I am in love with Jesse Michael Sparks.
(Shhh. I know you already know. Back off. This is my blog. I make the posts around here.)
I love him for a whole bunch of reasons. And by a whole bunch, I mean a couple hundred, easy. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly swoony, I start listing all the reasons of the day in my head. Not aloud. That would be obnoxious. But to myself.
I love his name: part cowboy and part tradition. I love his hands: slight and long-fingered and eerily like mine. I love the way the hair gathers into a little tail at the back of his neck and the way his shoulders slump when he’s working at his desk.
I love his easy laugh — and I love that he doesn’t make life work hard to get him to laugh. I love that he listens — really listens — when people are talking. I love his dreams and his ambitions and his need for adventure. I love the way that he sees the world; I love that he sees the world so different than the way I see it.
I love how he’s all arms and hips when he dances. All slanty eyes and open brows when he’s being sweet; all flared nostrils and set jaw when he’s focused. (Don’t talk to him when he’s on a mission, though. Duck for cover.) I love Emo Jesse, Macho Jesse, Old Man Jesse, Determined Jesse, Earnest Jesse, and (my most favorite of all) Dad Jesse.
I detest trance music. Loathe olives on pizza. Not remotely interested in anime. I (still) don’t understand binary. But I love me some Jesse.
(We already have a room. It’s in our awesome red house. But the bathroom’s downstairs if you need to puke).
I have slacked in so many ways when it comes to using this venue as a life-tracker. That’s particularly true when it comes to this guy. To be honest, I’ve been invested far too much in our path to properly keep this interweb document up to speed. It probably seems like he just showed up one day, and then we were in love, and then we were family.
Pretty much, that’s how it went.
If that’s not cutting it, here’s the slightly less condensed version. For posterity.
It was after midnight sometime in the almost-summer of 2012 when our stars crossed. A few hours earlier, I had done something completely wild and crazy (hold me back). I had registered for my very first online dating account.
(If you’re thinking about doing this, don’t. Just gather your wits/over-caffeinate yourself, and go to the park or the sandwich shop or some place where real daylight-humans gather, pick someone who looks interesting, and say, “Hi, my name is ______. I love good books and good tunes and I’m doing good things with my life. You look good, too. Wanna get to know each other?” I know this is hypocritical, but it will be the advice I give my sons.)
Anyways, back to OkCupid and my desperate stab into (even thinking about) dating again. That evening, I made a slightly prudish, sort of put-offish, mostly generic profile. It pretty much went like this:
Dear Potential 26-40 (must’ve been feeling ambitious) -year old suitors,
Here’s (another) cardigan-wearing teacher who loves coffee and poetry. Look at those bangs; this girl probably wants to be Zooey Deschanel. She probably can’t go to Target without making an unnecessary purchase. She probably asks the barista what song is playing. She probably listened to Disney music as a kid and took dance lessons and played softball in the summers and wrote in her journal while sprawled on her bed listening to Jewel. She probably calls her mom every day. Yep, here’s one more. Oh, and this one has a kid, but you aren’t allowed to know anything about that.
Super-complicated-allusion-to-unknown-poet-screen-name (AKA: Please, dear God, don’t let my high school students find this page)
I did choose a profile picture of me wearing shorts though, so that was pretty wild and crazy of me.
I had been registered for mere hours (and oh, the amazingly tempting messages that arrived during this interlude) when a red-bearded gentleman sent me one cornball of a message.
(Go ahead, read into this — it tells you two true things: 1) Jesse was a prowler who found newly created profiles within moments of creation. 2) I am a sucker.)
And I chose that one to respond to. Because he was sweet. Like, beneath the lines and the cheese — or maybe because he put the effort into crafting personalized lines and cheese — it was obvious that he had a good heart. Or maybe there was wine involved. Anyway, we talked all morning and then every night and then on the phone for hours, and this went on for weeks. He was starting a new job and I was pretty sure I lacked the courage to actually meet a real, breathing human boy, so that’s how we did for a while.
We decided to meet at a bookstore coffee shop on Father’s Day. I rocked pink polka dots, and he opted out of his initial choice of a Star Wars shirt. (He should’ve worn it. Would’ve sealed the deal right then and there.) I was nerves and shakes, but stuck it out. I vaguely remember talking to his shoulder for most of the event, and I even turned down coffee with the foresight of preventing a nervous-puke.
After a couple of hours of drinking nothing and saying too much, I gave this poor future husband of mine the officially licensed Worst Hug Ever (and subsequently tried to redo it, resulting in the second worst), and then left rather perplexed and decidedly intrigued.
But I guess I’m just that charming, because he continued to talk to me on the phone for hours at night (while he was ironing dress shirts for work and I was grading multiple choice tests). Over the next week, he sent flowers to my classroom, took me rock climbing, held my hand ice skating, drove forty minutes (one way) to come see me in my pajamas every night, and stole my heart forever.
I’ll never forget the way he fidgeted when he sat across from me and asked me if I’d be his girlfriend. I laughed at him. We were 26-years old. Who still did that?
Us, I guess.
We were immediately inseparable (in the sort of way where I’d text him all day and then wait up to see him at night — but not until after Carter had gone to bed). The best part was that he was alright with that — coming to Patrick and Megan’s house, where I was living, and having most of our “dates” never leave the living room. He got it. We watched movies and played board games and then he wanted me to do something I hadn’t done in years and years — read the Bible.
And when he did meet the original man in my life (all two and a half feet of him), Carter walked right over to him and plopped down in his lap. (Those of you who knew Carter as a baby know that this wasn’t exactly typical upon first (or nineteenth) encounters). Instant sidekicks.
Whenever life brought chaos, he was always my center, and even when I told him it’d be ok for him to go, that I knew he hadn’t signed up for the waves rocking our new boat, he stayed to hold my hand. Before I even knew that I was in love with him, I knew Jesse was my best friend.
Silly me. That’s the same thing.
I quickly learned that there is no one I like adventuring with more. There’s been roadtrips and airplanes, campsites and hotels. Museums and galleries and wine tasting — and cutoffs and beer and NASCAR. There’s been indescribable joy and scary new beginnings and bottomless pits. He’s seen more of me than I even dared to see about myself. And he still kisses the back of my shoulder and tucks the hair behind my ear.
And he’s never gotten a post of his very own, and he deserves it. Someone get this man a craft beer, a pedicure, and Coyotes tickets, STAT.