Marry Me! (Part 31 of the HaM Love Story)

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part thirty-one of the Homey and Me Love Story.

It was March 17th, there was a dusting of snow still on the ground from the storm the day before, and Homey and I were at my house…shooting the breeze. Well, actually Homey was on one knee, shaking, and sweating despite the fact that it was only 65° in my house.

Homey held up an open ring box, with a diamond ring sparkling, and demanded, Marry me!

I started to say yes, but then laughed, realizing that he left me no option to say yes or no. I motioned for him to get up, started putting on the ring, or maybe I was hugging him…I don’t know. I can’t really remember the details. But I’m sure that we were kissing and that we were so mushy that you would have needed a barf bucket if you were there. It was the best.

Before Homey had come out to PA, we had given ourselves a curfew, and we were getting really close to it. So we hugged, kissed, celebrated, and then Homey left for the night.

I wanted to call him right away. Instead, I started texting him. We texted back and forth until we couldn’t stay awake anymore.

I was engaged…to be married.

I went to my bed, alone, realizing that this experience was limited. Everything in my home was different. I wouldn’t walk up my creaky stairs many more times. I wouldn’t be sleeping alone much longer. I wouldn’t be checking my phone every three seconds to see if I had a text from Homey. Soon enough, I’d be moving to Arizona, and we’d be together. In fact, we’d be together forever.

I wasn’t on cloud nine. I was on cloud nine-hundred ninety nine.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of happiness and excitement as I showed off my engagement ring and told everyone my big announcement. With every repetition of the phrase, “We’re engaged!” the fact that I was engaged felt more real.

***
Homey went back to AZ, and we continued to email and talk on the phone, but now our conversations were laced with real plans. It was an exciting time.

One of the first things I had to do to prepare for our wedding was talk to my bishop about canceling my temple marriage to Rusty. Here’s the thing, marriages performed in the Mormon temple are considered to be eternal. When we are married, the priest performing the wedding doesn’t say, “’til death do you part.” Instead, under proper authority, this priest is sealing a husband and wife as a married partnership together forever. This scripture explains:

“And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens;…” – Doctrine and Covenants 132:46

Marriage isn’t only a social construct. It is ordained of God. It is a covenant, the crowning covenant, that we can make during our mortal lives. Marriage is an eternal covenant made between God, husband, and wife. Getting married in the temple isn’t just a wedding. The temple marriage is a significant and sacred covenant. Divorce isn’t really meant to be an option.

Elder Oaks explained,

““Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:8–9).

The kind of marriage required for exaltation—eternal in duration and godlike in quality—does not contemplate divorce. In the temples of the Lord, couples are married for all eternity. But some marriages do not progress toward that ideal. Because “of the hardness of [our] hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law. Unless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members.” – Dallin H. Oaks

So, if we are living the way that we should, then we would have no need of divorce. We would not enter into a covenant that we didn’t mean to keep. If we are serious about our commitment to God, then we will be serious about our commitment to our spouses, even when it is difficult. When we truly accept the gospel and the covenant of temple marriage, we rely on the Atonement to aid in our marriages.

Even though my story is ultimately a happy one, divorce has always brought confusion and sadness in my life.

Divorce isn’t ideal, but Heavenly Father knew that people wouldn’t keep their covenants. He knew that there would be victims. He knew that there would be a need for divorce, so He allows for it under certain circumstances, but it isn’t meant to be a quick solution.

In the Mormon tradition, when a man and woman who have been married in the temple are legally divorced, the blessings and obligations of the temple covenant are not automatically revoked. Only someone with authority from God can cancel the temple marriage. As the Savior teaches,

“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. – Matthew 19:6

Because the temple marriage isn’t instantly revoked at the time of a legal divorce, Mormons go through another process. Often, it is referred to as a “temple divorce.” However, as I began my own process, I soon learned the true name of this process: the cancellation of temple blessings. What a difference this makes. “Temple divorce”- sounds pretty cut and dry – sign a paper, and voila… However, “Cancellation of Temple Blessings” sounds more difficult. I don’t want to lose out on my blessings. I don’t want the covenants that I have made and kept to be cancelled. For this reason, most people do not receive a cancellation of temple blessings when they are divorced. Instead, they wait until they can be re-married, so as not to lose the benefit of such covenants.

I had not broken my covenant with God nor with Rusty; therefore, I still received the blessings of this covenant. These covenants are very sacred, so I can’t really spell it out to you, but I can tell you that I was protected throughout my marriage to Rusty, throughout my divorce, and throughout my life as a single woman. Someone asked me what good my temple marriage had been since my marriage had ended in divorce anyway. To this person, I proclaimed, It wasn’t the temple that failed me; it wasn’t God that failed me. It was Rusty. I have lived worthy of my covenant, and can still appeal to God for all of the blessings of the New and Everlasting Covenant…What good was my temple marriage? It led me to be closer to my God, the temple has infused my life with the Spirit. And the Spirit has saved me – literally and spiritually.

So, I was being blessed by this covenant, but now that Homey was in my life, I knew that I wanted to be able to make this covenant with him. In order for this to occur, I needed to see my Bishop and begin the process of a cancellation of temple blessings.

In some ways, this process was exciting. I would be getting married soon! I was moving on! My prayers were being answered. But for the next six weeks, I would feel so much stress – the stress of completing all of the components of this process, and the spiritual stress that also accompanies all big changes. It was a challenging process. There were three main ways that the cancellation process kind of scared me.

One – The Process itself

First of all, the process of a cancellation of temple blessings is exhausting. I had to meet more often with the bishop. I had to have extended worthiness interviews. Old “stuff” that I hadn’t thought of in years was brought back to light. I had to write a letter to the First Presidency. My bishop would have to get in touch with Rusty. My bishop would have to get in touch with Homey’s Bishop. After all of this, I’d then have to have an interview with the Stake President.

The Stake President and Bishop would also send letters to the First Presidency and give their thoughts.

My request, forms, and letters would all be sent on to General Authorities, and they would evaluate everything. Prayerfully, a decision would be made by the First Presidency. They’d send me back a letter, and I’d know if they had agreed to cancel the temple blessings or not. It was a long process that required a lot of work.

Homey and I prayed about it and decided to set a date for our marriage. We didn’t know if I would be granted a cancellation of temple blessings. We decided to act in faith. I had kept my covenants. I knew that God would keep His, too.

So. I met with my bishop, and I started the process. The first thing I had to do was write a letter to the prophet. If you are not Mormon, you need to understand how huge this is. Essentially, I had to write a letter to the Pope. The only one who can revoke the covenant of a temple marriage is the prophet. Yikes!

I wrote my letter to the Prophet and First Presidency of the church. You can read more about that experience here. I sent a copy of this letter to Homey. I was so happy to receive his response.

Catania, this email is gonna be brief. I just want to thank you so much for sending me a copy of your letter to the First Presidency. You are an AMAZING woman. I’m so lucky. ohmygosh I will never forget how lucky I am. I LOVE YOU more than raccoons love shiny stuff in a box.” – Homey to Catania, March 2007

Not only was it nice to hear Homey talk about how much he loved me, I’m so glad that he compared himself to a raccoon. He really was my kind of guy.

Two – An Unwanted Reminder

Even though Homey was supportive of me, and even though he knew my past, the process of a temple cancellation was a constant reminder to me and to Homey of my past.

Sometimes, I just wanted to pretend that I had never been married before. I wanted to be pure. I didn’t want a shadow to hang over my relationship with Homey. For the most part, this was possible. Rusty was such a distant memory that it never came up between Homey and me.

However, when we began the process of the temple cancellation, there was no getting around the constant reminder of my first marriage, my past life, and I kept worrying that Homey would be turned off by all of this. Homey was, after all, a bachelor who had never been married. Would all of this talk about Rusty and my first marriage make Homey realize that I was tainted meat? that I was worthless?

Just when my worrying and fear would reach a fever pitch, I’d get an email from Homey and be comforted by his words:

“I just barely fell asleep on the couch and had a dream that we were married…and we were at the golf practice facility hitting golf balls. My oldest bro was there with his kids (this will probably happen because he lives in Tucson and loves golf), and Tiger and Panda were there running around with them. This one will definitely all come true in just a few short months. Anyway…it was good because it feels so right every way I think about us together.” – Homey to Me, March 23, 2007)

Or…Just when I was sure he’d realize I was “tainted meat” and that he was “settling,” he’d say something like this:

“Why are we getting married? Pregnancy, financial security, loneliness or wanting to get out of the family home are not valid reasons for getting married.

We’re getting married because I love you more than anyone I’ve ever loved and God’s plan for us is that we are married to one oanother to obtain all the eternal covenants, blessings, and ordinances that Heavnely Father has outlined for us. I want to be with you all the time. And if I HAVE to go to work, then I want to be with you the rest of the time (other than maybe a round of golf here and there… 😉 I really truly love you. you’re not pregnant, we won’t have (much) financial security, I’m not lonely, and I don’t live with my parents…so it must be love. 🙂 – Homey to Me, 29 March 2007

Even though our meeting was unconventional, it was right. Through the process of the cancellation of temple blessings, I was learning that all of the afflictions I had experienced in life were consecrated for my gain. (See 2 Nephi 2:2.) I began to learn (and frankly, I’m still learning this) that I didn’t need to fear. I could trust God, and I could trust Homey.

Three – The Usual Fear that Comes from the Adversary

Besides the constant reminder of my divorce and the process of the cancellation, I was facing a third challenge: the Adversary. This challenge proved to be the most difficult.

It seems like from the second that Homey proposed to me (well, the second he got back on the plane to AZ), I was bombarded with doubts. I have already discussed some of the doubts (about divorce, etc.) I constantly worried about my worthiness. I worried that the cancellation of temple blessings wouldn’t happen. Some of the people who should have supported me proved to be the biggest problems. I was constantly second guessing myself.

Worst of all, my cold feet returned, and with a vengeance. I began to wonder, Do I love Homey? Really? Will I really be happy with a man, or am I happier without one?

I came to the conclusion that I was in love.

Which led to another doubt, Should I really be marrying Homey, or am I blinded by Love? I have always been so blind. I’m a terrible judge. Perhaps I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.

I wanted a “big” sign that this was right. But instead I was simply feeling a quiet sense of peace. I had to remind myself of the miraculous nature of a quiet sense of peace.

One Saturday, I went to the temple. I was feeling burdened with all of the stresses coming in my life. By then, I had quit my job, and I was already living with my mom again. In some ways, major decisions had been made that I couldn’t “unmake.” I still didn’t know if our wedding would happen. I was still waiting to hear from the First Presidency on the cancellation. I was overcome by my emotions and stress.

I walked into the temple sad. Sadder than I had been in a very long time. Would I be able to feel peace without the nagging of doubts?

I attended the temple, and my heart began to settle. I was reminded that I could trust God. He is a God of Miracles. He created the Earth; surely He could perform the miracles I still needed in my life. I felt his love, and by the time I was leaving the temple, I without really knowing it, I started singing a song in my head,

“You can make the pathway bright,
Fill the soul with heaven’s light,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Turning darkness into day,
As the shadows fly away,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
f there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today. – You Can Make the Pathway Bright, Helen Silcott Dungan

I hummed the song as I walked to my car. When I got in the car, I sat down and said a silent prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for the chance to go to the temple. Suddenly, the song I was singing dawned on me. I know that the song was Heavenly Father’s way of telling me that things were okay. Instead of worrying, I could make the pathway bright by allowing God’s sunshine in my heart.

I also realized that we have agency. Even when the Lord blesses us, we have agency. We don’t have to accept the gifts that God gives us. Heavenly Father had personally answered my petitions and prayers (and Homey’s), and allowed us to meet and court one another. While this was an answer to my prayer, I didn’t have to accept the gift. I could still walk away. However, I knew that Homey was a miracle and a gift, and if I chose to walk away from this blessing, I might not receive another.

Though so much of my future would be an act of faith, I could trust in God. I could be happy. I could scatter sunshine. I knew that His hand had been in my life up to this point, and that as long as I continued to come to Him, His hand would stay in my life–guiding me, stabilizing me, reaching out to me in love.

***

A final excerpt from an email from Me to Homey:

“I read a quote today–from Boyd K. Packer. It included the following scripture, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30). I realized that I need to take this to heart. Sometimes I get afraid, Homey. Sometimes I’m afraid that the temple cancellation won’t happen. Sometimes I’m afraid that we won’t be able to get married for a while, and that we’ll miss Cancun, and that it will be difficult. Sometimes I get afraid that moving is going to be too difficult and hard. Deep in my heart, I know that these fears are unfounded and wrong. They are, quite honestly, Satan’s stupid whisperings. He’s trying to get me down. He tries in so many ways. But today’s quote helped me to know how I can overcome my fears–BE PREPARED. I have a bit to do for preparation, and it’s a good thing that I have 53 days to do it. That’s plenty of time. And this helps me have confidence. I’m grateful for the adversities that we are facing together. It helps me to love you even more. It helps me to see that our love and marriage are wonderful things. I know Heavenly Father is happy about them. He is the one who set us up! I know that we still have more to overcome. And I know that if I continue to put my confidence in the Lord, supporting you as you also put your confidence in the Lord, then we will be able to work together. It is exciting, Homey. I’m realzing–instead of me being the only one–the only one to receive revelation, the only one to feel the Spirit–I will have you, too. I know that you can lead me, and that I can trust you. It’s exciting–we’re going to be married. We’re going to be “one flesh.” We’re going to be united. I’m really happy about that. I have a lot to learn about this. I think that I come from a deficit because I learned bad habits. This experience will help me to learn how to be a good wife, I think–and how to truly trust in both the Lord and in His Priesthood.” – Me To Homey, 27 March 2007

And this is what happened…we struggled as we waited, together, on other sides of the country, to see if we would be able to get married in the temple. Every day, I checked my mail. Every day I prayed. Every day I wondered, will we be married at the Washington, D.C. Temple in May? Will we be able to celebrate with friends and family? Will we go to Cancun? or…will we tell our friends and family to cancel their plans? Will we have to postpone the trip to Cancun?

Will we have to wait?

Click here for part 32.

Italian Dinner for St. Patrick’s – Part 30 of the HaM – Homey and Me – Love Story

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part thirty of the Homey and Me Love Story.

Homey’s trip to PA was short, but nothing short of amazing.

When he got back to AZ, we returned to our break-neck pace of texting, talking on the phone, and writing emails.

In fact, on the morning of Monday 12 March (the day after Homey arrived back to Phoenix), I arrived to work with an email. The tone of the emails were more serious. Now that we had met, we were discussing marriage. Oh, and not like some distant-far-off-fantasy-marriage, but a real marriage that would be happening in the very near future.

It was very exciting.

I mean, seriously, what single woman, who wants to get married wouldn’t love to receive an email saying this:

“So I just have to say that this weekend was the absolute greatest time of my entire life. In soooooo many ways, I felt confirmed over and over to me that you are the right woman for me to marry. It was really great to go to the temple with you. That was the most powerful experience I’ve had in a very long time, and I want to thank you for it.”

Eeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!!!

or this:

“I am sooo glad that we had a chance to spend time with Tiger and Panda. They are the raddest kids. I really can’t describe how natural and easy it was to be with them. It really felt like I have met them before. And I’m pretty sure that things will work out fine in that department. I’m a quick learner and will hopefully pick up on the father-ing thing fast. This is an opportunity I am really excited to start. I LOVE YOU.”

blaiohagleiboigaspohtasooaisdpfiha!!!!! (That is a good sentiment, I promise!)

I mean, seriously. Did you just read that last paragraph? Even as I read it now, seven years after it was written, I’m totally amazed. Dreamy-land amazed.

After the visit, Homey talked to his mom about me, and she was adjusting to the idea that he was falling in love with a woman, a single-mother, on the other side of the country, that he had met online. (That’s a lot to take!!!)

On my end, things were really feeling great, too.

My children loved Homey. Tiger was over the moon because he had brought her a stuffed-animal monkey and some candy. (Kids are so easy to please!) And Panda’s reaction to Homey was the even bigger surprise. Even though Panda was excruciatingly shy (she still is), she warmed up to Homey immediately, and I think that she had a crush on him. After he left she kept proclaiming, “Homey is cute, momma.”

When Homey was in PA, I was watching him. We didn’t spend much time with my kids, as I didn’t want them to really develop any kind of attachment to him before I knew if I really liked him or not. I was always guarded about the men that my children met while I dated. That being said, I wanted to see him with them. He was pretty perfect. More of the Dreamy-land feelings for Homey. 🙂 🙂

Not only did my kids like Homey, but my mom seemed to legitimately like him.
With the men that I dated in the past, she usually had nothing positive to say about them.
On the first Monday after homey’s visit, when I was picking the kids up from my Mom’s house, she asked, “How was Homey’s flight? Did he get back to AZ okay?”
“Yes. It went without any problems at all.”
“Great.”
“Yeah…so, what do you think?” I asked, a little worried about her opinion. I never could tell what she would say/think.
My mom sat there for a second and then said, “I’m glad he smiles.”

My little brother Sam also liked Homey, and Sam was probably one of my closest friends at the time. Sam laughed at Homey’s jokes and even drew a picture of Russell Crowe wearing a kilt and riding on a flying lion for him. Naturally, Homey loved it.

My dad still didn’t know that I was thinking about marriage, though he knew that I was receiving a visit from Homey.

My Relief Society President seemed to really like Homey. I trusted and valued her opinion. She remains one of the most faithful, intelligent, and with-it women I’ve ever known. I want to be like her. So to get her approval was nice.

My Bishop, however, still hadn’t met Homey, and I wanted to know what he thought, too. I was hoping to find out his thoughts after Homey’s next visit.

Now, I know that it might sound strange, that I wanted the approval of all of these people, not because I was worried, but it was my safety net. I knew I was in love, and I wanted other, objective opinions. Another reason I was looking for approval was because I was starting to get cold feet about everything.

Hot and Cold, and it was happening all in my head

There is no doubt about the fact that I was in love with Homey. No doubt about it. And I was super happy about being in love, too. But I was learning something new…love scared me.

Love hadn’t really scared me in the past, or at least I didn’t think that it had. But then, I started to wonder. What ifffff…….?

What if he changes his mind?
What if he realizes that I’m not really the woman he wants?
What if he changes his mind about children?
What if, when things get hard, he gives up?
What if he is addicted to p*rnography and s*x and has been lying about it?
What if he starts to hate my idiosyncrasies?
What if he is passing up the chance at a better woman?
What if he decides to cheat?
What if he realizes that I’m tainted meat, then leaves?
Can he really love me? Is it even possible?

These thoughts aren’t helpful. And instead of leading somewhere good, they led to worse thoughts (Imagine that!?)

What if I change my mind?
What if I realize that he’s not really the man that I want?
What if I change my mind about having him be the step-father to my children?
What if, when things get hard, I give up?
What if I have been so damaged by past experiences, I destroy him and make him turn to p*rn?
What if I start to hate his idiosyncrasies?
What if I’m passing up the chance to meet and marry a better man?
What if I decide to cheat?
Can I really love him? Is it possible that I’m in love?
What is love anyways?
What is the point of marriage?
What is the point of anything?

Ahhh…the fun of thinking.

But the thoughts were there, and I knew that I shouldn’t ignore them completely because that doesn’t actually solve anything. I needed to answer them honestly for myself. The thing is – every relationship is a risk. There is no way around it. I had been burned pretty badly before, and although I was ready to take another chance, I hadn’t forgotten the pain of the last burn. The scars were still sensitive.

So, I made it a matter of prayer.

I wish I could tell you that my prayers were answered immediately. I wish I could say that a light came down from heaven, and a voice proclaimed, “Catania, stop it! You can trust Homey. He’s amazing. Everything will be fine.” I even would have accepted a voice saying, “Catania, stop it! Don’t talk to him! You’re an idiot! Don’t you know?!?!?! You can’t trust men!!!”

Neither of those things happened for me. Yet I wasn’t left alone.

As I prayed, I would feel quiet comfort. I felt reminded of the fact that I was making my choices prayerfully, and that the Lord wouldn’t let me go astray. I also felt that I would need to learn to trust in God, and that it might even mean making myself vulnerable to other people.

Homey’s Second Visit

Homey was scheduled to arrive to PA on March 16th–the same day that a massive ice/snow-storm was scheduled to arrive.

The ice storm actually arrived ahead of schedule. I was getting a little worried, but received a text from Homey when he had boarded his plane and then explained that they were taking off. Phew. We’d be spared the trouble of cancelled flights.

Or so I thought.

I left work, and decided to head straight to the airport. I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would take me to get there with the horrible combination of freezing rain and sleet. It was one of those storms that were too wet for salt/trucks to make much of a difference, yet just cold enough to make everything slick. The traffic was beyond horrible, and I saw three different cars slide off the road.

It took about an hour for me to travel about 5 miles. I was beginning to worry. Even though Homey would make it to Philadelphia, I wasn’t sure if I would!

After seeing a fourth car slide off the road, my phone rang. It was Homey. I was at a stop anyway, so I answered.
“I’m sorry!” I exclaimed. “We’re on our way to the airport.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he replied. “Just head back home.”
“No. I’m already on my way. It’s no trouble.”
“No. I mean, don’t come to the airport. Our plane was diverted. I’m in Richmond.”
“Virginia?” I asked.
“Yeah.”
“That’s like five hours away.”
“I know. I’m going to let you go for now because I’m losing battery, and I’m not sure what they’re going to do, but I’ll call you back in like 15 minutes.”
“Okay.”

I wanted to cry. Curse the stupid snow!!!!

I turned around and started to head back to my home. I called my mom and explained what was happening. Then, I started thinking of a plan in my head. I’d just drive down to Virginia to pick him up. I hated the idea of him not coming to PA. It wouldn’t be a big deal. I’d just get the girls, get some snacks, and head down to VA. The weather wasn’t bad south of us. As soon as I got south of the storm, everything would be fine. It would be an adventure.

I was still trudging through traffic when I got Homey’s next call.
“Hey.”
“Yeah, so they have cancelled the flight completely.”
“So you’re just stuck in Virginia?” I asked.
“Yeah. They are offering to re-route us in a day or two, or give us vouchers and send us back to Phoenix. Of course, I came on my mom’s buddy passes, so I am not sure what they’d do for me.”
“Oh man. That sucks. I can’t believe it. They can’t even get you in a little later?”
“No. They’ve completely shut down the Philadelphia airport, so there are no flights in or out for the next 24 hours or even longer.”
“Okay. Well, you know what,” I began, “I’m on my way home. I’m going to get the girls, then I’m going to head down to Virginia to get you. It will take me about five hours, but then–”
“No. Don’t. You can’t drive down here.”
“It’s no problem at all.” I said, committed.
“No, Catania. You don’t understand. I’ve already rented a car. I’m going to drive up.”
I was a little flabbergasted. I hadn’t thought of that solution.
“Okay.” I said. “Great! But be careful. The weather is much worse here than it is in VA. I mean, everything is horrible here.”
“All the more reason that I don’t want you to drive, then, Catania. Just get the kids and get warm.”
“Okay. And I want you to stay safe, too. Don’t try to drive here tonight if it is too icy. Just stay in Washington, D.C. or somewhere along the way. Don’t risk getting in an accident. The roads are worse when you get further north.”
“Okay. I’ll do that. Thanks. Hopefully I’ll make it tonight.”
“I really don’t think you will. It’s a five hour drive, and the roads are the worst. Tomorrow, when the storm is over, it will be better. Drive for a while, but please stop when it gets bad. We’ll just see you tomorrow. I can pick you up from the rental car place tomorrow in the morning. Then you don’t have to have the rental for more than a day.”
“Alright…Look, I need to go. I’m running out of battery. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

In that phone call, the concerns I had about marriage, trust, and commitment were beginning to evaporate. I was truly worried about Homey’s safety. And I was completely amazed by what he was doing: driving up to PA, in a snowstorm, to be with me. As I drove home, I was feeling emotional. Homey was doing all of this to be with me.

***
I finally made it home, and then I decided to stay the night at my mom’s house. (Our little white house was always soooo cold, plus the girls were already there). I talked with Homey throughout the evening. His drive was smooth sailing up to Washington, D.C., then, just as I had predicted, he met the storm, and was going nowhere fast. He decided against risking it, and just stopped at a hotel.

We talked on the phone for a short time. We wanted to save our energy for when we were actually able to see each other. So, we spent a few minutes cursing the weather and lamenting the fact that we were so close to each other, yet so far away.

March 17, 2007

In the morning, I got a call from Homey, and knew I had a few hours before he’d be in Philly, so I decided to go for a quick run. It was cold, but the road crews had been working all night long. The road was clear and run-able. I decided that I’d release a little bit of nervous energy before Homey arrived.

I went on a typical run – to the Church and back home. Thinking about it actually makes me ache for Pennsylvania.

The view on a run.
The view on a run.

You can’t really tell from this picture, but it is hilly in PA. My mom’s house, in particular, is at the top of a really big hill. No matter what route I took, I’d have to go uphill at the end of the run back to my mom’s house.

Running up hills are particularly hard. Your legs and lungs are burning. You wonder why you’re doing this, yet you also think, I’m gonna make it up this hill!!! In order to make it up the hills, sometimes I’d visualize certain things. At first, I’d visualize my kids, my bishop, or Snoop at the top of the hill–cheering me on. If I made it to the top of the hill without stopping to walk, I’d give each of these imaginary cheerleaders a real high-five. (It probably looked odd…)

Throughout my time as a single-mom, it was encouraging for me to think of the people who were waiting for me, cheering me on. This idea gave me the strength to keep pressing forward. It might sound strange, but it really helped me on both my runs and in my personal life.

This cold March morning, I found myself at the end of a run–about to face the dreaded, steep hill that leads to my mom’s house. I wanted to walk. I was tired. But then I told myself, Imagine…Homey’s at the top. He’s cheering you on.

As soon as I told myself to visualize him at the top of the hill, another part of me realized that he wasn’t there. I realized that, if this was real, and there were people standing at the top of the hill, cheering me on, Homey wouldn’t be in that throng. Instead, he’d be along-side me. Cheering me on as he took those final steps with me up the hill. Even though we weren’t officially committed, I knew that he loved me and wanted to be committed to me forever. The commitment he wanted wasn’t like the companionship of a fair-weather friend, sex partner, or even a pet. The commitment he desired was more. He wanted to be the person who would help me move forward as I struggled. He would truly rejoice in my victories because he had suffered with me.

I realized what I couldn’t put my finger on the day before when he announced that he was driving up to PA. In the past, I had relationships with men who were happy to stand by and wait for me. I was happy and willing to do the work because I believe that’s what we do in relationship. I was happy and willing to do the work for Rusty in our sham of a marriage. I was happy and willing to cross the ocean to see Markus. I was happy and willing to listen to Roger, drive down to cheer him up, or calm him during his anxious moments. I was happy and willing to spend time, money, and energy on men who were only willing to stand at the end of the line and cheer me on…maybe.

And for the first time, I was courting someone who wouldn’t stand idly by, but was happy and willing to work to see me. He’d rent a car and drive to me, even though he had already flown 2,000 miles. In my mind’s eye, I could see Homey running along side me up Glenside. And at the top of the hill were my kids, my bishop, my parents.

I knew that despite my many concerns and fears, I could proceed with faith in this relationship that would change my life.

***
The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. I picked up Homey, and we hung out at home playing games with the girls. They were delighted because he had bought each of them giant Easter baskets filled with Reece’s peanut butter eggs. We watched movies, and tried to stay warm in my cold little house.

As evening fell, I took the girls to my Mom’s house again. She’d babysit while Homey and I went out. We got dressed nicely, and went to dinner at a little Italian Restaurant named Anthony’s. It was a nice night. (Live in PA?…I suggest Anthony’s in Malvern. Great Stromboli.) Even though the Stromboli at Anthony’s is practically perfect, I was able to refrain from scarfing it down because of nerves. I couldn’t help but wonder:

Is he gonna propose to me? When will it happen? What will he say? What does the ring look like? I thought he was going to propose. I hope he didn’t change his mind.

We ate dinner, exchanged pleasantries, then headed back home.

We talked (okay, mostly kissed), and Homey seemed to be nervous. He’d stop to say something, then start kissing me again. Then, he’d pause, gaze into my eyes, shift like he was going to say something, then change his mind, and kiss me as if kissing was the only way to relieve his nerves.

Finally, he was able to stop for a moment. He made a quick movement down to the ground. He got down on one knee, pulled something from his pocket, and then, he made a proclamation that I’ll never forget.

Click here for part 31.

***
This post is also my response to the Weekly Writing Challenge – Cliffhanger. Click on the link to find other entries.

Love at First Sight (Part 29 of the HaM–Homey and Me–Love Story)

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part twenty-nine of the Homey and Me Love Story.

It was March 8th. In less than 24 hours, I’d be picking up Homey from the airport and meeting him for the first time. Nervous doesn’t begin to explain how I was feeling.

“When I pick you up, I’ll be wearing a red shirt. Unless I change my mind and decide to wear black. Or green.” I said.
“Don’t worry. I think that I’ll recognize you.” Homey was right. Even though we met online and hadn’t met each other in person, it wasn’t as if we hadn’t seen one another. We had sent pictures to one another.
“Still, I want to be sure. Actually, I think that I’ll be wearing a pink shirt. And blue jeans.”
“Sounds good.”
“I know!” I shouted, “I’m just gonna stand there, at the end of the escalators, holding a sign up that says your last name…LARSON…as if I’m your driver.” Homey laughed. I was serious.
“You realize, Catania, that tomorrow we’re going to meet one another. How exciting is that?”
“So. Exciting.”
“And you know what’s really cool, Catania? When we see each other, it’s going to be love at first sight?”
“Wow. That is cool.” I was in such a dream-like stupor that I couldn’t think of anything funny, smart, or impressive to say.

I felt like Moki when Johnny Lingo offered 8 cows for Mahana.
I felt like Moki when Johnny Lingo offered 8 cows for Mahana.

Finally, at some point, we said our good-byes and well wishes.

March 9, 2007

I put on my pink shirt, blue jeans, and really cute strappy pink sandals. I actually dried my hair, then ended up putting it in a pony-tail anyway! I put on make-up, perfume, rushed the kids over to my Mom’s house, then headed out to the airport.

I couldn’t just sit in the car and listen to music while driving to pick up Homey. I had to call friends. I called everyone I knew.
“Guess what??? I’m getting Homey right now!!!! AAAHHHHH!!!” It was nice to have the support from my friends. They were as excited as I was. I tried to get all of my craziness out so I could appear cool when Homey arrived.

I had also printed out Homey’s last name on a piece of paper. LARSON. It looked very professional. I was pleased.

I went inside the airport and waited. As I waited, I noticed a man from my ward–Brother Larson. He saw my sign (LARSON) and had an ultra-confused expression to his face. I made the connection as soon as I saw his confused look, and just put the sign behind my back.
“This is for another Larson!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah…Strange…I mean, I parked here at the airport.” He started to say.
“I know.” I said, “Well…no, I didn’t know that. I mean, I had no idea you would be here. This is really strange. I’m just picking up my friend, and so I made this sign kind of as a joke, but it’s not a joke. His last name is Larson. So, I thought it would be funny. Anyway. It is funny, and now it is funnier.”
“Your friend?” Brother Larson asked, knowingly.
“Yeah. My friend. I’m sure he’ll be here any second.”
“Well. This is funny, in any case.” Brother Larson said as he made his way off. “See you Sunday. Will your friend be around at church?”
“Yes. He will. I’m sure you’ll meet him then.” I said, laughing. Seeing Brother Larson, of all people at the Philadelphia International Airport, while I was holding a sign that said LARSON was a hilarious coincidence. It calmed my nerves and I was still laughing about it as Homey walked up.

I wish that I could tell you we ran to each other’s embrace. But it didn’t really happen that way. I was in too much shock. I’m pretty sure that I was doing the Moki face again.

I felt like Moki a lot around Homey.
I felt like Moki a lot around Homey.

Homey came up, and I honestly can’t remember whether or not we hugged. We didn’t kiss or anything. We just said “Hi.” Nervously. In some ways, he felt like a stranger. Though I knew him, I didn’t know anything about his physical presence. It was like my spirit and soul knew him, but my body and senses thought This is a stranger. It was a surreal experience as I kept telling myself, Don’t be nervous. He’s not a stranger. He’s HOMEY!

Homey laughed about the sign, and I began to tell him about how just a few minutes before he came down the escalator, Brother Larson had passed by, confused.

We got to the car, and started into our drive. It was then that I was able to feel really comfortable. I think it was because we were sitting in the car, driving, and just talking to each other. I heard Homey’s voice, his familiar voice, and his laugh. And I could quickly peer over at him. My first real physical impression of Homey is how he looked sitting next to me in my Volkswagen Jetta. I remember his profile. The way his smile looked as he laughed and talked. He wasn’t looking at me, he was just natural. I realized, I know this guy! He’s not a stranger. It’s Homey. I love him! And now I think that I love him even more!

*
We arrived home where he met my mom and the kids. We chatted for a bit, then Homey and I left to go get a bite to eat then we would drop his stuff off at my Relief Society President’s house. (Even though he was originally going to stay at the Bishop’s, the Bishop had to take a business trip. So, the Bishop kindly arranged for Homey to stay at The Relief Society President’s House!!!)

I had decided to take Homey to my favorite Pizza/Cheesesteak Place: Caln Pizza and Pasta. Of course, since Homey was visiting the Philly area, he needed a cheesesteak. So we ordered up some food, and began to eat. We were getting even more comfortable, laughing, and chatty.

Now…even though the food was awesome, I have to warn women about getting cheesesteaks on the first date with a guy you are trying to impress.
pfw2i
Obviously, I had set out to “impress” Homey, but then all of that was out the window when cheesesteaks were involved…

So, I was wolfing down my cheesesteak, laughing at Homey’s jokes. And Homey was wolfing his down, then he paused, while both of us had GIANT mouths full of Cheesesteak goodness, and kissed me on the lips. So…our first kiss was while were in the middle of eating a cheesesteak. Literally-in the middle of masticating a greasy, salty, cheesy, scrumptious, cheesesteaks. In other words, it was the best first kiss ever.

After getting some grub, we dropped off Homey’s stuff at the Relief Society President’s house. She was having a meeting with a bunch of other women in the ward (including the Bishop’s wife), so they were all very happy (giddy!) and excited to meet Homey. He was such a great sport about everything. He was kind, complimented me, and was polite. It was pretty great.

After that, I took Homey to my two favorite places on earth. Wegman’s and Wawa. And that was our first date together…

Philly

Of course, no trip to Philly is complete without an actual trip to Philly. Homey and I hung out with the girls through the course of the day, then in the evening we decided we’d go into Philly to walk around and eat dinner.

I know that it might sound lame, but I think that one of my absolute favorite ways to spend the time is to walk around Philadelphia (New York and Boston are good, too). I love watching people and absorbing the energy of the city. In fact, as I write this paragraph, I long for that feeling. I miss the east coast so much!

So, we went into Philly without much of an agenda. We went to Reading Terminal Market. We walked around the city. I took pictures of things I found interesting. We finally ended up at a Greek Restaurant on South Street.

The restaurant is good, but the experience we had there that evening was miraculous.

This restaurant is super duper tiny, so the tables are jam-packed together. No one can really have a private conversation. It might not have been the best choice for two people who wanted to chat and gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes. Luckily, Homey and I didn’t have that in mind.

We sat down, looked over the menu, etc. and two men were seated at the table next to us. They appeared to be 17 and probably 32. There wasn’t a huge age difference between them. At least it didn’t seem so.

When they arrived, they ordered beers, but the waitress wouldn’t serve alcohol to the younger man. They tried to sweet talk her into it but she didn’t budge. Still, they worked their magic on her:
“Is there anything that you’d like tonight.”
“I’m looking at something that I like, but it ain’t on the menu.” (The man proceeded to look this woman up and down.)
The hilarious thing about this is that the waitress was a Greek-no-nonsense woman who was probably in her fifties. She just raised her eyebrow at him and stared him down.
“I’ll have a gyro.” He finally relented.

Homey and I just looked at each other, smiling.

After flirting with the waitress, the two men started talking with each other. It turns out that they were father and son. And the Father was about to give his son a talk for the ages.
“Son, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your girl.”
“Yeah.”
“You’ve got to give her up. She’s no good for you.”
“I know. But I just have to see her one more time.”
“No man, that’s what I’m trying to say. Stop seeing her. She’s no good. All you do is smoke weed and get high with her.”
“I know, but she knows I want to change.”
“Man, you say that, but you still using dope. You’ve got to stop. Finish school. Get a job. You got to get rid of her. You need to straighten up.”
“I didn’t know that she’d be trouble.”
“What you talkin’ about. Yes you did. You knew she was trouble ever since you met her.”
“No, man. I didn’t know. And now, it’s just like, we’ve been together for a while, you know? I mean, it’s hard to just leave her. I didn’t know that she was on crack.”
“Man. Yes you DID! You knew she did crack! You was doing it with her when you met her.”
“Oh man. That’s right. I know, but she wants to change. She wants me to change.”
“You say, ‘She’s gonna stop. I’m gonna stop.’ Boy, you won’t stop until you leave her. She’s no good for you. She smokes crack!”
“I know, but she’s gonna stop.”
“You just need to give her up. You need to give all that &*#@ up.”

Homey and I couldn’t believe it. It’s okay for people to have these discussions. I’m not saying that the discussion was uncalled for. If my son was dating a girl who was smoking crack, I’m sure that we’d be having a similar conversation. But it’s another thing to have this conversation in a restaurant that’s probably 500sqft of dining space, yet packed with people. Everyone in a 10 foot radius knew that this boy’s girlfriend smoked crack!

Homey and I tried to stifle a laugh. We just started texting each other.
–Wow!
–I feel bad for listening in, but I can’t stop.
–I know what you mean. And I’m not trying to be judgmental, but it’s not everyday that you get to overhear a conversation like this.
–I know!
–This entire conversation is so foreign to anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.
–Yeah right. I know that the Silver Fox took you out when you were 17 and told you to stop smoking crack with your crack smoking girlfriend.
–haha! Can you even imagine it?!
–I need to eat so I can leave. I don’t want to laugh out loud or look conspicuous. I don’t want to be rude. It’s good that this dad is giving his son a Pep-talk. He’s like Danny Tanner.
–Yes…exactly like Danny Tanner.

Homey and I quickly finished our meals, then left the restaurant.
“I’m amazed, Homey. I’ve been to Philly so many times, and never have I had an experience that could come close to that! You are so lucky. Philly was on her best behavior for you tonight.” I explained to him. This was not a usual occurrence.

We walked around Philly some more, then headed home–completely entertained. I was so grateful that I was able to witness the Danny Tanner talk with someone as awesome as Homey.

D.C.

One of the days during Homey’s visit, Homey and I decided to travel down to Washington, D.C. We would go to the temple and then we’d meet up with Homey’s friends: Jack and Jackie.

The ride from my house to the Washington D.C. takes about two hours. I take a scenic route, so the ride is actually a little longer, but is so worth it because you drive through scenery like this:

One reason why I love PA...and miss it like crazy.
One reason why I love PA…and miss it like crazy.

Click for source.
Click for source.

Despite the distance, I loved driving to the D.C. temple.

Homey and I weren’t expecting to go to the temple together the first weekend that we met, but it worked out that way. I think that at first, we were thinking it might be a little bit awkward as the temple is such a personal and sacred experience. By the time Homey came out to PA, however, we were very close and personal–we were already talking about marriage.

So, we went to the temple and had a great experience. I felt a little overwhelmed by the fact that I was going to the temple with someone that I loved. It was an interesting experience, and I knew it would be a real test. If I can still like Homey after this, then I really think it is the real deal.

I still liked Homey after the temple. In fact, I liked him a whole lot. It was the real deal, which was both amazingly joyful and also a bit overwhelming.

After going to the temple, we went out to eat with Homey’s friends. Jack and Jackie met us in D.C., where we ate at a really yummy Thai restaurant. It was fun meeting Homey’s friends and seeing him interact with them. I was impressed because both Jack and Jackie were so smart and interesting. I wanted to make a good impression on them, too. I wanted them to give me the “stamp of approval!” As the lunch proceeded, I felt more comfortable. I loved how funny Homey was with his friends. And I felt like I could laugh and joke with them, too. Even though it was a short visit, it was insightful.
As we lunched, we talked about tentative future plans. (ie: marriage)
“So…we’re thinking of getting married in May. We’ll go on a honeymoon, then Catania and the girls will move with me to Mesa.”
“Wow. What do you think about that, Catania.” Jack (or Jackie, can’t really remember who) asked.
“I’m pretty excited about it.”
“Where are you guys going on your honeymoon?”
Homey replied, “You know, we’re thinking of Cuba.”
“Cuba, huh?” They replied with a chuckle. “That should be interesting.”
“Yes, it’s this new thing that they’re doing–where you can go in and visit Cuba. Catania and I are going to do it.” Homey went on.
“Really–” Jack and/or Jackie said with a smirk
I quickly chirped in, “Yeah they are doing this really cool new travel program in Cuba. You might have heard of it…It’s called Guantanamo.”
We all laughed, and I felt like I did get some kind of “stamp of approval” from Homey’s friends. I was grateful to meet them. Mostly, I was proud for the opportunity to tell one of my best ever jokes. 🙂

After meeting with Homey’s friends, we travelled back to PA, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with the kids and fam.

***

The rest of the weekend followed suit. Homey and I spent a lot of time snuggling together and being so mushy that you’d probably barf, ralph, vomit, and yak all at the same time. It was perfect. Everything that being in love should be.

***

The time finally came for Homey to return to Mesa. Tiger, Panda, and I took him to the airport. We even parked the car and walked him inside. I was holding Panda’s hand and Homey was with Tiger. As we approached the escalator, I didn’t realize it, but Tiger froze at the top. She was afraid of it. Homey shouted, “Catania. Tiger is stuck at the top.”
Without thinking, I picked up Panda, tucked her under my arm (like a football), and ran up the down escalator. I retrieved Tiger and we safely travelled down the escalator without incident.

Homey was impressed.
“Wow. I can’t believe you did that.”
“Did what?”
“Got Tiger like that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I was just going to go down the escalator then up the other one.”
“Oh…well, this was faster. And she was crying. No big deal.”
I really thought it was no big deal. It’s what any mom would have done. But it made an impression on Homey.

Throughout the course of the weekend, Homey was able to see me in my element. He saw what kind of mother, woman, and person I was. He saw my home, my favorite places, my city, my life. I was also able to meet Homey in person. I was able to see his big, blue eyes in real life. I could smell him, feel him. I noticed the tremors in his hands, his crooked pinky finger–from jamming it too many times during basketball. I was obsessed with his smile and his profile. But most of all, I was amazed that Homey was a real, living human being. I knew that I was totally in love with this mystery I had met online, and now…he was real.

***
I said good-bye to Homey. On my way home, I got a text.
I’m coming back next weekend.

I drove home happy that there was something new to look forward to.

Click here for part 30.

Bleeeeeeeep!!!! (Part 28 of the HaM–Homey and Me–Love Story)

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part twenty-eight of the Homey and Me Love Story.

After a day of texting, being on the phone, and realizing that I just had the best Valentine’s Day of my life–even though I was snowed into my house, with two kids, and with a dude I liked on the other side of the country; after all of that–I realized that I might just be in love.

Okay…you probably know it, too. But you have to understand: I had never met Homey yet! I hadn’t seen him in person. I hadn’t touched him, smelled him, anything! I had only talked to him and listened to him…for hours and hours…yet I was in love. Could this be???

It was an interesting situation. Being in love–with a dude–but he wasn’t really there. In some ways, I questioned myself…In an email that Homey wrote to me, he said: “And I just keep pinching myself to remind me that you are real.” This hit the nail on the head. I responded:

“We SHARE A BRAIN! Last night, when I was talking to you about being a little confused, but not, I think that this is EXACTLY what I meant. I’ll be at home, or at work, or in the car, or on the treadmill running to Wolfmother, and I’ll think “I need to tell Homey ________.” And we’ll talk, write, text, and have fun with all of our jokes and awesomeness. (I feel so bad for like 5,999,999,998 people right now), and I’m just obsessed with YOU. Then, I’ll find myself alone for a minute, and think to myself, “Is this even real?…PLEASE LET HOMEY REALLY EXIST!!!!!!!!” (me to Homey – February 15, 2007)

But those feelings of confusion/frustration would vanish when I said a prayer or when my thoughts were interrupted by a text or phone call from Homey. He was real. How was this possible? I didn’t do anything to be blessed like this!

But there was a benefit to the long-distance madness:

“And the thing I’ve learned–even before knowing you, but you confirm it, is that real is MORE than physical closeness (disclaimer: I LOVE physical closeness and hate long-distance relationships.) You can be with someone and see/interact with that person every day–yet you may not know the reality of that person. A ‘real’ relationship requires work on two sides. It requires TWO people playing for keeps. It requires a little bit of vulnerability, a lot of forgiveness, and LOADS OF GREAT JOKES…So, what I’m saying is–in some ways, this feels more real than anything I’ve ever experienced, even though I haven’t touched you. It’s just what I need.” – (Me to Homey – February 15, 2007).

All of these feelings, combined with lack of sleep (thanks to nightly marathon conversations with Homey) culminated in a DTR for the ages.
“You know…this is crazy,” Homey said to me, as we were trying to hang up, and doing all the kinds of mushy annoying things that people do when they’re in that drug-like stupor of new love.
“I know. But crazy in a good way.” I replied, half asleep, half giddy.
“There are so many things I want to tell you, but I have to wait until I see you in person.”
“What? You can’t wait that long. You won’t be here until March. That’s like three weeks away!”
“I know, but there are just some things that I can’t say to someone I haven’t even physically met yet.”
“I know exactly what you mean.” And I did, or at least I thought I did because I was feeling the same way. How do you tell someone that you love them when you haven’t even met them? I continued, “If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, and I’m figuring that you are since we share a brain, then I think that we should think up a code for now.”
“A code?”
“Then we can say what we want to say without saying it.”
“Yeah…I get you.”
“So…now say it. Just bleep out whatever it is you won’t say to me in person.”
“Well I can’t just say it now, there’s too much pressure. I can’t just say it on command.”
“Why the bleep not?” I asked, laughing at myself. (There is a lot of laughing at myself when I’m on the phone past midnight.)
“Oh…Catania. I think I bleep you.”
“Yeah, Homey, I knew that you were going to say it. I do, too…I don’t bleep me, I think that I bleep you, too.”
“This is strange. Can we possibly be in bleep this quickly, so far away?”
“I guess so. It’s bleeping awesome to be in bleep with someone I met on the internet.”
“Bleep yeah!”
“Deciding to call it Bleep makes me bleep you even more.”
And somehow, I did it. I didn’t do it on purpose. Again, I blame the late nights for such a loss of inhibition, but I was laughing, and happy, and shouted, “I know! I bleepin’ love you!”
On my part there was silence. On Homey’s part, he was just laughing and laughing.
“Woops!” I exclaimed. “I broke our code. It was an accident, I promise!”
“I thought we were going to wait until we at least met.”
“Well, I guess that’s what it is now…I promise I didn’t say it on purpose. I meant to bleep it out. I meant to bleepin’ bleep you, but this is so bleeping confusing!”
“Oh…I love you Catania. It’s crazy to say it, but I’m madly in love with you.”

***

And that’s how the profession of love began, between two crazy people, 2300 miles apart, that had never met.

(Note: I don’t suggest this for everyone. In fact, I don’t suggest anything specific for anyone when it comes to dating or finding love. There is only one thing that I suggest: that you follow the Spirit. After everything with Rusty, I knew that I would naturally have “trust” issues with others. Yet, I found solace in the following scripture:

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” – Moroni 10:5

If you are familiar at all with the Book of Mormon, you probably recognize this as part of Moroni’s Promise. Sometimes I love thinking of verse five independently and remembering that the Holy Ghost will tell us the truth of everything. He doesn’t only testify of God, Jesus Christ, or Spiritual matters. But if we seek the Lord in prayer, and ask Him about anything in our lives, we will know the truth of what we should do through the power of the Holy Ghost. It’s pretty amazing…The point being: I didn’t need to worry about trusting anyone–I could simply trust God. So, when you’re doing anything of any kind of importance, seek the Spirit, it will tell you the truth of all things. It will help you to know all that you should do…And I can see that meeting Homey in the way that I did, while unconventional, was exactly what I needed. The Lord knew this about me, and throughout the entire courtship I prayed and sought the Spirit.

***

I told Homey I bleepin’ loved him on February 16th. Don’t take the time to figure out how (little) much time had passed between our first email and now saying I bleep you because it was an embarrassingly short amount of time. It was so Mormon of us!!!

In addition to openly admitting our love to one another, we also had a confirmed date to finally meet! He’d be flying to Pennsylvania on March 9th.

***
Because of the sharp increase in mushiness and declarations of love (which would make anyone barf all over the place, but I love thinking about this time in my life, really I do), I was on cloud nine. Most of the time. Except for when I wasn’t. Because the thing is, I started to realize that this might be for real, and I didn’t really know what that meant.

Homey would be coming to PA, and I wanted to see him. I wanted him to be real. But I also knew it would be a moment of truth. When I met him, either everything with him would come crashing down, or the life in PA, as I knew it, would be crashing down, and I’d be itching to move to Mesa. It was kind of scary. It would have been really scary if I wasn’t actually in love.

So…in one of the rare moments when I had some sense I found a list of “interview” questions that people who are seriously courting one another should discuss. These were the nitty-gritty questions like “Who will balance the checkbook?” “How do you feel about debt?” “How often would you want to be intimate?”…you know…the kinds of questions no one thinks about while they’re in love, but then become the center of strife during the first year of marriage. Because I had been divorced, and because I was a child of divorced parents, I knew that there was no way I would get into another marriage unless I was as sure as I could be about everything. It seemed counterintuitive to be considering Homey as marriage-able material, but since we were declaring love, I knew that I needed to think about it. And since we were doing so much emailing, I found email to be the perfect medium for these interview questions.

So…pretty soon our emails got even more involved–we were still discussing subjects like buffalo wings

“Yeah, So I’m walking back in from lunch, and I got totally jealous of this conversation that these two construction workers were having–about Buffalo Wings. I have decided that I should definitely discuss Buffalo Wings WAY more often. (I should also eat them more often). What are your feelings about Buffalo Wings, by the way?)” – Catania to Homey, 5 March 2007

and we had added in paragraphs and paragraphs of super-duper-sappy-cheese-o-matic-mush:

“You know how much I love you? So much that I CALL YOU ON THE PHONE AND I’M SO EXCITED WHEN YOU CALL ME THAT I ACTUALLY PICK UP!” – Homey to Catania, March 6, 2007

and then there were paragraphs of “How do you feel about movies/vacations–are these luxuries or necessities?”:

“In general, I’d like to be able to have fun with money. However, I don’t want life to get out of hand. Basically, what I’m saying is: I want to live within my means. I’d rather live in a smaller more modest house, and be able to go on nicer vacations. I also want to be sure all financial obligations are met before I do fun things–ie: I want to have a food storage and be financially prepared. I don’t think it’s a good idea to go in debt for a vacation…” – Me to Homey, March 7, 2007

Although that last excerpt might not have been all that exciting for you to read, it was great to know what Homey’s expectations were and I was also happy to know that he knew my expectations. In fact, we had “rules” on these questions. I would ask him before hand, and we’d both answer in emails–before we saw the other person’s answer, just so we weren’t in any way influenced by one another. Knowing how Homey felt about these various subjects helped me feel more secure on the path that we were taking so very quickly.

***
“Well, Bishop, he’s coming out here to meet me.”
“Really?” My bishop asked, both incredulous and excited.
“Yeah. It will be my first time meeting him.”
“Wow, how do you feel about it?”
“I’m really excited. We’ve been writing and talking, and we’ve gotten to know each other really well.”
“So, when will he be here?”
“March 9th.”
“Where is he staying?”
“He’s got a hotel room at the Sheraton in Exton.”
“Tell him to cancel the reservation.”
“Um…okay,” the Bishop could sense my confusion as I said this.
“He can stay at my place,” the Bishop explained.
“Okay.” I said, as I began to understand what he was getting at.
“It will be better for both of you. If this is getting serious, then you don’t need the temptation. And if this guy isn’t what he seems to be, then you won’t be put into a dangerous position.”
“That’s true,” I stated.
“Just tell him to cancel his hotel reservation. Look at it this way. If he’s a good guy, then this solution will be an answer to his prayers. If he gets upset by the idea, then he’s a creep, and you can tell him to just cancel the entire trip.”
“Alright,” I said, finally.

In a way I was grateful for the offer that the Bishop made. I knew that if Homey was staying at my Bishop’s house, then there would not be as much of a temptation to do anything that would break my covenants or commitment to chastity before marriage. I also was a little afraid. What if Homey was a creep? What if he would insist on staying in a hotel? Would I have the strength to tell him to cancel the whole thing?

I didn’t need to worry.
“So…I was talking to my bishop, and He told me to tell you to cancel your reservations at the Sheraton.”
“Um…okay?”
“You can stay at his place instead. Which actually happens to be closer to my house, anyway.”
“Are you serious? I can? Is he sure that it won’t be a problem for me to stay there?”
“Yes. He insists.” A serious downplay of what the Bishop actually said!
“Catania, this is honestly an answer to my prayers.” I leapt when I heard Homey say that. I hadn’t mentioned to him the details of my meeting with the bishop. But with Homey’s response, I was once again reassured that Homey was the right dude for me.

In fact, I was pretty sure that Homey was the right dude for me for eternity. Now, I just needed to meet him.

Click here for part 29.

Cyber Crush (Part 24 of the HaM – Homey and Me – Love Story)

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part twenty-four of the Homey and Me Love Story.

“So…I did it.” I announced to Spunky.
“What?”
“I made an online profile.”
“No way!”
“Yeah. The bishop told me I should do it.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah. I thought he was crazy at first.”
“Tell me about it.”
“But, even he admitted that the idea seemed crazy. He said the Spirit was prompting him to tell me this.”
“Wow. That’s interesting.”
“I know, right! Just my luck…I figure that it’s not like I’m going to be meeting a guy online, but it is good for me obedient just for obedience’s sake.”
“That’s true.”
“Wanna know the craziest part?”
“Huh.”
“So…when I was about to create a profile, I was still feeling really skeptical, but I didn’t know what to do. So I kind of said a silent prayer that if any of the guys on the website seemed like freaks, then I wasn’t going to sign up.”
“Uh huh.”
“So, when I click on to the site, guess whose profile shows up…Snoopy’s!”
“Are you serious? Maybe it’s like a sign.”
“You know, at first I wanted to think that, but really, I don’t think that it is a sign about me and Snoopy. Instead, seeing his profile just made me feel at peace about signing up online. I mean, Heavenly Father really answered my prayer. I know that Snoop is not a freak, but is a totally awesome dude. So, while there might be idiots online, I can see that there are also cool guys. It’s just like real life.”

After talking to Spunky, I had the same conversation with Freckles, Blythe, and pretty much anyone else that would listen. The next day, I had an email from Snoop. He mentioned that he forgot he even had a profile on the website I saw him on. Then he told me about a much better website: LDS Linkup. It was pretty much an LDS Facebook. I liked the idea of a social networking type of website rather than a dating website. So, I checked it out and signed up.

The whole ordeal seemed pretty anticlimactic at first. Almost all of my friends were online already. I already knew most of the people in the Philly area that were single. It wasn’t like I suddenly was exposed to new people, new Mormons, in the Philadelphia area. It seemed like everyone that was online was in Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, etc.

Online LDS Dating

Making an online profile was kind of interesting to say the least. At first I felt guarded about my privacy, but that didn’t last long because I was getting into social media. I didn’t want to upload a picture because the idea of strangers seeing pictures of me was reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. Yet, I realized that I wasn’t going to give a second of my time to a man’s profile that lacked a picture, so I uploaded a picture. I found a flattering yet accurate picture of myself. I think that I was standing in my kitchen making a dumb pose. I wanted to be pretty, but still slightly crazy…just so people knew what to expect.

Then came the profile questions. How I wanted to be snarky and cool. But I wasn’t sure how a stranger would take it. I also wanted to be vague, so as not to give up too much information about myself, but that was counter-productive. Oh the pressure of a profile! How do you accurately represent yourself when answering “What is your favorite book?”, “What do you do in your leisure time?”, or “What am I doing with my life?” (BAM!!!) I just answered honestly. (Desert Solitaire; Eat Hoagies; I have no idea.)

After filling out my profile, I started checking out my friends’ profiles. Some of their profiles were completely accurate compared to real life. Other profiles made me think, “Mike? This is Mike? Well then, who is the Mike that I know?”

For the most part, I didn’t invest a ton of time online. I didn’t write to men or people that I didn’t know. Every once in a while, I’d get an email from someone.

Hey…I like you’re profile picture. – MacTruck0123

or

You have two children? Sounds like we have a lot in common. I also have two kids…and I also enjoy subway sandwiches. My favorite book is the Book of Mormon. Would you be interested in getting to know one another? -Waytooeager

or

You’re a hottie and I’m hot. We should chat. -ultradbag

I won’t pretend that I didn’t love messages like these.

For me, the best part about the website was finding new bands. (follow me for a second…this is kind of important, I promise). When you fill out your profile with the “things you like” such as movies, bands, books, etc, you could then click on the band name and find other people who also like that band, etc.

Now, I really love music, and I love learning about new music. I was in a little bit of a funk. Earlier in the year I had been pleased with my purchase of Arcade Fire – Funeral, and had been obsessed with it for the better part of six months. But I needed something new. So, one day I clicked on “Arcade Fire” and it brought up a list of other people who also liked Arcade Fire.

I noticed the profile of a woman and several of the other bands that she liked were ones that I also liked, so I clicked onto her profile. She had a few bands listed that I hadn’t heard of. I also looked at her “wall” and noticed a comment that was intriguing by a dude named “Homey.” He also had a cute profile pic, so, I clicked on to his profile. You know exactly how this happens. click, click, click. It’s so easy to do.

Wolfman (aka...Homey)
Homey circa 2006

Without a doubt, his was the best profile I came across. It was hilarious. What stood out most to me was how he answered the “I’m not interested in…” question… His response I’m not interested in skinheads or communists, unless you are a cancer survivor living the law of consecration*. hahaha. Homey didn’t have much else written on his profile, other than If you really want to get to know more about me, then read my blog.

Obviously, I clicked on that, too.

I scanned through his blog, but it was his post titled, Hasseling the Hoff – Artist or Engineer that really struck my eye. If you don’t want to read it for yourself, I’ll sum it up:

1. Germany’s greatest strength: engineering.
2. “The only conclusion I can draw on Hasselhoff’s musical popularity in Germany is that he is a musical engineer, not a musical artist. For those of you in America who have heard any of his music, you have probably cringed at the thought of Hasselhoff as an artist. I know this idea was hard for me to swallow. For some reason, I feel much better knowing that he is not an artist, but a musical engineer.” – Homey
3. “This CD is amazing. [Hasselhoff’s CD] At least the cover. Looks like he is standing on Kit’s hood, in the same outfit he wore when he actually was popular in the US back in 1986. His hair is feathered perfectly. And look at that stance…knees bent at just the right obtuse angles to drive those German engineer girls mad. The guitar looks about as unnatural in his hands as a t-shirt would look under that leather vest.” – Homey
4. Homey closed the blog with this statement: “So why do Germans love Hasselhoff? There are some things that those of us with refined musical taste will just never understand. I would vote for the fact that he has engineered his way into their hearts. Somehow. We need to commission someone to research the Science of Hasselhoff to find some answers. I, for one, am never going to understand it.”

Seriously, take a few seconds to read the blog post. It was funny.

So…I read this blog, and nearly laughed out loud when it reminded me of my own Germany/David Hasselhoff experience. In fact, upon reading the last paragraph, I realized that I had the answer to Homey’s question.

At first, I thought of commenting on the blog…but it felt weird to leave a narrative in the comments of his blog. I didn’t have anything funny to say. So, I went back to Homey’s profile, and chose to send him a message. It was an impulsive thing for me to do, but in my heart, I knew that he would truly appreciate the nugget of wisdom that I was going to impart.

So…I figured that I was already bored, and I might as well tell Homey the “truth” – since he seemed to be interested in it.

“Homey-
I just checked out your blog, and it’s quite thought provoking. (Read: I like it).

So – I just thought I’d give you some food for thought: last May I went to Germany to hang out with a friend. While there, they started singing a song: “Looking for Freedom.” They were singing in English, and I asked them what song they were singing.
“Looking for freedom,” they answered, very condescendingly – DUH. I was still puzzled, and they could tell because one explained, “You know – by David Hasselhoff.”
Then, I began to laugh out loud. I realized that IT’S TRUE – Germans DO ACTUALLY love David Hasselhoff. (I said that, too, and they were still looking at me like, “Duh…who DOESN’T love David Hasselhoff?”)
Immediately, I asked them why they loved David Hasselhoff so much. They were surprised, “Don’t Americans love him? … He’s American, after all.”
I said, “We love to make fun of him.” They laughed, but yeah…it was more or less a pity laugh. Then, one guy said (and I think that this is truly the key), well, He DOES have nice chest hair.

Anyways.
Catania

I re-read Homey’s blog and then my email, and laughed my head off as I pushed “send.”

Christmas, My Sister’s Wedding, and More Dating

Before I knew it, Christmas had arrived. December had been a crazy month because:

  • December is always a crazy month
  • I had totalled my car earlier in the month
  • I had broken up with Roger for the 455th time. It was annoying. And I still liked him! I would still listen to Coldplay, and think that somehow he would miss me, and realize that he made a mistake, that he could never go on without me, that all along I was the one he wanted to find, that he drew a line and crossed it but I’d take him back, and that no one said it was easy…blech
  • Even though I had broken up with Roger for the 455th time, and I thought I liked him, I also realized that I didn’t like him, I didn’t trust him, he wasn’t good for me, and whatever it was that I liked about him was a fiction/fantasy. I wanted to be in love, so I knew I needed to stop talking to Roger, listening to Coldplay, and instead just start dating other guys and being cool with independence.
  • I didn’t have much money, but I wanted to provide a good Christmas for my children.
  • My sister was getting married in Boston. I threw her a shower in PA, and I’d be traveling to Boston on the 26th.

And you get the idea…typical stuff, really.

***
Christmas was really great with just Tiger, Panda, and me. We had a humble and happy Christmas. I made Christmas dinner, and my mom, step-dad, and brother came over to my house. I can’t tell you how much I loved living in that little, crappy house. What it lacked in substance was made up with love. On Christmas night, I packed up my Jetta, and we left to Boston early in the morning on Dec. 26th.

***
Getting ready for my sister’s wedding was a whirlwind, and while there were some really funny stories, they don’t really have to do with this story, so maybe I’ll tell them later.

On my sister’s wedding day (December 29th), I was busy with being a sister to the bride. It was great. I was really happy for her. We stayed in a hotel in Boston, and then I drove us to the Boston temple for her wedding. After the wedding, we ate, took pictures, then prepared for the reception. My sister had a really nice wedding. The reception was at this historic mansion in Waltham, MA. We were able to relax and have fun at the reception.

Ever the…I don’t know what to call myself here…predator? Not sure…boy-crazy person?…whatever, I noticed that my sister’s photographer was pretty cute. She had mentioned that he was in her singles’ ward. I ended up talking to the dude, and we had exchanged phone numbers with the plan for me to go out with him the next night. All in all, it was a great night.

***
The next day (Dec 30), there was an ice/snow storm, so I spent most of my time at my dad’s house inside. It wasn’t the worst. After days of driving and preparing for the wedding, all of us just wanted to chill out. At some point during the day, I noticed that I had an email…from…Homey.

“That is quite an impressive story. I’m tempted now to go to Germany just to try to relive for myself what you went through. It had to be quite existential to be going through that. I mean, Hasselhoff? If I had to choose 1 country that would actually appreciate music by Hasselhoff, I would have picked the worst country in the world. Not sure how countries are ranked, but I would guess only 4th-world, uncivilized countries like Mongolia would be on the “Potential Hasselhoff Music Lovers” list. Wouldn’t you just think that Germany would be a little too refined for his style? But along with what your story illustrated, I think the whole point of all this “Germans love David Hasselhoff” hoopla is that we Americans have entirely given too much credit to the Germans. Apparently they are even much less refined than the rest of Europe and most of the rest of the world. (If you’re German, I apologize. Although this could be a starting ground for revolutionizing your country’s currently terrible musical taste.)

Thanks for sending along your experience…I’m honestly jealous. And impressed with how you handled the situation. BTW, how did you react when the guy said Well he DOES have nice chest hair …? I’m not sure what I would have done…maybe just cried.

-homey

The note was a nice highlight to a dreary day. I wasn’t sure what I thought of the whole situation, though. I mean, from the beginning, I knew that Homey lived in Mesa, and I really didn’t think anything of that. I just thought his blog was hilarious, and that he would like the story. I didn’t even really expect him to write me back. But he had written me back, and he had ended the email in a way that suggested that he might like for me to write him back.

In any case, I wasn’t worried. I was getting ready to go out on a date with the Photographer. Additionally, I had gotten a text from this guy Jack, who was wondering if I’d be available for New Year’s Eve (yes!). So…playing the field was beginning to feel kind of fun, and my field was in Pennsylvania (or Boston)…not Mesa, AZ.

***
I went on the date with the Photographer, which wasn’t all that bad, but it was revelatory. He was a nice guy, and he was asking me all kinds of questions that you’d expect to appear on a profile pic.
“What movie/tv character do you most identify with?” he asked.
“Uh…” I had no idea how to answer that. “Hmmm…”
“While you’re thinking, I’ll tell you mine.”
“okay.”
“Brad Pitt’s Character, Tristan, from The Legends of the Fall.”
“I love that movie. His character is awesome. Does this mean that you have killed a bear with your own hands? Pulled the heart out of a German? Are you going to go crazy or have you already gone crazy?” I asked. He answered seriously, and I was kind of disappointed that he didn’t seem in a joke-y mood.
“So…how about you?”
“I guess…I’m thinking that I’d probably have to say…Steve Urkell.” The photographer didn’t seem all that amused, but I was. I continued, “I’m relatively clutzy, and I love cheese.”
There was a pause that was getting kind of awkward, so in my most Urkell-y voice, I chimed in, “Oops…did I doooo thaaaaat????”

A few seconds later, I noticed that he had two Arrested Development by the T.V.
“Dude. I loooove this show.”
“Those belong to my roommate.”
“We should watch them.”
“I’m not really into it. My roommate is.”
(I realized that I wanted to be hanging out with his roommate).

The date progressed – getting more awkward by the minute. The guise of our date was that he would help me to start my own blog. I read his blog. Very, very serious. It was also quite uplifting. (I recognize that I have a very serious blog). I had nothing against his blog, but all I kept thinking was that I really wanted to be reading about David Hasselhoff, Goatees, or Loofahs.

***
On New Year’s Eve, my brother Chris and I drove home to PA. I went out with Jack and some other people from the singles ward in Philly. We played scrabble then, invariably, talked about the woes of dating life. Normal stuff.

***
Finally, I was back at work, and I saw my email from Homey again. I decided that, yes, I would write him back…


Thanks Homey,

Well, first of all – yeah, I don’t think I’d really pick ANY country to like Hasselhoff’s music. Not even Alabama (okay, I know, I know, Alabama isn’t technically a country). I’m just saying…I agree with you completely. And having been to Germany, I would think that they were too refined. I mean – the Germans brought us Bach, Beethoven, NENA…

I have to explain more about the truly existential nature of this experience. For the entire trip, I was absolutely immersed in German culture. I was staying with a friend who is German. Additionally, I was attending a German wedding. The majority of my time was spent nodding my head and shrugging my shoulders. (Ich spreche kein Deutsch). And then, finally, a conversation in English…and it’s about – DAVID HASSELHOFF?!?!?! And it ISN’T an IRONIC conversation – it is a truly serious conversation about the Hoff. We were bridging cultures there. It was for real…

When this dude said the Chest hair remark, I just laughed and nodded my head. I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t have imagined it. The Germans all laughed, too. But I know that we had totally different motives. Then they started talking in German again. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for such a blessed experience.

Oh – and no…I’m not German

-Catania

And then, the next day, I found this in my inbox:

“Great point about Alabama…I have hoped for years that they would secede and just be their own country. Maybe Louisiana, too, cause every movie that I’ve seen that takes place in Lousisiana, the way pepole are portrayed it just sickens me to be from the same nation as they are. Ok, so maybe Waterboy is the only one I’ve seen that takes plasce there. Oh, and Joe Dirt had something in Louisiana, if I’m not mistaken. (For some strange reason, I think this isn’t giving you a fair representation of my movie taste…please believe me on that. There just aren’t any quality films done in Louisiana…)

Your Germany experience just amazes me. This is more than a ‘journal entry’ type experience…it’s almost worthy of its own web page. Maybe its own encyclopedia entry. If you paint, you should try to capture it on a large canvas w/oil. This is one of those events that could change lives…it must be shared somehow. I bet Pink Floyd’s pre-The Wall experience pales in comparison to this. It just strikes me as a very powerfully moving experience. Inspirational on so many levels. And it’s just plain hilarious. The more I learn about it, the harder I laugh. And the harder I laugh, the sadder I feel for Germany.

It’s not just about cultural difference, it’s about cultural disparities (not really sure what that means, but it sounds about right – just nod your head. Yes Homey.)

-Homey
Btw, are you italian? The name Catania has me thinking yes. And which came first – you or the mission?

And I wrote him back:

“Okay…I’d have to say, about the whole Alabama seceding from the country thing – I may be mistaken, but I believe that they already tried that. It’s too bad that hindsight is 20/20 because now I think that we know better. 😉 Regardless, what you said was hilarious.

Oh – I wholheartedly agree with you on the Germany thing. I mean, I had kind of stored it in the back of my mind for a while. I don’t know why. I guess I just hadn’t had the right moment to share it all. No…maybe I think I was surpressing it. Either way, it is absolutely monumental, and now I’m going to start working on a musical score. Really, though…I’m glad that you’re laughing. And it’s not a problem to feel sad for Germany.
(Just don’t be sad to their faces).

I’m trying to think of a funny remark to your ps. But I can’t. Here’s the deal – my name is catania, and I happen to be Italian – but it is simply a happy coincidence. The scoop – my mom kind of sort of had me out of wedlock. I was adopted by another man (who is American with Irish heritage) when I was four. I don’t know my biological father, but what I DO know about him is that – he was a young Italian Stallion – Jack (his name) from Sicily. WOW. It gets better, too. My mom liked disco dancing with him. He was a Wild Turkey (as in the alcoholic beverage) distributor by day, and a Disco dancer by night. Truly, I come from blessed roots.
So yes…I’m Italian. Sicilian even.

I know Catania is a mission in Sicily, too. And one of my dreams: To go there and buy a tee-shirt.

Anyways…thanks for the note. You are very funny.
Catania

And I’ll include one final email from Homey, just for fun…

“Yet again, good point about Alabama. We should have let them go…

I will continue to be sad for Germany by laughing at them. ..maybe someday they’ll do more for the world than introduce the Jetta. [Reading this was hilarious to me because I owned a Jetta at the time and absolutely loved it!] Because I’m not counting “appreciation of Hasselhoff’s musical journeys” as a contribution to the world. On the other hand, I don’t much like Jettas either…so maybe Germany doesn’t have any contributions that come to mind.

I have found writing to be such an amazing and therapeutic means of expression…I never really wrote anything until the blog (except accounting reports…), but I really find it to have become an important part of my weeks. (even as trivial as my topics are… 😉 Enough of my sappiness.

Anyway, what part of PA do you live in? I livd in NJ for a year before moving to AZ almost 2 years ago. Drove through PA a couple of times…loved the green. While I was working in Manhattan, I knew a bunch of people who lived in PA and commuted into NYC everyday for work. That seemed crazy to me. Um…that’s all I have on PA…

Your name is really pretty. I have a soft spot for Italian names (no matter how they came to be… 🙂 Quite a story about your bio-father…wow is right. That would make a pretty good post. And an even better movie. 😉
I feel like I’m using too many ;)s right now…sorry, it must be late. Talk to you later

-Homey

So…It was official. I had a cyber-crush.

***
*Law of Consecration – A lifestyle that Mormons believe will take place when Christ comes back to the Earth – the kind where everyone lives charitably and has all things equal. It is a “Zion” state – where there is no manner of division or inequality. It is easy to get this confused with Communism, but rather than having such a lifestyle mandated by the government, people give all they have and support one another because they have developed Charity, or the pure love of Christ.

Click here for part 25.

Drama: Too Much or Not Enough…And a Surprising Suggestion (Part 23 of the HaM Love Story)

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Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part twenty-three of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when I was living life as a divorced mom – a little while before I met Homey – but an important part of the story, nonetheless. (I promise we’ll be getting to Homey very, very soon!!!!)

Even after dating Odriew, I was undeterred in my “quest” to date. My kids were still out of town, and I wanted to use my time wisely. I liked having the chance to be social, and I truly hoped that I would find myself married again one day.

Too Much Drama

For a few months, I spent time dating a guy, Roger, that brought way too much drama into my life. I spent a lot of time daydreaming, listening to too much Coldplay, I drove down to see him (he was 5 hours away from me) once, and I racked up a huge phone bill.

I’m still not sure why I pursued that relationship. It was completely insane. Up and down.

Wait, no…I know why I pursued it. When I started dating Roger, he was living in PA, and I met him at a party thrown by a mutual friend. He was interesting and cute. You know. The usual thing. He was funny. Etc. He was also quiet, which made him very mysterious and attractive to me.

As luck would have it, he also found me attractive, and before you know it, we were dating. It was fun. He was smart and introspective. Every time we got together our conversations were interesting. He was artistic and thoughtful. We’d go for walks and talk, or we’d go into Philly and spend the time taking pictures. Roger helped me to renew my love for creative endeavors.

Of course, this guy was still in college, and when the end of the summer came, he was leaving. By then, we were in some kind of “relationship”, and we kept talking even when he moved away. I was very interested in following this relationship through–to see where it would lead.

It turns out that it led on a sort of emotional wild goose chase that ended very sourly.

I don’t want to get into the details, but essentially, I exerted way too much energy. I spent hours crying and hours rejoicing. I felt like I was being jolted between ups and downs, and I had no control. In all honestly, I think that this guy was experiencing some depression issues, but he didn’t want to get help, and I went along for his ride. For the most part it was painful, but it had started so well, that I had gotten stuck in this trap – the I know his potential, and I can help him trap that so many women get caught up in.

You just can’t “fix” another person.

The bottom line, after I “dated” (or whatever it is we did) this guy, I felt pretty defeated. I felt pretty sure that I didn’t want to date anymore. I didn’t like the way that it would affect my emotions. I hated how things could start so swell, then end so poorly. It was way too exhausting, and I had two kids.

Not enough drama

While I was spending so much time on the afore-mentioned long-distance relationship (which was just wrong, wrong, wrong), I was blind to what was right in front of me.

I had become pretty good friends with this guy, Matt. He lived relatively close to me, had grown up in Texas, and was just…cool.

When we first started getting to know each other, he was dating some girl and I was dating Markus. Matt and Markus were home teaching companions.* We would do stuff together every so often, and we all became friends.

I continued to be friends with Matt. He would date other girls, and I dated other guys. We would talk to each other as we dated, comparing notes, as it were, talking through things. I’d give him “girl” secrets and pointers; he’d give me “guy” secrets and pointers. It was a really convenient friendship.

Over time, we started hanging out more often.

When things started getting hairy with Roger (after he moved to VA for college), I wanted advice from Matt.
“I don’t understand guys at all!” I texted to him.
“Everything okay?”
“Ugh.”
“Let’s go to the batting cages.”
“Word.”

Matt picked me up, we headed out to Wawa, and then we went to the batting cages where we could talk, and unleash our fury (ha!…I unleashed my fury against the slow-pitched soft-balls…really scary…). Soon enough, we’d be having a great time, joking, laughing, quoting movies and comedians. He always tried to give me good advice, and I know this in hindsight, but I was a “stupid girl,” and had trouble seeing what was right in front of my face. Our conversations went something like this:
“So…what’s up?”
“I don’t know. I just don’t understand guys. And now I’m getting frustrated.”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, it’s just Roger.”
“He’s the guy in Virginia, right?”
“Yeah.”
“What’s with you and long-distance relationships?”
“I don’t know…I’m sure it says something about me, though.” I’d say, chuckling.
“So, what’s up then?”
“I don’t get it. One day, he’s like, ‘We need to break up. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.’ So I say, okay. Then, like at two AM, he calls me saying that he can’t sleep, and I make him ‘feel safe’ and he loves me, and he likes to think that we could get married.”
“Wow.”
“I know. I just feel like I’m getting yanked left and right. When he says break-up stuff, I think, Ok. I can get along without Roger. I cry for a second, then determine to put my feet in front of one another. Just as I get myself feeling “ok”, He calls and it’s 2AM. He’s professing his love and need for me, and I’m reeled right back in.”
“Just when I thought I was out…they keep pulling me back in…”
“Exactly!”
“Then, after I talk to him all night, calming him down, and I get back to bed, I’ll get a text or email or something the next day saying, ‘I can’t be with you anymore. I can’t date or marry a woman who has already been married and has kids.'”
Matt just looked at me, dumbfounded.
I continued, “And that really gets me because I understand. I know that I have kids. I know that I’ve been married. I know that it is probably a huge turn-off for most guys, especially Mormon guys. But I…I just don’t know what…Oh I freaking hate this.
“Catania, don’t say that. Trust me. You’re fine.”
“What? I’m not fine. I’m going crazy!…I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” we both start laughing.
“Todd, are you not aware that I get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?!” more laughter.
“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” even more laughing…but then a pause…back to the conversation, sadly.
“Catania, that’s not what I meant. I know that you feel crazy. What I mean to say is that I honestly don’t understand Roger. What he’s doing and saying isn’t normal. Guys don’t usually do that, or at least I don’t think they do. And you–you are fine. It doesn’t matter that you have had kids or that you have been married. Any guy would want to date you or marry you.”
“Thanks.” I said, and as we reached the batting cages, I gestured to the building asking, “What is this? A center for ants?” The tension broke, and we went inside, laughing.

Matt took me to baseball games, batting cages, and Wawa on more than one occasion. We golfed at a little 3 par golf course and ate at Zwahlen’s for ice cream. When Matt didn’t have anything to do, (I never had anything to do), he’d give a call or write a text saying that he’d be setting up the projector and watching Talladega Nights. I’d head over to his house with the kids in tow.

At Christmas time, Tiger, Panda, and I took cookies over to Matt and his family. They were great people. Seriously. We always felt like we were welcome and at home when we were over at their house. A few minutes after I arrived with cookies, Matt’s dad said he had to run to Lowe’s really fast. We all protested, but he insisted. About ten minutes later, the doorbell rang. It was “Santa” (Matt’s dad in a Santa costume, complete with stuffed animals for the kids).

One night, Matt helped me do one of the strangest things I’d ever done in my life. I was looking for someone (my brother, actually If you’re interested in that story, read about it here.) who had been missing from our family for about three years. I told Matt that my sister googled my brother’s name, and we had reason to believe that he’d be competing in a dart tournament in Doylestown. Matt agreed to drive me to Doylestown to see if we could find my brother. We went, and it turned out another PJ was competing. But Matt and another friend helped me to feel better about the entire situation.

And the thing is, when I type this part of the story, I realize what a huge, stupid idiot I was.

Actually, even when I started to get to know Matt and eventually stop dating Roger, I began to realize I was an idiot. But, to me, Mark always seemed like a “friend” like a “brother.” I don’t know what my problem was. Whatever. It doesn’t matter because it wasn’t meant to be anyways. I’m just annoyed with myself because I did the typical “girl” thing – I dated a jerk, cried over/about a total meanie-head. While the nice guy was there, listening, waiting.

GRRR!

Interesting Advice

All throughout this time, I was seeing my Bishop* on a regular basis. I’d say about 1-2 times a month. He was my cheerleader; my champion. He’d give me words of encouragement, advice, and warning. He’d also give me Priesthood Blessings* when I needed them. He tried to help me to have clarity as I navigated this world of single-motherhood, dating, working, and all of that other stuff.

Usually when I met with him, he’d tell me to read something–a talk or a scripture. Or he’d tell me to do something–go to the temple, attend Institute classes, etc. And, typically, I did what he had advised. I usually tried to do it in a timely manner. One time, I visited him, and he gave me the talk Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence by Jeffrey R. Holland* (Read it!). I planned on reading it the night that the Bishop had given it to me, really – I did. But I hadn’t gotten around to it.

About a week and a half later, I had another meeting with my Bishop. I hadn’t really planned on it, but he wanted to tell me something.
“I know this is going to sound strange Catania, but I’ve been thinking about you, and I keep having this feeling that there is something you need to do – to give the Lord something to work with.”
“Okay.”
“I mean, I know that you’re working hard. You’re doing an amazing job, Catania. You are a wonderful mother. You are a righteous woman. I know that God wants to bless you. I don’t think that you’re not doing enough. It’s just that…well, maybe you could do something different.”
“Okay.”
“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, because I don’t actually believe in it, but…what if you signed up on a website somewhere online.”
“Wait. What?”
“I know! I can’t believe I’m saying this! I think that you kids need to get off the computer! But this isn’t me. I feel like the Spirit is prompting me to tell you to go online.”
I kind of stared at the Bishop.
He continued, “I know. I know. It sounds crazy, Catania. But the thing is, I wouldn’t be bringing it up to you if I wasn’t sure that the Spirit prompted me to tell you this.”
“You know the freaks I’ve met in real life, right?” I said with a chuckle.
“Yes. I know. Catania, pray about it. Think about it. I’m not going to tell you that you must make an online profile. I’ve done my job. The Spirit prompted me to tell you this information. It is up to you to do whatever you want with this idea.”
“Okay, Bishop. I’ll pray about it.”

The idea of setting up an online profile was…intriguing. Several of my friends were on MySpace and Facebook, but I wasn’t into that kind of thing yet. (Remember…this was 2006!) I had become weary of dating and everything related to dating. Online dating, in some ways, seemed like more work with less reward.

***
A few days later, I was sitting at my desk during a lunch break – finally reading the article that the Bishop had given me a few weeks before. As I read this article, I had the thought, I wish I would have read this article when the Bishop had given it to me! I realized that if I had read it a few weeks before, then I would have made a better decision regarding Roger and his drama. I had good intentions. I meant to read the article. But I had put it off, and missed some knowledge that would have directed me in the right place.

I could see that the Lord indeed was trying to help me, but if I wasn’t obeying with exactness; if I wasn’t staying tuned into the very still, small whisperings of the Spirit, then I’d miss the direction that the Lord was trying to give me!

I thought about my prayers; my hope and desire to find a person to date and eventually marry. And I thought to myself, Am I obeying with exactness? Am I really doing everything that is required for this blessing? Or am I stopping myself short from a blessing that the Lord is willing to give?

I could imagine, in my mind’s eye, a divide of land and a bridge connecting them. I stood on one side of the bridge. On the other side of the bridge was the blessing I wanted. The Lord had provided a blessing and a bridge, but I was the one who would have to walk across it. In my mind’s eye, I could see that though bridge was a bit rickety, it was sure. It would be scary to cross. I’d have to leave a safe place, but if I was steadfast, then I’d arrive at the blessing that the Lord had in store for me, and was willing to give.

As I thought about the blessings, this “bridge”, and my willingness to obey with exactness, I thought to myself, Is there anything else I can do right now that I’ve put off?”

That’s when I remembered my Bishop’s counsel to go online. Inwardly I protested.
“This seems strange!” I said in a silent-prayer/tempting God fashion.
“Just obey.”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know where to start.”
“Google it.”
I googled LDS dating sites, and several options came up. I sat, staring at the computer. Trying to decide what to do.
I did a little more bargaining with God, “Okay…I’ll check out one site. If it is full of freaky-dudes, then I’m not joining because this is crazy. But if it seems like the guys are okay, I’ll just join.”

So, I clicked on one of the sites, then I clicked a button that said, “Find 18-30 year old men.”
The very first profile listed was Snoopy’s!!!!
I think that I laughed out loud! Inwardly, I relented, “Thank you, Heavenly Father. I get it. I’m sorry for doubting, I’ll sign up.”
A part of me wanted to take this as a “sign.” But that thought was dismissed almost immediately.
“No, Catania, this is not a sign. But do say hi because it is funny.”
So I did. I wrote Snoopy an email (to his regular email) telling him how I had serendipitously come across his profile.

I was officially doing this internet thing…

***
*Home Teachers – In the Mormon Church, we have “home teachers.” A home teacher is a man in the congregation who is assigned to watch over and help fellow members of his congregation. Everyone in a congregation has a home-teacher. Home teachers visit monthly to deliver a spiritual message and offer (and give) service needed to the family. Often, Home Teaching assignments are given to companions – two men who go together to visit families. Matt and Markus were home teaching companions, and served other families in their congregation together. You can find out more about home teaching here.

*Bishop – The Bishop is the ecclesiastical leader of a Mormon congregation. In the Mormon church, the clergy is made up of volunteers who are members of the congregation. Mormon clergy are not paid and do not make church leadership their career. Find more information here.

*Priesthood Blessing A Priesthood blessing is a special blessing from God given by a worthy priesthood holder. Anyone (Mormon or not) can ask for and receive a Priesthood blessing. Often, these blessings are given when people are sick or are in need of spiritual counsel, comfort or healing. See here for a better explanation. I often received Priesthood blessings from my bishop and my home teachers. I still receive priesthood blessings (now from my husband). They always bring added clarity and comfort into my life.

*Jeffrey R. Holland is a living Apostle. In the Mormon church, we believe in the same organization that existed when Christ set up His church. We have prophets and apostles, and we believe that they are spokesmen for the Lord in our modern day. We believe that they receive revelation and are special witnesses of Christ–just as Peter, James, John, and all of the other “original” 12 apostles did.

Click here for part 24.

The Worst Date of My Life–Adventures in Singledom (Part 22 of the HaM Love Story)

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

This is part twenty-two of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when I was living life as a divorced mom – a little while before I met Homey – but an important part of the story, nonetheless. (I promise we’ll be getting to Homey very, very soon!!!!)

There is only one romantic comedy that I really like, French Kiss. In some ways, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I like it, but I really do. Before traveling to Germany, I longed for the idea of Europe, love, and a release from the facts of my life as a single mom. Many nights, after a long day at work, then picking up the kids from my mom’s house, and feeding them, we’d all go to bed together while watching French Kiss. I must have watched that movie a dozen times before I went to Germany. I dreamed of meeting some European man who would challenge me in every way, yet we’d fall in love, and move to some picturesque part of France. The fact that I had just left a European man who challenged me in every way, we had fallen in love, but instead of us moving to France, I said no to the whole relationship– wasn’t lost on me. I knew that the movie was a movie, and that my fantasy was only a fantasy, and that it wouldn’t make me happy. When I came home from Germany, I didn’t watch that movie quite as constantly.

Instead, I slowly returned back to myself.

I started hanging out with my brother and kids all the time. My little brother was in high school. I’d pick him up from my mom’s house, and we’d hang out, paint, watch Arrested Development or Napoleon Dynamite while eating pizza or Chinese food. Sometimes, I’d take my brother and kids out to Wegman’s where we’d eat dinner then find cookies to sample. My brother would accompany me and the kids to the park and pretty much anywhere else (if he was in the mood). It was a lot of fun.

In some ways, I was finally calming down–becoming contented with single life. I remember one Friday night–the girls and I had picked up a pizza and were watching My Dog, Skip. We sat in the living room of this tiny one-bedroom house, all huddled up on the single piece of furniture I owned (a white chair..well bigger than a chair, but smaller than a love-seat) watching a movie on a TV that had an 8″ screen. In a word, it was perfect.

The contentment, however was short-lived, as the girls would be visiting Rusty for a few a little over a month that summer. In some ways, I didn’t want them to go. I mean, I would be all alone. Yet in other ways, I was looking forward for some time to breathe, some time to catch up, and perhaps some time to date.

When the Mice Are Away, the Cat Will Play

So, the girls went to Utah. Rusty came out to PA to pick them up, and we had agreed that about a month later, I would fly out to Utah to get them. I had over a month to myself. It was summer-time. I wasn’t sure what I’d do, but I knew I wouldn’t waste it. I can’t remember every detail, but I do remember that I never went directly home from work. I’d find something to do. Every single night, I went out. Every weekend I was gone. I went to Phillies’ games, the beach, or the movies. I did anything to keep me from coming home to an empty house.

For the most part the month was fun. I had a few laughs. I made new friends. I was able to start dating more–which both excited and disgusted me.

The Most Awkward Night of My Life, but I Didn’t Learn From It, so I Soon Experienced the Worst Date in My Life

A lot of my friends in PA were concerned about me finding love, and they did what they could to “help out.” One of my friends, Helen, had a brother-in-law who was recently divorced, and was visiting from South Carolina. She decided to have me over for her Family Night so I could meet him. She told me that he was recently divorced, and she told me his age–which was about ten years older than me. I didn’t care about the fact that he was divorced, and I tried to be cool with the age-difference. I wasn’t sure how it would play out. I figured I could have an open mind. Besides, Helen and her husband were really cool. Helen’s husband was cute, too, so I figured that his brother would also be cute. It was worth a try.

The family night was on the 3 of July. We did some kind of cheesy-but-fun-family-oriented activity. I knew and was comfortable with Helen’s family. But her brother-in-law–for our purposes, we’ll call him Odriew–had his children there, too, and I felt like an outsider at a family reunion. Plus, throughout the night, Odriew kept looking at me and smiling too much, and I didn’t know what he was thinking. It made me feel so uncomfortable. Thankfully the activity ended with a lot of illegal fireworks (Odriew brought them from South Carolina to PA). I have to admit, the fireworks were fun. Finally, the kids were put to bed, and I was left alone with this dude. We sat down at the table, and I could feel him looking at me, very happily, like too happy which made me instantly uncomfortable.

I didn’t want to be there anymore, but I had no where else to go, and I felt rude leaving because I knew that we were supposed to be getting to know each other. So I found myself at the table, with an overly happy guy and his creepy smile, ready to talk.
“So…thanks for coming over.”
“Yeah. I’ve had fun.” (lying) “The fireworks you brought were pretty awesome” (not lying about that part).
“Thanks. I got them from my home in South Carolina–they sell the good stuff there.”
“Yeah…those were good fireworks.” (Are you feeling my awkwardness yet?)
He smiled at me some more with a lot of full eye contact. This eye contact was not the really-amazingly-cute-french-guy-who-also-smells-good kind of eye contact, but the wow-this-guy-is-staring-at-me-and-I’m-getting-totally-creeped-out kind of eye contact. Naturally, I started fidgeting a lot.
“Well…So…tomorrow I’m running in a 10K, so I should probably be going pretty soon.” I said, fumbling.
“What? Not yet! We still need to talk.” (His weirdo smile cracked for a second.)
“Oh definitely, not right now, but in a little bit.” Dang it! I did mean right then, but for some reason felt bad about disappointing this dude.
“Okay. Good. A 10k. How many miles is that?” (Again, looking at me with a big weirdo smile).
“Just over 6.”
“Wow. That’s really great.” (Weirdo smile)
“Yeah.”
We sit there for a few seconds. I’m not all that great at small talk when I’m creeped out. Plus, I was truly tired.
“Helen tells me that you’re divorced.”
“Yep.”
“Do you have children?”
“Yes. Two. They are in Utah visiting their father.”
“Well, you know that I have two, you met them tonight.”
“Yep.”
Pause…oh, and don’t worry, he’s still doing that weirdo-smile and extended freaky eye contact.
“So…tell me about your divorce.”
Tell me about your divorce? What kind of idiotic question is that? AGGGGHHH!? What is this? I want to puke everywhere!
“I’m not sure what you want me to say.” Is finally all I can come up with.
“Well, how long were you married?” (weirdo smile)
“Nearly seven years.”
“How did it happen?” (weirdo smile)
Why are you asking me this? And what’s with the weirdo smile while you are asking me???

The thing is, I answered him. I spent like three hours talking about my lame divorce, and it was a strange situation for me. When I talked about my divorce, I felt detached from it, so it’s not like a sad thing for me to think about. However, even though I’ve processed it, and I’ve learned how to let it go, I still didn’t find it compelling conversation for what was supposed to be some kind of date-ish-thing-y. Worst of all, I got to bed waaaayyyy late, was really tired for my 10K, and ran it really slowly.

***
Okay…I said that the 10k was worst of all. But it wasn’t. Of course, I didn’t realize that until a week later.

I figured that Odriew was out of the picture because I didn’t return his calls for the next few days. Then he went with Helen and her family somewhere out of state (can’t remember…didn’t care). And yeah, I had no interest in seeing him.

In the meantime, two of my old friends from Utah came out to visit me: Mark and Julie. Julie was French, and I loved hanging out with her. She had an opinion, was funny, and has a passion that you don’t find in most Americans. I was absolutely tickled that they would come and visit me. We went to Philly, NYC, and had all sorts of fun.

One of the days that they were there, I got a phone call, and I forgot not to answer it.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hi.” ahhhh! Even though I didn’t know who it was at first, it only took me a second to sense his weirdo smile, “this is Ordiew.”
“Hi.” Why do I answer my phone???
“So, how’s it going?” he asked.
“I’m actually hanging out with my friends Mark and Julie from Utah.”
“You are?”
“Yes. I am.”
“I was under the impression that we were going to go out while I was here.”
“Uhh..”
“I mean, last week, we talked about getting together, then I tried to get a hold of you on the fourth, but you never called me back.”
“Yeah…sorry…it’s just that…I ran that 10K, then I was really tired…then I knew that you were out of town.”
“Well, I’m back in town today.”
“Yeah, I know, but I don’t think that I can do anything tonight, I have guests in town.”
“I leave tomorrow.”
“Oh, man, that stinks.” (total lie).
“So, who’s visiting you?”
“Mark and Julie.”
“Are they, like, a couple?”
“Yeah. They’re married. I knew them in Utah.”
“Great! I can be your date, we’ll double.”

That’s how I somehow agreed to go on one of the crappiest dates of my life, but it was all my fault anyway, and in retrospect, I simply hope that it was great entertainment for Mark and Julie, and inspiration for them to be grateful that they will never have to enter into the dating world again.

I suppose I’ll finish with the date.

Odriew shows up at my place
So, we wait for him to show up, and he does, wearing a Hawaiian shirt with that really strange weirdo-smile psycho-eye-contact combo. I was looking cute because it comes naturally to me. 😉 Although, I will admit that dressing nicely and looking cute may have given him the wrong signal.

After his arrival, I explain that we’re going to go out to a really good Thai restaurant, then Rita’s for water ice since it was a really good local favorite.
“I’m not sure where the Thai restaurant is.” Odriew states.
“No big deal. I know where it is. It’s really good.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know where I’m going.”
“Uh…I don’t think that you need to. We’ll just take my car and go together.”
“Okay…if you say so.”

We head out of my house to my car, and Odriew makes like he’s going to sit in the driver’s seat.
“Oh…you’re gonna drive?” He asks.
“Yeah. It’s my car.”
“But it’s a date.”
“But it’s my car.”
I get into my car, and Odriew is a little peeved. I don’t mind because he’s not doing that strange weirdo-smiling thing.

Fun at a Thai Restaurant
We get to the restaurant, and the tension diffuses–as the food is so good. I loved being able to talk to Mark and Julie. Every once in a while Odriew said something weird, with his creepy smile. We would pause for a second, look at him, then on with our conversation.

Eventually, the check arrives. When dating, one of the tricky things can be knowing who will pay. Actually, no, it’s not tricky at all. The dude should pay, but I was a nice girl, and was used to grabbing my pocketbook as if I was going to pay, but never intending to. Even when I reach for my wallet, I’m expecting that the dude should pay–especially if he asked me out for a date. Odriew saw me reaching for my pocketbook.
“Oh, you’re paying?” he asked.
“Are you su…” I started, already pretending to “insist” that he didn’t have to pay. Then realizing halfway through my sentence that perhaps I had it wrong.
“Great! Thanks for paying,” he continued. “I’m a teacher, so that means I’m poor!” (huge weirdo smile and even more penetrating gaze.)
“Uh…okay…sure.” And, I handed my debit card to the waitress. I could see the horror in Julie’s face. Mark was trying not to laugh out loud. I felt like I had just been…tazed…I was stunned. I was also thinking that clearly Odriew didn’t understand what made a man attractive to a single-working mother. We don’t want guys who stare and smile. We want guys who pay for dinner.

***
Rita’s was equally uncomfortable, and I was getting the feeling that Odriew wanted to do something like hold hands. Gross.

Back at Home, Where I Get Carried Away in Conversation, and then Pay for It
We went back to my place. This is when it really got hairy, and I’ll blame my personality on everything that ensued.

So, we’re sitting in my tiny white house, and we’re all talking. I seriously love talking to Julie. As I mentioned before, she’s passionate. She’s opinionated. You can have a heated discussion with her, and no harm is done. She’s French. That’s it. She makes no excuses for who she is, either, and I love that about her above all else. So, even though Odriew is there, freaking me out and smiling at me, I’m still full of life and conversation because I’m talking with Julie and Mark.

Occasionally, Ordiew would chime in, asking a range of questions (including controversial ones) that would get all of us worked up. I was in a chippy, talkative mood.
“So, you were an English major?” Odriew asked.
“Yes.”
“What did you like about it?”
“Uh…what do you mean?”
“Well, did you like writing? Reading? Are you planning on being a teacher?”
“I just love reading. And I like writing about what I’ve read.”
“What is your favorite genre?”
“I really like poetry.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“Well, what’s you’re favorite poem?”
When he asked me this, I knew that it could get really problematic. Really problematic because perhaps he’d take my favorite poem the wrong way. But, at the same time, I can count on one hand the people who have asked me the question, “What is your favorite poem,” and I do have several favorite poems, so I jumped out my seat to find two of them.

Danse Russe
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,–
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,–

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household? – William Carlos Williams

As I read the poem, Odriew made this huge-wierdo-smile. I noticed Mark and Julie smirking. Whoops? Did I just read a poem that said “naked” to Odriew??? What was I doing? But I already had the second poem in hand, so I couldn’t stop…

Flying
Sometimes,
on a plane,
you see a stranger.
He is so beautiful!
His nose
Going down in the
old Greek way,
or his smile
a wild Mexican fiesta.
You want to say:
do you know how beautiful you are?
You leap up
into the aisle,
you can’t let him go
until he has touched you
shyly, until you have rubbed him,
oh, lightly,
like a coin
you find on the earth somewhere
shining and unexpected and,
without thinking,
reach for. You stand there
shaken
by the strangeness,
the splash of his touch.
When he’s gone
you stare like an animal into
the blinding clouds
with the snapped chain of your life,
the life you know:
the deeply affectionate earth,
the familiar landscapes
slowly turning
thousands of feet below. – Mary Oliver

Were Mark and Julie snickering? Odriew’s smile was so big he looked like the Joker. He asked me what the poems meant, and I explained them to him, careful to mention that they weren’t about being in love. (They weren’t about him!) They weren’t about relationships or people. They still relatively introverted poems. Danse Russe is about being okay with you, your life, and even with a family, with loved ones, the poet, especially, is still all alone. It resonated with me. I didn’t know why. But I loved it.

Flying: it wasn’t about falling in love. It was about admiring beauty. A beautiful man. And you’re admiring that beauty simply because it exists. While admiring it, you get a little carried away, so much so that finally you are shocked back into reality.

These poems had nothing to do with him or any other man. These poems weren’t some kind of “hope” I had for the future. I loved them way before Odriew came along, and I would continue to love them long after he would (please) leave. But he didn’t know that. He smiled his weirdo-joker-esque smile, and I grew frustrated with myself for sharing with him.

Feeling awkward, I suggested that we all go for a walk outside. Mainly, I wanted to show Mark and Julie how amazing the lightning bugs were that time of year. My little white house was on a quiet country road in Southeastern PA. Only part of the road was paved. There were several fields and farms. It was perfect for seeing millions (I’m not exaggerating) of lightning bugs. Let’s just put it this way, all of the flickering lightning bugs were so amazing, that I don’t regret that stupid date with Odriew…So, I suggested we go on this walk, Mark and Julie agreed. As soon as I suggested it, Odriew’s smile was even bigger and more joker-y (if that was possible). I realized that he was really getting the wrong idea, and it was my fault. First I read him poetry, then I say lets take a walk in the dark!!!!!!!!!!!! What’s wrong with me?

We walk in the dark, and I’m pretty sure that Odriew wants to hold my hand. Yeah…I think that he tried to, but I didn’t really let him. I walked around, talking way too loudly. But we admired the lightning bugs and the humid Pennsylvania evening. Gosh I miss Pennsylvania.

After our walk, Mark and Julie headed for bed. Odriew seemed to want to talk, but I told him I was getting tired. That’s when he swooped in for a kiss. A KISS!!! After all of this weird-awkward-he-got-mad-at-me-for-driving-my-car-let-me-pay-and-I-shunned-his-hand-on-the-walk-date!!! When he swooped in, I did this kind of rolling-move, that helped me to deflect the kiss while still opening the door so he could leave.

I didn’t want to make him feel bad, so I stood there quietly without barfing, and then…HE TRIED TO KISS ME AGAIN. I managed to do the roll move again, and this time, I also put my hand up and said, “No.”

Then he left.

Mark and Julie were laughing upstairs. Julie was laughing and laughing and laughing. I admitted that some of this I did to myself, not because I was trying to send mixed messages, but because I was so horrible at dating. It was hilarious.

***
A few days later, at church, Helen came up to me with a knowing smile.
“So…Odriew told me all about your date.”
“Oh yeah?” I began, but I noticed that she was still smiling. Like in a good way. So I asked, “What did he say?”
“It was goo-oood…” She answered in a sing-song way.
“Um…I don’t know about that.”
“Oh no?!”
“I’m so sorry. I don’t want to offend you or hurt your feelings. I just didn’t feel like we hit it off.”
“No. I’m not offended. Not at all. I’m just surprised.”
“Really, why?”
“Well, he thought you guys really hit it off…he even mentioned that you guys kissed.”
“What?! Are you serious?” I told her what happened, and she stood there, laughing.

***

This, my friends, is what dating life is actually like. It is awkward and full of misunderstanding. It is a man who smiles too much, and a woman who tries not to be mean, but in doing so sends the wrong signals to the man who then smiles even more. Dating isn’t sexy or exciting. It’s almost masochistic. If you are reading this, and you’ve been married for a while, and you’re feeling nostalgic for seemingly exciting times of your pre-married-life. Be honest with yourself. For every cute-french-fantasy-guy (whom I didn’t even actually date, just imagined dating) there are like 155 Odriews. And for all of the single ladies who are dating and know exactly what I’m talking about, hang in there. For all of the Odriews, there is one Homey.

Click here for part 23.