Back to Kansas
I Mean Missouri (Sames)
So my journey was complete. I ventured to the Big Apple to see a show I’d been waiting to see since age 14 and saw it! But I did not want to return to Missouri. And look, I know I had SO much to look forward to back in Missouri such as my hot Catholic boyfriend, a McDonalds without homeless people, and a Bible study leader with a full 5 week lesson plan (complete with a stellar acronym. Bible study leaders in the Midwest are really great at acronyms. They’re like way less cool kindergarten teachers) on why dating a Catholic will send me to marital hell. Because, ya know, I was beginning a relationship with someone whom I’m “unequally yoked.” Not yolked. Yes, that verse is not about eggs. Unless we’re talking about my eggs and how very religiously confused they’ll be one day if I continue in this relationship. But I just, didn’t want to go back.
So I was back in good ole Missouri. For another three years. Minimum. That’s if I didn’t marry Catholic who was preparing for Medical school. Which would be another four years of school, probably in Missouri, and then residency, which could be anywhere. Then I move to NYC? By then I’ll be fucking 30. And look, there’s nothing wrong with being 30. Unless your “type” is Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, or Logainne in Spelling Bee aka elementary school children. Then you have an issue. So here’s where Mattie Jo begins to learn about a little thing called the bitch of living.
So I have a boyfriend. A really great, wholesome boyfriend whom I’m pretty sure looks KILLER shirtless because sometimes I swear I can see the ridges of his abs through his very thick, long-sleeved Catholic Campus Ministries shirts. But of course this is only still a fantasy because we haven’t gotten that far. And wouldn’t for like another ten years. Basically. Okay I think it was four months. (Four months too long and I WAS RIGHT. I’m telling you. The super religious, quiet ones. Full of GREAT surprises). And everything is wonderful when I’m with him because of instances including but not limited to:
My journey back from New York was kind of rough. Richard and I missed our flight and had to get all the way from JFK to LGA then stay the night in LGA and catch our very early morning flight to STL. Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep. And we missed a day of class. Because Catholic already knew that lack of sleep causes me to vomit (it’s a true story. College was rough. But also very convenient for not gaining the freshman fifteen), he had my RA deliver sprite, saltines, and a sweet letter to my dorm upon arrival.
I was often too busy to get lunch, so he would surprise me with a sandwich, fruit, chips, and cookies he’d snuck out of the dining hall. Ya know, so I wouldn’t have to spend extra money on food when I’d already paid for a meal plan. Obvs. (Catholic was possibly more frugal than I. I used to go on 15 minute runs first thing in the morning in order to give me energy so I wouldn’t need to spend money on coffee. When I told Catholic this, he was ready to put a ring on it).
About two months into our relationship, we attended his fraternity formal. Since the formal was closer to my house than our college campus, he actually used this opportunity to meet my family for the first time. And take pictures in front of our fireplace. Just like prom. Face palm. Anyways we looked real cute and had a great time.
At the end of the night when everyone else was either vomming on the pavement or suck-face stumbling back to their rooms for a night of regrettable sex (but not us because we were holy, sober, celibate, boring) he pulled me aside. “It’s just…I think I love you. No! Dangit. That came out wrong. I mean, I love you. But I’m scared to say it because what if this isn’t actually love but I’ve already said I love you and then we break up?” Ha. Bro had mad game. Whatever. HE SAID I LOVE YOU. Two months in. Let me just say, this was completely antithetical to those Midwestern Christian “Don’t say I love you til you propose!” rules. I just…Christians love blue balls. Even emotional blue balls caused by not vocally expressing how you feel about your significant other. Anyways we clearly weren’t about following these rules. We were a Protestant and a Catholic TOGETHA FOEVA , after all.
He knew I had to work a lot to pay for life and since he was on a full ride and still had help from his parents, he paid for nearly everything. Once we were long-distance he paid for my gas to come see him. One year for my birthday, he knew I needed new clothes for auditions, so he took me on a shopping spree. He even paid off my car (and I would pay him each month) so I wouldn’t be building interest on a shitty car. This might have been the best gift he ever gave me.
Ohhh one of my favorite memories was when he agreed to get auctioned off at his fraternity’s fundraiser. His appeal was not shirtless dancing (although that crowd would have been pleasantly surprised), it was singing. He sang some Michael Buble song to make the whole crowd swoon. I got to listen to all the girls giggle and bid. As soon as he was bought he walked back to me and gave me a huge kiss. That was our first public kiss. I think my foot popped #PrincessDiaries.
We must have tried to watch the movie UP a million times. I mean, we really wanted to see it. But we just madeout the whole time cuz what else do two college kids do on dates? Pixar and a makeout sesh, right? (I mean quite literally my parents must be the luckiest parents in the world. Even without their supervision I stayed annoyingly innocent). I still don’t think I’ve ever watched that movie all the way through. I know there’s a bird named Kevin.
The summer after we started dating, I had to go back to Branson to work at the Marriott. Can I just take a second to say how very grateful I am for that experience. It is proof that I can literally do anything. Branson tourists AND THEIR CHILDREN. Everyday. 10 hour shifts. So many slushies. Just. I cannot think of anything worse. Oh I was also taking summer school classes online so my summer is what I like to call fucking miserable. Anyways he knew I was hating life, so he would drive five hours across Missouri to surprise me frequently enough for me to still be surprised each time.
On Valentine's Day he made a path of Dove chocolate to my room where a basket of my favorite goodies, a poem, and a bouquet of white roses sit on my bed. He also gave each of my roommates a rose. So precious.
The point is, this guy was the real deal. But what the hell? I had just fallen in love with New York City. And now I’m in love with a person too? How was I ever going to choose? And did I have to? DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE, LIFE. I WON’T DO IT!
How was it possible to feel so at home in his arms AND walking the streets of New York? Especially when I knew I would never have both. So do I end it right now? Save myself the future heartbreak? No of course not because I’m Mattie Jo and I learn by complete submersion. It’s like getting baptized (It’s not real until you get baptized). And the struggle was VERY real.
Regardless of my love for New York or our completely conflicting future ambitions, there was a greater problem…
Comments from his world (anonymous identities but use your imagination):
My career choice. It was so impractical. How was I ever going to provide for a family and didn’t I just want to be a nurse or something? Yeah. I got a D in intro to Bio so probs not. But thanks.
I was a total enigma in their world. They never said any of this but I just knew. How did this “crazy” girl win the heart of their precious, shy, structured son? My PG13 goodies in the bedroom, that’s how. Kidding. Sort of.
When asked what my favorite movie was, I responded “Oh, Mean Girls!” They laughed, paused, then asked if I had a real favorite movie. Oh boy.
Comments from my world:
My parents were chill with Catholic except that he was Catholic. My father told me over post-church Taco Bell (#Missouri) about 2 weeks into our relationship that it was a bad idea to be with someone who had such different spiritual views as I (I cannot wait to bring home a nice Jewish boy).*
It was very strange how quiet he was. How could someone have such little to say? Cowserts don’t understand that getting a word in as a non-Cowsert burns about a million calories a minute. Any smart non-Cowsert just resolves to listen. Or check out. Or both.
Certain family would trash talk Notre Dame (his alma-mater. I know so Catholic) constantly. They cheated at sports and recruited because that’s what rich private schools do. Also their significant other was Catholic at one point but soon saw the light and left those mean nuns behind.
One family gathering someone asked, “You’re really thinking you’ll marry this Catholic guy?!?!” My brother finally interjected on my behalf. “Can we all just recognize how ASININE it is that you’re giving Mattie shit for dating someone who believes in the same Jesus you do?” They shut up. And we ate some cookies. Thanks brother.
For two years we were reminded constantly what an unlikely pair we were. From family, bible study leaders, FOCUS leaders (that’s the Catholic version of a bible study leader. Because everyone knows Catholics don’t read the Bible. IM KIDDING), friends. And how the demise of our future was inevitable due to our DRASTICALLY different upbringings. In hind sight I wish I would have just told everyone to shut the fuck up and let me be in love (I would have also had sex with him. Because not being married for a few more years after graduation wouldn’t be such a big deal if we would have just done the hibbity-dibbity. Because lets be real, why else do people in the Midwest get married so young? Actually…that is some REAL Catholic guilt I would not want to deal with). It’s really hard not to let all that go to your head. When you live in an environment where everyone is preparing for marriage and post-graduation procreation, you can’t just be in love for the hell of it. You have to have a plan.
I loved him very much so I didn’t really care. I was ready to stay by his side and figure stuff out. But all of it really got to him. And eventually I ended things because he couldn’t decide if he would love me forever. He knew he loved me now, but maybe he’d want someone more Catholic and less talkative in the future (aka his mom). So I told him I had to let him go. That I couldn’t be part of his life while he decided what I “should” be. (Note to any girl ever: even if you love a dude, if they want to change you RUN DON’T WALK AWAY. And Then move to a big City and do whatever you want because you are awesome).
So we hung up (We broke up over Skype. Cool). I went to rehearsal. I cried a little, but really not that much because I was leaving for New York in three days. That’s right, New York. Comin atchya. Bitter, single, and 21. Let the terrible decisions commence.
* Let it be known that my father actually really liked Catholic because he challenged me to figure out why I believe what I believe(d). Why don’t I believe in purgatory? Why do I think contraception is okay (for so many reasons)? What the hell are the Maccabbees? No, Mark Cowsert is not anti-Catholic in any way.