When I proposed to my wife, I wasn’t sure I loved her.
We had been together for a little over a year and gotten to know each other pretty well. I enjoyed spending time with Jenny, but did I really truly madly love her? In hindsight, I probably rushed into proposing to her, but at the time it felt like the “right” thing to do. It felt “right” because I had a bunch of friends who were already married, Jenny was the first girl I had known who would watch sports with me (and pretend to like it) and my insecurities didn’t push her away, they actually brought us closer together. Of course, there were other reasons for proposing like; the tax benefits, the wedding presents, the UK work permit, and my desire to stop having to think about a ring, but love? I barely loved myself at 27 years old, how could I know what loving another person was all about?
Today, I love Jenny. I love her sooooo much! If I still had a Facebook account, I would write all about my love for her, filling up your wall with obscenely disgusting words like; “Jenny is the candy to my Yoda Pez” or “she completes me” or “SMOOCHIE OOCHIE OOOOOOH.” I’d include every lovey dovey emoji there was and be sure to use a Facebook format that makes the words EXTRA LARGE because that means they are EXTRA IMPORTANT! This expression of my love would be so over the top that you would have no choice but to question your own love for your significant other. You would think, “DAMNIT – Dan loves Jenny way more then I love anything.” And you would be right, MY LOVE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR LOVE, FOR YOUR LOVE! YOU CAN TAKE YOUR LOVE AND SHOVE IT! [*I really wouldn’t do this, but you get the point]
How do I know I love her? I’ll tell you.
While my wife is caring, smart, beautiful, fun to be around, and cooks deliciousness every night, I don’t know I love Jenny because of any of those things. I know I love Jenny because of her driving.
Uhhhh, Jenny’s DWAWF, Dan?! And it doesn’t get any worse than DWAWF – “Driving While Asian While Female.” You’re right, it doesn’t get any worse than DWAWF and it’s because of this that I know I love my wife.
Rewind to February 2011. “It was a clear black night, a clear white moon. Warren G was on the streets tryin’ to consume. Some skirts for the eve so I can get some phones. Rollin’ in my ride, chillin’ all alone.” Errrrr, sorry, wrong love story. The February love story I want to tell you about began on a cold and snowy day. Jenny, our business partner Chris and I were at my parent’s weekend home in West Virginia. After a day of developing some plans for our business, the following morning Jenny would head back to our home in the DC suburbs and Chris and I would drive off to attend a Business Development meeting in Pittsburgh. The next morning, we said our goodbyes and Jenny drove off in one direction and we went in the other.
Unfortunately for Jenny, the direction she was heading in had a very steep hill to descend. Some people would even refer to this hill as a mountain. With the icy cold conditions of this February day, her descent would be tricky to say the least. To make matters even more perilous, the Subaru Jenny was driving had some brake issues that we were probably a couple months late in having the shop look at. You are probably questioning why I would put my wife (who’s afflicted with DWAWF) in such a terrible situation. No, we didn’t have a life insurance policy at the time, so there was no financial gain to be had. My best explanation is that God, the universe, whatever you want to call it, wanted Jenny to have this experience. The experience I speak of is losing control of the car, driving off of the hill (mountain) and then hitting a tree.
At this point in our relationship, Jenny and I had been through a lot. We got in a club fight, started a business and crazier than anything, lived with my parents in their basement for 2 years (which became 4) of our marriage. Through it all, Jenny never lost her cool and was always the “strong one.” However, the day she drove off of the mountain was the first day where she needed me to be the one with strength.
Under the fog of terrible West Virginia cell phone connectivity, Jenny called me immediately after hitting the tree. I couldn’t make out all of her words, but I could hear in her voice she was in trouble. It was the first I had ever heard her sound panicked and afraid. Just writing and thinking about it again raises my pulse. She was trapped in the car, possibly hurt and definitely scared. Immediately, all the deep animalistic and warrior protective emotions came surging to the surface – I had to help my wife. Doing what warriors do, I yelled for Chris to turn around his Honda Civic and head back to where Jenny had crashed.
As we drove for 15 minutes to get to Jenny, I helplessly tried to comfort her over a terrible cell phone connection. 30 seconds of her muffled and crying voice would be interrupted by long periods of silence when one of our cell phones would lose signal amongst the Appalachian Mountains. During one of these periods of silence, a completely unexpected and positive feeling rose up from my belly. While my thoughts and feelings were racing in a million different directions, this new feeling was unmistakable – it was love.
After an agonizing drive and what had to be a frightening wait for Jenny, we finally made it to the crash scene, where she had managed to free herself from the car. Still shook up, I did the only thing my warrior self could manage, I held her and told her how much I loved her.
At the time of this accident, I had told my wife plenty of times I loved her. I probably said these magic three words for a variety of reasons like; that’s what you tell your wife when you leave for work, or I wanted to show her I cared about her, or I was trying to butter her up to get her approval for a guys weekend. This was the day when I told her I loved her and I deeply meant it.
I often think about this accident when bad things pop up in my life. When “things go wrong” we have an opportunity to tap into feelings that might not have presented themselves as easily as before. Getting a frantic call from my wife was a disturbing moment for sure – but the moment provided a message that no greeting card or Facebook post could ever convey. Love isn’t written, it’s felt.
7 years later and Jenny and I have been fortunate not to have had any new moments of peril driving off of mountains and hitting trees. The only moments that compare to the love I felt for her on that cold February day was during the birth of our children. I’ll spare you the details of those events, but to me, it shows that at the opposite end of the spectrum love also makes an appearance.
As we move forward with the sometimes, difficult task of maintaining our marriage while raising children, the powerful signs of love aren’t always readily apparent. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the brief moments we get together when the kids are asleep or with their grandparents. I might not always have the clearest definition of my love for my wife, but I know I always love hanging out with her.