A Pilgrim’s Progress

No, not the thick allegory of Bunyan, but rather a very real journey that began July 8th of this year. July 8th found me in Dallas, attending the annual Anglican Way Institute (Anglicon), a conference held in Plano, Texas. This story begins that evening, in Mesquite, at the home of my dear friends, the Linebargers.

Wednesday, July 8th, 20 hours, 26 minutes. That’s when I found myself sitting in a borrowed Jeep Grand Cherokee, outside if the Barger’s home. I was on the horn with Robbie Mezger because 1) we agreed to drink beer that night, and 2) I certainly didn’t want to go inside the house. As it turned out, Rob was all tuckered, and wanted to reschedule for the next evening. Imagine my dismay, for I absolutely did not want to meet…

In 2006 I remember perusing Chris’s blog, reading descriptions of his recent trip to ex-Yugoslavia. Among the words on the screen were pictures. I knew all of the people in the photographs, save one.

Who was this beautiful young woman traveling with my friends? I scanned the words written in close proximity, searching for clues to her identity. “Nicole.”

Nicole…de Martimprey…aka Pilgrim? She has a blog! She has a blog, and within the blogosphere she goes by the name “Pilgrim!” (click link to “Pilgrim”).

Who is this “Pilgrim?” How is it that my friends know this woman, and I don’t? I commented on her blog, exclaiming that I too hoped to visit ex-Yugoslavia.

Shortly after this discovery, I conversed with either Chris or Rob–I don’t remember which– inconspicuously asking who this “Nicole” is. “She’s Anglican.” Got it.

Realizing that Rob couldn’t be persuaded to go get that beer, I slowly made my way to Chris and Leslie’s front door. She was in there. Nicole. That very “she” from the pictures on Chris’s blog, three years prior. I knew she was in there because I knew what time she would be arriving in Dallas. Not only was she attending Anglicon, but she and I were both staying with the Bargers. I didn’t want to be there when she arrived. I didn’t want to meet her because…

I slowly opened the door, and out of the corner of my eye, a beautiful woman in a black dress…

The beginning of the end.

I tried to b-line it to my room, but the way was blocked by other house guests. From behind me, I heard the words “hello.” I turned, and there she was, in that black dress, hand stretched out in greeting. What could I do, except “hello” back?

“ I’m Nicole. I work with Owls in Northern California. Would you like to see a video of my owls?”

“yes.”

We seemed to always be in the same place during conference events and extra curricular moments. She attributes this to the fact that I was always around people she wanted to be around, but I know better.

Nicole left that Sunday. Chris and I drove Nicole to the airport after eating lunch at a fried seafood restaurant. We exchanged contact information at the entrance to Love Field (irony?), and kept in contact thereafter.

Since then, Nicole and I both moved to Dallas from our respective homes in California and Iowa; She to pursue training in midwifery, and I to experience Christ through sacramental living by participating in a thriving Anglican parish.

Our first date was a U2 concert in October. It feels pretty great to be able to say that

We define our relationship with various terminologies. I believe the easiest to use is “dating.” I more often than not refer to her as my “Girlfriend.” This nomenclature has inherent problems within our world’s culture, but on the whole is acceptable. Basically, it’s better than “Courtship Partner,” or my hands-down favorite “Courtmate.”

So, if you don’t know her…

Some call her Rosemary. Her full name is Nicole Suzanne Sally Brenda Marie de Martimprey. She prefers to replace “Sally” with “Violet,” though that’s not quite legal. I address her as “Nicole,” but I am trying to call her “Nee-coe,” as that is the correct pronunciation.

This is a picture of us, taken by me, during a delightful afternoon at the Dallas Arboretum. Take note of the fact that she remains beautifully genuine, though my smile is painfully contrived. I feel comfortable behind the camera, and uneasy in front of it. After fifteen to twenty attempts at a good picture of us together, Nicole concluded that we should just let Leslie take it. I agree.

Nicole is from a grouping of small communities in the High Sierra Mountains of Plumas County, California.

She wears her love of God’s creation on her face. She has the most revealing blue/splash-of-yellow-eyes I have ever seen. They shine with a bedeviling brilliance when she is happy, and dim when she is troubled. She has passionate sensitivity that is often overshadowed by her immense strength. She is very intelligent and very funny.

She is nerdy and weird – like me – but in a graceful manner. She uses patchouli soap. I used to hate the smell of patchouli. Now I can’t go to the grocery store without finding the soap isle, locating her brand, and smelling.

She helps me to love people, because I get to see people through her eyes. She names everything, or rather everything “tells” her its name (her car’s name is Harold).

She loves owls, but dislikes the “Barn” and “Barred” variety because they prey on “Spotties.” She belongs in a Wes Anderson movie because she is so interesting.

She is proud of her French heritage, and ashamed of the city she was born in. Her favorite movies are “A Love Song for Bobby Long”, “So I Married an Axe Murderer”, and “Tommy Boy.” She is a free spirit that prefers high churchmanship.

She likes both her living space and her whiskey neat. She wants to replace her teeth with dentures because it would be financially practical. She has a beautiful voice and an ugly Scottish flannel shirt.

She has uncharacteristic handwriting that uncharacteristically changes with the pen she is using. It’s hard to nail her down.

She reads quickly, eats slowly, laughs heartily, sneezes loudly, and loves genuinely. She knows a couple of cheap card tricks that she is really proud of.

She loves the word “Languorous,” and hates the word “moist.” She wishes I wouldn’t have used that word in the previous sentence. Unfortunately there was no other way to make it comprehendible to the reader, so she will just have to live with it. Seriously, what was I supposed to do? M***t?

She loves Jesus more than she loves me. I love Jesus more than I love her, which empowers me to truly show her love, and truly—though imperfectly—know who she is.  She is one of the most vivid sacramental things in my life.  She is an outward and visible sign of God’s inward, spiritual grace.

So, I am crazy about this woman. I want you all to know that I am crazy about this woman— Nicole Suzanne Sally Brenda Marie de Martimprey—I am madly in love with her. Full stop.