It was almost 2 years ago now when I wrote my post about the perils and pitfalls of dating in a celiac/food-allergy world. I closed that post by saying, “Keep searching until you find Mr. or Miss “Right for You” (which by the way means they also have to choose you back). I’ll let you know if I ever find that person for me. Until then, I’ll be driving solo down the open road, loving my life, and keeping an eye out for potential passengers…and occasionally belting out my own solo ballad of course :-)”
Well, I’m a woman of my word, so this is me letting you know: I found him. Or really, he found me. We’ll just say we found each other…and I’ve never been so grateful for anything in my entire life. Meet… the Physicist.
Our paths first crossed 7 years ago when he and I were both wrapping up our senior years of college (his at Notre Dame and mine at Villanova) when one April weekend, I landed in South Bend for ACE Orientation weekend. ACE is the service-through-teaching/graduate program we had each decided (in our own parallel “late-night- down to the wire/what do I do with my life chat with a best friend” moments) to join following our respective graduations. Our paths rarely crossed again during our first summer of classes together, or in our first year of teaching, due to the fact that he was assigned to teach high school science and math in rural Louisiana, while I was assigned 2ndgrade in our nation’s capital. Then, as luck would have it, when we returned to South Bend for our second summer of classes, the physicist ended up as roommate to none other than the Saint in a Bow Tie, one of my ACE “brothers” and my closest friend that year. This of course meant many an evening when I came knocking on the door to collect rent (I had taken over DC house finances), catch up on life, or practice for our upcoming duet in the summer talent show. Each time, the physicist (NOTE: I didn’t call him that then) would answer the door, we’d exchange pleasantries (OK, let’s be honest, I was convinced I overwhelmed him with my overzealous exuberance for, well, everything in life). We shared a few conversations that summer I’m sure, but none that either of us really remember, other than one profuse apology from me for an early-morning knock at the door when The Saint in The Bow Tie had overslept for choir rehearsal.
|Notice he’s standing right behind me in this group photo…this was before our coffee date 🙂
When our time in ACE ended, my school closed and I moved north to Baltimore. The Physicist decided to pursue his PhD and moved to College Park, MD…approximately 5 miles from the house I had called home in DC for two years. Over the subsequent years, we ran into one another on occasion at various ND/ACE alumni events, holiday parties, trivia night fundraisers, etc. Knowing my love for all things mathematical, he invited me to attend a Physics singalong at some huge Physicist conference in Baltimore a few years ago. Of course, that was the spring of constant sickness (when I didn’t realize dairy was the new culprit) so I had to back out at the last minute in favor of a doctor’s visit and my couch. There were a few other opportunities which now of course make us wonder if we could have found our way to one another sooner…but then again, we both ascribe to the “Faith in God includes faith in his timing” philosophy, so we trust it had to be this way. Then last year, The Physicist was coming to Baltimore for a bike-riding event so we decided to meet for coffee while he was in town. Our planned “quick coffee before the race” turned into a 3-hour discussion about life, faith, philosophy, and food allergies and we both walked out of the coffee shop knowing that this was something special. In the time since that fateful night (remember what I said about timing?? I still thank God for letting it pour rain that night so bikes couldn’t ride!), the Physicist has become my loyal reading partner, my vigilant cooking companion, my sidekick for all kinds of funtivities, my caretaker when my confused immune system gets the best of me, my trusted confidant…in short, he’s become my best friend.
Now as any loyal readers know, I have a strict “I don’t talk about my personal life until I’m engaged” policy, both for my students and for my readers. Well, those days are over because… I’m engaged! Last weekend, on the most epic Pi Day of our lives (3.14.15) at the magical minute (9:26), the Physicist got down on one knee and proposed. To use the analogy from that first post, I found my co-pilot J
And he’s so much more than I could have even hoped for. I decided I was going to marry him the day he serenaded me with a song bearing my name as its title. I fell in love with him the day he wrapped his cutting board in parchment paper to make me breakfast, and didn’t even mention it, as if it were no big deal. (Granted, those events happened in that order…so that gives you an idea of how crazy my brain is sometimes!) He is the one person in the world I let cook for me on a regular basis. He greets me at his front door with a cup of fresh coffee as the proverbial prize for conquering the perils of the Baltimore-DC traffic commute. He made special trips to the Hispanic food section of a local grocery store to surprise me with genuine Mexican Coke (Note: that means no corn syrup!!) He dropped everything the day I ended up in the school nurse’s office and then the hospital and sat with me in my ER cubicle until my body calmed down enough to go home. He checks labels on everything he uses, and on the rare occasion where he notices an ingredient too late (it has only happened once!), he gives the otherwise perfectly delicious food to his roommates, and we hit up the nearest Chipotle. (Seriously, I’d say everyone won that night) He sits in the even more brutal DC-Baltimore rush hour traffic to come visit me when the cold and flu season proves victorious over my confused/weakened immune system. He understood without hesitation when I had to cancel one of our dates early on because some of some erratic cheese which made its way into my lunch. In fact, he bought me a get well card, scanned it, and sent it digitally, since snail mail would suggest “a pessimistic outlook on my recovery”.
Now I could go on forever about him…but there will be plenty of time for that. A lifetime of it, in fact! Maybe he’ll even write a guest post from time to time! (1st person account of life on the other side of a food-sensitive relationship!) However, I’d like to close by referring back to that original post once again. You may remember I described what I imagined in the one who could one day fill the co-pilot chair. If this were a job application, I think you’ll agree: the Physicist is overqualified.
“Like everyone, I have some ideas: I think he’ll be intelligent so we can engage in hours of scintillating conversation. (What good is a road trip companion if you can’t talk??) He already has a physics degree from Notre Dame, 2 Masters Degrees (Education and Physics) and is almost finished with his PhD, also in Physics. Need I say more?? Just kidding, aside from that, he knows more about philosophy, books, music, and the history of college football than anyone I know. I think he’ll have a sense of humor…partially because he’ll need one to handle me, partially because I love to laugh. He does. Sometimes his jokes go completely over my head…but he’s good about explaining them to me. He’ll offer advice on directions, traffic, and possible detours…but will trust me to make my own decisions that I think are best. He’ll offer to take over at the wheel when I’m looking a bit tired, frustrated, or just hopelessly lost…but will understand if I refuse his offer because I need to carry on by myself for a little longer. He won’t complain when I see signs and spontaneously decide I just have to stop in the Blueberry Capital of the World, the Carousel Capital of the World, and the Home of the World’s Largest Coffee Pot (he’ll even smile at seeing my intense level of excitement over each one)…but he’ll also have the foresight and nerve to put his foot down and rein in my crazy when I try to stop at the Hubcap Capital of the World or the Home of America’s First Wavepool. We may or may not have made an impromptu stop at the deathplace of Stonewall Jackson en route to see my godson last fall. And we took a tour. And pictures J He’ll stay calm in traffic and understand my need to arrive 10 minutes early to pretty much every destination. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I actually found someone who hates being late more than I do He’ll accept that no matter how far behind schedule we might be, if it’s a Sunday morning we’ll be “masstimes.org”-ing our way to a church. He’s so good he doesn’t need Masstimes.org. He just calls ahead, he meets with a priest in the hills of West Virginia just to square away my low-gluten host situation a few days prior to my arrival for a holy day, and he drives to the National Shrine early on a Sunday morning to buy a new pyx for my host when mine suddenly turns up missing…and yes, those are all true stories. He’ll notice when I’m struggling to unscrew the cap on my water bottle with my one free hand and without making it a big deal, he’ll come to my aid. He’ll understand that sometimes we need to stop talking and sit in silence for awhile. (I do my best deep thinking when I’m driving after all) He’ll be willing to handle radio duty and appreciate my desire to switch back and forth between every genre under the sun. And most of all, he better be willing to belt it out once in awhile. Every good road trip inevitably calls for a sing-along (or several) somewhere along the way. If he can’t handle that, I have a feeling we’re bound for failure. He LOVES to sing. In fact, he suggested singing in the car the other day and I’m the one who failed to join in. Talk about a role reversal! Today he also composed a violin score so we can play a new guitar/violin duet. Yep, I think you’re starting to see what I’m talking about 🙂
|Before you panic, that’s my godson. We went to pay him a visit this fall 🙂
|For anyone reading this right now, thinking to yourself, “Katie, I want to be genuinely happy for your right now, and I am, but it’s also really hard”…well trust me, I was right where you are. It was spring of 2011 and I was reading the story ofGluten-free Girl and the Chef. On one hand, she gave me hope that the darkness would pass, that there would come a day when I wasn’t sitting next to a trash can filled with now-poisonous food, fighting back tears as I searched for recipes, recommendations, and just plain hope. I wanted to believe that her magical story could come true for me too. I wanted to believe that someday I would be healthy and happy again, and that some wonderful man wouldn’t be scared off by my laundry list of food restrictions and the headaches that come from sharing a kitchen with me. I wanted to believe it more than I had wanted to believe anything in a long time…but I just couldn’t quite get there. Well, here I am, 4 years later (almost to the day), telling you that it did. It wasn’t always an easy road, but I can honestly tell you, wherever you are, that it will be worth it. Every awkward dinner conversation about your immune system, every even more awkward conversation about Scope, every tear you shed over the ones who just can’t make that a part of their world, every health setback that makes you increasingly sure that life will never be truly good again…it’s all worth it in the end. Please take my word for it. And because I know my word isn’t enough, print this out and hang it on your wall. It’s carried me through the darkest of times, and the brightest too of course.
Rest assured that no matter how lost your feeling right now, there are so many wonderful days lying ahead for you. Now I know my own journey will be full of more pitfalls and potholes too, but for today I am just overwhelmed with joy, gratitude, and some level of disbelief over the fact that this is really my life. (If you don’t believe that, there’s a video to prove it!) I will spend the rest of my life thanking God for staying by my side through all the ups and downs, for the gift of health which I no longer take for granted, and most of all, for allowing the Physicist’s path to cross mine on a rainy spring night…
Oh, and for the record, I don’t call him The Physicist in real life (well, my co-workers and I did during the first few weeks we were dating). His name is John…or you can just call him my co-pilot 🙂
And now, let the Katie-safe wedding planning commence 🙂