The year before Laura and I started dating, there were signs. The first that I can recall clearly was very typically in the vein of the clueless male.
I was talking with this girl at the Sigma Chi house. We hit it off instantly and spent the hours getting to know each other. You remember those days, no – two people insatiably smitten with each other babbling on about absolutely everything? “Do you want to go someplace else?” I asked. She said sure. I grabbed her hand and with the exuberance of a puppy I blurted out, “You’ve got to meet my friend, Laura.”
“Uh, um, sure, I guess…”
I mean, who does a thing like that? Men, that’s who. We are stupid.
What was I thinking? Did I really just ask her to meet my female friend, Laura? As luck would have it, this girl was really into me, so I got a break. Her half-hearted acquiescence was all I needed and I took it. We rushed over to Laura’s apartment and knocked on the door. Nobody answered. She and her roommates were out.
Jana and I ended up head over heals for a time, but I still reflect upon that first instinct. I wanted her to meet my friend, Laura. I was a like a little kid who wanted his new friend to meet his other best friend. I probably also wanted Laura’s approval, to look this woman over and give me a thumbs up. Stupid, right?
Then there were the notes obviously written by lovers, the gifts, the attention. It’s a wonder I dated anyone during that time. Any woman would wonder. Who is this Laura person? Can they really be just “friends.”
Laura had her pursuers as well, pretty boys who didn’t last past one or two dates. I’d go over and help her prepare. My friend Lauren tells me she knew we were destined to be together when she saw me iron a dress for Laura. I would tell her she looked lovely, gorgeous in her outfits. Makeup was perfect. A million bucks. Now off you go. Good luck. He’s a moron if he blows it. She’d smile, tell me that I was sweet, give me a peck on the cheek and head out for her date.
“How did it go,” I’d ask the next day.
This one was too into himself. This one was too shy. This one was just a pretty face. “Ugh, I can’t believe I made out with him.”
It was all innocent. We swear it was. We were friends. There was not a hint of romance, no designs, no inclinations, just an affectionate platonic love.
And so it goes onward, just the two of us. Eventually all the way back in 1992 on this very day, we deliberately started down this path together. If we are honest with each other, though, our trajectories had converged long before. We wanted the best things for the other, the best dates, the best times, and each other’s approval in so many ways.
It’s all so transparent in retrospect, but at the time we were blindsided by that fateful day where we became more than friends.
Recounting the stories of our youth to our 16 year old, she joked, “It’s like God was watching a reality show and started yelling at the TV, ‘Will you guys just kiss already!'”
“Hey Daddy, was Jesus perfect?”
“That’s a tough question, Javier. Hmmm, I don’t know how to answer that. I’m going to say no, he wasn’t perfect.”
“Well, some kids in my class say he was perfect, but I don’t think so. He must have made his mommy mad at some point when he was little.”
“Hah, you’re right. I’ll bet he didn’t eat his apples all the time like Asier. You raise an interesting point though, Javier. I actually don’t know if perfect is even a relevant question to ask. What is perfection? Never making a mistake? You can’t be human without learning from making mistakes and learning from them. If perfection is completely living your potential, then he might have been perfect, but still, most people see perfection as just not making any mistakes. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a perfect man. Some say he cheated on his wife. I’m sure he would be the first to tell you that he was a sinner. Does that make him less of a hero? He struggled and sacrificed for us all, but he had his weaknesses. If Jesus was fully human, it would follow that he made some mistakes too, but again, I don’t even think it’s relevant to talk about. Just like Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, it’s not relevant to mention his individual failings. The most important measure of their lives is their heroism.”
“Isn’t it more interesting to talk about heroes than perfect people? Perfection isn’t a goal. Heroism is the goal. Was Jesus perfect, is the wrong question. He was a hero because he made heroic choices in his life. He overcame his weaknesses, his fear, and his doubt to make a heroic choice.”
“So there you go, Javier perfection isn’t the goal of life, heroism is.”