I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these snippets of Anthony’s and my love story–“Our Story”–so far! Click here if you’d like to catch up on previous installments.
It was late at night—going on 10:30 as we stood talking in the community center parking lot. I needed to get home, and let Anthony go for his wee hours rising for work the next morning.
But I didn’t want to say good-bye.
I had come to see his karate class that evening. While I’d known from our first meeting that Anthony did karate (both as a black belt himself and as assistant teacher for the young students), I’d never observed before. I’d told him I’d like to, so he’d invited me to come tonight, a “Parent Day” when visitors were welcome to watch.
So I did.
It was fascinating to watch, and my heart fluttered a bit as I saw a different side of Anthony, in his white gi and bare feet, focused and fast with his kicks and fists when he sparred, keeping the honor and discipline of the art held high. I also enjoyed seeing him work with the children.
Afterwards I hung around a bit awkwardly while Anthony helped tidy up from the class. One of the other adult black belts greeted us with a smile.
“Are you Mrs. Anthony?” he asked.
Embarrassed, Anthony and I glanced at each other.
“Ah…no,” I finally managed.
“Are you…together?” the friendly man motioned between us.
“Ah…” Anthony and I shared another tongue-tied glance. Were we? Were we not? Neither of us is very good at talking to people on the spot!
The poor man must have felt nearly as awkward as we at this point. “Do you…know each other?”
At last—a question we knew the answer to! Anthony and I nodded eagerly. “Yes!”
Later after Anthony had walked me to my car, I apologized if I’d made things awkward for him. After all, he’d already indicated to me that he was ready for our relationship to be more—I was the one keeping things ambiguous.
He denied any need for me to apologize, though. He would wait as long as needed, and didn’t want me to feel any pressure to make a decision about my feelings.
Standing near him in that moonlit parking lot, I found my heart doing new and different things. I didn’t want to leave him, this handsome man with dark hair and eyes, of so many talents and gifts despite his reserve, who had opened up his heart and life to me in these past months and continued to show me he considered me special and worthy of being known and pursued.
And tonight, I couldn’t seem to tear myself away.
I don’t remember what we talked about, that hour or two by our cars. I just remember finally getting into the driver’s seat, Anthony standing outside my door, waiting to make sure I was safely off, but confessing he didn’t want me to leave either. And how it felt like a physical effort to pick up, insert, and turn the key in the ignition, because it was going to take me away from him.
That night I sang old Rodgers and Hammerstein love songs in the car as I drove the late-night darkened freeway home. And may have hugged myself and spun around a time or two in my bedroom upstairs before finally settling to sleep.
“So what are you thinking about Anthony?” my dad asked me unexpectedly at dinner a few nights later.
My cheeks flushing, I poked at my potato. “I like him.” I scrunched shyly down in my chair. “A lot!”
The morning after our talk in the parking lot, I’d confessed to my mom how hard it had been for me to say good-bye.
“Ohh,” she’d said with a knowing smile.
And as each succeeding day passed, I felt more and more sure. Not that this was the man I was to marry—it was too soon to know that yet. But that I was supposed to take this next step of faith in our relationship.
And so, about a week after I visited his karate class, Anthony and I went on another picnic lunch. And before we ate, I told him—with pounding heart and trembling hands—that I was ready for our relationship to be more than friendship, if indeed he was.
He laid his hand over mine, and I stared at it, my brain fairly having a conniption at this new sensation. He told me how much my words meant to him, and other lovely things I honestly can’t remember right now.
Then he said, his voice hesitant and hopeful—“So I guess we’re dating now?”
And we were.
It hadn’t been “love at first sight,” for either of us, as you might remember from the beginning of our story. But is it, really, often? While I’ve heard of it happening, the more I hear of real life love stories, the more I realize that often the Hollywood or Hallmark “instant spark” is more the stuff of film, fiction, and fantasy than it is reality.
Real life and love may be messier, and harder, and more confusing, but they can also run deeper and truer, requiring faith and hope and work, the willingness to take the time to truly get to know someone, and then fall in love with who they really are.
As I gradually fell in love with my Prince Anthony, I thought of the classic Christian novel (also movie now) Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke, and how Marty, the widowed young heroine, struggles with learning to love her new husband-of-convenience, yet without the initial flame she knew with her first love.
Her wise older friend Ma Graham tells her;
“Sometimes, love isn’t fireworks. Sometimes loves just comes softly.”
I think my critique partner Sandra emailed me almost those exact words somewhere in the early days with Anthony.
But the fireworks do come, even if they start with a gentle, barely flickering flame. And I think they can be all the more beautiful, for the waiting.
What do you think? Have you heard more real life love stories of an instant attraction, or of “love coming softly”? Has reading our story sparked thoughts or insights for you? Please comment if so—I’d love to hear what you have to share!
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