We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
- Joseph Campbell
Have you ever known someone for a while and then all of a sudden, you see them differently? Our courtship had been a world wind to say the least. He’d returned to Atlanta after graduating from Morehouse and was working in the city. I was earning my graduate degree at night and working during the day. He seemed like a nice enough gentlemen – educated, well spoken, and supportive of the church that we both attended. When he finally worked up the nerve to ask me to lunch, I was very nervous. So much so that I ordered fruit salad and I don’t think I ate all of it. I walked away thinking, this could be something…maybe.
That was June. By the time September rolled around, he was seriously talking about what our future together would look like and wondering if we could get married before the end of the year. This was happening way too fast for me and I started to wonder if he needed to get married to avoid being deported. (He was born in Jamaica.) We spent some time praying about this, both individually and at church in our prayer room. Then the day came when he would pop the question.
There may have been a grander romantic proposal plan, but it ended up happening in my car, in front of his parents’ house while I was dropping him home after church one evening. His back was causing him significant pain and I think he wanted to “secure the assets” that day. I put the car in park and turned off the engine. His arm was behind my car seat and I didn’t know it at the time, but he had the ring box open and ready to present upon my affirmative answer. I don’t remember his exact words but I do remember him asking me to marry him. I remember there being some verbal exchanges – I was of course flattered, but I had been involved with someone that I deeply loved for several years. We both grew out of that relationship, but remained friends. That ended 4 years ago, and was nothing like this experience, but I was an adult now, so is it really right to compare it to my high
school experience? I asked him if I could think about it…he said yes and then I heard the ring box close. “Well, at least let me see the ring.” It was a cute ring - simple, but elegant. Appropriate for where we were professionally in our careers. He let me take the ring with me and then he hobbled to his front door. I drove home thinking “What are you going to do now?” As I am writing this story, I am wondering if I said yes after seeing the ring…and that is why I was able to take it with me. I clearly remember him saying that the stone was multifaceted and had a lot of life/character, just like me.
We let our families know. Neither of our mothers was happy. His mother said he was too immature and not ready for the responsibilities of a family (how right she was!) and my mom didn’t think he was the one either. My mom really liked and trusted my high school sweetheart. His dad was fine. My dad met him the week before he proposed and then again the week after. I think he would have liked more time to get to know him, but as long as I was happy, he was happy.
He wanted to get married in October and that was a definite no-go. Valentine’s Day would fall on a Saturday so I convinced him to wait so we could properly plan and save. Fast forward to January after the wedding, we welcomed a healthy bouncing baby boy to our family and in June he says, let’s think about moving to Atlanta. Where? Do what? I am born, raised, bred and buttered in New York! You don’t live anyplace else once you’ve lived in New York! Plus, young children were missing in Atlanta and to this day, they don’t know who or what that was about. Does he not see that we have this brand new baby and that I need my family and support system around me? We came down for a visit and realized that for the amount of rent we were paying for the two bedroom apartment that was on the first floor of a converted home, we could get a three bedroom, two bath apartment with a terrace, dishwasher and dining room, just outside of Atlanta. Being a dutiful wife and in some sense, excited for another adventure, we packed up and moved south in September. My dad had one request – please make sure that the baby doesn’t start talking with a southern accent – okay dad!
The surroundings, people, and culture were nice, but also a bit to get used to. I was still a bit salty so that first year was quite an adjustment. When it got late in the evening, local advertising would come on. We have a landmark in my county, which is a Kentucky Fried Chicken store. It has a large mechanical chicken on top of it. The evening advertisers would encourage you to stop by – “We are two miles north of the big chicken.” Where has this man brought me?!!?!? Do they not know their own address? I couldn’t find my brand of baby food so I had to make my own. The stores were different and the surroundings were strange, but I have come to love it. The city has really grown and even after my husband moved back, I decided to stay. I will tell you that story next month.