Today is the anniversary of the day we met so long ago, so far away. Chris will come home this evening with a red rose, as he has for the past twenty-three years, in celebration of this date so auspicious in so many lives.
Before the Internet became such a Meeting Place, we met through the small-town version of that---in a much simpler way, a more innocent time---through a sweet little newspaperish magazine available in grocery stores, quick-marts and fillin' stations. Ours was called "Tradewinds" and spanned several states, I think; you could find lily bulbs, hound pups, parts for your '58 Fairlane, recipes, and nice people to chat with or meet.
A day or two after New Year’s Eve, 1985 into 86, five of us "girls" who went out together on occasion went to dinner---one brought a copy of the little newsprint-paper magazine, and we all dared each other to answer one ad. I chose Chris, and I think it was because of the sweet way he mentioned his children, his love of reading, and his intentionally stating that he didn't watch football on TV that caught my eye, and they’ve all held true all these years.
You wrote a letter, put it in an envelope, sealed it, and wrote the number of your choice on the front. That envelope went into a bigger envelope with three dollars, and was addressed to the paper. They sorted everybody to the right place, and a few days later, he called.
We chatted for probably two hours, and suddenly it hit me---I was sitting there on my bed like a teenager, forgetting that I was WAY late to pick DS#2 up at the bus-stop. I threw down the phone and FLEW, meeting him probably three miles toward home, walking that old blacktop road. I'd said, "I'll call you BACK!!" as I dashed for the door, but when I returned, I realized HE had called ME and I didn't know his number. He called back within a few minutes, and we talked til WAY late---somebody cooked supper, but it wasn't me.
We talked on the phone for a couple of weeks, and on Feb. 4, he would be calling on some clients close to my town, so we arranged to meet. I would not let a stranger come to my home, and I didn’t want him to know where I lived, so we met at the lounge at the local Holiday Inn where I knew several of the employees.
That brave soul walked into a redneck bar where he didn’t know anyone, carrying a long-stemmed red rose.
We had been talking for maybe fifteen minutes, when in strolled my two sons, who stood towering over him at the table. They swapped the new pickup for my big old car, to go pick up some friends, and since THEY had met him, scads of people had seen us together, and I had gone to high school or football games with half the police department, I figured I was probably safe. So we went to his room and talked until four a.m.
He had arranged the two chairs so that we sat facing each other almost knee to knee, and we talked all about our families and faith and friends, our home life, our lives and what we liked to read, and all sorts of get-to-know you stuff. He even had a bottle of wine stuck in ice in the sink, and he’d been to WalMart for two pretty glasses---I didn’t have the heart to tell him I HATE wine, so I sort of held the glass and sipped at it til it was warm and even more unappetizing.
The funniest part is---he also dislikes wine, and just thought it was the nice thing to do---have a glass of wine with a lady. We both choked it down, just to impress the other, I guess. Never again.
Then, when I simply HAD to go home, he walked me to the truck, and I couldn’t crank it---had never tried; we had just bought it that Christmas, and I’d never driven it. So Chris had to drive me home anyway, after all those stranger-precautions I took. And we were married that Summer---short courtship.
One funny coincidence was that one of my friends at work, seeing how well my experience turned out, placed his own ad, and met a lovely young woman whom he brought as his date to our wedding. She had answered Chris’ ad as well, but they did not get together because we had already met.
I still get chills at the "maybe not" of the whole thing, but he says it would have happened somehow. He subscribes to the theory that he'd have stopped to fix my flat tire, or some such happenstance. And we marvel often at the people we love, and the people we’ve met and had a part in shaping THEIR lives a bit, and they ours, as well as the Grandbabies who might be totally different people had we not met on that foggy night in February.
Life pays forward, and the far-reaching things we set in motion would astound us. For example, if we had not met, I would never have moved here, DS would have not later moved to be near us and met the lovely young woman who is his wife, and I would not be writing this to the music of their little one through the monitor, singing herself to sleep.