I know that the headlines to this blog are often intentionally ironic. But this one is literal. I’m getting married today. And so happy to be saying that.
We met four years ago in the summer of 2013. Both of us tapped into a website called FitnessSingles.com the same week. We went for a date and barely touched our food because we talked for two hours. Then a few days later we did our first ride together. She was training for the Ironman Racine 70.3 and was in darn fine shape at that. I had a hard time keeping up on the bike.
She had researched me on Google and found out plenty of things. Yet when we paused during our first bike ride she sat on the grass and smiled, then said, “So, tell me about yourself!” And I wanted to know her so much more.
As we spent more time together running and riding, we found that our interests matched up in even more ways. She trained as an architect in college, and knew quite a bit about art, my avocation.
Her name is Suzanne. She goes by her middle name, as I learned the day that I toted her to the urgent care facility that first summer when her tri-bike slipped out from underneath her on a wet morning. That’s how it is with relationships. The full person with whom you’re spending time is revealed in stages. Sometimes by accident.
And then we did some intentionally romantic things together. Stayed at an old time bed and breakfast in Oregon, Illinois. We started to realize that we could spend considerable time together and it still felt fresh.
We were compatible from the get-go on the run and the bike, and within a year I did my first duathlon. Coming off the bike for that third leg she was waiting for me. “Keep going, honey!” she cheered as the shock of fatigue rolled across my face. Then I graduated to triathlon, but the swimming is still hard. But she let’s me find my own way. Be myself. And that’s important too.
Some of the reasons I love her: 1) she gets me to try new things and 2) she’s an honest woman, and a pragmatist and 3) she has a funny sense of humor at all the right times.
So now we’re getting married. But we did this the right way. We were careful not to use the L word too early in the relationship. She had come off a divorce and I had come off the loss of a wife to cancer. So we each knew that space and time were important. We both have children as well. But as time moved on and we became ever more of a couple, those relationships began to build as well.
I recall the week we finally admitted that we loved each other. We said it quietly, because that’s where true love resides.
We faced some tests over time, learning how to talk about money and support each other when our respective children needed support. Our worlds began to fuse.
On the day she did her full Ironman Triathlon I acted as sherpa for Sue and her sister Julie, lugging bags and moving bikes around Madison as needed. They both finished. Sue came in with a smile on her face. “Well, it wasn’t the day I wanted, but I’m an Ironman!”
One could say that is a great allegory for life. Some things go as planned. Some things don’t. It’s the response under pressure that counts, and learning to support each other. “I want someone to have my back,” she once told me. We’ve even seen each other through surgeries and medical procedures. You know you love a woman, I guess, when she’ll pick you up from a colonoscopy.
When Sue had surgery on her shoulder, I drove her to the hospital and was hanging around when the early signs of the flu started coming on. I struggled against the nausea and thought how bad it was that I was sick hanging around the surgery ward. “I don’t know if I can make it,” I told her.
She started to cry. So I told her I’d be fine and went out in the hallway to gather my breath and get some hot chocolate and Coke. Anything to settle my stomach. Sooner or later I quelled the flu sensation and was there when she emerged from surgery. As promised.
You can talk about the importance of all kinds of things in a relationship. The lovemaking. The respect. The show of affection. The attention during conversation. But when it really all comes down the most important aspect of love is commitment. To that person. When they need you. When they want you. When they’re not even sure about you in some respect. Stay committed.
And that’s how I feel about her. And she’s told me that’s how she feels about me. So we’ll exchange vows in front of 90 of our best friends and then dance our asses off for a few hours. We’re getting married today. And I love her. And I know she loves me.