It seems to me that relationships can be like a tangled piece of jewelry. You know, that necklace you just threw on top of your dresser instead of hanging it up like you should have done? Well, my mom always used to fuss at me when I was younger because I would get so frustrated with the knots in my necklaces, that I would either give up on them (leaving things a perfect mess) or try and beat them into submission. This usually ended up with beads or chain links flying to separate corners of my room and a total meltdown on my part. Hey, cut me some slack…I was a teenage girl feeling a LOT of feelings..basically all of the time.
“Patience Julia.” She would say. “Take on one knot at a time.”
I have tried to remember this lesson as I have moved through my life and through relationships. Each has its own particular set of kinks to work out and sure, some are more tangled than others..but I have come to believe that if a relationship is solid and strong and patient..you can work through those knots together. You take care and go slowly because it’s worth it to you to take the time. Bennett and I had a few tangles to sort out, but we had all the time in the world and feelings that were growing stronger every day.
With only a few weeks to go before our trip, my excitement began to build. I looked up fun things to do in New Orleans and Cozumel, laid out by my friend Casie’s pool to try and get rid of some tan lines and talked to Bennett every day. He sent me pictures of the girls and though at first it was a little bit of a jolt to see his big blue eyes and dark hair on these young sweet faces..it was endearing to think of him braving the mall for back-to-school shopping and shuttling them back and forth to cheerleading practice. If anything, it made me like him even more. One afternoon he texted me:
Bennett: Is 12 too young to have a second ear piercing?
Me: Hmm…where on her ear?
Me: Nah..I feel like that’s no big deal.
Bennett: k Thanks!
This might sound silly, but I can’t tell you how good it made me feel that Bennett would ask my advice on something like this. Not that we were even REMOTELY close to being at this point, but let me be girly for a moment and say that it made me picture us as a couple, making decisions years in the future about things like bed times and curfews and whether or not to send our kids to summer camp. I could do this, I thought. I could be someone’s partner. I could be a mom to someone else’s children. That is never an easy role to take on, but I knew that I had a heart big enough to spread love to these girls.
We started the countdown…two weeks
I made packing lists..planned outfits..bought extra toothpaste..tried on old bathing suits..bought new bathing suits..talked to Bennett..
Packed..lay awake at night with thoughts a never-ending stream in my head…packed more things I remembered that I had forgotten to pack the night before..talked to Bennett
5:30 am of the morning I had to leave for Georgia. I loaded up the dogs, stopped for coffee and we hit the road. 7 hours and 30 minutes later (a record time I should add) I was at my parents house.
We were going to meet up with Bennett that evening for dinner in a small town that had been designed to replicate a German village. When we pulled into the parking lot I was a jumble of nerves and anxiously fidgeted with my dress..checked my hair in the mirror at least a thousand times and felt my heart leap into my throat when I saw his truck pull in. We had talked about this meeting and decided that we needed to make sure that we were appropriately PG in front of the parents 😉 Let me tell you that it was SO hard not to give him a great big kiss right there, but we were good…Gave each other a modest hug and a “It’s so good to see you!” as if we were neighbors at a cookout. At dinner, I couldn’t stop smiling at him. He was sweet and attentive to me….Exeedingly polite and warm to my parents and it was easy to see that they instantly took a liking to him. We transferred my luggage into his truck and we said our goodbyes. My dad did the requisite “Take care of my baby” speech and we were off!
My parents both called at separate times to tell me how much they liked Bennett and my dad was so impressed with the fact that he served me pizza before serving himself. My dad really digs that old school gentlemanly thing. I happen to dig it too 😉 I think this picture was from somewhere in Alabama…we were blasting the 90’s Pandora station…singing at the top of our lungs and I have never ever had so much fun with someone in a car in my entire life. The 8 hour drive to New Orleans flew by and I don’t think my hand ever left his (except maybe to make a pretend microphone when Alanis Morissette came on).
When we got to our hotel, I was so touched by the thought that went into his choice and positively swept away by the romance of it all. Our three and a half days in NOLA were spent sightseeing and we did our best to get a true New Orleans experience. We ate beignets at Cafe DuMonde, listened to live music for about six hours straight in a smoky bar called the Krazy Korner, watched street preformers, drank hurricanes at Pat O’ Brians, visited a voodoo shop and ate the best dinner at a little local spot called Coops. It was the most amazing jambalaya (rabbit and sausage) I have EVER tasted. We met up with a friend of Bennetts that just happened to be in town for work and I felt all warm and fuzzy when Chris looked at Bennett and told him that he would be an idiot to let a girl like me go. Taking my hand in his, Bennett grinned happily. “Not planning on it.” He told him. I celebrated that warm and fuzzy feeling well into the night and ended up with my head in a trash can on the side of Burbon Street. Not my finest moment. Bennett thought it was hilarious.
The next morning, he took me to breakfast, gave me ginger ale and three ibuprofen. He was my hero. We packed up our things and were headed to the port so we could board our cruise ship and start the next part of our next adventure… it seemed that those tangles and knots were unraveling after all. If only we could have a little patience 🙂