Basketball, Football & Faking Headaches: How I Got Out Of My Comfort Zone
Ross and I walked to a nearby park in my neighborhood and played basketball this evening. I didn’t grow up playing the sport the way my older and younger sister did, and I’m certainly not the person anyone would choose in a pick-up game (I’ve been told by Ross’ teammates I make for a better heckler, er, cheerleader, instead), but I do thoroughly enjoy watching basketball on TV (Go Warriors! Their championship trophy looks so sparkly on this bandwagon that I’m riding).
While watching Ross warm up with a few jumpers, I realize that he and I have reached the double-digit mark of days-away of getting married: 99 days. The closer our wedding day approaches, the more I think about the whole “becoming one” mystery on an everyday, practical level, and I realize that for me, sometimes putting Ross first means putting in the effort into doing with him what he enjoys doing (basketball), even though it's not something I would normally do on a trip to the park. But, guess what? Playing basketball with him actually turned out being fun: the banter, the laughing, the shots made (and missed, mostly by me), the mild competition, and the way I surprised him by having really good form and a beautiful follow-through with my wrist when I shoot (his words, I promise).
All this reminded me of the time I took “doing-what-you-normally-wouldn’t-do” to the next level. It was on the night Ross and I met. If you’ve read the story about that night, I left out one very hilarious and mildly embarrassing moment.
The night we met was to celebrate the birthdays of two of his friends. At this stage, I had no prior knowledge of Ross, so the invitation I received were from the Birthday boys themselves. The plan was for 12-15 people to meet at Ross’ house for a pre-celebratory viewing of the Warriors Game with some dinner and then meet 30-40 more people at a second location for appetizers and drinks. When Ross and I met, he was cooking fajitas in the kitchen for the guests, so I spent most of the time in the kitchen with him trying to figure out “the thing” I sensed about him that I was so attracted to when I first introduced myself. By the time it was time to leave the house for the second location, I quickly realized that I may not have any more opportunities to talk to Ross beyond that point. Although we hit it off immediately at the house, I didn’t know if he planned on spending most of his time at the second location with friends he needed to do some catching up with. I knew no one at this party except both birthday boys who invited me, and one other I met previously in the Flag Football League we all play in. The friend who was supposed to be there with me canceled at the last minute.
As everyone was making their way towards the door to exit, I had to think fast. So, I abruptly asked Ross if he had any Ibuprofen. If you know anything about me, I REFUSE to take ANYTHING, for ANY REASON. Why I asked for Ibuprofen, I don’t know----it was the first thing that came to mind, and all I knew was that I only had another 2-3 minutes alone with him before I probably wouldn’t ever talk to him again. And the FUNNY thing about this? I didn’t even have a headache.
Ross said he had Ibuprofen in his bedroom. So, I followed him down the hallway and stood near the entrance. I said nothing as I walked (even though my intention was to talk to him more) because all I could think to myself was, I don’t want to take this medicine! This medicine is bad for my body! I DON'T HAVE A HEADACHE! What the heck am I doing???!
Ross handed me two pills (because no self-respecting Ibuprofen-taker ever takes just one for a fake-headache that they absolutely need to make go away). I downed the pills with a glass of water I asked him for (which meant another walk to the kitchen----and more time with him to talk but saying mostly nothing), and then we headed out. At this point, I didn’t know how much of my shenanigans would pay off. Ross and I ended up carpooling with one of the birthday boys, and it was during this carpool ride that Ross and I would find out our mothers gave birth to us on the same day, of the same month, in the same year (I know I've beaten you over the head with this tidbit of information for so long now, but bear with me. It's part of the story). It was this same carpool ride that, after finding that out, rendered us both speechless on the way. I had no idea Ross read my blog 10 days prior, and I certainly didn’t know he told his friends in a text message that I was his future-wife before he even met me. But from my perspective, all I knew was that I met this man who spoke to my spirit in some sort of way, a man whose physical appearance I looked past because there was something deeper that I sensed that went far beyond that dashing smile and Ben-Affleck-good looks, and that I met this man whom I wanted to get to know more.
Ross did have some friends that he intended to catch up with that night----but let's just say he decided he'd catch up with them another time. He had more pressing matters to deal with (wouldn't you have wanted to spend time getting to know your spouse when you meet them for the first time?).
Ross would tell me later, “For you, the carpool ride (referencing our birthdays) was a revelation. But for me, it was a confirmation.” Confirmation of the cumulative prayers and lists and requests and visions he had received since decades prior.
See? All because I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something that I normally wouldn’t have done: from joining a flag football league even though I never played the sport before; from forcing myself to find new friends; from going after a job after being out of work for so long; from going to a birthday party I initially didn’t want to go to despite the fact that the only person I knew canceled at the last minute; from asking for Ibuprofen for a fake-headache; from saying yes to a man despite a previously wounded heart….to playing basketball. I wonder how all of this would have turned out between Ross and I (or if it would have turned out at all) if I had decided that my fear of getting out there and taking risks trumped the possibilities.
My point is this: it all starts somewhere. Even if you think the act is small and ridiculous.