I love new love, it is sick and nauseous and so dang adorable. It is the intoxicating can’t-live-without-you wonder fueled with the hard work of wanting to make the person you love to the moon and back beam from ear-to-ear. It is Yohan’s birthday this week, and it is the first time Catherine (his new fiance!) is celebrating with him. She called in a panic the week before, and then on Saturday night, and then again on Sunday morning.
She was worried about her surprise, if it was good enough, special enough, worthy enough. And I smiled, remembering J and I’s sweet firsts, that nervous anticipation of when you don’t quite know someone yet, but you do know that the smile he smiles when he’s so damn happy, makes all the butterflies in your tummy go into a frenzy. And you know, you just know, that you will chase this high for the rest of your life. You will spend the rest of your life making him this happy because your heart falls in love over and over again every time.
And so I said, “Oh Catherine. It’s all good. You can give him a used tampon, and he will still beam because he loves you. Plain and simple, he loves your half broken and flaws, he loves your incomplete and what you think is not good enough. He will love it because he loves you.”
I said, “Take a deep breath and come on over, I’ll teach you how to make his favorite pecan pie, and we’ll go to the store and find something to make for dinner. It’s all good. He will love it!”
And he did. In that ear-to-ear grin happiness and the way he looks at her and she looks at him just made our hearts smile.
It made J and I laugh because two weeks ago, Yohan called in a panic. Sheepish and nervous and so very excited he said, “Will you help me pick out a ring? I don’t know how to and it has to be perfect.”
So even at the store, with his honorary mom and dad in tow, comparing clarity and cuts, I told him just what I told her on Sunday morning, “She’s going to love it. Whether it’s half a carat or fifteen carats. Whether it fits or doesn’t. Whether it’s a simple band with pretty bling or a ring fashioned of twigs…she will love it because she loves you. I promise you that she won’t see any of that through the tears because she will just be over the moon you found each other.”
So in a little apartment in Prague, between six hundred new discoveries of each other and new cities, he got down on one knee. He proposed to a girl he had waited 31 years to meet and he made her the happiest girl in the world. ♥
She started crying before she even knew what was happening, because she thought he was asking her what she thought of their vacation so far. She had no clue that it was just about to get a little bit mind-blowingly better.
And in our little four walls of a little taco bar and pie (it could have been KFC and burnt cookies for all he cared) she made him feel like the luckiest boy in the world.
She presented him with our little slightly deformed pecan pie with purple sparkler candles on top and he loved it. He didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect, he never does, he just smiled his little excited smile. But more precious than that, she made a 4:26 minute birthday video she strung up together late at night (Remember those honeymoon days when you just couldn’t get enough of each other and were literally glued package deal to one another?), and it was soundtracked to Audrey Assad’s Good to Me which said everything and so much.
J and I felt like veterans and so damn proud, like mama bears and papa bears getting to pass on the torch. We smiled remembering that we were once this lovey dovey gooey mess, and we held each other tighter with that knowing look because this boy still makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. And we smiled because we were kinda in awe that someone actually thought we were doing something right to ask us to share in their once in a lifetime.
We set them up with an engagement-double-birthday-bonanza of a basket full of American happiness. Because Yohan called one night and said “Oh my god oh my god, Catherine’s never had microwaved popcorn!”. And so like only a boy in love will do, he brought her to all the fancy “imported” grocery stores, to show her a part of his world she had never experienced.
With that idea, J and I made a little basket of candy corn and Dr Pepper, Velveeta shells and cheese and Ragu Old World Style pasta sauce, Chex mix and soft baked Pepperidge Farm cookies. So he can share his befores and make new afters together. In their new little big boy-big girl kitchen as they experiment and find out who they are as a couple, how to dance that sacred dance of giving and taking as Mr and Mrs, and that Shake ‘N Bake most definitely does not already come with the chicken.
The look on their faces as they pulled out each new “treat” from their baskets and how Yohan patiently explained to Catherine what each American “staple” was was something J and I will never forget. I remember asking J when we shopped for it if it was the world’s worst or best idea and he said tonight, “Man, that was something kinda special to see the looks on their faces.” I love this boy.
But mostly we pray that this little basket will teach them that sometimes, it is the simplest things in life that will make the other happy. Whether it is a post-it note, or discovering processed cheese that squirts out of a can for the first time, or even just sharing a yummy cookie. Because it is steeped in love and that they will hopefully always remember to be just as patient, just as in love, just as in awe with one another.
A lesson we are still learning and will continue to learn as we get inspired by the strong amazing selflessly sweet couples around us. Twice now in the last two months, I’ve helped someone shop for boxers for their Mr, and it makes me giggle and smile with love every time.
I should probably be disturbed but it is a sacred honor to be allowed into their world. Their little things and it is these little things that remind me that it all matters.
I love that my so independent girls take care of their men with the little “wifey” things, but most of all, I love that these macho men also take care of their sayangs. And it makes me laugh when they complain about their husbands snoring and quite possibly contemplating murder by pillow suffocation, because I also know that these girls are also ferociously protective of these men. Hurt their men, and they will hunt you down and eat you alive.
I love the innocence of sweet new love but more than anything else, I also love the maturity in-it-for-life of sweet old married love. The kind where you buy boxers and socks for your husband or the kind where your husband brings you your back brace while you’re making dinner because someone’s gotta take care of the old lady.
What a way to end our week and I think J took notes too because this morning, he called me in my office to ask me out for a lunch date.
“Why?”, I asked.
“Just because”, he said.
“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.
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