Today I’ve been married 29 years.
October 23, 1987. The year of oversized shirts, big earrings, and mullets.
We met at church when I was home for the holidays; I was a junior in college, and
he was a sophomore.
He was attending school, here in Indiana, and I was in Missouri.
He studied business, and I was in education.
Can you believe an old boyfriend introduced us?
Fast forward…soon after we were engaged, I left to teach in China for a year.
I was 23 and he was 22.
Yep, an entire year.
(me and a few students)
Some people thought I was nuts to do so, but it all worked out in the end. 🙂 Obviously.
We both knew I had to go. Felt it was my calling, and I knew we’d both regret it if I didn’t.
I think it made us stronger, actually.
Long before we were serious, I had planned to teach there; so, off I went.
Communication was tough.
Oh, I did try to make a call this ONE TIME.
I had to “make an appointment” to get help with getting a call out to the US, and it had to be done through the government officials’ office. Three men sat around STARING at me as I uncomfortably began to speak. I constantly was trying to hear my fiance over the multiple Chinese voices I heard coming across the line.
I grew increasingly frustrated.
They were all trying to talk over me as I struggled to hear my fiance’s voice; it was a true Chinese, party line!
I don’t know what happened but in the midst of that chaotic, but short call, abruptly the phone went silent. Ended!
Later on, I found out my hubby/fiance thought I hung up on him. Whaaaa?!
Yeah, right. I finally save up money to call you, clear around the world, and in the middle of our conversation decide I need to hang up?
Anyhow, I found out that he really couldn’t hear me, thought I was in the middle of a big party, with a bunch of Chinese friends 🙂 , AND… I hung up the phone.
Clearly, that process was never attempted again!!
(I wanted to stay engaged. HA)
Plus, it was so expensive.
So, the only way we could communicate was by cassette tape.
Late nights consisted of me lying on my cot, head on a bag of beans (pillow) surrounded by a mosquito net, talking very low, into my handheld tape recorder. (I didn’t want to disrupt my roommates, nor have them hear my conversations.)
Now that we were engaged, I had more serious questions.
I mean, we WERE still getting to know one another…
“How many kids do you want? What are your thoughts on where we should live? What did you do today?” Then, I’d rehash the day usually adding all the funny cultural differences and stories in full detail.
(I like lots of details.)
Then I’d WAIT.
Wait for weeks.
And another tape would arrive with all my answers. 🙂
It was fun, and a daily diary of sorts. It helped the time pass.
It was a lifeline, and it helped me get through the year.
One Christmas tape, had me and my roommate singing all the familiar carols while adding our own hysterical lyrics that reflected living abroad.
Our families really got a kick out of that one.
We worked really hard on those lyrics.
So, we still have all those tapes.
LOTS of them.
We haven’t relistened to all of them, in full, but a few years back I started to play one for my teenaged kids, and hubby walked in very confused asking whose voice that was.
He couldn’t quite wrap his head around it.
It was a time warp, really.
Finally realizing that low, “mushy” sounding voice was his own, he quickly
asked demanded we turn it off. 😉
I think he felt somewhat embarrassed as our kids listened intently, hardly believing what they heard.
I don’t think the kids thought that was truly him! 🙂
I remember times while living in China, I’d go outside and look at the moon (thinking about life) wondering what he, or my family members, were doing clear across the other side of the planet.
And thinking…we look at that same moon just at different times.
So, here we are 29 years later.
Still together. We’ve seen a lot of life.
We’ve weathered some really tough storms, too.
WE honestly grew closer, not further apart.
Through some of the toughest times that LIFE’s curve balls could throw.
Many of them my health battles.
BEST of FRIENDS, STRONGER!
That year apart just may have taught us a whole host of things that would later keep us grounded, and working together.
I think I’m just now realizing this as I type.
Perhaps, that year apart solidified a firm foundation for the rest of our lives and getting us through many more years together!
God has surely been with us the whole way.
NOTE: I dedicate these reflections to you, honey. I thank God for the gift he’s given me in ♥YOU!♥