It happened in the dark

When I was in my 20s, I had one of those life defining experiences that people often share on YouTube, except that back then, YouTube didn’t exist. I was still six years away from owning my first mobile phone. Anyway, back to my story.

I was 24 or 25, I really can’t remember, and my boyfriend and I were going to a friend’s place after a big, flashy christian concert. (So much to unpack there, but I can’t cover it all at once.) We got out of the car and walked towards the driveway, when he stopped me and utterly out of the blue, I mean UTTERLY out of the blue, and in the dark, he asked me to marry him.

I was dumbstruck.

And then like any girl with ideas of true love mingled with rescuing someone, I said yes.

Ai, ai, ai! What a crazy ride.

Let’s back up a little and explore our relationship. I think for the purposes of working with the exhibition theme, this post would be a 3D sculpture. Something people could walk around and ponder. Something that looked like one thing when you first saw it, but as you looked more closely and then moved around the sculpture, you noticed it isn’t how it first appeared at all. Nothing ever is really.

Let’s call this young man full of passion and potential Diesel, in honour of one of his favourite musicians.

Diesel was, if I remember correctly, a few years younger than me – nothing unusual there, like Kate Cerebrano, young boys are my weakness.

I met Diesel at church, which was basically the epicentre of my existence at that time. He was handsome, slightly offbeat, and determined to become a rockstar. He was also deeply desirous of being someone’s rock.

We gravitated towards each other, drawn together by our mutual feelings of young love, with an undercurrent of feeling not quite good enough and needing to show the world that we didn’t care about that at all.

We did though. Oh, we really did.

Diesel and I were a little bit cute together really. He was a good guy not yet grown into a good man. I was looking for someone to validate and save me, and I needed a project to project onto. We were a perfect match!

Somewhere in a box in my storage room, there’s a photo of us together, which always elicits a combination of great, and awful, memories. I think he’s wearing a tie-dye shirt and I’m wearing a long flowy floral skirt. We look so happy. There’s also a photo of my engagement ring in that box. It was a beauty. Sigh.

Being young and in love wasn’t all sunshine and rose petals – we had our issues and our togetherness made them spark and crackle. He was trying so hard to prove himself to the world, and I was determined to rescue him from that burden. We were doomed from the get-go.

I could write so much about the specifics, but time and growing up means that I don’t need to share every story and lay it all out so that you can see that I was the ‘better’ of the two of us. There’s no better, just the experience that it was. It hurt a lot, and it gave us a lot of joy, I remember that.

We broke up only a matter of weeks after we got engaged, and it was rough. Really rough. He quickly moved on, and I quickly took on the role of brokenhearted but stoic in my faith ex-fiance. We played our parts well.

I felt the wind knocked out of my sails for a long time after that relationship collapsed. I was angry that I’d given my heart to someone who ended up not being trustworthy, and still, I cared about him and worried about his future.

When he got engaged to someone else soon thereafter, I remember having a conversation with a mentor in which he tried to reassure me that he, my Diesel, was going to be alright. I hope he was, and is.

I also remember that on the morning of his wedding day, I spent time with a sensational lady from church who let me feel what I was feeling, while gently, lovingly nudging me towards laying the whole thing down.

I remember that it was a beautiful sunny day, and the quietness of her backyard was a perfect tonic for my wounded heart.

I remember it all, and I see both of us now through the eyes of someone much older, and dare I say wiser, someone who loves herself and knows now that the only person she was ever meant to rescue is the one typing this blog post.

Half a lifetime ago…. I remember it all.