| by Teal Cracraft |
I was thirty years old when I started dating the man I would eventually marry, but I was a child when we first met. I was twelve, he was fifteen and the attraction was not mutual. He played music and Dungeons and Dragons with my older brother and was totally unphased by the admiring gaze of me and my friends. I vividly remember waiting at the top of my stairs for the doorbell to announce his presence. I never actually spoke to him, but spent many hours giggling to my girlfriends about how cute he was. If someone would have told me then that I would marry him one day, I’m sure I would have collapsed in the type of hysterical laughter that is completely unique to pre-teen girls.
I remember our first real conversation with the same clarity I remember the stairs I sat on waiting to catch a glimpse of him. Exactly thirteen years after our first encounter, we stayed up all night talking about LIFE in the most authentic, enlightening and beautifully open way. I was completely fascinated by the unconventional path he’d taken and the adventures he’d allowed himself to have. From spending a college semester in Kenya digging for fossils to giving away all his possessions and traveling to different communes for a year, he’d lived with intention and experienced amazing things that were totally foreign to me.
My life had followed a strictly conventional path from high school to college to law school to starting a career. I was focused and driven, but had never taken the time to really question my priorities or reflect on whether my accomplishments were actually making me happier. Talking to him had a profound impact on my thought process and I’m sure, in some way, influenced the decisions I would make over the next few years. It was an intense and electric attraction, but I knew it couldn’t possibly work because I was flying back to my life in California and definitely not looking for a long distance relationship.
My future husband had a very different take on our odds, but I wouldn’t discover this for several years. Days after I returned to California, he asked my brother to have coffee with him and told him about our connection and his desire to stay in touch. My brother strongly discouraged him from pursuing me and firmly decided that we were not a good match. And, at the time, he was right. My California lifestyle was about as far as one could get from simple, communal living. It would take me almost four more years to figure out that what I thought I wanted was only bringing me stress, loneliness and total disconnection from things that are actually worth valuing.
After nearly ten years in California, I made the decision to move home. Looking back, I think the all night talk uncovered a part of me that was buried for many years. The part of me that wanted to be close to my family, that wanted to get married and possibly have kids, the part of me that wanted to connect with another person in the most intimate way possible; mind, body and soul. I’d long ago buried these desires because my own parents were divorced and I had no faith in marriage. I told myself that I didn’t want to have kids because I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to love them like I wanted my mother to love me. But life has always pushed me toward the path I should take. I’m not a person that embraces change and I often hold onto people and places long after it’s healthy. I’m the type of person that needs to be pushed in order to move closer to my truth and my purpose.
The push that moved me back to Indiana started with the Great Recession and the dissolution of the law firm that I’d worked at for several years. I was financially and spiritually broke and the only decision that made any sense was moving home. So I gave away most of my possessions, packed up my car and started the long road trip from California to Indiana. I spent the first two months at home searching for answers in church, in tarot cards, in meditation and in exercise. I prayed for change and new beginnings and I looked for signs telling me what I should do next. During this period of self reflection and spiritual recovery, I also reconnected with the man I would marry.
As most love stories go, the beginning of our relationship was intoxicating, filled with uncertainty, obsessive at times and all encompassing. We talked on the phone, texted, emailed, saw each other whenever we could and generally enveloped ourselves in one another. Though I don’t often journal, I did record some of my crazy and hilarious love struck thoughts. One particular journal entry starts like this, “I am also very happy that I will get to spend time with Jon this weekend. Although his song on the Shadow CD threatened to weaken my abstinence resolve, I’m going to wait at least a month before moving to the next level.” This coming from a thirty year old woman who, gasp, had sex before marriage. I’m not really sure why or when I made this ‘abstinence resolve’ but I find my nod to born again virginity both entertaining and sweet.
And it was LOVE, all caps, tingling, exhilarating, beautiful, sexy, deep, true love. I loved this man with everything I had and I was all in. Maybe I’d loved him all my life, maybe we were destined for each other, maybe we were just in the right place and time to fall in love. I don’t know, but I do know that I recognized immediately that we got each other, we SAW each other and we were connected in the most rare and intimate way. I told him all the dark, messy and broken secrets I keep well hidden and he didn’t walk away. He loved me unconditionally and never expected me to be anything other than who I am. I knew his secrets too and I wasn’t afraid. I couldn’t imagine that another person would ever know me and love me so completely.
And so, on January 28, 2012, twenty years after we first met and seven years after deciding that our relationship couldn’t possibly work, I married the man I still love, I’ve always loved and will continue to love until death do us part.