When did I first understand the true meaning of love?
For me, I would have to say I understood the true meaning of love St. Patrick’s Day 2006. My friend, Dave, had made the trek from Ireland to Dallas to celebrate Paddy’s Day with my friends and me. Dave and I had met online a few months earlier via an Internet dating site. At the time, we did not know that either dating site matched people from other countries. After a few brief e-mail conversations and a phone conversation, we learned that we had much in common and continued our correspondence.
We had been e-mailing, skyping, and talking on the phone since January. St. Patrick’s Day was coming up and I had mentioned to Dave that Paddy’s Day was a big event in Dallas, much to his surprise, and encouraged him to fly over and see for himself. And, much to my surprise, he did!
He arrived March 11 at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport. As I waited in the baggage claim area, I started to get nervous and anxious and thought about how surreal this whole moment felt. Never before had I met a guy from another country who then flew to the United States to meet me. Not to mention the fact that we met on an Internet dating site! Of course, it wasn’t like we were total strangers. We had been talking everyday for the last two months. I had even met several of his family members via Skype (gotta love free international web cam calls) and his roommate, Martin.
When Dave finally made it to the baggage claim area, I remember thinking how tall he was – 6’5”, to be exact – and how much more handsome he was in person. How could I have ever thought Irish people were short with red hair? I was the one that looked like a smurf standing next to Dave! We hugged and laughed and Dave told me all about his long journey to Dallas as we loaded his luggage into my car and drove to my house.
It was a magical week. We had a great time exploring the city together. I viewed my role as tour guide for my international guest as a challenge and set out to take Dave to the coolest restaurants, night spots, and attractions the Dallas/Ft. Worth area had to offer. Believe it or not, one of the sites Dave was most fascinated with was the grocery superstore I took him to one day on our way home from an outing at the zoo. I needed to pick up a few items and Dave gladly went with me.
For Dave, the grocery store was like a mega maze of produce, meats, and myriad other items in quantities Dave had only ever before seen in movies. I had asked Dave to get some items from the produce department while I was on another aisle and did not even realize until we got to the check-out line that he had not put the produce in plastic bags readily available specifically for those items. When I saw the produce freely rolling on the check-out conveyor line, I asked Dave why he didn’t put the items in plastic bags. “I thought you had to pay for them,” he said. “We don’t get free plastic bags at the grocery stores in Ireland.” At the time, it was a foreign concept to me and only now do I fully appreciate the concept behind his statement.
The week was flying by and, before we knew it, St. Patrick’s Day had arrived. Our plan was to meet my friends at the Trinity Pub in Mockingbird Station. Known for its authentic Irish décor, great food and large selection of adult beverages, the Trinity was a regular gathering place for my friends and me. I was not surprised that Dave loved the place. He said he felt right at home. He also was amazed at how packed the pub was at 2:30 in the afternoon and I think it was only then that he realized that, yes, Texans do love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!
As the afternoon progressed into the evening, we were enjoying celebrating and socializing with friends as well as making new friends. As a matter of fact, we ended up in an argument after one of our new “friends” got a little too interested in Dave – at least, a little too close for my liking.
To make a long story short, we ended up leaving the pub and spent the next two hours walking up and down the sidewalks at Mockingbird Station arguing with each other. It turned out that we both were scared of the intense feelings we were having for each other. Dave, especially, was grappling with the fact that he was falling in love and the ramifications of what that meant for his future.
As we walked and talked, we were able to calm down and seriously examine and discuss the feelings we were having. And then, he said it. “I love you so much that I would give up everything I have ever known to be with you. I would quit my job, leave my home, leave my country, move here and get a job sweeping floors if I had to so that I could be with you.”
And he did. One year and four months after he made that statement – along with a ton of bureaucratic red tape – we were married. And now, more than five years later, Dave continues to show me the true meaning of love. His is unconditional and selfless and honest. He loves me and all my faults. He lets me be me and doesn’t judge me or criticize me. He tells me to do whatever makes me happy. And he has no idea how much his love has taught me. Because of Dave, I have learned what love is and what love isn’t. It seems like it should be pretty simple to distinguish, but it wasn’t for me until I understood the true meaning of love. Dave gave up his entire world and moved 3,500 miles to a foreign land because of love.
We are about to celebrate our five-year anniversary and Dave continues to teach me the true meaning of love without even knowing it. And that is the beauty of his love.