Hole in My Heart
By Jane Thornton –
Excited pleasure bubbled and frothed over the brim of my thirteen-year-old heart as I clasped the yearbook to my flat chest. Coach Ripley, beautiful Coach Ripley, had signed the annual, commanding me to stay sweet and pretty. I was in alt. Although I barely knew the man, I could live on this one, off-hand compliment for ages.
Of course, the following year, after a few stops on boys my own age, my affections were transfixed on Mr. Mac, the drama teacher. With his horseshoe mustache and aviator shades, he was the epitome of cool. When he brought his guitar to class and crooned John Denver’s “Lady, Are You Crying?” my romantic heart bled. For Christmas that year, a family friend who was an aide at my school obtained a four by five copy of Mr. Mac’s picture. I would stare at the photo, listen to my new Denver LP, and dream blissful dreams of a man who would cherish me.
That same year, Coach Thompson paced the aisles of my algebra class, then stopped with his speculative gaze pinned on the back of my raised textbook. He interrupted my studious pose with a raised brow and sardonic tone. “Jane Hines, what are you doing?” I blushed as I revealed the Harlequin romance tucked securely in the tome then, resigned, crammed the novel back into my purse.
Even my older brother’s mockery did not alleviate my addiction to these fantasies. He would snatch a paperback from my hands and with great drama read the back cover blurb. “Burning gaze fixed upon the wide, innocent eyes of the ravishing vixen, the pirate stalked this appealing beauty with panther-like grace.” I’d like to claim he embellished, but I’m afraid it wasn’t usually necessary.
Through high school, college, and, beyond the fluttering anticipation continued; each outing held the potential to introduce me to him, the man who would complete me. I was not alone in my expectancy. Many a giggling conversation or serious soul-searching was shared with friends who wove their own dreams of romance.
Nowadays, I chuckle when my daughter, attending college away from home, calls to share ____ sightings. (I leave the name blank both because she deserves privacy and because the name changes fairly frequently.) She, in her turn, suffers the throes of heightened awareness while she awaits the discovery of her intended mate.
Even now, after twenty-five years married to a prince among men, I thoroughly enjoy escaping reality in the pages of a romance. I willingly endure the rolled eyes and ridicule of said prince as I revel in sagas of pirates, rakes, and, yes, even vampires. I can laugh with him at their unreality, but I still get a kick out of them.
Even amidst my adolescent ferment, I usually saw through the idealistic glitter and recognized my own naiveté. I try to remember that all the wonderful scriptures about cherishing your spouse and loving sacrificially were written to people living in arranged marriages—arranged for family or monetary reasons, not usually because the girl told her dad about the good-looking carpenter she saw.
We all need to try to be aware of the illusions the world offers. Whether through romance, adventure, money, etc., humanity cannot truly provide fulfillment. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation” Psalm 62:5-6a (NIV).