Thinking back, I guess it had to be that way. I might not have ever wanted to take a risk if it hadn’t been for that lie.
I was 26 and had kind of lost faith in the male species that God had placed on planet Earth. For several years, I had simply gotten into a habit of staying pretty emotionally aloof in relationships. It was safer that way.
You see, I had dated the same person all the way through college and then for another year after we graduated. I was convinced we were meant to be. But when he dumped me for the last time, it was because he had met his future wife. Three months later they were engaged.
I didn’t want to be hurt like that again. So, I built a wall that was so tall and so thick that no one of the male gender could possible find even a tiny hole in my fortress. I had plenty of male friends and several people I either hung out with or dated, but no one I wanted to expend the emotional energy upon just to be crushed again.
I distinctly remember the first time the subject of You Know Who came up. I was standing in the kitchen of my childhood home helping my dad wash dishes after dinner.
“There’s this really nice guy who works for me now,” he said. “I think you should meet him.”
I asked him to tell me the guy’s name.
“Of course, I KNOW him,” I replied. “We went to high school together.”
That was the end of the conversation. I really didn’t need to know a whole lot more. Men, in general, were bad enough. A boy from high school couldn’t be worth my time.
But my dad had other feelings for this guy. My dad thought he was perfect. He loved him so much that he made him the head of his department in a factory they had just purchased. A factory in Mississippi.
That’s right. My dad loved him so much and wanted me to date him so badly that he shipped him off to Mississippi.
My dad would fly down to meet with him at least once a month. They would have lunch together, and I would hear reports about how wonderful this guy had turned out to be. My curiosity was starting to get the best of me. But what could I do now that he lived 590 miles away?
I assumed it was completely true when my Dad told me the news: “Kent would like your e-mail address.”
Capable Dad had been working outside all morning, trying to trim back the trees, rake up the leaves and get the yard ready for the cold winter that is on its way.
I was carrying my tenth basket of laundry up the stairs so I could spread it out on our bed and organize the mass of clean clothes into neat piles of t-shirts, socks and underwear. We crossed paths in the middle of the kitchen. He was on his way to the basement to retrieve some random tool. I was balancing the white laundry basket on my hip.
He gave me that half smile. His eyes were laughing, as if to say, “Can you believe this is how we spend our Saturdays?”
He didn’t need to say a word. I heaved my basket up the stairs, thinking about how far we’ve come. Thinking about our life before. When weekends meant sleeping late. Taking unplanned trips to Wisconsin. Going out to dinner and watching movies.
Remembering when life was so much more.
Before we owned a home. Before we were parents. Before we had four kids. Before we had mountains of laundry and school work with the kids and closets to clean and faucets to repair and a lawn to maintain.
Remembering when life was so much less.
It made me think back to the beginning. I guess that’s normal when an anniversary comes around. It’s always fun to remember the beginning. And so, in honor of ours, which happens to be on Tuesday, I thought I would write it down.
It’s always hard to answer when people ask us how we met.
I mean, I guess we probably knew each other back in the days of Little League or Junior League Football or BMX racing. I know he had to have been on a team with my brother or played on a field nearby at some point, but I don’t really remember.
Maybe it was in our Communications 4 class in high school. We were two among a graduating class of 151 and yet, strangely enough, that’s the only class I remember ever having together. I’m sure there had to have been more than that.
I guess you could say our relationship started with our first date down in Mississippi.
But both of us always tell the story the same way.
It started with a lie.
To be continued…