The Best Prime Rib

My parents called me shortly after I broke up with Shawn. He had called to inform them that I had broken up with him and that they should have a talk with me. Instead my parents, who had no clue I’d called things off, told Shawn that if I had broken up with him, they respected my decision and said he needed to let me go. Hearing this from my parents (who called me together on speaker phone) was such a relief to me!  My mom told me how she had been praying that I would break it off with him. She was trying to let me find my way and instead of opposing the relationship and risking me running closer to him, she prayed that what was meant to be would happen. My dad told me how proud he was of me. I nearly cried knowing that not only were they not disappointed in me but they weren’t mad about already buying me a wedding dress or a hutch. I would get married eventually right? I’d also need dining room furniture!

Joseph and I hung out almost every other evening. Days we didn’t see each other we talked on the phone. He followed me home most nights we worked together because of the time Shawn was waiting for me by my car when I came out. Joseph knew I was nervous about confrontation with him, so his presence kept Shawn away.

One night that Joseph followed me home, he asked if he could hug me before he left and I said okay. I have never had a better hug in my life.  I am 5 foot 4 (and three-quarters) and he is 6 foot 2. He completely enveloped me up in his arms. I felt so safe and it made a lasting impression.

My mom warned me not to get involved with anyone for a while since I was just in a serious relationship and yadda-yadda… I said, ” I know mom…” It wasn’t until 2 weeks after I ended my relationship, did Joseph and I have our first official date on Valentine’s day. That was the last time Shawn tried to get in touch with me. He had showed up at my sister’s house unannounced, 30 minutes before Joseph was to pick me up. He asked if I was going out with “him” and I said yes. I wore a long black skirt with red roses on it and a matching top. I did my hair… Shawn told me his parents and grandparents wanted to talk to me and tell me I was making a mistake and to give him another chance.. and I said, “I don’t want to talk to them. It’s over.” He finally left and told everyone at school I had cheated on him. Convincing him otherwise would only mean further engagement from me and I wasn’t willing to give him that. Joseph and I knew the truth. That’s all that mattered.

My Valentine’s date with Joseph was sweet. He even brought me flowers. We sat on the same side of the booth at the restaurant near a cozy fireplace. He was dressed in khakis and a long-sleeved white shirt with a button up vest over it. I sort of smiled to myself thinking how preppy he was compared to everyone else I’d ever dated. I liked it though. I liked him. He had the tough guy exterior but with a marshmallow center. He had the long hair and the earring. (My eyebrow ring had been long gone.) He was a genuine good guy and I was finally ready for that. One night when he followed me home he stopped to help a mom whose mini van was stuck in the snow on the side of the road. He always held doors open for me and while he was protective of me, he was confident in me. He didn’t get jealous or want to beat people up for looking at me.

By the time we were seeing each other for about 3 weeks I said, “Sooo… are we exclusive?” And before I could finish the sentence he said “Yes.” Not a day went by that we didn’t see or talk to one another. So I knew I was the only one he spent time with but still I wanted to know what “this” was.. I was absolutely on board with calling him my boyfriend. Elated.

By month one he told me he had some breaking news for me. We were hanging out at my sister’s house in the living room. Knowing his personality by now, I thought he was going to burp or crack a joke of some sort because he looked so serious all of a sudden. Whatever he said was going to be funny and I was ready to laugh!! But instead he cleared his throat and told me he was in love with me. I was caught totally off guard! How could this be, I asked? I was in complete denial. Astonished that he could be in love with me… already!? He was taken aback of course and he told me that it wasn’t easy for him to profess this and that he had never told anyone that he loved them first.. this was a leap of faith for him.. This wasn’t what he does, he said.  I didn’t know what to think of it. He told me again that truly he meant it and he would still feel this way in a week. I was to ask him in a month from now or years from now, and he would still love me. By this time I was thinking he fell off the crazy train. He also told me to please not respond if I didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t know what I felt. I knew I was crazy about him. But this was so soon. He left that night giving me much to ponder. I felt bad for not reciprocating but he said, “Don’t say it, if you don’t feel the same way.”

For the next week I reflected. I was used to following whims. “Sure why nots” were my thing. Joseph was amazing. I really needed to discern what this relationship meant to me. He was too important to decide on a whim if I loved him.  He’d call me in the mornings to wake me up for school. I had an alarm but he would call because he knew I was eternally running late. He’d say “Hey Spring, are you up?” Yes. “Put your feet on the floor. Are they on the floor?” They are. “Ok. I love you baby. Have a good day. Don’t go back to sleep.” And I would respond with, “Thank you.. have a good day too.”

Every time I saw and spoke to him for that week he’d tell me he loved me and each time I would respond by saying “thank you”.  Finally I decided, not on a whim, but after much consideration of what love really meant to me, that I was going to consciously love him. I already knew I had fallen for him but this was a decision I wanted to make purposefully. The day I told him I loved him too, he cried. He was so happy. I was so happy!

Joe knew that I suffered from depression and ADHD and was on meds for both even though neither really did their job. It was more of my “feather” like the one that made Dumbo the elephant fly. Being with him and the newness of the relationship; I didn’t feel sad often. He did not share my love of music that’s for sure. He called it “depressing man hater music” and said, “No wonder you get sad, this music makes me want to jump out the window!” He still graciously took my mixed tape I made him, and made me one a week later.

By month 3, I was ready to finally sing for him. I never sang for any boyfriend before. This was terrifying for me and I was beyond nervous. So I did what any wussy does in that situation. I opened a door and stood behind it while gathering up the courage for 10 minutes to belt out my best rendition of Jewel’s “You were meant for me.” When I was done he said, “Babe! That was beautiful! Come here!” I felt like a 4 year old running to their parent after doing a good job at something! I had a huge smile on my face, giggling like an excited kid as I ran over to be hugged and kissed by him. He couldn’t stop me from singing for the rest of our relationship.***

I graduated college that May after 2 short years.  Joseph was there to see me get my diploma. I was the first one in my family to have a college degree. Even if it was just art school. I was going to get paid for doing what I really loved!  It was mildly cool. I had a new job at a different restaurant waiting tables. I had been fired from the Steak House for complaining about the crappy sections the manager gave me, probably because I was not an awesome waitress. The only thing I liked about it was serving the families with all the little kids. I wanted to be on the other side of that table one day with my own family. They made it look glorious!

I moved out of my sister’s home to my own apartment becasue she was getting ready to be remarried. Joseph moved out of his parents house to his own apartment. I went furniture shopping with him once and told him to pick the blue couch because it matched my hutch. We both smiled and played it off like I hadn’t just said what I said. I couldn’t believe I said it out loud! We spoke a lot with our glances.  He ended up buying the blue couch.

Joe asked me while out to dinner one night, if I had ever thought about marriage and when I figured that time frame in my life would be. And I said, “Yeah I want to be married someday but I’m in no hurry. I’ve just come out of an engagement.” And he said he wasn’t in a hurry either.

The first time he met my mother wasn’t until 3 months after we were seeing each other. I played it off to her whenever we talked on the phone, like Joe and I were just really good friends. When I introduced them and she offered to take a picture of us, he kissed me by surprise and she said; “Looks like you’re more than friends, Spring!!” We all had a good laugh. She adored Joseph from the get-go and I know she liked that he was raised Catholic.

kiss

Joe was Catholic in name just like I was. We thought there was potential there for growth because of the way we were raised, but we were in no hurry to step into a church together. We were Catholic in name, but were pretty apathetic about all of it. I unconsciously chose Joseph over God. If commandments told me I was wrong, I didn’t want to listen. I had no clue how much more powerful things could be letting God be God. I did not trust Him…yet. Neither did Joe.

We went to the mall once and “happened” upon a diamond store. He wanted to look inside just for fun and see what types of rings I liked. We had chit chatted about marriage here and there. We knew we were pretty serious but neither of us felt any pressure to be anything other than what we were; two, annoyingly in love, young adults.

The first time Joseph met my dad was when we met them in Colorado for their 40th wedding anniversary. I was the only kid that could make it out there from my family and Joe was thrilled at the opportunity to visit Colorado again and offered to drive showing me where he lived in Keystone on the way to my parent’s campsite in Glenwood Springs. I had a clue that he wanted to talk to my dad about his intentions for me. Joe wanted my dad’s blessing regarding our relationship which I thought was cool.

I remember my dad being worried that I was driving to Colorado with some guy he had never met. What if he was a serial killer?? He was worried that Joe was a dirt bag and the fact that we arrived hours later than we should, made him suspicious of him. We all had a good laugh about it because my dad told Joe he didn’t look like a dirt bag and that maybe he’d give him a chance.. And when dad and Joe walked around the camper out of sight while my mom and I were inside, I cranked open the windows to try to hear what they were saying. “Spring! You’re a sneak! What are they talking about?” I had no idea. I was just super nervous for Joseph! I was hoping my dad would be easy on him. Mom and I giggled like little school girls at the prospect of what they could be discussing.

That trip was amazing. Joe got to know my parents, realizing that my dad’s humor was similar to his own and that he was rarely serious.  We went rafting with my dad and Joe and I hiked this amazing trail my family and I have been on numerous times. Hanging Lake in Glenwood Colorado.  A mere 1200 feet straight up the mountain on switch backs. We took a picture underneath the waterfall at the very top. I don’t even know how we took a selfie on a 35mm camera! But it worked!us
We were in our zone. We even drove up to Utah on the way back to visit my older brother and his family. Joseph never told me what he and my dad talked about. We’d only been dating 5 months… so surely it was nothing huge like I’d hoped.

We continued to talk about the possibilities of getting married now and then. I even bought a new cat to befriend my other one, because Joe said that if we ever got married I couldn’t get a new cat. Well, we weren’t married and I wasn’t engaged to him so I bought this little white and black kitten. Joe looked at me annoyed then proceeded to name the cat Scrappy and fall madly in love with it. I couldn’t help but think about what kind of dad he’d be. He was a good “cat dad”.

One day I came home from work to find that Joseph was in my apartment using my bathroom and yelled at me through the door to put on something cute because he made reservations at the restaurant we went to on Valentine’s. My heart sank because I had actually eaten dinner at work. But I didn’t want to disappoint him because he seemed abnormally excited to eat this restaurant’s prime rib. It was the best? Well, okay! I never liked passing up a fun date with him. So we went.

Joseph seemed to have to go to the bathroom quite a bit that night. He went once before we were seated and once again after we ordered salads. I was used to his bladder which is the size of a thimble, but this was ridiculous! There we were sitting close on the same side of booth like usual. This time we weren’t near a fireplace because it was August, but we were secluded with book shelves around us. Super romantic. I looked over at him and jokingly patted his empty pockets. I said, “So when are you ever going to propose to me?” Hahahah! I had a great laugh. I thought I was hilarious. But he suddenly had to go to the bathroom again! By now I’m totally annoyed but, “Hey look I’ll have a bite of his steak while he’s gone. That will teach him to keep leaving me here”. Sheesh.

I cut myself a big ol bite of prime rib, dipped it in au jus and took a bite. I had barely started chewing it when out of nowhere lights were flashing in front of me and over walks Joseph looking guilty or nervous or not himself… I’m chewing this enormous piece of meat unbeknownst to him and he kneels down in front of me! I look up in shock and see his brother Keaton snapping pictures and it dawns on me what’s happening! My face turns 10 shades redder, and I have a huge wad of steak in my cheek and I can’t just say: “Stop!!! Let me just spit this meat out elegantly in a napkin.. Now you can proceed” No. I’m housing prime rib in my mouth like a chipmunk when the love of my life kneels down and tells me he wants to spend forever with me, as he opens up this red box and asks me to be his wife!!

Eventually I spit my food out in a napkin before I choked on it and I told him, “Yes, I would love to marry you!!” We had been together a whole 6 months…

ring

Hug

Freedom

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Shawn and I had many problems. In fact we had broken up in the summer for a short while because we fought so much. But we got back together, thinking we were stronger than ever. Regardless of the lies. The arguing. The clashing personalities. I felt like I had invested so much time to make it work and sometimes things were great. In the fall we got engaged but the arguing became more personal. He didn’t want a big family. I did. He didn’t want to get married in a church. I did. Everything I thought I liked about him before was now gone. Sounds stable right? This is what I had chosen for myself because I’d given him my heart. I was not thinking critically.  There’s a reason you don’t give your heart out. It complicates everything dramatically and makes easy decisions foggy. This notion brought me to seriously pray for an answer. This couldn’t be all love had to offer… And why on earth did I think it was my job to stay? It wasn’t.

I was accustomed to calling Shawn when my shifts ended at work to check in and talk to him.  Well the night that I talked to Joseph, I did not call to check in. In fact, Shawn drove to my sister’s house where I was living at the time and had been waiting for me in her driveway most of the night. So when I showed up for school he already knew I hadn’t been home. I knew our talk would have to come right now and not later in the day like I had planned. Inhale…exhale.

We went to his car where I told him I had stayed with a friend from work the night before. (Pretty much true? ish.)  I expressed my unhappiness in our relationship and reminded him that we always fought and it was more work than happiness. He assured me it would be better after the wedding, even though we hadn’t set a date and he couldn’t seem to remember to put more than $75 in our wedding fund over the 3 months we had been engaged. He swore that he would change. I told him about Joseph and said that I wanted to be friends with him and he said, “Great! I’ll be friends with this Joseph guy too. We can both be his friend. No problem.” And I said “I don’t think you understand. This isn’t working and it’s not going to work. Ever. We can’t force it anymore. We’re not meant to be and we’re making each other miserable. I want different things…” At this point he was shaking his head and saying “Nope, no…” Then he started up his car. “Where are you going?” I said, completely freaked out by this point. He said, “We’re going to my apartment where we can talk about this.” I said, “I want to talk here!” But he was backing out.

He drove me to his apartment and insisted I get out of the car so we could “Discuss things.” Against my better judgement I went upstairs with him. He locked the apartment door and asked me once again to work things out. When I said, “We are really done this time.. For good…. I’m sorry.” He went and threw up. He came back to me and grabbed the cordless phone. He called his mother and sobbed to her that I was being irrational and I was breaking up with him. I was panicking by this point because I felt trapped. I looked at the door and then he came back into the room with the phone on his ear and said, “Give me back the ring!!” I slipped it off and handed it over to him and he went back in his room to lament to his mom. I busted for the door!

There was no way I was getting stuck here with him not letting me leave, which had happened other times I tried to end things. I unlocked the door, slipped out quietly then bolted down the hall! I ran so fast down the carpeted stairs and out to the parking lot. I ran to a neighborhood near by and tried to stay off the main streets constantly looking back to see if he was following me. I had no idea where I could go. I thought a gas station would be the first place he would look. So I jogged 2 miles to the steak house I worked at. I banged on the back door until a cook let me in. The store wasn’t even open yet. I told him my situation and asked for a ride back to school to get my car. He wasn’t able to leave and take me because he was prepping all the food. So I called my sister and left her a message on her machine where I was. I hadn’t been able to get ahold of her because I found out she was working at a different store and unable to leave to come get me.

So I decided to call Joseph. Please answer, please answer… I really needed him to come get me! There was a part of me too, that feared he would think I was a little nutso to be calling him to come rescue me because we had just spoken ya know, ALL NIGHT about our hopes and dreams and how we fit into each other’s picture… What if he didn’t really mean any of it? That was a huge possibility. I’d been schmoozed before. He did ask to kiss me. What if that was all he was after? I really did drill him quite a bit about everything. That could scare someone away! It would be unfortunate because we seemed to really connect. But, I had gotten OUT of that relationship and I was SO relieved!!  Either way my prayers were answered.

The other line picked up and it was his mother. “Hello, is Joseph there??” I asked politely. She said, “No. He’s sleeping.” Ugh. It was 10 am. We had been out all night. Of course he was sleeping. I was not about to ask his mother who I’d never met to please go wake up her son so I could talk to him. She didn’t know me. This was awkward for me. I also wasn’t going to explain to her that I’d been with her son all night and then dumped my fiancé and I needed her son to come get me. Nope. She’d hang up on me for sure. So I left a message with her, completely deflated. I was stuck here.

The phone rang at the steak house after I hung up with Joseph’s mom. I answered like a hostess but it wasn’t a reservation. It was Shawn. Oh God! I just wanted to cry. “How did you find me?” He said, “I’m at your sister’s house. I got in through the garage code and I checked the answering machine figuring you called her. Let me come and get you. I’m calm now and I promise I’ll take you back to your car.” If EVER there was a boulder in my stomach it was then. I was so emotionally and mentally drained. I reluctantly agreed to let him come get me, since it was my only option.

He drove me back to school. Staying there seemed safer to me with everyone around. My eyes were almost swollen shut from crying. I was a mess. Every fiber of my being wanted to go home and sleep.. to process what had just happened. But I couldn’t. I had to work at 4. It was the shift I told Joseph I would cover for him.

At some point during that endless shift that seemed to never end, Joseph called the restaurant to talk to me. I told him I broke up with Shawn. He said “Already?? I figured you wouldn’t pull the trigger for a while.” I said, “Well, I told you, you coming in to work was the sign that I was supposed to break up with Shawn. So I did.”

The very next night Joseph and I closed down another coffee-house.

Joseph

pexels-photo-861567.jpegJoseph was a big tall guy. 6’2″ with chin length wavy hair that he wore slicked back unsuccessfully because part of his hair would always fall out and hang over his eye. It was glorious.. Along with his earring, he wore a goatee and he had a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes which is where his smile emanated from. He had just moved back home from Colorado after living there being a ski instructor. That’s all I knew. Yet I felt in my heart he had to be the one that I spoke with. He was a part of my plan somehow and I didn’t know what that entailed other than I had to speak with him.

After I took him aside that night at work and told him, “I was engaged and I didn’t want to be” and that I “wanted to talk to him”.  He surprisingly didn’t look at me like I was crazy. He said “Ok” and went to sit up at the bar and order dinner. I think he came back every so often to chat with me while I did my side work. Maybe even helped me? And when I was done we sat in the booth and started the conversation. I think I described the state of the relationship I was in and why it was troubling to me. I also told him that I prayed about talking to him. I hadn’t prayed in years. I didn’t know him from Adam. I didn’t know what his faith was like. I just knew that he needed to know, I prayed about talking to him and God had him walk in that night!!  And he said to me,  “Actually, I needed someone to work for me tomorrow, which you have so graciously agreed to do.” There again, was the twinkling in his eyes giving me a hard time! He was playful and funny. We both laughed. He admitted to me that he had wanted to ask me out on date but knew I was engaged and so he wrote me off in that department. Instead, he would run my food for me and get bread boxes down for me. And spray me in the back with table cleaner!  He was a stinker. He thought he was so funny!

Eventually the restaurant closed. I looked at him and said “Do you wanna get out of here?” And he said yes! We hopped in my car and headed to a coffee and pie restaurant until it closed as well. By this time it was 2 am and we weren’t done talking. We had SO much in common and so many neat differences too. We were both “Catholic”, and came from large families.  In high school he was great baseball player/pitcher, who would’ve had a scholarship of some sort if he hadn’t followed his high school sweetheart to her college only to be dumped a couple of months later. He changed schools after a year to a college near his home. Eventually he decided he hated being attached to a desk even though school was easy for him. He dropped out of college and moved to Colorado much to his parents astonishment. We both loved Colorado and nature. In addition to becoming a ski instructor, he had worked as a lumberjack and a snow maker. He used to sky dive before he moved there. His life seemed like an exciting adventure to me. He was so confident and brave, too. I really liked that because I was not.

Having no more open restaurants to go to, we sat in my car. All night. That initial conversation was 10 hours long.  I decided to just ask all the hard questions and get them out-of-the-way. If God was answering prayers then surely I was to go all willy-nilly to know if I was wasting my time or not with this guy.  I asked him if he was Pro-Life. Even through all my struggles with faith growing up, even my month trying on atheism, I never quit being pro-life. I believe so deeply that a person has a soul from the moment of conception that atheism didn’t make any sense for me since I believed in souls. (Dumbest month ever needless to say).  Well, he was pro-life! I asked him what he thought about living together before marriage. He said he’d never do it. Me either! Shawn had wanted to move in with me and I felt like he just wanted to put off our wedding by doing so. I didn’t want to be tested out. I didn’t want my time wasted. Joseph felt the same way.

I asked him what was going to happen when the sun came up that day. By now we were running out of words and drawing baby feet on the inside of my windows with our fists and making the toes with our finger prints, and giggling. And he said to me, “Do you mean, am I going to be here for the long haul?” And I said… “I don’t expect that, I just want to know if you’ll be here when I break up with Shawn.” He told me he was willing to see how things went… That was my answer. All I needed. He then asked me if he could kiss me. I looked at my engagement ring and then at him.  I told him that even though I didn’t want to be with Shawn anymore, I was still engaged. And as long as I had the ring on, I needed to do things the right way. I told Joseph if he and I ever dated, it would be in the back of his mind that I cheated on my fiancé with him and he would always question me. I needed him to know I was solid. He accepted my answer.

I drove Joseph to his parents house where he was living temporarily. We exchanged phone numbers before he got out of the car. And then he was gone…

I headed to my art school since it started in 30 minutes. I changed out of my work clothes into one of the old outfits I had floating around my backseat from laundry days past, and I rushed into the building right into an angry Shawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voyage

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I discovered that certain choices stand out in memory as being defining moments of one’s entire life.

Those moments where your entire life changed direction. You were on this path and then you went off course. Or maybe you realized your true course was about to pass you by. Your gut instinct was to jump ship and instead of drowning, you found your footing and stood up as you walked onto shore into this territory that felt like home.

You didn’t quite know where you were going and you may or may not have questioned your sanity at times, but there were small signs along the way that drove you further and further into the pilgrimage. You learned to listen to the Navigator. He knew you’d be ready to pay attention. He was a soft-spoken Navigator; barely audible at times, unless you listened in the quiet of your heart. He was always there. Ever enduring.

When you were stubborn, He let you find your way, even if it was the wrong way and He’d gently redirect you if you asked Him to. He was patient as you fell over roots protruding from the ground as you ran so fast trying to find that reason you were there. Oh, but He has the timeline. He gave you all you needed throughout it, because He knows what you need and when you need it. You never went without. He taught you skills along the expedition to equip you for all sorts of adventures… And He grew you in wisdom to make better decisions based on the trials that came your way.

He placed guides in your path at just the right moments to help you decipher the terrain. Some were teachers. Some were messengers. Some were angels to protect you from evils lurking in the depths. Some were life long companions for when the earth quaked so hard, you thought your world would crumble.

When the Navigator of your soul is invited to direct your journey, you will see He is the great provider. No one wants the good plans for your life to succeed, more than the One Who planned them. But before action comes faith, even if it’s as small as a mustard seed. He can work with that.