Staring into the Face of Love

Firefly meadow.png

Seth got assigned the “homework” of taking me on a romantic date as a part of our Fusion pre-engagement class. That particular week, we happened to be out at the ranch, so our options for a romantic evening were limited, but Seth told me he was planning something nice for Thursday evening.

Early in the week, Seth drove me to a nearby town to get drinks and enjoy the live acoustic music that was playing there. I didn’t expect much since there were only a few cars in the gravel lot when we pulled in, but as soon as we got settled with our drinks, Seth gestured to the dark hills around us, saying softly, “Look.”

I glanced up and did a double-take. “Wow,” I breathed. Fireflies danced in the darkness around us, lighting up the night with their soft glow. Seth and I sat hand-in-hand on a picnic bench at that empty outdoor bar, soft music coming from across the yard where two guitarists talked and gently finger-picked on their six strings. And it was magical.

Our official date night two days later was nice, but Seth couldn’t have recreated that God-given romance if he’d tried. And he did try. We had a nice dinner together and sat on the dock of a lake watching the sun set. It was peaceful. It was nice.

And then on Friday, Seth took me out for pizza. We found a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria with an outdoor patio strung with twinkle lights. I loved the setting and how much it reminded me of the evening with the fireflies. While we waited for our food to arrive, I reached over to take Seth’s hand and gazed at him lovingly. “You are the most wonderful man,” I began, “You always -“

“Ooh, a staring contest!!!” I was interrupted by a small blonde boy – probably eight years old – wearing a green T-shirt.

Seth and I broke hands and leaned back, startled. “I’ll win!” The boy called in challenge, running up to Seth and staring intently into his face. Seth just took it in stride, staring back at the boy until he yelled and pointed at Seth, “You blinked!”

Seth chuckled, and the boy ran off for a few minutes before scampering back over for a quick rematch. Quinn, as he introduced himself when I asked, loved football, so we talked about Tim Tebow for a while, and I mentioned that Quinn should look for the Bible verses in Tim’s eye black in his old photos from his time at Florida.

The little boy won the second staring contest with Seth and then lost interest in the game, so he relinquished Seth to me, and I got to resume my own version of a staring contest with the man I love.

Authentically Aurora

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Lessons in Teaching

teacher-crush

I’ve started substitute teaching every other Friday while I finish up my teaching certification, and I already feel like I have some battle scars. Little kids say adorable things, but young adults say deplorable things.

A few weeks ago, I observed a 9th grade math class. I started talking to one of the boys near my desk in the brief moments before the bell rang. I don’t remember what we discussed, but I must have made some kind of impression because thirty seconds later, he asked me, “Are you sure you want to be a teacher? You seem too smart to be a teacher.”

It’s exactly this stereotype of teaching being a “less than” career option that made God have to spend 7 years humbling me in Corporate America before I would consider investing in young lives through teaching.

In another classroom, one of the boys called out in the middle of a lesson, “Did you just graduate from college? You look like you’re still in high school!” They thought I was 21 and were shocked to learn I am 29. Me too, kid. Me, too.

Evidently the physical appearance of a mere 5 year age gap was acceptable because, armed with the knowledge of my ancient-ness, one of the sophomore running backs promptly invited me to his Homecoming football game later that night. I politely declined.

Then last week, my 8th grade math class found out that I already participated in early voting and wanted to know which presidential candidate I voted for. I decided it was wisest not to answer. Unfortunately, this meant speculation from the students.

A chunky Hispanic boy called out, “I bet she voted for Hillary because she’s a woman!”

A skinny African American boy countered loudly, “No, I bet she voted for Trump because she’s white!”

Telling the story to a friend later, I commented that I’m glad their political views will mature as they age to consist of more than simply a basis in race and gender. Then I realized, to my horror and dismay, that not much about their political views will change in the next thirty years. Just look at our adult population.

Authentically Aurora

The Beauty of Specialization

Shaq Emmitt

Specialization is a great concept. It allows economies to grow and thrive, and it allows individuals to dive deeply into a certain area of interest. A lot of us want to spend time with (perhaps even date or marry) those who we view as our intellectual peers, and the idea of specialization allows each of us to feel like a subject matter expert in our area of specialty while leaving room for others to shine in their own brilliance.

For instance, last night I was at a birthday party (Grant‘s birthday party, actually), and while the birthday boy was introducing me around, we stopped for a while to talk with his friend James.

James is a tall glass of water – broad-shouldered and well over six foot – with a messy mop of brown hair. At one point, Grant asked James, “Hey, how’s your hand, man?” James produced his hand with a shrug, saying that it was “healing up alright.”

Grant suddenly looked around the group, excited, and asked us, “Hey, can anyone guess how he got this wound?” A couple of the girls glanced at it and answered with a giggle, “A paper cut!” But I took James’ hand in my own and studied it for a moment.

The deep gash looked like a cut, but it was wide and confined to the length of two fingers on the inside of his palm. I glanced down at James’ attire: jeans, boots and a huge belt buckle. I smiled to myself and declared with confidence, “A rope burn.”

Grant and James both looked at me in surprise, eyes bugging out. “Wow! Yeah… you’re right…” Grant could not seem to wrap his mind around the fact that I had identified the wound so quickly, so I shrugged to James and admitted, “I was an EMT during my college years.”

A little while later, I glanced up at the TV screen mounted on the wall, where sports had been airing all night. I recognized one of the four sportscasters, but I couldn’t but a name to his face. He was a large, black man who looked like a former athlete I used to root for, so I leaned over to James and shouted over the noise, “Hey, who’s that sportscaster on the far left?”

James glanced up to the TV for about half a second and said simply, “Shaq.”

“Oh, yeah,” I agreed, nodding. “I knew I recognized him. I was going to say either Shaq or Emmitt Smith.”

My comment was made in all sincerity; I am really that ignorant of professional athletes, but James thought it was so funny that he yelled across the table to Grant. “HA! Did you hear what she just said?!”

James relayed the story to Grant, who laughed and said, “It’s basketball on the TV! Why would you think it was Emmitt Smith?”

I shrugged meekly. I wasn’t trying to be funny; just displaying my sports ignorance for all to see.

When Grant saw my discomfort, his face transformed immediately to one of warmth and affection. “Don’t ever change, Aurora,” he told me with an intensity to his gaze. And he kissed my forehead.

Authentically Aurora

A Meeting of Minds

Keep Calm and DateI’ve spent nearly 20 hours with Bryan in the last week. And I don’t even know how it happened.

On Wednesday, he took me out for tapas. On Thursday, we met at a grocery store, and I cooked him scallops in a lemon butter sauce with fresh green beans. And on Saturday at 9am, he drove us to a downtown pub that hosts watch parties for Chelsea FC, his favorite football club from his time in London.

When I’m with Bryan, time flies by, and I am never ready for the day to end. We don’t really have sparks or intense chemistry like I do with Flynn, but we share a comfortable companionship. I enjoy doing life with Bryan.

When I cooked dinner for him on Thursday, it was my first time to see his house. It’s a three story house in a ritzy part of town. No surprise. One of his neighbors owns three BMWs. The other has an Audi and a Porsche. You know… no big deal.

Bryan gave me the tour, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he is in the process of building a gazebo on his rooftop porch. He didn’t strike me as the kind of guy to work with his hands, but it is pleasing to me that he does – and that he enjoys it so immensely. There is something very attractive about a man who works with his hands.

Later in the evening that Thursday, in telling me about his travels (and explaining the stories behind the various cultural relics decorating his home), Bryan made reference to being happy to be back in his own bed. “What color is the comforter on your bed?” I asked offhand, trying to envision the room as I often do when people are telling a story.

He looked at me with a puzzled expression. “Don’t you know?” Well, he’d given me a tour, but I hadn’t noticed.

“If you did know, what color would it be?” he asked me.

I thought for a moment. “…blue?”

He smiled warmly at me. Affectionately. Pleased. “Yes.”

“Why are you looking at me like you know something I don’t?”

Bryan explained. “I recently read about hypnosis theories. Apparently your subconscious is constantly picking up on more than you realize in your focused, conscious thoughts. One of the tricks of hypnosis is to ask your subject things like, ‘If you did know…’ or ‘If you had to guess…’. That causes the subconscious to activate those memories you didn’t even realize you had. Your subconscious provides your conscious with the answer.”

These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. We talk about logic puzzles and brain chemistry and psychology. It’s interesting. Intriguing. Entertaining. Like I said before, when I’m with Bryan, time flies by, and I enjoy doing life with him. But I want – no, I need – more than just a meeting of minds. My heart needs lighthearted playfulness. I need someone who can be silly and who makes me laugh.

Bryan says I still have walls up – or rather (in his words), a curtain. He claims that I peek over the top of the curtain so I can see everything that’s going on, but I never part the curtain for anyone else to see in. He says that I project the image of myself that I want others to see. And that image isn’t false, but it’s only a part of the whole.

Bryan also says he is determined to break through the barrier. Leave it to Bryan to be perceptive enough to recognize my shielding… and to be compassionate enough to genuinely want to know me – all of me.

More than anything, I want to be known. Fully known and fully loved, despite being fully known. But I know that if I part the curtain, Bryan won’t like what he sees, and then he’ll reject me, like so many have done before.

I told him as much. His response? “How do you know I won’t like what I see? You haven’t given me the opportunity to make that determination.”

“Everyone else has rejected me when they’ve seen in.”

“And, based on what you know of me, am I like everyone else?”

No.

But… better to keep the curtain up for now.

Authentically Aurora