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Doogie, Dating and Dichotomy

I had a crush on Doogie Howser once.

Hey, hey, easy on the laughter. The kid was a veritable fount of miracles. That hair? Miracle. Being a 16-year-old doctor? Miracle. Maintaining a friendship with Vinnie Delpino? Miracle.

Despite all these things, I think Doogie mostly worked his way into my pre-pre-pre adolescent heart by sitting down to the warm glow of his computer nightly and purging all his thoughts into his diary. That’s when he had me.

See, being a doctor at age 16 – while undoubtedly impressive – didn’t necessarily cause my heart to swoon. It was the combination of that and his voracious desire to spill everything out onto his waiting computer that caught my attention.

He single-handedly inspired me to start my own computer-kept journal. I sat down to the warm glow of my Tandy computer (remember Tandy computers?) every night – for that whole week. All right, so the computer journal fascination didn’t last – but the people inspiration did.

Doogie Howser single-handedly inspired my lifelong fascination with the complexities and intricacies of people.

It’s the inspiration in watching my brother-in-law’s truck-driving, oil-stained hands artfully strum his guitar. It’s the inspiration in hearing my bass-playing rock star of a best friend effortlessly identify the birds flying overhead. It’s the inspiration in seeing my freshman Spanish 2 teacher toss around a Frisbee with us after class.

It’s this built-in desire to be a myriad, a flux, a walking contradiction. It’s the need to feel and experience and see and taste the best and most of two very opposite worlds. It’s that desire and the inherent admiration for people who walk a carefully drawn line – balancing with their arms spread joyfully wide in the knowledge that their mix of worlds brings them one leap closer to their creator.

Doogie Howser brought it to the light, but the truth of the matter is God’s the reason my fascination is in existence at all. I feel that eternal tug, I feel that contradicting need because there is a hole in me that only a lover, a fighter, a poet, a scientist, a dreamer, a realist could fill.

I know that I am not alone in this fascination and determination for dichotomy in my life, thanks to countless late-night conversations. Cue the wistful (sometimes frustrated) sigh of a thoughtful friend and the words, “You know what I really want? I want someone who is…” And out comes a flood of expectations that we laugh at, because we wonder if they’ll ever be met. What we (and by we, I mean me) fail to see is that they’ve already been met by the one who put those insatiable desires in us in the first place.

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We have these thoughts, these conversations on a near-daily basis because its what pervades us, what chases us around. On our bad days, we also throw up our hands, collapse on our futons and sigh, “I don’t know what I want,” because what we want is this complex, contradicting mixture of attributes that can’t really be found until we learn where to look first.

Last summer, I found myself butting heads with this brick wall of expectations. I was weary and frustrated, questioning my relationship at the time and wondering whether anyone truly saw me for who I was – or even wanted to. There I was, coming back to God with empty hands, pouting and stamping my feet like a spoiled child whose new toy didn’t fulfill her the way it should.

It was then that God showed me that I can’t figure out what I want until I figure out where those desires come from; I can’t figure out where they come from until I know who instilled those longings in me. And that’s the point – someone already knows me, already sees me, already understands my crazy mix of desires because He created them Himself. They are not crazy and impossible to Him the way they seem to me – they are necessary, beautiful and completely possible.

So, I’m learning to seek out God, not Doogie, for my dichotomies. And in this lifelong education, I figure we’re all unearthing relationship clues together – married, single, in-between, whatever. I know that we overflow daily with newfound wisdom, thoughtful observations and inevitable awkward moments. Send me everything – the clever how-to guides, the gut-wrenching confessionals and the hilarious antidotes. After all, we might as well laugh and learn together.

And all this from one world-weary, curly-headed 16-year-old doctor.

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