I don't know if I realized it right away, but looking back I can kind of see it. The day I met my husband, Johnny, was a day I won't forget. We have a lot of these little moments in life, but we only take note of them when they turn into something unexpected. This is how it was for us. I noticed Johnny the same way I noticed any other guy I was attracted to from afar. That one small moment, like a tiny spark, can only turn into a raging fire when given the fuel.
He had a way about him. His choice of dress spoke deeply to me, as I've always drawn a lot of value from the way I dress. It is a window into someone's personality, or at least how they feel about themselves and what they want to be associated with. Johnny was dressed like a thrift shop, cabin dwelling, snowboarder; my type. The moment I saw him he had his head thrown back in laughter, exposing his beautiful, large straight teeth. My mom is a dental hygienist, so teeth are a thing I notice, although I think we all do. The crazy thing about that moment with Johnny, a moment that only I have...since he didn't notice me at this time, was that we were standing in a crowd of hundreds of college age kids at a church group.
The choices for possible mates were endless. A high percentage of the male population at this gathering were fancy in nature. I can't be with a guy that uses more products than I do, which is relatively easy to do as I use maybe 3, and those are homemade. I also can't be with a guy that has more expensive clothes than I do. I don't want to be the ragamuffin sidekick. So there Johnny stood, like a ragamuffin sore thumb in a group of heavily clad cologne wearing pretty boys. Scanning him from the ground up I noticed: plaid snow boots (cute, practical), ripped up brown corduroy pants (so cute), a striped gray and white sweater (it was winter) and a red beanie. I wish I had a photo of this moment. (Below are a few from that year)
After I saw Johnny for the first time we were all corralled into the sanctuary for an hour of singing and a sermon. I wasn't thinking about Johnny or how I might try and find him later. Like I said, we have a lot of these tiny moments where we notice someone attractive to us, I was drawn to him but I guess I didn't think about looking for him after. Well, as luck would have it, my friend Rachel, who had brought me there that night, had a group of friends she ate dinner with afterward. And you guessed it, Johnny was a part of this group. Out of the hundreds of people that were there that night I was now sitting next to him, a completely unknown person to me at the time. He turned to me, thinking I was the girl that was previously sitting next to him who had just left, and with surprise said, "you're not who I was sitting next to..." And I was like, "no, but I'm Bailey." reaching my hand out for that first skin contact.
Like I said, I don't know if I realized it right away, but looking back I can see that Johnny was different. The first thing you notice about someone, after their outward appearance, is usually their voice, how they talk. The way Johnny spoke was unexpected to me. Here he was, a ragamuffin, snowboard type guy, with a strong, methodical, confident way of speaking. I was immediately thrown off by this. Our first conversation was a nose dive into life dreams and what we saw ourselves doing in future and what we were doing right now. I had never spoken to a guy who was not only interested in what I was saying but who had a plethora of insights to add. He was different from the get-go. But I didn't know why.
Fast forward, after a few months of flirting, hanging out and getting to know one another...I rejected him. Like I said, there was something really weird and different about him that I wasn't used to. I see myself as more of a free spirit, creative to my core and highly emotional. He was incredibly sweet, but very stoic and stuck in his head. I remember watching him with curiosity after I'd share my thoughts with him. They say eyes are a window to the soul and I will forever remember watching his eyes as he thought about his responses. It's like he wasn't staring at anything but his eyes would go back and forth rapidly like he was searching the inner library of his brain for the right book with the right information to answer this question. He has always been incredibly thought FULL and thoughtful for that matter.
When I ask him, now, why he liked me so much...someone who has been somewhat insecure about their intellectual abilities, as far as school/grades are concerned, he has an interesting answer. "Every girl I've ever liked has been too agreeable for me. You are a punk, and you challenge me. I like that. I need that." He also has said that I read people's emotions better than he does. Which is true, that is a strength of mine. Meanwhile he is lost in his mind, hyper focused on information and less able to pin point emotions in people. The problem was, I was looking for someone a little more like me, not that Johnny isn't emotional, he's actually highly empathetic to the point of paralysis, which I'll speak on in later posts. But our love truly began when I realized what a beautiful and intense mind he really has. He is a part of me that I've never had. Like I said, growing up I had a really hard time in school. The only way I could memorize things was by putting them into song or story. It's how my brain works. Johnny, on the other hand, had a vastly different experience.
At the age of 3 Johnny was sitting in the back seat of his parents car while his mom drove. All of a sudden he says, "mom, how many days until my birthday?" his mom responds, "I don't know Johnny, like 3 months." Johnny responds, "how many days in a month?" she thinks, "about 30 days." He's silent for a minute. "So like 90 days until my birthday?" (the numbers may be wrong in this story but you get the point) His mom was floored. Again...he was 3 years old.
As time went on he must have continued impressing people with his intellect because by the 4th grade teachers were begging to have his IQ tested. Johnny's mom, wanting him to grow up with a sense of normalcy and the ability to relate and interact with others, was wary of testing him so young. She soon succumbed and had him tested. Her reaction to the results was an understandable, "oh shit." When recounting the story she said she immediately apologized for the outburst only to have the tester tell her that her response was valid and understandable. Johnny's IQ was in 165-179 range (see photo below). Any higher and he may have been more socially awkward. That and his mom was determined to keep him well socialized. The test showed that he had a 12th grade reading level in 4th grade, as one example.
Johnny's experience, as he tells me, was that teachers either loved him or hated him. Unfortunately for some, he was way smarter then them and could fall asleep in class only to be woken up and asked to answer a question about what they were learning. To their embarrassment he would always be able to answer correctly...even though he was asleep. Some teachers saw his gifts and wanted to help him in any way they could. Johnny said one of the teachers got a piano to put in the janitors closet specifically for him to play during recess or free time. And while he was in all the high achievement classes he never felt stimulated by school. He fell asleep often, skipped every Friday to go snowboarding and graduated months earlier than his classmates.
I met him soon after high school. He had no intention of going to college at the time and wanted to be a professional snowboarder, which seems crazy, but he is also incredible at that. If you have any doubt check out the highlight reel above. Snowboarding and Theology were the things he was most interested in at that time. Theology was where I saw his intellect truly show itself. He took the basic ideas of Christianity and studied them so intensely that he had memorized more of the Bible than anyone I knew and could argue almost any point with cross references. He was so well versed (no pun intended) that at the age of 19 he was asked to come speak at a college level theology class.
You might be asking yourself, what does Johnny do now? It's be 10 years since then. And you may also be asking, what is it like to be married to him? That's the whole point of this blog. I think it's finally time I share the intricate workings of Johnny's mind and how it's played out in our marriage. For my next post I will start with the story of our engagement and the beginning of our marriage. This is the story of the highly emotional artist (me) with the highly empathetic genius husband.