Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Beginning of the Summer of my Life

The first day of summer arrived one week ago as I walk along the deck that leads to Paula's front door. We have known each other now for a year and half and I have never had feelings for anyone like I have for her. I still remember the cold, October 27th in 1984 when I met her for the first time. I had seen her once before, in the weight room at the high school where I taught. She and a friend were there, working out, as part of a city recreation program I was supervising. I noticed her beauty then, but didn't approach her. She was way out of my league. But months later, I received a call from a common acquaintance that Paula would like to meet me and that I should call her. So, I did...and we met in the parking lot of an elementary school in a neighboring town.

I was moving into a new place that day, so I arrived in faded blue jeans and a sweatshirt. I hadn't even showered and I'm not sure if I had even shaved that morning. After all, it was a Saturday. I arrived in the parking lot and saw the car, the only one in the lot. I pulled up beside it in my sporty RX7. She was driving a white Chevrolet. As I approached the car, I saw the most beautiful woman imaginable. You see, when I agreed to meet Paula, I didn't really know who she was. I had agreed to meet her because I wasn't seeing anyone, and our acquaintance said she was a good, and nice person. Her long blonde hair cascaded down over the collar of her white fur coat. Her smile captivated me and her eyes sparkled like the stars in the blackest night. As she sat there in the driver's seat, she invited me to join her and I sat beside her in the passenger seat.

The next several hours are still a blur. We sat and talked...and talked. She had prepared a list of questions. Paula wanted to get to know who I was. It was amazing as I sat there, answering her questions. I'm not sure if I really asked her much about herself. As I reflect back on the late afternoon, as the cold wind blew across the Yakima valley, Paula was teaching me much about what it meant to be a friend...yet I missed the lesson. It was about communication. She got it, but I didn't. I had a bit of a reputation during those days...not all good. It seemed that most everyone it seems knew that I didn't hesitate to sleep with everyone woman that I went out with. It seem to matter if they were married or not. I say that with great regret, because at times the women were the wives of my "friends". So she asked questions about my sexuality. She even said that she had heard rumors that I might be gay. I quickly denied it, not so much because I was afraid I might be gay, but because I just didn't want to talk about that part of my past. In fact, I hadn't really thought much about that time of my life during those years. I realize now that God had given me an opportunity on the cold afternoon to face some of my past, and that He had placed someone in my life who would have listened. Of course, I also know that it's possible that if I had shared that day those aspects of my personal history, it might have been my one and only meeting with Paula.

The afternoon and early evening went by much too quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to leave. The questions were over, and it seemed that I had passed the test...even with the questions that I glossed over. As I said goodbye, I leaned across the car and gave this special woman a brief kiss. It could have lasted so much longer, but even then, I didn't know if my lips would ever touch hers again. I got in my car, and sat there for a moment, watching her drive away. My heart was felt bigger than it had in years, maybe even ever.

I remember going back to my little apartment and loaded my last boxes in my car and drove to my new place. I put the few boxes that I had in the various rooms and went to my bedroom where the phone was located. I wanted to tell someone about this incredible woman that I had just met, so I called my sister. She lived about 200 miles away, but we had been close at different times in my life. During my college years, it was my sister who would write me regularly, even sending me an occasional "care package" of home made chocolate chip cookies. She was single at the time, working for a technology firm. Her life would soon change as she would get married and we would drift apart to a certain degree, as all family members do. But now, she was single again. She had recently divorced and was going back to school.

I think she may have been a little surprised to hear my voice when she picked up the phone. We talked a little bit and then I told her. I can still remember the words. I told her, "I met the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with today!" I knew at that moment that Paula was the one that I wanted to be my wife. My sister and I talked for a while as I explained my visit that afternoon. I'm sure she probably thought that I was crazy to think that after being with Paula for only a few hours that I truly thought she should be my wife. In my heart, I'm not sure I believed that it could ever really happen. She was so beautiful and had so much going for her. In my mind's eye, I was just an ordinary guy. Not overly attractive. My ears were too large and I was on the shy side. But, I didn't think about that at that particular moment. I just knew that this incredible woman had just entered my life, and I didn't want to lose her.

As it turned out, we started dating and we would spend hours together, just talking. Like Scott, she had the gift of conversation. We talked about a future and the places we wanted to go someday. We talked about her three children, who ranged from the age of 5 to 14. As time went on, I met her family and she met mine. Her's were incredible to me, a picture of love and what I had always dreamed a family should be. And so, I decided.

I had made reservations at a "one of a kind" restaurant in nearby Yakima. And I had spent a day in Seattle picking out just the perfect ring. I was nervous as I walked up the deck to her front door. She didn't have a clue what I had planned. She opened the door and took my breath away...once again, as she always did when I saw her. As I went in and took a seat on the couch, the phone rang and it was her daughter calling. She was spending the weekend out at the farm with her dad. I don't remember what the conversation was about, but it wasn't a good one. By the time Paula got off the phone, she was near the onset of a migraine. I thought for a moment about postponing my plan for the evening, but I decided this was the time. So I walked across the front room and reached into my pocket and pulled out the small, black box. I'm not sure if it immediately registered to Paula what it was. I often gave her jewelry. As she opened the box, the reaction wasn't exactly what I expected. She didn't scream or run into my arms. She just looked at the ring, and then at me. Back and forth. And then I said it...I wanted her to be my wife, to spend the rest our lives together. There was pain in her eyes, either from the migraine that was creeping up on her, or from the thought of what it would be mean to be married. She knew she was bringing baggage into a marriage and that in her own mind, she didn't think I should have to bear raising three kids that weren't my own. She knew that my marrying a divorced woman would change me in some way as it would any man. She accepted the ring, but didn't give me an answer on the warm day, one week into that summer of 1986. We went on to dinner and a night I will remember forever...a time that was at the beginning of the summer of my life.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Your joy and love shine through here. I'm so glad you know what it feels like to be loved in that way. I pray that you'll find it again.

It was weird to see myself in your life. I actually remember when you met Paula and how excited you were. I remember being so glad for you - knowing that the Debbie D. era was finally over.

I'm close to writing this chapter of my own story and have a slightly different memory of the timeline. Otherwise our memories mesh. That's very cool.

Keep writing little bro. Keep healing. I love you.