the same way she had many nights in our room many many years ago. She inspired me to write something that I haven’t posted yet—- and maybe never will. (It’s not my proudest moment. I made the right decision at the wrong time, but that’s another story for another someday.) But I watched her and her husband, saw the ease with which they interacted, the quiet intimacy between them, the self-assuredness that comes with having a partner who loves, supports and respects you. They didn’t do anything really—- just talked. But in a room full of people, they were lost in themselves. I thought to myself, if that is what love—real love—is, then this is what I hoped Mr. Conversation and I could maintain twelve years from now. I also realized that doesn’t come with force, or with labels, it just comes when it comes.
At the same event, a friend who reads my blogs pointed out that I was hard on the guys. “Damn, Cam” he began, “Do you ever encounter any decent motherfuckers out here?” (Excuse the cursing. Songbird had multiple gin and tonics.)
I do, I just don’t blog about them often. There’s usually no decent story with decent motherfuckers. And then I remembered that by far, dumb dudes doing dumb shit makes for juicy tales. But good men doing good things gets more blog hits. Go figure. So I’m going to try to focus on the good—at least for today.
Here’s a positive tale of my college roommate and her husband…This is their story.
He was The One. She knew because God told her the moment they shook hands. She was an assistant; he was the newly hired manager in another department. They’d just been introduced. She shook off God’s words, which were “He is your husband,” as nonsense. She was 22. She wasn’t thinking about nobody’s marriage.
When she got back to her desk, there was a message from her co-worker asking her if she’d met the new manager yet. And if she hadn’t, she should. He was perfect for her. She laughed and deleted the message. She would find out later that yet another co-worker had made a similar call to him.
The new manager made nice with his new employees. At company gatherings and post-work happy hours, the woman and the manager interacted. There was definitely chemistry. But it couldn’t go anywhere. Not so much because both of them had a I don’t shit where I eat philosophy about dating folks at the job, but because the guy had a fiancée back in the Midwest where he’d transferred from. They remained causal associates from a distance. She wasn’t the chick to play side-piece (not that he asked) and well, he needed to stay away from her if he wanted to continue to be a happily engaged man.
A year and a half later, the man flew to the Midwest and called off his engagement. Things weren’t working out. He returned to Charlotte called his casual associate from a distance and told her what he’d done. Then he said something along the lines of this: “I dig you, I want to see if we can build something together someday, but I just got out of a relationship and I’m not at a place to be with you now. Just let me get myself together.”
She reminded him that they were just associates—albeit associates with amazing chemistry—and she had never asked him for more. So while she appreciated his call, it was unnecessary. If she was available whenever he got himself figured out, then maybe she would agree to a date.
A week later, he called back. He was ready. No bullshit. He’d never met a woman like her and he didn’t see any point in wasting any more time when he felt like she was the only woman for him. He asked her out, she agreed to go.
A month later, he asked her to marry him. His proposal went something like this: “I don’t have much to offer. I have a studio apartment in a bad part of town. I’m paying off student loans, and I’m broke. But I work hard and I have a plan; and if you’ll stand with me and support me, I know I can be anything. I’ll do my best to make you happy if you’ll honor me by becoming my wife.”
They got on a plane to Vegas that weekend and got married—- TWELVE years ago.
She didn’t bullshit me about her marriage. “It’s hard and it’s work,” she said. “Don’t let anybody tell you different.” They argue and he gets on her last good nerve sometimes. When they have problems, she talks to her folks (married 40 years) or his (married 50 years.)She doesn’t bother mentioning her woes to her single friends. They also have rules. No matter what happens, they cannot embarrass each other- everything else is negotiable, including adultery. (“I’ll be damned if some chick’s gonna make me lose my lifestyle and my love,” she said. “We’ll stay in counseling forever until we work it out.) They also have God. When that last good nerve is worked, they pray– together.
When she talks about her husband, she gets that same look that my girls get now when they meet a great guy and we’re getting together to rehash that first date. That’s the kind of marriage that I want. There’s no sense in settling for anything less.