I’m staring at the gas gauge waiting for Jason to answer the phone as I drive down 4th Street. I just put the last cash I had in my car. $14. But the gas light’s still on. Great. How will I make it home? He answers, “Hey there! What’s up?”
“I just put all the money I had in my car and the light’s still on! What does that mean? Can I get 45 miles out of this?!!”
Passing the tv station now . I’m frazzled, irritated. But Jason isn’t phased.
“You’re fine. Give it time to register.” “I’ve left the gas station and driven a block! I’m telling you my tank is empty and I’m. still. down. town!” Oh wait. There goes the needle. “Nevermind. The light is off now.” Why is he always right?
We are on a cash only- no credit/debit card system. Trying to pay off credit card debt and the goal is to be debt free by Fall. “Ok. So you’re good? Is that all?” “No. What’s the deal with our money situation? I need money.” “I told you. We went over budget last month. I’m trying to get us back on track.”
He’s the saver. I’m the spender. He inherited a nice chunk of credit card debt when he married me 3 and half years ago. He’s never thrown it in my face. Never asked me where it came from. I tried to tell him I can’t be trusted with a credit card. If it’s in my purse, it will get used. He didn’t listen. He trusted me. I kept spending. But now he gets it. So we have a system and it’s working but sometimes the discipline and the limits and the numbers overwhelm me and I lose focus. He calmly asks, “Why didn’t you just tell me you needed money this morning?”
I didn’t ask because I wanted him to think I was doing my part. We figure out the budgeted amount for the month and when the money’s gone it’s gone. Forgot I needed gas until I left the house. This debt thing is a big deal..to both of us.. but especially to him. Because he’s smart with his money. He’s disciplined, he’s grounded, he’s realistic, he’s patient. He’s just good.
This is the guy who waited for me five years ago. After I told him I was damaged goods and didn’t have the energy to even try and date someone..he stepped aside but didn’t give up. He didn’t pressure me. Didn't call. He just included me on forwarded emails with random jokes. Just to see if I would ever reply.
A month earlier, we were set up on a blind date. Our mutual acquaintance had been telling me about him for six months before I finally agreed..but only if it was in a group. She told me he was very attractive, from a good family, from a small town, a great athlete, owned his own house, successful. Sounds great, right? But all I could think was, “clearly someone who would see the real me and never call again. Why waste his or my time?” I was swirling down the drain to my rock bottom and I didn’t want him to ride along for any part of that trip. But he scraped me off the grimy floor after I hit and slowly pulled me to the surface.
I won’t say he saved me. God saves people. People don’t. But God uses people to help. Jason was his first commander.
It took me over a month, and then I replied to one of those silly mass emails. I said I’d go to dinner. But that’s it. I met him. We ate. I went home. We talked on the phone a couple times a week. Wrote light hearted emails.
This taking it slow style was new to me. Usually I dove right in. Fall head over heels in a matter of weeks..days even. Not this time. This guy was different. He didn’t care I was on tv. Didn’t even know who I was until someone told him to watch the morning show. He wasn’t into being seen at the right places with the right people. He spent his spare time helping friends with their yard projects, taking an elderly man down the road on errands, playing basketball and going over to his mom’s house for dinner once a week…Quite frankly I thought he was too nice and.. well.. boring. Where was the drama? I’m used to drama.
But something happened. The more we talked and I hung around him, the more curious I became. Why is he so comfortable with who he is? Why doesn’t he care what people think of him? I was the reporter trying to get the story. The answer. I want what he has. I continued to spend time with him. Once a week dates turned into a few times a week. This was a slow burn..not a ball of fire that suddenly burns out.
Driving out to his place on the weekends became the light at the end of my work tunnel. “I feel like I’m going on vacation everytime I come to see you.” He liked that. He just looked at me and smiled.
It’s a look he still gives me when I say something that makes him feel good. He never says anything just looks into my eyes like he sees something that only he can see and smiles. He’s a man of few words. He’s not a talker. He’s a doer. He builds and plants and fixes things for a living.
For this Valentine’s Day he won’t write me a love letter. Not with a pen at least. He writes love letters with his actions. He lives them.
Back in the car, crossing the Eads bridge, “I don’t even have money to buy you a Valentine’s Day card!” I tell him. “You don’t need to buy me anything.”
So I don’t buy much. I spend $4.40 on a jar and some stickers. I make him a card. Inside it reads, “I tell you I love you every day not because I feel like I have to, or out of habit, but because I want to remind you that you are one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. And in this jar you will find just a few reasons why my love for you is so strong.”
And as I fill out the little slips of paper with all that I love about him.. “I love your smile, I love the way you talk to Riggs, I love that you make me feel safe, I love the way you kiss me goodbye every single morning…” As I write these, I can feel my tank filling up…it’s overflowing. With love. With joy. For my man. The doer. He builds and plants and fixes things…