Thursday, October 16, 2008

The man I married

I'm driving down the road with my parents in tow, having dropped Zeke off at school and had a leisurely latte at Starbucks. Jason left for Denver last night for a big mountain biking trip with his posse.

My phone rings. It's Kathleen.

"Can I just tell you how much I love the fact that your husband showed up on my doorstep this morning in shorts, a t-shirt, and no shoes?"

"He wasn't wearing shoes??"

"Apparently he didn't wear them the entire trip. And he was trying to put on a brave face, but he's standing there shivering in ball-shrinkingly cold weather, poor thing."

This is my husband. The crazy blue collar Aussie whose upbringing could not have been more different from my own, in just about every respect, and who I still look at from time to time and think, "how on earth did we end up together??"

Looking back over old posts, I realized I've never really written about it. So here goes.

It was December of 2003. The country was newly embroiled in the shock and awe of the Iraq war.

And I was in Costa Rica for a surfing trip.

I had taken a surfing lesson in North Carolina the previous summer, and seen Blue Crush, and was dying to learn to surf properly. So in the fall of 2003, I decided to go to Costa Rica. I sent out an email to everyone I knew to see who wanted to come. Shahira, a sorority sister from UVa., signed on, as did Carrie, a friend who I'd met when we were both bridesmaids in Michele's wedding. We decided to go to Witch's Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo, on the western Pacific coast of CR -- primo Central American surf country.

The day we got there, we had our first surf lesson. Our teachers were Nick and Roach (a nickname, obviously). We saw Jason giving a lesson off in the distance. He had long blond hair and was about as ripped as I'd ever seen a guy.

(Jason coming up from the beach after a surf lesson)

"Surfer boys are pretty," we thought.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the surf camp (breakfast is included in the surf package). Jason was there, and was sitting with a couple of other students. We joined them and got to chatting.

He mentioned that he was from Australia, outside of Sydney, and I mentioned that I had been to Australia and adored Sydney, and there was just a vibe there. I can't explain it. It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but there was an immediate attraction and connection that was undeniable.

He asked me where I was from, and I said I lived in Atlanta, Georgia.

"You're a Georgia peach!" he said, smiling at me.

I laughed it off, but was thinking to myself, "there's something really sweet about this guy."

I had a good surf lesson that morning, and managed to get up on a bunch of waves. Afterwards, I was standing at the bar at the restaurant getting a Gatorade. Jason came up behind me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, "you're such a beautiful thing."

"You're not so bad yourself," I replied.

And thus started a cautious vacation romance. I didn't really think much of it at first -- I figured we'd hang out, do some surfing, smooch a little, but then I'd go home and we'd go on with our lives.

But as the week went on, the intensity of the feelings between us was getting a bit overwhelming and impossible to brush off. We surfed, we talked for hours, we kissed (but nothing more), and by the end of the week, the thought of going home was very difficult to stomach. We were undeniably falling in love.

So I called the office and made up an excuse about having an ear infection and not being able to fly home ("an ear infection named Pedro!" was my friend Andrea's reaction when she heard about it) and extended my trip for another 4 days.

We went on our first actual date to a rodeo in Braselito, a town near Tamarindo.

(At the rodeo on our first real date --
you can see people sitting on the fence surrounding the bullring behind us)


And it bears noting that at the rodeo, over a week after we'd met, I still had never seen Jason wear shoes. As we were walking around, he kept feeling something brush against his lower leg as he walked. Turns out it was a wooden kebab skewer that he had stepped on and was lodged in one of his feet. He hadn't felt it.

By the time I left, we had plans for him to move up to Atlanta in a few months. He came to Georgia in April, and we spent the next year and a half figuring out how to make our relationship work while Jason spent some time in Georgia and some time in Australia.

It wasn't easy, and sometimes it still isn't. We are very, very different. And before we got engaged, I kept trying to find reasons to break up with him, because I just didn't see how we could make a life together.

But I couldn't. I love him. He's incredibly kind and friendly, he's very funny, he keeps me laughing at myself, he's affectionate. And as I've discovered, he's a wonderful father. I'll stick with him, even though he doesn't read the same books I do, is content to watch stupid punks do skateboarding tricks on Fuel TV for hours on end, and still never wears shoes.

11 comments:

  1. I think the fact that you guys made such an incredibly cute baby prove you're meant to be. Seriously, there's some good genetic factoring going on there. Stick with it!

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  2. I have a situation very much like yours. I'm happy to say my blue collar guy and I have had many happy years together and now have grand children as well. A deep connection and shared values are what matter, the other things are just "stuff." A man with a huge heart who chooses to be a real life partner is priceless!

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  3. I love this post. I love knowing the background on your romance. No matter your differences, he sounds like he suits you very, very well. I can't wait to meet him!

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  4. Anonymous5:41 PM

    This gives me some semblance of hope that I'll one day find that sort of happiness.

    Sherice

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  5. Anne -- I will stick with it. And we each make a huge effort to learn about and share each other's interests. I can now identify pretty much every surfer on the pro circuit, as well as many of the leading skateboarding pros. He now listens to NPR and is becoming interested in politics. It's a give and take, and we make it work.

    Jen -- I couldn't agree more.

    Lisa -- He does suit me. And we can't wait to see you guys next month.

    Sherice -- Hang in there, and be open to guys that you might not have thought are your type. Jason could not be more different than the type of guy I thought I'd end up with. You just never know.

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  6. I love you guys. And miss you like crazy.

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  7. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Wendy, you just made my day....again. In April when we met at the north shore on Oahu you told me about your blog. Since then I am regularly reading it. Lately I look up your blog almost daily. I am always laughing my butt off when you post something about Jason. Seriously, two days ago on my way home from work I tought about yoru recent blogs and the stuff you are going through right now. At the same time it came to me that it is actually time for Wendy to post a Jason story again because you haven't done it for a while. Those posts a absolutely my favorite by a wide margin. And truth be told, you dont make this stuff up. He really is like you describe him because I have experienced it in person. I really can see how he makes you laugh with his little comments left and right.

    Anyway, I still can not get over the fact that I had the chance to go surving with Jason a second time during our vacation on Oahu and did not take it because I choose to spend the entire day with of my loving wife and and little daughter. I still think there is nothing wrong with that because I am on the road a lot for work so I did not wanna do the same thing during our vacation (even though I had permission to go surfing with Jason). However I still argue with myself about not taking this (for me) once in a life time opportunity (having somebody to teach you how to surf and at the same time having so much fun hanging out with this guy). Whenever I think about this missed opportunity (which is actually quite often since I read your blog) I really get angry with myself.

    I guess all I am saying is he is for sure not a terrible pick. He is a great guy and makes you anjoy life.

    By reading you posts I now know you are an english language/grammar freak so please don't get mad at me should I have messed up on the typing.

    Mirko, still living in Atlanta but soon to be transfered to Milwaukee, WI

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  8. Awww, I love LOVE stories. An amazing one you're written, indeed :)

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  9. What a great story! No relationship is easy, but when it's right, you know it.

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  10. Elizabeth -- back at ya, babe.

    Mirko -- your comment made my day. We had such a good time seeing you when you were here on vacation, and I'm glad you enjoyed your surf lesson. Good luck in Milwaukee!!

    HKW -- I love love stories as well. And even when we were first getting together, we had an awareness of how great the "how we met" story was.

    DCup -- I think it is right. It's hard work sometimes, but I have a feeling we'll stick with it. :)

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  11. Schwabber1:14 PM

    For the record, ladies, those abs are a thing of the past! Although he will still huck a bike off a 5 foot drop with a certain death fall awaiting him if he misses. So whatever great big kangaroo balls he brought over from the island are still intact!

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