Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What Maya Angelou Knew

She said, "Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."

That can sound like nothing more than a platitude. A nice thought. Wouldn't it be nice if the world worked that way.

But I've been lucky enough to live that. My husband and I met in Costa Rica while we were both studying abroad there. We had classes together, were signed up with the same company for housing and tours and excursions and all that. He was from Wisconsin, where he was in his junior year in college, and I was from the Pittsburgh area, where I was also finishing up my bachelor's degree.

When I got to Costa Rica, I was engaged to someone else. I broke it off within a few weeks of being there. It was messy and confusing and I didn't have a reason other than the fact that I was happier without him. I knew it was time.
(People, please, it is my sincere hope that you never feel like you have to have some sort of concrete reason to leave a relationship that isn't right for you. Cheating, lying, abuse, anything like that doesn't have to take place for a relationship to be wrong and holding you back from your true destiny.)

I was made, by some, to feel that I was wrong and frivolous for leaving this relationship. Those who didn't express that feeling believed that I was lying and that I had cheated, or that I had met and fallen in love with the man who has become my husband by that point. Neither of these judgments passed by others felt good. It didn't feel good to move all of my things out of my ex's house. It didn't feel good to make him hurt so badly.

But it was right.

My husband and I had started dating in Costa Rica the last two weeks that we were there. It defied logic. When we were together, we would ask each other "Why are you from ___?" knowing that continuing our relationship would be pretty much impossible.

Pretty much. But not entirely.

We dated long-distance for two years, flying back and forth (luckily, flights were direct and under $150 round-trip then) every month or two to visit each other on our holiday breaks. We got to know each others' families, we fell deeper in love, we video chatted every night. We trusted each other. Major long-distance meltdowns were few and far between.

Mike graduated college first. He applied for jobs in both mine and his hometowns. He got a job in his. So it was his home state of Wisconsin in which we settled down, me finding work as well. We were both fortunate in the difficult economy of 2010.

We jumped hurdles, leaped fences, and penetrated walls to arrive at our destination full of hope.

And now we have a daughter. When Mike's more invested in whatever's on the screen of his iPad or iPhone than he is in me, or I'm in shit-storm of a mood because I haven't slept in months, I can remind myself that it's our job to teach our daughter Maya Angelou's lesson about love. If she doesn't find it in us, where will she? Will she at all?

I want my children to believe that. I want them to believe in a story like ours. Words like hers keep me civil when I just want to be a bitch. They keep me doing sweet things, buying my husband's favorite things at the grocery store even though they're not on sale. They keep me smiling as much as he does, when he brings home ice cream and says things like "I just love surprising you" and "Spoil Mommy Day continues."

It arrives at its destination full of hope.

I see it as our job as parents to keep that hope alive if in any way we can.

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