My parents separated when I was three and divorced when I was four. But their relationship wasn’t good even before I was born. The image I had of what marriage was left me certain I wanted nothing to do with it. I felt sure from the time I was little that I wanted a life like my mom. She was a strong, capable woman who supported herself and her children without the help (financial or otherwise) of her ex-husband. She was a mom who loved and delighted in us as kids. I didn’t have any other friends with divorced parents but I knew I could have a full life without having all the mess of having to be married. And then one night when I was probably in 6th or 7th grade my world got turned all sorts of upside down.
I was with my best friends playing in their neighborhood. Then some parents we knew well, they were the parents of a good guy friend of ours from school, stopped and rolled down their window to talk. They asked us all the normal questions about who knows what but my mind went blank. As I looked at them on this weekend evening I noticed they were sitting in the car and there was a box of takeout pizza between them. I asked what they were doing and they said that every once in a while they just liked to go grab their favorite pizza and just drive together, listen to music, talk, just be together. And I honestly felt my world shift. They enjoyed one another. They were having the most basic and simple and somehow the sweetest date I had ever imagined. They liked time together; their lives were clearly better because of the other. It shifted my world because I wondered if there could be a person who could make my life richer and not harder. A person who I could want to just be with while we ate pizza in a car.
I still found myself quite resistant to the idea that love and marriage could be for me. But I also could no longer deny that their simple, commonplace connection over pizza and a drive stirred deep within me a desire for something similar. Years later I found myself taking a walk with a friend of mine, a man I respected and liked spending time with, and he said to me that he thought we should continue to spend time together but as people who were dating. And my childhood of hurt and sadness rushed first to my mind and then to my mouth when I said, “I think that sounds like a very bad idea”. This guy I was with though, he didn’t balk at my attempt to bat him away, rather he said “Yes perhaps, but it could be the best idea”. And I don’t know if it was actually the first thought that ran through my head, but the pizza between my friends parents had planted a seed of desire and hope and this was the opportunity to let that seed see some daylight. So I hoped and that guy and I have been married for eleven and a half years.
I can’t say for sure that pizza date night was a night that changed my life, but I know it made an impression on my heart so of course it changed my life. When I chose to get married I chose it but only as long as we set out to do it with the intention and effort that brings an ease in being together. We have always wanted to have a simple and authentic connection where we delight in one another over things like pizza and car rides. Stephen and I have taken about a million road trips, short and long distances, and it is still a favorite place of ours to talk together; to dream together; to just be together. Who knows, in a world without pizza I may never have gotten married at all.