Have A Little Faith

(published in Chocolate for a Woman’s Courage, Simon & Schuster, 2003)

I think from the moment I decided that boys had more to offer than Matchbox cars and kickball games I was eager to be in a relationship. My eagerness, resembling at times neediness, landed me in a series of shallow, empty relationships. Intuitively I knew who the perfect mate for me was, but I never seemed to listen to my intuition. Instead, each time I started a new relationship I’d devote my time to convincing myself that this was “the one.” Experience has taught me, however, that love cannot be rationalized.

This is a love story.  It’s an example of how perfectly the universe works when you step out of its way.

In the summer of 1997 I took a weekend trip to Denver for a martial arts festival. I was sitting in a park with my friends watching some senior martial arts students test to the next level. I was soaking in the all the green around me which was a nice change from the brown, thirsty landscape of Phoenix where I was currently living. Everything about my surroundings appealed to me at that moment and I thought, I could live here.  Immediately the hair on my arms and neck stiffened. I felt excited and scared. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like a really, really good idea. I had no ties in Phoenix. I’d recently ended a ten year relationship and was feeling restless in my job. Studying Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu had become a significant part of my life and if I moved to Denver I could study under the masters who taught there.

Later that day my friends and I came back to the park to drop off our instructor. I was chatting with a couple of people when a young man with a long golden pony tail wearing a black gi caught my attention. He turned around and just like in the movies everything slowed. Our eyes met and my chest tightened. The blood rushed to my head leaving me dizzy. Yes, he was handsome, but it was more than that. I knew him from some where. It was the strangest sensation because physically he didn’t look familiar to me, but there was something about his eyes.

Without taking my eyes off him I elbowed my friend next to me and asked, “Who’s that?”

“Oh, that’s John Halley,” said my friend, who then suggested I wipe the drool off my face.

“He has quite a fan club.” His tone grew serious. “From what I know of him, he’s not really a relationship kind of guy so you might be better off admiring him from a distance. Like my girlfriend is right now.”

Over the next two days I kept my eye on ol’ John Halley. The dizzy feeling didn’t leave me. I couldn’t concentrate on the material I was learning. I couldn’t hold a conversation. I couldn’t eat. I was gone. I noticed that John was keeping his eye on me too. Only I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me because I was looking at him or if he was attracted to me as well. We exchanged a few words here and there. Every time I looked into his eyes he felt so familiar. I toyed with the idea of giving him my phone number, but since that’s not really my style I decided against it. I didn’t want him to think I was another member of his fan club . . . even though I was.

At the end of the weekend John casually approached me and told me he was planning a trip out West in the fall to visit all of the Shaolin schools in our system and to surf the California coast. I told him I could show him around Phoenix if he liked. He seemed okay with that idea.

On the drive back to Phoenix my head was spinning. Not only did I fall in love with Denver, but I was seriously wondering if I’d fallen in love with this mysterious kung fu surfer guy who also happened to live in Denver. But how could I feel so strongly about someone I didn’t know? It was very confusing.
Then I remembered part of the reason why John seemed so familiar to me. About five months earlier he showed up in one of my dreams which I recorded in my dream journal. Recalling this filled me with even more excitement. This had to mean something, I thought. I felt as if my life was about to seriously change.

I thought about John a lot during the next several months wondering if he felt the same way I did about our meeting. Fall came and I found myself looking for him wondering when he was going to show up at the Phoenix kung fu school. But weeks turned into months and I was beginning to wonder if he was still going to visit our school. With each day that passed I found that I began to doubt the experience. I started telling myself that the whole thing was wishful thinking and a product of my sometimes adolescent imagination.

It was mid November when I walked into the school and saw that familiar mane of golden hair. He was standing at the front desk talking to our instructor. Thousands and thousands of militant butterflies attacked my stomach. I sat down and took my shoes off, waiting for him to turn around and see me. I think I took my shoes off and put them back on about three times before he finally turned around and saw me.

He walked over and said, “Wendy, right?”

I smiled, trying to keep my cool, and answered, “Yeah. And you’re John from Denver.”

He told me he just got into town and had been sleeping in his truck for the last two weeks while exploring surf spots along the California coast. I asked him if he had a place to stay in Phoenix and he said he didn’t. Before I knew it I invited him to stay at my house and he accepted. Every time I opened my mouth to speak another armor winged butterfly flew in. I was so nervous and excited I could hardly contain myself. Somehow I got through class without getting my teeth kicked in that day.

Afterwards, John and I went to a terrible Mexican restaurant. Sitting across from him in the booth I kept thinking to myself how strange it all was. I could not believe this guy was sitting in front of me. I was trying with all my power to act as if I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about him.
I asked him questions about surfing in an attempt to distract him and myself from how goofy I was feeling.

After a few minutes of polite conversation he said, “I might be making a fool of myself but I have to ask you something.” I stopped breathing.
“Did something pass between us in Denver?”

My heart exploded.

“You mean like a kidney stone?”  I answered.

He smiled and said that he literally felt a jolt when he saw me in Denver and that he’d never experienced anything like it before. He told me that he thought a lot about me since then and was very curious about what it all meant. I told him with great relief that I’d had the same reaction when I saw him and that I hadn’t been quite the same since.

The next two days were the most intense of my life. Being with John felt more like a reunion than a first meeting.  We spent the time finding out how oddly perfect we were for each other, both amazed with how much we had in common. It was as if John was the male version of me and I was the female version of him. The more we got to know each other the more everything in my life started making sense. It seemed like I’d been searching for my old friend John since I was born and when I looked closer I saw pieces of him in every person I ever had a relationship with. It also struck me that our meeting couldn’t have been more perfectly orchestrated. We agreed that had we met sooner we wouldn’t have been ready for each other. It was truly magical. It was perfect.

Little did I know while sitting in the grass at the Denver park that July afternoon that my life was about to significantly change. Not only did I move to Denver less than a year later, but as it turned out John is okay with being a “relationship kind of guy.” We married in September 2000.

I always put tremendous energy into making things happen before it was time. I became an expert at making my life a lot more difficult than it needed to be. The missing ingredient I discovered was faith. I now believe with every atom of my being that the moment you stop trying to make miracles happen, they find their way to you at the perfect time – no matter who you are.

© 2003 by Wendy S. Halley