Free to love (freely)

About oh .. 51 days ago, my best friend and love of my life asked me to marry him. (In classic Gallo weirdness, I said “si!” instead of yes.) It was the best of contexts – at the top of a mountain after a glorious hike. His proposal was the perfect mix of silliness and deep sincerity, and it was the easiest answer C Gallo has ever given.

Actual pic of the event. I was so amazed when a little cartoon heart popped out of the ring box!!

The type of happiness that filled me was a unique sort. The other most significant event in my life where I felt incredibly happy was right after my dissertation defense, but that was the happiness that comes from a heavy, ever-present burden being suddenly lifted. Being engaged might be a tiny bit about the removal of the “burden” of singleness (although I actually enjoyed being single for most of my life), but it’s much more about the addition of something awesome and literally life changing. Sure, we dated for 2+ years, so you might think that a “long-term” dating relationship is similar to being engaged. It is absolutely not.

Pretty much all my other dating relationships that lasted any length of time required vigilance to suppress my exuberant heart and wild expectations. I always had this stern voice in the back of my head telling me to pull back, curb my expectations, and keep enough mental and emotional distance so that I wouldn’t be completely distraught when the inevitable end came. Even if that inevitable end was initiated by me, it still sucked.

A stoic I am not.

But being engaged! It is no longer weird or creepy to think about the future. It isn’t even weird and creepy to talk about the future with the very man I want in it! It’s even.. recommended?! I don’t have to worry that I love him too much or want to be around him too much. For the first time, the depth of my feelings and inner commitment are not an inverse measure of how miserable I will be down the road, but a measure of how happy I will be down the road. Craziness!

Granted, at some point while dating my fiance I said to myself “Girl, if this ends you are going to be a total mess for a loooong time. But whatevs. He — and this zany, amazing, heart lifting relationship we have built — is truly worth it.” So even though* I was pretty terrible at tempering the wild romantic within me as I dated my forever Galloboo, there is still a difference that now there’s nothing remotely foolish about it. And that is incredibly joyful.

This may seem a rather awkward transition, but I can’t help but connect this whole experience to my faith. Being engaged hasn’t made me forget other men I dated or even how I felt about them at the time. Now, the sadness or angst I felt during/after those relationships is no longer tragic but kind of .. humorous? I look back at myself sobbing over some idiot and I want to tenderly pat my shoulder and say “girl, you have no idea. Keep it moving.” I wonder if this is what is meant by “there will be no tears in heaven.” That statement has been speculated to mean we won’t have memories of anything that happened on earth, because there’s no way we could remember all the sadness and angst of our lives and not cry. I disagree. I modestly propose that perhaps we actually will remember – everything. But, in the face of our one, complete true Love the contrast with our former sadsies and angsties will not subtract, but add to our joy.

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*or because of? Hmmm…!

The death of a dream

WARNING: If you can’t tell by the title, I’m in a melodramatic mood.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m an absolute nutto about my career. I’ve known for many years that I don’t want to be a professor, but now the reality of cutting the uni apron strings is really setting in. Tying to map out my “next steps” has not been a delight. It has been more of a drudgery. It has brought out all sorts of feels – anxiety, sorrow, guilt. Eeks.

The anxiety I understand. I expected some anxiety about changing careers, especially since I spent 10 of my 30 zesty years in the same field. The sorrow and guilt, though.. they have taken me by surprise. Where did this devilish duo come from?

Well, one factor is a somewhat absurd but persistent idea of mine that I’m letting down little Gallo du ancienne- the spunky optimist who set her sights on curing Alzheimer’s disease when she was a delicate 16 years. I can imagine her being disgusted with Gallo du présent for quitting her dream. “You’re there! Why stop now?” she would demand. Similarly, I also feel like I’m letting my Grandpa and Grandma down. Grandpa had Alzheimer’s disease, and a prevention or treatment would have changed his and my grandma’s life. They would have been so excited to know that my research was in Alzheimer’s disease, and maybe a bit disappointed that I’m choosing to leave it.

On top of that, there is the jadedness (jadosity? Jadociousness?!) of academic research. Yes, I’ve completed experiments. Yes, I’ve analyzed data and wrote up manuscripts that were published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Do I think my research has significantly advanced the field of Alzheimer’s disease? Not particularly. My entire academic career was way less impactful and dynamic than I hoped it would be.

That is my summary of gloom, my friends.  I bring all of this up because I think it’s worth noting that there is actually a degree of real grief involved in burying a dream. Especially when that dream was tied to specific people that you love(d). And – it’s difficult to create a new dream (or goal, for you less romantic types) when you don’t have the advantage of boundless optimism, time,  and naive willingness to be poor for several years as you work your way from the ground up that you have when you were a youth.

Nevertheless, she perspired. Wait, that’s not right. She.. resisted.. the man! No, she insisted on having her own way!! She desisted.. the pity party?! There you go. Okay leave encouraging comments! Thanks! ❤