What we expect leads to either happiness or disappointment. And I have always had great expectations. That is until about three years ago. But my expectations hinged on my plan. I wanted what I wanted. I sought to get it. I had an agenda.
Agendas can be good things because they can focus your time and make it more efficient. But agendas can also take over. I just got home from a trip to England to visit Martin. And usually when I travel, I have an agenda. I’m usually with my family or a group of people and it goes something like this. I have plans to see a tour at a museum at 2:00pm across town but everybody is hungry and needs to eat. I figure we have an hour to eat so no biggie but then the wait for the table to longer than expected and the crowds are larger than expected and pretty soon I find myself all twisted up in knots with 15 minutes to get across town for the tour that HAS TO happen because if it doesn’t I won’t make it to other tour that I already bought tickets for that starts at 4:30pm. So instead of sitting and enjoying my lunch, the company, and the surroundings I plow through the food as fast as possible, cracking the whip at my compadres to get a move on. I become the prodder. The plan in my head takes over and becomes the unmitigated goal persistently and exasperatingly pursued.
That trait in me unnerved my ex. Yes – that is officially his new name. I hate that word but that is what he is. So be it. He used to say, “Why do you care so much about everything?” It was like I missed the filter being able to sort out the important from the unimportant. Everything was important.
I remember thinking and probably wrote about it awhile back that I would trade every little thing I got upset about or commented about that seemed so important at the time just to have my life back. I think that is what happens to people who are used to getting their way. And honestly I was. I was used to it and expected it. But two years ago and I think that is long enough gone that I can safely say my habits and outlook have officially changed, I formed a new approach. I learned that my way was not necessarily “the best” way. I had to learn to let go of my plans.
So in keeping with my new approach to life, on this tip, I did not have an agenda as it were. My only expectation was to enjoy myself in the moment and see Martin in his element in as many ways possible, to see the creature in his own habitat 🙂 And that I did. I expected that no matter what we did it would be great.
This time I was out of my element. I couldn’t pronounce town names, I went to the wrong side of the car, didn’t know how much money to offer anyone when paying cash. I was at his mercy for many things whereas up until this point it had really been the other way around. This time, he was in control. He drove like an expert. He knew all the places to take me and how to get there quickest. His friends were checking me out this time and invited us into their homes for tea. And while it was all foreign to me in the truest sense of the word I felt completely at home.
Familiarity is important to some people. Smells and sounds shift emotions like nothing else. You can smell something for the first time in 20-30 years and it will instantly take you back to a person, or a place in time. I find comfort in that. I love to feel familiar. I think I’m what some people call a home-body. Put me in a place around things and people I love and I am absolutely and positively content. That is usually why travel is stressful for me and why change, especially drastic change makes me feel so unsettled.
I’m sure most people can identify with this to varying degrees as I know of people who no matter how much they love to see the world and the people in it, they also like to come back home and lay their head on their very own pillow. Likewise there are some who would rather sit in their comfortable living room than venture even to the next town or take a ride on a boat or plane for fear of the new and unknown.
Despite knowing that about myself, on this trip, I felt completely at ease almost the entire time. I was nervous to meet some people because I wanted to make good impressions. But anywhere I went I felt safe, and I felt as if I was where I was meant to be. I truly was able to live in the moment, take it all in, and just enjoy myself. But it was more than that. I really felt at home. And I know now more than I did before the trip why.
When we hang out with other people I notice it more but we are different with each other than other people around us. I know it is love. That feeling and sense of being “in love”. We have gone past the excitement of realizing that we have met someone special and into the phase of cherishing every moment we get to spend together. Completely at peace to be where ever and with whoever at any given moment. It is the real deal and I’m not questioning it anymore.
I have shifted in my thinking from someone who is opening the door to the prospect of love to fully embracing it as my new reality. It is what it is. That man I met waiting for a table in the restaurant in Dublin. The man I sang with for hours in the pub and then friended on Facebook to chat about God and life. The man who will be forever known to some of my friends as “The English Guy” is now my guy. And I’m his. It’s settled.
Our first experience, when I first arrived in England was a big surprise for me. He drove me to a little café near Windsor Castle and he leaned over and said, “I got the job.” The job interview from a few weeks back in Chicago was a success. He found out today that it will be anywhere from one to three months before his job officially starts.
Our last experience was a whirlwind trip to London where he took me to the Maze Restaurant owned by Gordon Ramsey and to see the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Royal Theatre. It was amazing. Dinner was phenomenal and lasted 3 hours. The head waiter recognized him and offered us a tour of the kitchen. I ate things I never thought I’d eat and they were better than I ever expected. At the theatre we sat in the very center 6 rows back from the stage. I cried four times. It was just perfect. Truly perfect. I understand that this is continuing to read like a fairytale and I can’t help it. I have to be honest and I know for certain that I am blessed.
I will not pretend to think that 5 months ago I knew this would happen and had all the confidence that my life would not only get sorted out but that it would be better than I ever imagined.
I was scared. I wanted to trust God. I wanted to trust that He knew what he was doing. But I couldn’t see it. I just had to keep trusting in that I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And there were many times I felt that what was happening with Martin was too much too soon at first. But despite my fear and inclination to, more than once, run in the opposite direction…I now find myself utterly and completely grateful for this road I’m on. I give all the credit to God. All we did was listen, and respond accordingly, and walk through open doors.
Now comes a true test. Now that I have something I want. Can I continue to hold loosely my own plans? Can I let go and embrace something else and trust that it is best if it is different from my ideas?
I will continue to be honest with you and with what I write. I think being open to anything when all your options are open is a lot easier than being open to anything when you have something you want. All of us who have experienced loss know that to be true. It is my fervent hope and prayer that I will continue to see the blessings in everything and fully appreciate these high points knowing that valleys are not out of my future. They will come again in one way or another. But no matter what comes my way I know I will be better prepared having lived through storms in the past. And knowing that God is there to see me through.