He came to my office; we were having lunch, our first date. I was nervous; I’d had only one boyfriend throughout most of high school, and I’d barely been in the city for a year and had yet to meet a nice guy at the bars and clubs. I wasn’t home when he called, but he left a message on my answering machine and as I listened a thrill went through me and I flushed, feeling somehow more adult because he asked for a date. I called him right back.
I was working as receptionist at a travel agency, and when he came in the door I felt that thrill again. He was so tall, and his eyes were so piercing. He seemed casually confident; he was a few years older than I was, and I felt that weird mix of glee and undeserving that is fairly typical for nineteen year old girls.
We went to the Chinese place across the street from my office. We ordered, and then… nothing. We made small talk that was hopelessly awkward. Without the alcohol that fueled our first meeting, we were doomed to discomfort. He walked me back to my office, and I knew he wouldn’t call again.
I drove into the city for a meeting, and as I drove down Chestnut Street in downtown Philly, I glanced at the corner where that same Chinese restaurant had stayed for more than twenty years. To my dismay, it was now a men’s shoe store. I found myself feeling sad and nostalgic, and I wondered if the shoe store smelled as badly as the restaurant had, if they were ever able to get the permeating grease off the walls.
I had no idea, after that first date ended, that we would marry and have a daughter. This December we celebrated twenty years together, a length of time that was completely inconceivable to me at 19. The peaks and valleys or our lives have been dramatic, particularly in the last decade as we tackled infertility, loss, the birth of a child, and my mother coming to live with us.
But we are here, still in love, still together.
Maybe I’ll take Charlie to that store to buy him some shoes.
Tomorrow my mother comes home. She’s ready, and definitely feeling stronger. I’m hoping and praying that this is the last time I have to say this on the blog.
Happy Friday, everyone.