Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter 13 Love

“Dear Ashley,
Ever since our first email, our first date, kiss, walk under the stars, swing in the park…is this for real? Is it possible to have such a match? Friendship? Love? I just looked at our pictures for the thousandth time. It is real. I can see it in our smiles and in our eyes. I can hear it when we laugh and sense it in my heart when we talk and especially when we are separated.

I knew it was real too. I knew that Parke was much more than a boyfriend, he was my future husband. I was absolutely sure of it. To deny it would be to deny divine inspiration. I was keeping a juicy, exhilarating secret inside me but I wasn’t ready to tell Parke. We weren’t even at boyfriend-girlfriend status. Telling him my revelation would be jumping the gun. I decided to let our relationship ripen naturally, without pressure or expectation. But secretly knowing the outcome of our relationship comforted me immensely.

Parke served a 2-year LDS Mission in Berlin, Germany. He spent his own money and two years of his life teaching Christian principles and doing service for the German citizens and, in return, he baptized one person. We still tease him about his “sightseeing” mission to Germany since the people were not highly receptive to his message. However, he worked hard, followed strict rules and finished honorably. I respect him deeply for his service and commitment to the LDS Church.

When 19-year-old boys get called on a mission they go through metamorphosis from immature, pimply boys into pious teachers. Church leaders fill every second of their mission with study, prayer and preaching so that they forget that they have testosterone. They are never allowed to be in the same room alone with a female for their protection. After two years of suppressing attraction for the fairer sex, their badge is relinquished and they are pushed back into the dating world with a swift kick. They are urged: “Now you’re free! Get married as soon as physically possible so that you don’t fall victim to premarital sex”.

Being the first girl to kiss a Return Missionary is worthy of a badge. Every Mormon girl should experience this rite of passage like checking off a personal progress goal. The boy has been waiting for his reentry into the kissing world for two long years and, in the time that they were only using their lips for prayer; our feminine lips have been staying warm with practice, practice, practice. We women, finally have the upper hand. That, however, is the only good thing about dating a fresh RM. Just like an engine which has not been tuned up for two years, freshly returned missionaries are rusty in the kissing department. They have completely forgotten how to treat a girl, touch a girl and kiss a girl. They talk about their mission 24-7 which displays their spiritual side, but can be very boring. I was highly experienced with dating returned missionaries, having spent five years at Brigham Young University. Getting involved with a green RM is a sacrifice indeed.

Luckily, Parke had kissed a couple of girls between his return and meeting me which I was grateful for. I avoid fresh RM’s like the swine flu. I was not so lucky when meeting Jake.

Previously, I was home on break from college. Boys back home were always the “boys back home”. Been there, done that. Why then had I never noticed this cutie sitting in front of me at the stake church fireside? I leaned into my dad, “Who is that?” My dad smiled, pleased to note that I was, in fact, interested in boys who weren’t gangsters or losers. “That’s Jake Tenley. He’s the mayor’s son. Jake just returned from his 2-year mission in Spain”. (Completing a mission earns a boy 2 extra points on their dating score. And completing a foreign mission tacks on a couple more points; Boise, Idaho isn’t as exciting as Kiev, Ukraine).

Oooooh, a cutie AND a Returned Missionary, I’m interested.

I talked to him after the fireside and gave him my number. When he called we set up a date to see a movie and to go ice skating.

Although Jake was only two weeks fresh from his mission, he was a sacrifice I was willing to engage in because he was very easy on the eyes…muscular, light hair, dark eyes and tan skin. The drawback with Jake is that he was slow in every respect. Once, when he was playing a board game with my family we kept laughing at his expense because every time it was his turn we had to wait a long, long, time. “Come. On. Jake. Go!” He spoke slowly, he walked slowly and he was intellectually slow. On our first date, I mentioned something about Freud. “Who’s Freud?” he questioned. I was shocked, “You’ve never heard of Sigmund Freud!?!” From that point on, I knew there was no future for us. Oh well, maybe he’s a good kisser…

We saw each other every night since our first date. The conversation was so dim that I found myself tuning anything auditory out and just looking at him and touching him since that was more pleasant. The first kiss was awful. Our lips didn’t match. He had thin lips and mine are full. Our kissing styles were completely different. His style was (just guess) extremely slow. Hmmm, he couldn’t converse and he couldn’t kiss. Is it worth carrying on? The kissing went from worse to bad, then bad to decent; but I was content keeping my lips warm over a chilly Christmas break.

Since the kissing was a sliver more pleasant than the conversation, that what we did mostly. My lips were in a constant state of chap; so much, that the Carmex Corporation sent me a letter of appreciation.

What’s the conversation like while kissing someone? With any boy, I found it hard to merge the cognitive world with the physical realm. Enlightening conversation is rare. Verbiage usually includes silly comments, expressions of gratitude and flirty warnings. I can’t remember any notable conversation during any kissing session, except Jake’s. In the middle of something physical, he whispered in my ear “I love you”.

Somewhere in the distance, I heard a record player scratching.

“What…..did you say?” What I felt like saying though was “What are you thinking? This is our second date! Why did you have to say something awkward like that? I am purely using you for your brawn, don’t you get that?”

But instead, I said sensitively “You don’t love me. We hardly know each other. Thanks though, that’s sweet.”

I have told numerous boys that I have loved them. Saying “I love you” is a subsequent step in relationship development after the thrill of kissing wanes. But how many of those promises of affection were truthful? I never lied intentionally. In the moment I probably felt as though I loved them. After looking back and analyzing the relationship I can admit to loving three men during different periods of my life. I knew which men I loved and which I didn’t by asking myself these questions: Did I sacrifice for that person? Did I truly want the best for them? Did they return their love by word and deed? Did I have a wandering eye during the relationship? Did we respect each other’s values? Could I see a family and future with that person?

I definitely did not love Jake.

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