When I met him in the first few weeks of my freshman year of college in the depths of the rural midwest, he was wearing a dashiki shirt and sandals made from old tire rubber, I thought I’d met my soulmate.
He was six and a half feet tall, with strawberry blond hair, and grew up in a staunchly Catholic family, but he was interested in setting up a solidarity group on campus to support the revolution in El Salvador, especially after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. I grew up in a far-left environment of protest and social action, and I thought, this guy and I have a lot in common!
He was not like anyone I had ever been attracted to before.
And I wasn’t at all sure that I was in love with him.
I remember walking around the streets of the small town that our college was nestled into, walking and walking, and thinking “I don’t feel passionately for this guy, but he’s a good person, and he loves me, so maybe that’s a good basis for a relationship.”
I thought he was:
- an independent thinker
- committed to Right and Justice
- interested in making the world better
We married in the summer after we met, between our freshman and sophomore years of college. We each had independent paths charted for ourselves, but we were determined to support one another through our chosen paths. We hadn’t planned to marry then, but I had become pregnant (yes, it wasn’t a mystery why/how that happened, but it’s for another post – maybe – to detail the reasons and circumstances that led to our predicament). We had planned to get through college, and then marry, but fate determined otherwise.
By this time, my ambivalence about the issue of passion was a thing of the past, and not really relevant, I thought.
Our child was born.
We struggled with poverty, and getting one another through school.
We both got our degrees. We supported each other through some hard, hard times.
But, eight years later, I found myself married to someone I didn’t recognize, and who didn’t seem to recognize me.
That dashiki-wearing rebel had become more conservative than his father, and he was completely absorbed with goals that I didn’t share. He wasn’t any of the things that I thought he was in that freshman year of college – it was, maybe, all part of a rebellion from his parents, that he may have deeply regretted later on. Maybe I should have paid more attention to my own ambivalence, that day when I was walking around that small college town that I’d landed in. Sometimes our gut instincts are right, even if we may not understand why.
He didn’t understand my passion for science, and forbade me to talk about my work when I got home from the biology lab where I was employed.
And, that was the end of an 8-year marriage.
In retrospect, it was the blink of an eye. A blink that left a beautiful and remarkable daughter in it’s wake. And, would I trade my amazing daughter for the life that I might have had, had I listened to my ambivalent gut?
This post was inspired by the novel The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson. Allie thought she had the perfect husband, until she finds him and another woman in a compromising position in their own apartment.
Join From Left to Write on April we discuss The Idea of Him.
Join us for a live chat with Holly on April 3.
As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.