When was I first attracted to Duane? Was our walk in the woods with Josiah discussing the upcoming school we were running? Or the hike to the cross with some friends? Was it when I bought beads at Portland’s hippie market and Duane helped put them in my dreads? Or when a kid from NYC gave me a hug and I saw how protective Duane got (thankyou!)? Or when I was sick in San Francisco, and Duane’s concern would have made you think I was dying?
In Mendocino, all our road trip friends were looking forward to going to the beach. But a couple girls decided to go shopping, some of the guys wanted to sit and read, and a couple others ran back to the van to get something. Suddenly it was just Duane and I walking along the beach, then sitting on a log and talking for hours as we watched the sun set over the ocean. It was the most romantic evening of my life, but I didn’t know if he even noticed.
When Duane had offered his hand to help me climb over a log, my independent spirit rose up. I didn’t need his help! But I accepted it anyway. Taking his hand didn’t make me feel weak or helpless, instead somehow I felt stronger, and more feminine at the same time. Just being around him made me feel more beautiful, creative, and more alive. I had recently heard of “joy” defined as “piercing longing.” That is how I now felt – painfully wonderful. I reminded myself to guard my heart (whatever that means) and take it slow, since I’d known him less than 2 months. Besides, what if he doesn’t even like me? Do I even like him? Yes, I think so.
Everything about Duane seemed so amazing. His leadership skills, experience working overseas, a heart for the people of north India and Himalayas, the fun way he interacted with children, and his love for outdoor adventures, hiking, biking, and rock climbing. He’s confident, not cocky, but secure in his identity. He has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh. While he is funny, he also knows when to be serious. He was willing and eager to hear my input on decisions about the road trip. He treated me well – opening the door, or offering a hand when climbing over logs. He wants to not only be a leader, but raise up others in leadership.
I stayed up late that night talking with God about Duane, because there was one big thing which made me hesitant about falling in love with him – Treacher Collins Syndrome.
Did I really want to date (and possibly marry) a guy with no cheek bones, a hearing aid, and prosthetic ears? How would I feel standing next to him, everywhere we went? People were already staring at my dreadlocks, did I want to give them more reasons to stare at me?
That’s when I realized Duane is who he is because of the trials and things he had to overcome, and find his identity not in his appearance, but in Christ. If I had a TCS, I would have longed to be invisible, hoping no one would notice. Being made fun of would have crushed me. But not Duane, He rose above that, confident, being loud and funny, not caring what people thought of him. It is because of his TCS that I fell in love with Duane.