Maria and Marie


When I was a girl, my Mom and I watched The Sound of Music every Christmas. That movie was my first exposure to romantic love. My ideas (and ideals) of love were formed based on the romance between Maria and the Captain portrayed by Hollywood with quintessential drama and flair.

I related to Maria because she had the dual energies of sweetness and boldness characteristic of a girl. She was delightful and brave just like I was. She shined.

Their love was just as sweet: demure gestures, blushing cheeks, covert dancing, fanciful passion.

After my first few experiences of “love,” I quickly learned that my dream of this kind of love, this depth and wholeness of love, would never come true for me. In my teens and early 20s, there were just no guys like the Captain, no gentlemen. They were all lazy, misguided, and untrained in manners.

Once, in Montana, a boyfriend “let” me sleep in the back of a moldy pickup truck. I woke up with one of the worst Asthma attacks of my life. (If a guy did that to one of my friends, I’d go kick him.) After that, there was worse, including being locked in a room in a domestic violence situation.

Where was my true love? Where was the one who would treat me like a queen? I tell my teenaged son: “Both people are equal in a relationship, but the woman is a little more special.” He then proceeds to rightly tell me how unfair and outdated that is. It does seem unfair, but I can’t shake the idea. It works for me.

I had long given up on finding my truest of true loves. Until I met him (again). I knew him 30 years ago when, for three years, I participated in the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. What a life-changing experience! Just ask any Blue Knight and they will say the same thing, especially if they marched in 1990 when the Corps song ‘I Go On’ was born. A beautiful show and a heart-breaking 13th place that left us out of DCI Finals by 3.20 points. Together, 120 of us overcame struggles—individually and collectively—as we created Beauty itself. It was out of this shared experience that we reunited 30 years later.

I remember Steve Van Ausdall from way back then. The cute horn player with a tuft of sun-bleached hair that fell down over his eyes. The tanned, handsome young man with the regal-sounding last name whose laughter and congenial demeanor were contagious.

Fast-forward three decades and, in nine days, I will marry him! He is everything I’d dreamed of when I was a girl— even more! Even better than the Captain! Steve is the man who treats me like I am the most special person in the world. And the best thing? It’s genuine! It’s not a courtship act. (Although he may be, in part, trying to make up for the shortcomings of his gender, which is noble.) Steve is kind, thoughtful, funny, and smart. He actually gets joy from helping me!! He is a true gentleman and now he is my partner in life.

How lucky I am to have found him again. Good job, Facebook! You helped facilitate a beautiful thing!

I had lost hold of my childhood dream of a pure, radiant love grounded in kindness and respect. I’d given up believing that Maria and Marie would both find their true loves. But now my dream has become a reality and it is even better than the movies.

While I can’t carry a tune to save my life, my heart is singing and my spirit is dancing, like I danced across the field with him some 30 years ago.