Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Pride and Prejudice in Our Story: Part One

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I'm kicking off the Pride and Prejudice Synchro-Read on Facebook. If you've never read P&P (like me!) or if you would like to read it again with others, please join in the fun by liking Classical Quest.

Our engagement picture 2001

I taught piano lessons for Angela's children for a year before she mentioned anything about having a single nephew. All that time I felt her eyes observing my every move, weighing out each answer I gave to each heavy question she hurled at me. I thought she was simply a protective mother analyzing whether or not I was a good influence on her young children. I never dreamed she was considering me as a potential match for her nephew Joe.

Joe and I were introduced in 1998 at an old-fashioned revival meeting in a little church in the country. There was an altar call and the first time I saw Joe, he was kneeling in prayer. After the service we shook hands and exchanged names.

Like a true gentleman, he called my father and asked permission to date me. Dad and I discussed it together just as we always did. My dad's opinion mattered to me; if he had any objection, I would not have given Joe another thought. But he was fine with it, and I liked the idea. The next time Joe called, I answered the phone. 

We went on four dates:

First, an Italian restaurant. I ordered spaghetti, which was silly. Who orders spaghetti on a first date? Spaghetti is what you eat after you fall in love -- when it doesn't matter if a little sauce dribbles on your chin. But the look on Joe's face assured me I could have dumped the whole plate in my lap without causing injury to his impression.

Second, ice skating at a winter festival. We got lost twice, which greatly bothered him. He had everything planned out perfectly!  (If he only knew then how much I love to get lost.)

Third, a wonderful old conservatory for a Christmas floral show. I walked in front of him and passed a harp sitting in the foyer. I strummed my finger tips across the strings, ignoring the sign which read "Do Not Touch." 

Fourth, the ballet. The Nutcracker. After the performance he gave me a gift -- a porcelain angel strumming a harp. 

How do I explain the feelings I had at age twenty-two? I sensed he had made up his mind about me; the weight of this made it difficult for me to be at ease. I had always imagined a scenario in which I would be friends with a man first, but that didn't seem possible since he was already smitten.

Though I made every effort to be kind, I was inwardly quite prideful. And maybe, if I'm honest, I was even a bit prejudiced because Joe was a rodeo cowboy and I was not a cowgirl.

I went on a winter vacation with my aunt, uncle, and their two young children. I skied for two weeks. We celebrated the new year in a charming cottage on a frozen lake. Getting away gave me some perspective. I didn't feel ready to be a wife. When I got back Joe called to ask me out again. (This time he wanted me to meet his family!)  As gently as possible, I turned him down.

I spent one year in contentment. 

I pursued some things I had been wanting to do. I enrolled in college and paid cash for my shiny new black Baldwin piano and my not-so-shiny, not-so-new 1987 Nissan Maxima (priorities). Took English riding lessons and piano lessons. Taught Sunday School. Visited historic places and art museums with my friends. I did want to get married someday and, yes, occasionally I felt a little lonely for a special man to love, but I was overall happy to wait.

Then one afternoon I drove to Angela's house to make up some lessons I had missed. It was not my usual day for lessons there. As I pulled into the lane leading to the house, I saw Joe's old brown station wagon in the driveway. He was in a distant pasture riding a horse. I felt dread. I hoped I could finish teaching before he came to the house. 

Halfway through the second lesson, I heard the door open behind me. I turned, determined to be gracious and polite. I just wanted to get it over with.

He was standing in the doorway. His gaze was direct.

This was not the Joe who had dated me a year before. This was a confident man in a T-shirt and tight jeans with an unshaven face. He said, "Hello, good to see you." and his voice was firm. 

Suddenly my face felt hot. I glanced down and spoke more softly than I had intended, "Good to see you too."

Seeing him in this new light wrecked me. For a week I couldn't sleep. The next time I had a chance to speak privately to Joe's Aunt Angela, I told her that perhaps I had been too hasty when I broke things off before. I saw a glint of amusement in her eyes, but she was careful not to smile. She remarked, somewhat dryly, that she would mention it to him.

When I got home that evening I swung around the banister and hurried up the stairs to my room. (I never liked to miss a minute of All Things Considered in those days.) I hollered down to my parents, 

"If the phone rings, it's for me!" 

The phone did ring a couple times that night, but not for me. He did not call.

Another week passed, and I went back to teach at Angela's home again. I taught three of her children. For a torturous hour and a half, nothing about Joe was said. I hoped Angela would tell me his response, but I was too proud to ask her. At the end, she handed me my check and said curtly, "Thank you, have a nice week." 

I reached for the door,

"Oh by the way," she said, "I talked to Joe... and he wondered if you would be willing to write him a letter."

 "A letter?"

"Yes, he wants to hear from you in your own words."

I felt a bit annoyed"I don't normally write to guys like that," I said.

"Very well," she shrugged. "It's up to you." 

Now he was challenging me. I gripped the steering wheel on the way home. I said I was too hasty and I meant it, so I supposed there is no harm in writing it on paper for him to read with his own eyes.

Dear Joe, 
It was good to see you again in your aunt's home last week. I've been thinking that perhaps I was too hasty when I broke things off before.  

It was just one note card inside a small envelope, but in my hands it felt heavy. I sat in my car in the post office parking lot holding that tiny parcel for a long time. I knew that once the letter was in the big blue mailbox, it could not be taken out again. I felt all the gravity of an eternal moment. In time, I would come to see this as a crucial inciting incident in the story of my life.

I got out of the car and approached the box swiftly, pausing for only an second before slipping it into the slot. 

A few weeks passed with no word. One evening I came home later than normal because I had eaten dinner out with some of my piano parents.

My dad was standing on the front porch of our farm house waiting for me as I came up the walk.

"What is it?" I asked, my heart falling a little at the sight of his tender eyes. Such love -- a father's love!

"I got a call from Joe tonight. He asked me to thank you for the letter, but he is very busy on the rodeo circuit and he doesn't plan to come back in town for quite a while. He's not interested in pursuing things further at this time."

Dad watched me process this. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I don't know about a young man who would dump a blonde for a bull. Forget about him, honey."

I straightened up. I felt strangely calm. 

"Don't pity me, Daddy. It's not meant to be. I'm fine."

Tune in next time for Part Two of "The Pride and Prejudice in Our Story." :)


  1. Beautiful, Adriana! Lizzie and Darcy have nothing on you. :-) Looking forward to part 2, and to joining in on the synchro-read.

    1. Thank you Jeannie! Jane Austen's tales transcend time. I suppose there is a little pride and a little prejudice in us all. ♥

    2. Well, I meant they have nothing on you in the romance department :-) but yeah ... you're so right.

    3. [chuckling] Thanks friend. :) But I must warn you: there is even more pride in Part Two!

  2. haha. I'm so excited for part 2! Your engagement picture is beautiful :)

  3. Why have I NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE!?!?! Don't keep me waiting too long! :)

    1. I never have? Amazing. Maybe because I value your good opinion!

      The funny thing is, Christine, I was the only girl to ever dump Joe. After we were married, one of his college friends told me that after he found out Joe had been spurned by me, he told his wife that I was the ONE woman Joe would eventually win. ;)

    2. It's funny how things work out. I excitedly shared the beginning of your story with Brian the other night. True love stories are the best!

  4. Aaaa! You can't leave me hanging like that!

    (I have to say, though, it sounds like a year off wasn't a bad thing for you.)

    1. You are right, Jean. That year was very good for me in many ways. I hope that each of my children may have at least one year like that before they develop emotional ties.

  5. Adriana, that is excellent! What a cliff hanger too. And since you've never read P&P, I won't spoil anything by making comparisons but let me assure you that as you read Austen you'll be nodding your head over and over again at the similarities with your own experience.

    Happy Valentine's Day!


    1. Tim, Now I'm even more excited about starting P&P!

      BTW, I really enjoyed the post you put up today in honor of your precious wife. That touched my heart. :)

      Happy Valentine's Day to you too, friend.

  6. "Suddenly my face felt hot."

    (Looks like somebody was turning crimson!)

    With stories like these, you should be writing your own classics.

    1. HA! You caught that! :)

      Ruth, your compliment makes me smile(and blush).

  7. I am ready for part 2 of this story. Since all of my memories of your husband are of a little boy this story is a well-looked forward to one for me.

    1. Oh, you will enjoy P&P, I am still trudging through TPOAL.

    2. Awww...I should have Part Two up in a few days!

      TPOAL gets more interesting toward the end. I sort of liked it.

    3. I am getting to like it but so tired these days that I am only getting about a chapter a night

  8. I LOVED reading your story!! :-) Oh, you had me laughing out loud a few times. :-) Isn't it amazing how, in spite of our fears and insecurities and pride and general kookiness, we STILL managed to get together with our kindred spirit men? :-) What lucky women we are. :-)

    1. Indeed, it IS amazing. In my case I view it as an all out miracle! ♥

  9. Oh my, I just loved this! : ) Can't wait for part 2! (I'm glad I know it's going to have a happy ending!) And it is beautifully written!!

    I'm afraid TPOAL defeated me. I will finish it some day, but not now. Can't believe I made it through Crime & Punishment but can't finish this one --but a lot of it has to do with having a ton of things going on with my family and a job, and when I did have a bit of free time, I couldn't get myself to read it. I was thinking of just waiting for Huck Finn, but maybe I'll give P & P a go - I read it about ten years ago but would like to read it again.

    1. Thank you, sweet Sandy!

      You were NOT defeated by TPOAL! Sometimes we MUST set a book aside! Please don't feel guilty about that. You are busy doing good things for your entire family! This journey is meant to enrich us -- NOT make us feel bad about ourselves! The are plenty more good fish -- I mean BOOKS -- in the sea!

      And honestly, I understand if you want to read Huck with the the other WEM ladies. If you choose to do so, you will receive my full blessing!

      Love to you dear! ♥

  10. So funny to me that he had you write him a letter. Hysterical. And you are right, I am sooooo wondering how this story is goig to end!

    "Don't pity me, Daddy. It's not meant to be. I'm fine."


    1. I can laugh about it now, but I was quite incensed at the time! And when he didn't respond right away! (grrrrrrr) :D


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