“Ok so how did you guys start dating?”
My curious friends and family members might be asking this question for one of two reasons. 1. They’re in complete and utter disbelief. As in, “how did you possibly start dating?” Usually I say something along the lines of “Netflix” because my romantic interests tend to include Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls or Seth Cohen from The O.C.
What can I say? A girl can dream.
Or 2. They’re asking because they want some sort of formula for success. Some sort of field guide on how to get a boyfriend. And I’m always happy to oblige seeing as I’m super qualified to give people relationship advice. I have a string of rather successful relationships on my interpersonal resume. And by successful I mean my therapist should individually call all of my ex-boyfriends, or at least send them a fruit basket, for making him so financially stable.
For the haters who doubt my ability to snatch a man, I have no response other than to blare a Taylor Swift song loudly. To those who are asking for the boyfriend field guide the answer is pretty simple.
Throw up in front of him.
That’s right. You heard me. My current boyfriend and I really started hitting it off right after I puked in front of him among other things. Really the whole ordeal was a smashing success.
It all started well enough. It was a Friday and I had just walked out of my therapist’s office fully confident that this boy and I would DTR (define the relationship) in the near future. We had been spending a lot of time together and I definitely developed feelings but was not about to say so. That’s the man’s job, right? Right! I would not take the lead like the aggressive woman that I am. No, I would be patient and pursued!
So I went home and spent the whole day cleaning the house for the night’s festivities. A margarita party that said boy would certainly be attending. So I cleaned my house, cleaned myself, sterilized my life to make sure everything was just perfect. I would gather my friends and host a fantastic evening full of margaritas and Mexican food.
But I got so caught up in impressing others that I forgot to take care of myself.
I forgot to eat lunch or dinner. Combine that with, oh I don’t know, eight margaritas or so and you’ve got quite a night ahead of you. But I didn’t realize what was happening because I was so hell bent on impressing this boy and the forty other people in the room. I’m also a firm believer that drunkenness is a choice: if you don’t choose it, it can’t come for you.
Well, it came for me just as this boy and I were alone in the car to get food at the end of the night. Naturally. I was starving and my BAC was compounding exponentially. Of course I wanted Taco Bell. Of course I wanted to be alone with him.
And then, as we pulled up to complete our order I could feel it rising up within me. It felt hot and tasted horrible and I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t stop it honestly; it rose up from the depths of my being like a fiery monster that refused to be tamed.
“This is awkward. I like you.”
NO! IDIOT! MAKE IT STOP! I word vomited the very things I swore I would not say. The words tasted like poisonous bile in the back of my throat. My cover was blown. We made brief eye contact…
…that is until I actually puked. Everywhere. We’re talking projectile vomit. I would imagine it looked like the opening scene of Pitch Perfect but my memory fails me. If anything you should definitely ask him to tell the story.
It was completely embarrassing. I was mortified, especially after coming out of a season where I was convinced that in order to be loved you had to be perfect. I thought the more contained and controlled I was the more lovable I would become. If I didn’t mess up or make mistakes then there wouldn’t be a reason to leave.
But you know what? He didn’t leave. He stayed.
Messes don’t always equal mistakes.
In fact, I as a human being am a giant mess. I’m a dumpster fire that’s how hot of a mess I am. In that moment I was more Hannah Collins than I ever have been. I’m not dainty or perfect. In fact my truest self, the self I want someone to choose and love, is a train wreck.
But people connect best when we allow them to see us as we truly are. When you strip away the filters and the masks, the hashtags and the clean countertops, I am very small and very scared. I am very messy and desperately looking for meaning.
He even texted me the next day to check on me. We kept spending time together. I continued to do a series of really dumb things, like accidentally lose his dog (more on that later.) But he didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t see the ugly parts and run away.
The Gospel says you’re a wreck, but I choose you anyways.
I think I got a glimpse of the Gospel in the midst of all my messiness. See, when Christ hung on the cross he briefly saw the wrecked shells of who we are without him. And yet it was as though he pulled himself up on those nails one breath at a time to choose us. He could’ve run away when he saw the parts that weren’t so pretty. To be honest, we ruin things quite often. We throw up and say the wrong thing because we’re scrambling to make sense of it all in our own terms. We’re rushing around crashing into everything in some failed attempts to find significance, comfort, and control.
And yet Christ can’t help but stick around while we fumble all over the place.
I think this guy likes me like the Gospel. In fact, I know he does. He showed it to me then and he continues to show it to me now. He sees the worst parts of me but isn’t scared because those places let the grace show through. Those cracks in my armor are where redemption, love and vulnerability really start to matter. I like the way he likes me because it feels timeless, sort of like a really good t-shirt you can wear even on your worst days.
It’s not flashy but it is comfortable and there’s plenty of wiggle room, plenty of grace. And you need it because you feel bloated from the Taco Bell you ate the night before. And that, to me, is the way the Gospel feels: like my favorite shirt after a bad hangover. It makes me feel my best even when I should feel my worst.