Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash | Sarah Wyland
From Sarah | Life

Looking For Johnny Cash

I don’t talk a lot about my dating life on my blog or social media. As transparent as I am about a lot of my life, dating is one area I keep a boundary around. I want to respect my date’s privacy, as well as mine, and I don’t want to bring a significant other into the picture until I’m sure they’re going to be around for a while. I’m so ‘under the radar’ about it that I’m sure there are people who think I never date. 

But I’m going to talk a little about dating now. 

I went on a date a few months ago with a Bumble match. He was my first Los Angeles date, my first date in a while given the whole COVID situation and then moving across the country to boot. I’ll admit it: I wasn’t impressed upon arrival at our agreed upon locale, but I shoved my initial thoughts aside. So what if he was only a hair taller than me and dressed like a tourist at a resort? He could be a great guy. 

We sat down to lunch and the conversation was easy enough. I didn’t have those immediate butterflies and if I’m being frank, I wasn’t attracted to him. But attraction can grow, right? I was willing to give it a chance. But then, halfway through our meal, he started to ask serious questions. 

What was my five year plan? 

Did I ever see myself moving back to the east coast? 

I wanted to get married, right? 

Did I want kids? How many? 

Would I consider converting to Judaism? 

It was a lot for a first date, particularly the one about religion. I answered his questions, but I was uncomfortable. Those were deep questions and I wasn’t even halfway through my salad. I tried to ask him questions in turn – much lighter ones, like how many siblings did he have – but he was in interrogation mode and I found myself having to grab every opportunity to shove a forkful of romaine in my mouth if I wanted to finish my lunch. 

When we parted ways, I was open to seeing him again, although I wasn’t jumping through hoops to secure a second date. I just didn’t have a reason not to go out with him again. We texted a few times, talked about a second date, but things cooled off. There will be no need to revisit the conversion to Judaism topic.  

Here’s the thing about that guy. 

It wasn’t his height, wardrobe, or questioning. 

He was too perfect. 

He checked a lot of the “right” boxes. A lawyer. Family-oriented. Financially stable. Looking for a relationship. Ready for commitment. The type of guy a girl is supposed to fall for. It could have been easy to slide into a relationship with him. A boring, stable, predictable relationship. 

If you know anything about me, you know I don’t do well with boredom. I need excitement and adventure as much as I need the occasional night in. 

A lot of girls look for “Prince Charming.” That Disney-inspired charmer that will sweep them off their feet and treat them like royalty. The perfect guy with the put together life, right down to their tailored wardrobe. There’s nothing wrong with Prince Charming. I’ve looked for him too. 

But personally? 

I prefer a Johnny Cash. 

I keep a photo of Johnny & June on my vision board.

I read Cash, the Johnny Cash autobiography, about a dozen years ago. I had finally gotten around to watching Walk The Line and wanted to know more about Johnny Cash. I read it during summer days spent watching my brother, sister, and cousins splash around in our above ground inflatable pool. I remember laying on a blanket out of the splash zone and being completely taken with Cash’s story. 

Johnny Cash was born to a poor family in Arkansas. He went on to join the Air Force and become the legend you know him as. He also had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. He lied, cheated. He landed in jail for misdemeanors seven times, including one infamous arrest in El Paso after he crossed over the border into Jaurez to buy the amphetamines he was addicted to. He was caught with a large amount of pills and hauled off to jail.

Despite his many flaws, there were two things he was consistent in: he loved Jesus and June Carter. 

He met June on tour and chased after her for years. They fell in love and were married. She’s credited with helping him find his sobriety and when she died, it’s said he had nothing to live for but his music. He passed away just a few months later. I visited their graves one Easter Sunday when I lived in Nashville. It felt like the appropriate way to spend my day. 

I love that Johnny Cash was imperfect. Flawed. That he struggled with demons while he loved others and Jesus. I love how real he and June’s relationship was – full of as many hard times as good times, based in faith and love. 

And never boring. 

Of that one can be sure. 

I’ve lost my expectation of Prince Charming. I’m looking for my Johnny Cash. A guy who isn’t perfect. Who has flaws and struggles. But who loves me – and Jesus – all the same. 

We put a lot of stock on perfection. We get swept into fairytale images of relationships and potential partners. But real life isn’t a Disney movie, is it? It’s not even a rom com. It’s hard and messy and full of imperfections. Those imperfections and flaws can live right alongside love and grace. 

Cash was a “front row sinner.” He may not have been in church every Sunday, but he knew Jesus, read the Bible. He made some monumental mistakes, chose wrong a lot of the time. But he was a good man at the heart of it all. 

And that’s what I’m looking for – a good, imperfect man. 

My aforementioned date wasn’t a bad guy. For someone, he will be the perfect guy. But I knew early on that I would have a choice with him: I could settle for the easy relationship, or I could keep searching for the one that will bring me the joy I expect. One that’s full of excitement and realness. One where not every day fits the cookie cutter image we’re told to want, but that I know, at the end of the day, is built on the right “stuff.”  

To my single readers, I challenge you with this: maybe stop looking for Prince Charming. Start looking for Johnny Cash. He doesn’t have to play guitar or wear all black (although if he does, all the better…  :)). But there is beauty in the flaws. In the messy. 

Embrace it. 

Let go of Prince Charming expectations. 

Look for real. 

Look for Johnny Cash.

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