Thursday, January 24, 2008

Practicing, Part II

As promised...the rest of the story from one of my November posts.

I saved this for January because, well, I started this blog during the holidays, AND because of this month's focus on Life issues.

So there I was, in my dissolute early 20's, totally adrift and living the life of the late 80's/early 90's. Hair and shoulderpads were big, I was thinner and lovelier...and miserable. I was in serially monogamous 1-2 year dating relationships looking for something that the young men I associated with simply could not provide. I had finished college a year early, was all set to go to law school, but (thankfully) had a 21 year old's rare moment of clarity - I was not ready. SO I worked for a year and started grad school instead. Still trying to find love, acceptance, and ... something (permanent, meaningful, etc.) that I had always lacked in my post-nuclear family.

Then I was set up on a blind date with - ack - an enlisted Marine recruiter. As a spoiled ex-sorority chick and daughter of a former Naval officer/dentist, this was unthinkable, but I was between boyfriends and up for anything new and interesting. We went to a surprisingly highbrow, happenin' place. He did not speak much. He knew our cocktail waitress (gorgeous blonde bombshell - his ex-girlfriend's roomate as it turned out), and chatted more with her than with me. When he went to drop me off at my apartment, he pulled up to the curb and did not even offer to open the car door, much less walk me to my apartment door. I was disgusted. I waited for at least 2 minutes (long time when an uncomfortable silence is in progress). The car idled. He did not move, he did not speak. I finally gave up, shook my head and hopped out. Just as I went to slam the door on a strange, wasted night, he caught it and asked me if I'd go out with him again (WHAT?!?) As the "Nnnnn" of "NO!" started to form on my lips, something came over me and for reasons still unknown, "Yeah, sure" came out instead. (HT to the Holy Spirit?!?). I told my mother the next day that I'd been on the worst date ever, with this older Marine guy, and she laughed when I told her that I'd spoken in tongues and said "yes" instead of "no" to another date. But I also told her, not completely joking, that there was something really strange about this guy, and either he was a serial killer, or I'd end up marrying him. We both cracked up, and she told me to cancel...but I said no. I was a poor working student, always up for free food, and I figured I'd order lobster or something obnoxious to compensate me for what would be another lost weekend evening.

For the next 4 weeks, we saw each other once or twice a week, and through it all, this odd, silent man refused to do more than walk me to the stairs to my apartment, and had never made any sort of "move" on me - not even a hand-hold attempt. So I gave up on him, because I figured either he was some combination of snotty/crazy/stupid/a killer or, somehow, I was not appealing to him, but looked damn good at his side on dates. My sense of self worth was tied to being groped (or not), I suppose you could say, in the shallow, vain (and fabulous) days of my youth. :) I told the friend who'd set us up that I was not going to see him anymore. Within 5 minutes, he was on the phone, assuring me that he DID like me, he was quiet by nature, and that he had never tried to touch me or walk me to my door because he did not want me to be offended or think that he wanted to be asked inside. (What?!? Chivalry is NOT dead?) I was astonished. 3 weeks later (after some all-night phone chats and - finally - some rather chaste smooching) I was presented with a gorgeous engagement ring. Whoa. NOT ready for that, at all, and the "Nnnn" thing happened again...but it came out "Nnnn...okay!" Again, some larger force was at work and literally changing what came out of my mouth.

10 months later, we were married, a lovely Nuptial Mass, full military uniforms, gorgeous. We were both cradle Catholics (he had a much more conventional and devout upbringing than I did), but looking back, even though we did all our pre-Cana stuff and had our paperwork in order to obtain the Sacrament of Marriage, neither of us knew the true Sacramental nature of what we were doing. To make matters worse, my husband's brother was married to a serious zealot, who (though younger, raised in a highly insular homeschooling family, and not nearly as educated or worldly as moi) presumed to lecture me on the eve of my wedding about Catholicism, assured me that, being from a "broken family" I was never going to be accepted by her or my husband's family, had no idea what a real wife's duties were (I intended to keep working and then go to law school the following year), and for all this and many other sins, would go to Hell because I was not a "real" Catholic. After the wedding she cornered me and demanded to know why not everyone in the church knelt during the consecration. "Not everyone in the church is Catholic" (Uh oh. Not a good enough answer. I wondered to myself if that was some sort of faux pas, should we have planned better, given out instructions in the Wedding Mass program?)

But anger overtook that moment of self-doubt. Another Catholic - one who wore her "orthodoxy" on her sleeve and prides herself on being the model Catholic wife and mother, was telling me I was not good enough to be a Catholic, a wife, a member of the family, etc. (15 years later, we still cannot abide one another - I really did try for the first 10, but her hard heart and my hard head have prevailed.) However, I credit her with blowing some of that hot air to spark and fan the flames of my Faith - I was going to start reading up and fighting back. Surely, "good" Catholics were not supposed to be so hateful and judgmental. I had to start gathering an arsenal to fight back - quotes from Scripture (nothing like calling me out on the speck in my eye when she had a log in her own...), the Catechism, whatever it took. I was going to refute every rotten, insulting thing she said to me using her own material to do it. (Future lawyer in me, I guess.)

Part III to follow...

12 comments:

Adrienne said...

Gem sent me over here and I am sooo glad. Thank goodness you didn't already have a gazillion posts up. I was able to read them all and they were great.

I'm a Jane Austin fan, also don't like hunting, and think the Catholic schools (and the majority of DRE's) do NOT teach the Catholic faith.

We're going to be great friends!

gemoftheocean said...

Hi Kit, left you a "snaps" on my website

KitBrookside said...

Thanks Karen & Adrienne! I'm having fun getting to know everyone out there, too -- living where we do, any slight whiff of traditionalism or orthodoxy is not well-received...it's very isolating. You guys and all the other cool people I've met out on the blogs provide an oasis for the soul!

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Hi Kit! Welcome to the Bloghood (our gang colors are yellow & white, of course). I see you met some of "the usual suspects" and will meet others as you go along. While I'm not super (Tridentine Mass) conservative, I'm orthodox in my unorthodoxy (i.e I follow the "Tradition (sounds of a Fiddler on the Roof in the background)" but make allowances in the "traditions". I'm a former collaborator froma very well constructed RCIA program (we taught the why's as well as the what's of Church teaching) so we had well formed and informed "graduates". I also work on computers & websites so you're welcome to ask any questions you might have.

Michael

la mamma said...

Good to find you, Kit. I'm here via Karen at Gem of the Ocean. I've had a little look around your site and like it. Mind if I pop you on my Blogroll?

the mother of this lot said...

Just found your blog. What a wonderful story. Can't wait for the next part!

KitBrookside said...

Hi Mamma and Mother - thanks for reading, and sure, you can blogroll me and send anyone here, anytime. Ok if I do the same?

KitBrookside said...

PS and hi to Michael, too!

Kelly said...

Kit-

I found you from your post at Adrienne's blog. Cool story! I look forward to more of your posts.

Angela M. said...

I can't wait for part 3!

Isn't funny how God will use the most unusual people to bring us to Him?!

la mamma said...

of course

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Great story. I too have survived Catholics like your SIL; scary times.
I notice you are a St Katrin fan. I love her mother (who having had 8 kids I tend to think is understanding of my predicaments). St Katrin is part of our family litany since my two m/cs.

I'll add you to both by blogrolls.
God bless