to loving day.

Forty-eight years ago the highest court in the land struck down the ban in sixteen remaining states against interracial marriages.

Forty-eight years ago nine justices established a precedent for future generations, an acknowledgment that all are created equal and should be able to love equally. 

Forty-eight years ago the American public was given eyes to see all persons as the Creator sees them: loved and lovable, for every skin color under the rainbow.

Forty-eight years ago, the court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia made it okay for me to marry my husband.

Because I can’t imagine a life without this – without him – in it…

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Just as I can’t imagine life without the boy who won’t let me dress him anymore…

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Or without the one who recently discovered the joys of the sandbox:

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I can’t imagine a life without nightly dance parties, and I can’t imagine not knowing the simple goodness of fried chicken and grits, salmon and asparagus. I can’t imagine a partner who believes in me and cheers me on and encourages me to pursue my dreams like he does, just as I can’t imagine a person more better suited to me. 

I can’t imagine a world without his quirks and mannerisms: without the eye mask he wears to bed, without the stacks of papers he saves, without the research he does before purchasing anything. I can’t imagine my days without the one whose antics drive me up the wall, but whose willingness to fight for our relationship, for us, takes my breath away.  

I can’t imagine life without him.

For me – and for every one of you who find yourself in relationship with the one your heart can’t help but love – it’s not about the color of his skin. Sure, when I look at my husband, I see his chocolate brown outside, that perfect hue of brown that makes me melt. I may call him the HBH (Hot Black Husband) on the blog, but all of that is just surface.  It’s all just icing on the cake.  Because when I look at him this is what I see:

Father. Husband. Friend.

One who accepts people for who they are better than I’ll ever do.

Deep belly laugher at Real Husbands of Hollywood and The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt alike.

A man who is committed to being the best version of himself.

A learner, a studier, a worshipper of God.

My love.

And maybe, forty-eight years ago when the decision was reached, it came from hearing stories of Life Together, of another normal, everyday relationship between two people who love each other and every day, over and over again, choose each other.  

Maybe it came from realizing that it’s not the outside, but the inside that counts.

And to that and with that, we say cheers. 

To Loving Day!

Are you in an interracial relationship?  Tell me YOUR story!  Also, head on over to A Life With Subtitles, to read more stories of cross-cultural relationships (and to learn about how the HBH and I met!)

why the getaway matters.

Around 2:03 in the afternoon on Friday, I whisked the HBH (Hot Black Husband) off to a not-so-secret location of a baby-moon weekend.  See, we used to be really, really good about overnights and weekends away, driving to Monterey and Carmel, Nevada City and Marin County.  And then we had a kid.  So my husband would get away for a weekend, holing up with the boys or at a spiritual retreat, or I’d get away to write or speak or lead music somewhere.  We’d get minor breaks in and of themselves, but never “just because” anymore, always with either Mama or Dada doing time with Cancan.

But that’s no way to live.  

No kid should ever be on the receiving end of “doing time,” just as no parent should ever come to the place of feeling like parenting is just another form of glorified, unpaid babysitting.  And just as soon as that happens, it’s time to get away.  It’s time for Mama and Dada both to jump on the Life Before Kids bandwagon, and remember who they are individually and together, apart from beloved kin.

So when the Cousins offered to take us up on it, I did not turn to the left or right.  I did not look behind me or before me, but I jumped on le Internet and booked a room within 2.5 seconds.  And then I mumbled a prayer somewhere along the lines of, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, and pretty pretty please, don’t let Han and Kait change their minds!”  I mean, really, although the prayer contained an air of graciousness and included the name of the One Who Can Really Get Things Done, it was more so a plea that things go my way, forever and ever, amen.

And then it happened: the weekend arrived, and the HBH’s work schedule got project-crazy, and it wasn’t until the 11th hour whether we knew if we’d actually make it to Mendocino.  But we did.  And even if he had to work a bit here and there, we still took in the view, directly outside our bedroom window:

View of the Albion River, alongside the Pacific Ocean.
View of the Albion River, alongside the Pacific Ocean.

We read books (Fangirl, Lit and Soil and Sacrament for me, Unbroken for him), and – miracle of miracle – we showered daily.  We ate well and we explored nearby towns, we breathed in Beauty, and the HBH took no less than a thousand snapshots, I’m sure.  We talked about things other than the Kid, and we conversed about the Kid …because funny thing is, absence does make the heart grow fonder.  So we soaked up texted pictures of our baby, and we laughed wholeheartedly at updates, like this:

This morning I heard “talking,” so I went to get him out of the crib and as soon as I walked in he threw his blanket over him and laid dead still, trying not to giggle.  I said, “Oh no, Cancan’s gone!” and he went “Oh NOOOO” and ripped the blanket off. 

And we said YES.  This is good and this is necessary, because we are, well, we – and we must not forget who we are and why we said yes in the first place.  So friends, think about it.  Think about leaving your baby – whether your baby is actually a miniature human or a saved document on your computer, man’s best friend or that project you’ve worked on every weekend – for just 48 hours, in order to remember who you really are, to get back to the heart of whatever the “we” actually is.

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xo, c.  

What about you?  Have you gotten time away from your “baby” to remember the essence of you, the salvation of true love?  Share a story!

 

you know, those kind of people.

Photo courtesy of the HBH.
Photo courtesy of the HBH.

The table was simple on Sunday night: P-dub’s chicken pot pie rested in the center, and a colorful, California-filled salad awaited consumption. Keith and I sat on one side of the table, Marie and the HBH (Hot Black Husband) on the other, with Cancan the crowning glory at the far end of the table.  We clinked our glasses of wine and sparkling mineral water, and eyes open, we each breathed a prayer of thankfulness.

And then, as always seems to happen, things got real, fast.

We talked about traveling and work, writing and babies.  We entertained Boy Toddler and we gulped down the savory pie, marveling at the accidentally-purchased gluten-free crust that made all of us wonder if we should more regularly tack the letters “G” and “F” onto our eating habits.

And maybe they’re just those kind of people – you know, the type everyone wants to be around, who make the act of being easy.  They laugh at all the right times, and they really, truly want to know about your life; and you think, you hope that it’s mutual because this is the way friendship and marriage and relationships are supposed to be.  

Photo courtesy of the HBH.
Photo courtesy of the HBH.

But maybe the thing you like and appreciate best about their partnership is that they’re real.  They don’t pretend like they have it all together, and somehow, someway, they encourage you to do the same, leaning day by day into that lovely, messy thing called Life.  Because you look at their marriage, and even though you sometimes feel like the old woman who lived with her plethora-of-shoes, you think to yourself, I want what they have.  I want their raw, real authenticity.  I want the way they are with each other and for each other, but each as solid, perfectly imperfect human beings.  

And then, because they’re just those kind of people, they’re also mildly brilliant.  So after a Round Robin discussion circling the Ukraine, the Oscars and picturesque views of Paris in the holiday season, all seemingly in one breath, they read their favorite poem to you.  

And you melt.  

Because it’s perfect.  

Because in a flowery, shimmery, holy sort of way, you are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine.  But there’s a whole lot of things you are not, that he, your other is.  And for that you are so very, very thankful that you didn’t marry your copy cat of a man, the one you originally thought you’d be perfect alongside.  But instead you said “yes” to the shooting star, and to the blind woman’s tea cup – and really, you wouldn’t have it any other way.  

— 

“Litany” by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.

But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

Amen.  

What about you?  Who are those GEM-filled people in your life?  And regarding the poem, what does it say to you?  

a marriage myth dispelled.

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Yesterday author and blogger Rachel Held Evans ran a thought-provoking and (as per her usual) at-times amusing article entitled, “10 Marriage Reality Checks (from 10 Years of Marriage.”  In it, she briefly examines ten myths of marriage, with its accompanying reality counterpart – and I’ll let you read the rest of the piece on your own, but as RHE always does so well, she invites her readers to be a part of the discussion.  What are some marriage myths and reality checks you’ve learned along the way, she asks.

My response was immediate, for its myth poured over and into and onto me for years before its actual ceremonial day:

Myth: Marriage makes you a better person.

Reality: Being stripped down to the core of who you are as a person, relationally (no matter what or who the relationship), makes you a better person.

For years I held to the belief that with marriage would come a more complete version of me, Cara 2.0, Cara Perfected, Cara Fully Redeemed.  With future mate in mind, I looked forward to that day when those broken, ugly parts of me would be stomped out and overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and power of love.  It was as if we stood as two negative numbers – and by pure mathematical strength alone, with negative times negative, our less-than-perfect selves would somehow magically equal a positive.

And when I’d find myself needing and desiring a man’s fulfillment (and a husband’s specifically), I’d scoff at my own silliness and I’d stomp out mere musings of the very thought, mumbling that week’s version of I am woman, hear me roar!  I’d look at friends who were married, and I’d see imperfections here and there (and everywhere), and I’d realize that they were far from having all their shit together.  But then that evil game of Compare & Contrast would cyclically wind its way into my mind again, and I’d see the house they owned (vs. she who could barely make rent), and I’d see that they never had to worry about their Saturday night plans (vs. she whose social life and identity depended on it).  And I’d think to myself, It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter… 

But like that annoying, pesky fly trapped on the windowsill, I couldn’t swat the thought away: I wanted marriage because I wanted to be a better person.  Because truthfully, that’s what I’d been told.  By the time I finally got to a “marrying age,” the message was stagnantly, repeatedly the same:

“I knew he was the one for me when I realized that he made me want to be a better person.”  

“There’s just something about marriage, for you’re stronger together than you would be apart.”  

“Just wait, Cara – marriage is just around the corner, and you’ll find that just by him being him, and you being you, it’s good.  It’s better.  It’s the best.”  

And while each of these sentiments stated as truth, innocently and purely enough at one time or another, there is an absolute untruth communicated to our single friends in particular when such words are said.  Whether someone has chosen singleness as a way of life, or yearns for a life partner, whether recently divorced or widowed or found loveless in the confines of a relationship, marriage in and of itself doesn’t make you a better or stronger person, just as the ceremonial donning of an Mrs. Degree doesn’t suddenly elicit the best life has to offer.

But it’s in the reality of being stripped down to the core of who you are as a person, its fullness found in relationships, that you are made a better person.

This happens at 3 in the morning, when Baby wakes up for the third time that night, and you find yourself frustrated – so utterly frustrated and tired and exhausted – that he won’t go back to sleep, that he just wants to play, that he screams every time you put him down.  But truth is found in the nighttime, so how then will you respond to his needs?  

And this choice of response, because of this profound relationship, somehow, makes you a better person.

This happens with that friend whom you’ve called Friend for years, when over a salt-rimmed margarita and chips you have a hard, but good conversation.  You love each other so much that she’s willing to call you on your crap – she’s scared and she trembles, but she’s willing to say the hard thing, because this is what Love Does.

And this hard conversation, through true friendship, makes you a better person.  

This happens when you’re sitting on the creaky wooden pew, two rows from the back, just close enough to the edge to slip out quickly after Communion.  You’re singing “Holy, Holy, Holy,” when suddenly a gulp wells in your throat and you can’t sing anymore because you realize you’re engulfed in something bigger than yourself.  This Love envelops you.

And this Love (from which love began) stills and transforms and makes you a better person. 

And, truth be told, this does happen most significantly day in and day out in the relationship with my husband.  Because he knows me – he knows the good and the bad and the ugly of me – and he somehow chooses to love me just the same.  He chooses to love me when anger and sadness and hurt overwhelm my heart, when the roots of those core emotions cause me lash out at him like an animal scratching at the corner of my own confining cage.

And it is in the day-in, day-out, beautiful, messy grind of this relationship that I am made a better person.   

But it’s in the relationship, not the institution, and it’s merely part and parcel of the bigger picture of this whole idea of “betterment.”

So friends, let’s be careful with our words.  Let’s think about how we phrase our well-intentioned advice, and let’s stop romanticizing the perfected ideal of marriage.  Let’s lean into the many, varied relationships in our lives, be it our family and our friends, our community and our places of worship, and let’s let it be honest and messy and real for a change.

Let’s do this.

What about you?  What beliefs about marriage have you clung to, whether myth or reality?    And who (or what) has made you a better person?