Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2013 Wailing, Dancing, Love

"You turned my wailing into dancing;...
Lord my God, I will praise you forever." Ps 30: 11-12

What a year 2013 turned out to be! It certainly shook my foundation at the start. I was betrayed and rejected in my deepest relationship. But throughout the year incredible joy came my way. I got closer to God. My friends and family loved on me. I met new groups of wonderful people and had amazing adventures. It was actually a great year!

My top experiences from 2013:

Cambria trip with my church Neighborhood group in February
Paris vacation with my Mom in May
Reno bus trip with line-dancers in October
My brother’s 4-day visit in November
Christmas party with line-dance group in December

The year started with my wife telling me she didn’t want to be married anymore. She didn’t miss me while I was away (for a week). She loved every minute without me. Actually, she never wanted to get married in the first place. (So why did she?) She just got caught up in the whole marriage thing. For the last 12 years she was just deceiving both of us. 

I never saw it coming. OK, a few days earlier something didn’t seem right. I sent her a note reminding her I would do anything, change anything, try anything. I was committed to her and our marriage. Her response? “Oh good, you’re just as unhappy and want out too.” (What?)

The next few weeks I woke up sick to my stomach. Every day. I really wanted to just drink until I was buzzed enough to drown the pain and shock. OK, that’s a bad idea and I knew it. Instead I went running. Physical activity got rid of the shakes. Cool air and the beauty of the river calmed my mind. Giving God an earful reminded me of His love. And yeah, I sobbed, bawled, and wailed - especially looking through 15 years of photos.

My only community in California was my wife and her family and friends. That was all gone. I had to build new community, and fast. Enter meetup.com. It’s a database of social groups. I jumped in and attended a running group, a French language group, and a board-game group (the latter meets at the Yahoo! cafeteria, which I think is cool. Nerdy, but cool.). I saw new-release movies with a movie-goer group and spoke Spanish with a Spanish-speaker group. I sampled delicious restaurants and hiked beautiful trails with a foodies and hikers group.

My family and friends in Texas were a huge support. I flew to Texas a lot. I took my buddy’s kids to try sushi for the first time. The 10 year-old boy and I explored a cave in Cedar Park. I joined in his birthday celebration: an all-nighter of movies, video games, pizza, and root beer. (OK, I crashed out at 2.) We went for runs and we walked the dogs and we talked about how school was going and what they wanted to do when they grow up.

My Austin friends encouraged me to find a church community. I visited Garden City Church and was amazed right away. I had three friends before the service started. A few days later I was in a neighborhood group. Soon I was on that retreat to Cambria. I helped people move. I helped a church buddy reach his goal of trying standup comedy on stage. Within six months, I was a member, I was baptized, and I was serving on the sound set-up team and the greeting team. I belonged.

My church group constantly encouraged me as I worked through my emotions and had a few meetings with Marianne. The most powerful advice they gave me was around forgiveness. “Christians are the most forgiven people, so we can be the most forgiving.” 

Divorce wasn’t the only change. Besides that there was:
Moving to Mountain View
Finding a new church home 
Trying new social groups 
Buying a car
Getting a new team at work and a new organization to support
Getting a new manager and a new VP

The other group of wonderful people God led me to are the local “dancemonsters.” Remember meetup? There was a listing for a Monday Night line dancing group that meets at a Mexican restaurant in downtown San Jose. I hesitated. Who goes out on Monday Night? Is downtown San Jose safe? How do you dance at a restaurant? (Fun folks in their 20s through 60s. Yes. They have a dance floor, duh.) It took eHarmony to convince me to go.

Wait, what? Yeah, I joined eHarmony. Don’t judge. It’s the internet age. After a week of it I realized…I had to meet more people in person. On-line dating is like on-line job searches. You read through a lot of job/relationship postings. You write a resume/profile. You fill out applications/questionnaires. Then you wait to be contacted for an interview/date. I never got a good job online, why would dating be any different? So I committed to go to the next line dancing night. On a Monday. At a Mexican restaurant. Best. Decision. Ever. 

I had no idea I was walking into such an amazing group of friendly people. Or that they were going to welcome me in so warmly. After the lesson they kept encouraging me to get on the dance floor and try the other line dances (the easy ones, anyway).  That led to a Reno dancing trip and Friday nights at the Saddle Rack country dance club. (And some Saturday nights.)

2013 is done. I’m single again after 15 years. That sucks. I miss sharing experiences with someone special. But I’m thankful for God’s blessings. I love my friends from dancing, church, work and Austin. Thank you for everything you did for me this year! 

(I'm excited about 2014. I’m taking vacations to Argentina and France and I’m working on Spanish and West Coast Swing.)