I have posted and reposted the lovingly longuish telling of our story multiple times on Prose for various challenges. I thought I'd write a new story this time: my prequel, if you will.
A year before we met, I graduated from college with a degree in Humanities in International Relations. Subsequently, I spent the summer at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, considering a career on stage or in front of the camera (I had done musical theater since fourth grade as well as modeling, commercials and a film.)
It was great fun, but practical me decided I needed more stability than an acting career could offer. (I didn't have the burning need or confidence one needs to persevere in the performing arts.) So, knowing I loved languages, and having decided in fourth grade that I would be a teacher, I applied to three PhD programs in Hispanic Literature. (I ended up in Philadelphia because North Carolina and New Mexico seemed so far from home (New York) when I had to make my decision while homesick across the ocean.) In the meantime, I got a job waiting tables (oddly, the cliché of the starving actor) at a hotel reataurant to earn money for a trip to Spain.
For four months I worked six or seven days a week, 10 am to 8 pm. For the first month, I was in bed asleep within an hour of leaving work. (Waiting tables is exhausting. ) Eventually, once I got used to being on my feet all day, I started taking an adult education Spanish class once a week in preparation for the trip. (And occasionally having drinks with work or classmates. )
Towards the end of December, after working for four months, I tendered my resignation. Within a week of the New Year, I was in Madrid.
During the six months I lived in Spain, I stayed with a welcoming family (with whom I still exchange Christmas letters); did a lot of reading, writing, museum wandering, and city street walking; and, visited some ten different cities from Cordoba to Santiago de Compostela, while traveling for a month on my own.
I fell fleetingly in love twice (good practice for my Spanish :-) Once with a sweet Swiss farmer who realized he loved me after he left me heartbroken, silently weeping as I waved goodbye to a train, destination, Zurich; once with a German medical student who was trying to make the woman he really loved jealous. Lots of angry tears (into my pillow). No waves goodbye. Maybe a slammed car door.
And then I was home, working as a temp for the summer, before classes started, in the Latin American division of a bank, going to museums and concerts alone, meeting up with exes and realizing there was a reason we broke up, writing in my journal about the future and looking forward to what it might hold.
I felt like I was in a holding pattern, waiting for my life to begin.
One day, perhaps three weeks after I returned home, a coworker suggested I stop by a café in our building, Sweet Imports. "There's this cute guy..."
It's only in recent years that I realized she never went with me to point him out.
I went in, our eyes met, something in the universe clicked into place and...life began.
Thirty one years ago last June.
How I Met My Boyfriend
I haven't yet.
But I have always thought that I will meet him in a library. I'll be browsing through the racks, looking for my next 3 hours of fantasy, and I'll look up and he'll be looking at me. Then he will come say hi, because I am shy and would never do that, and we will bond over Brandon Sanderson and rice crispies.
But who knows? Maybe I'll meet him in a restaurant, or on campus, or in a grocery store.
You never know...
How Did You Meet Your Significant Other?
"Hey, Nick, I have an idea. Do you think that this is good?"
"Oh, dude. That sounds interesting. Go for it, man."
"Do you think the Pen-to-the-Paper-ians will be mad that I hosted a different challenge?" I asked.
Nick thought for a second before replying. "Although it's definitely what you're known for, I don't think they'll be mad. They'll probably be excited to see you posting a different challenge, honestly. Two challenges hosted by the one-and-only Caleb? I know I'd be excited."
"Awesome. Can you work on the promotions for it?"
"Yeah, man, that's why I'm here. Advertisement is part of my specialty," Nick replied. Flexing, he said, "But I'm also the muscle. And the looks."
"You know dang well I'm the looks, Nick."
"Sure, sure. Whatever you think, Caleb."
I scanned the room for a friendly face and my eyes landed on him. He was tall and awkward and flashed a shy smile of big straight teeth as he looked up through a sweep of blonde hair across his brow.
At the sweet age of seventeen, I was an outlaw hiding out in Alaska. After years of juvie, I said ‘fuck this’ and sought out a man I had remembered as Dad.
A senior with no credits, this alternative school took me in. Dusted me off. Pulled me up by my scruff and limped me along to a high school diploma.
Tony was my first friend. He was smart, kind, fun- but such a dipshit. We made out a few times and got in a little trouble a few times, and I decided I didn't want to go down the not so good path he was skipping on. I loved him on a deep level. A love that we both recognized immediately. A love bigger than we were at the time.
At last, it was not meant to be. We graduated high school by the skin of our teeth and said our goodbyes.
Thirteen years later the stars aligned for us. He showed up on my front porch and flashed that smile at me just the same as the first time I saw him and my heart fluttered back to 2006. His awkwardness was no more- in front of me stood a tall, muscly, confident man sure to make any woman swoon.
Our hearts had been broken by others, we had both had children, careers, made moves, gotten our shit together a few times over, and we ended up back in that small town in Alaska.
We were married six months later and conceived a son on our wedding night.
Now as I look at our drooly face baby boy with sweeping blonde hair smiling up at me, I can't help but remember the first time I met his father, my almost star-crossed lover.
The day we met
I was 19. Working 40 hours in a convenience store, and the other 40 hours managing a Domino's. Domino's was my first job, I had been there for three years already. That was where I met the first love of my life.
Everyone told us not to be together. When I started I was 16 and he was 23. I was "jail bait" as all the guys there liked to call me. I was the youngest person there. So we never got together. We would smoke a lot of weed, do some coke, and drink like we were going to live forever. We would hook up but that was fine.
Until he got a girlfriend. A serious moving in together girlfriend.
We stayed friends. Would still drink, and smoke, and hook up. I didn't see a problem with it. We were together first.
But this isn't a story about him. It just is needed to framework when me and my husband got together. When we met.
I wanted more. I wanted more from the man I thought I loved, and he wasn't willing to give me that. I was a side piece. I was allowing him to have his cake, and eat it too.
One day I was working at the convenience store. My husband lived in the apartment building across the street. He came into the store, and I couldn't tell you what he said, but he made me laugh. HARD!
It doesn't take much to win me over. You make me laugh and I am a sucker. We spent the next week smoking weed in the cemetery behind the convenience store. He was 33.
At the end of the week, after feeling like I was finally number one to someone, I decided I was done.
I called up my best friend, and told him I couldn't see him anymore. I was done being second fiddle, and I found someone who made me happy.
We had only known each other for all of a week.
That was eleven years, and two kids ago. I tell him all the time that he was probably the WORST one night stand I ever had.... considering it has been a one night stand that lasted eleven years.
How I met Him
I met him in a crowd of people, different backgrounds and different lives all gathered into a group.
There he stood with a cloud of grey and a face of disgust as all those around him chattered on.
He stood tall and slouched , his eyes weathered with that of being tired and bored.
In my eyes he was so perfect, different and just overall amazing.
A few simple words turned into a few days which lead to months
The man that stood out in the crowd no longer stood out alone for now he was mine to stand with.
here’s a story
about one of the three reasons why i’m glad to be a part of my generation.
when i was fifteen i wrote a cruel poem about a really nice boy who shattered my heart. i posted it on a social media platform, that’s how benjamin saw it. the world is big but social media makes it small i think. he lived two hours from my house, but when we messaged it only took him a few seconds to respond. it was like real life. we video called all the time that summer when i was fifteen, and it’s so interesting to fall in love with someone without ever being able to touch them. i knew i loved benjamin when he called me crying the week we started dating just to cry to me. his dog had died. here’s a man i’d never touched, but he was a man who was more open and gentle and unashamed than any boy around me ever could be. we hadn’t even touched, and i knew i would marry this man. i’m seventeen now. it sounds funny to tell our story from the past tense, but that time feels worlds away because now he’s right at my fingertips. still, i’m glad we have an uninteresting story. i’m glad that communication is available.
the other two reasons i’m glad to be a part of my generation are that we have modern medicine and that i won’t be as harassed as women in generations before mine just for being bisexual.
The unseen cord...
It was a routine service at my church. I was a young man looking for some significant other in my life. Saw a girl who seemed new at church, kept watching her. This distracted me from worship one Sunday morning.
I made it a point to follow her after the service was over. She was patiently waiting at the subscription desk in the Church office. I had no business there, but I went and stood there.
With great difficulty, I tried to start a conversation with her. She seemed reluctant to answer my queries. But I persisted, and we had a conversation of sorts. She had refused my offers of tea or coffee and so we talked over some fresh lemonade.
She appeared to be interested in what I was doing then and asked me intelligent questions. I went overboard explaining intricate details of my work. In hindsight, I wondered if she was really interested? When I asked her recently about that first Sunday, she told me she was merely being polite!
That began our relationship, which blossomed into marriage one day. It is now 35 years that we are together! Only God has kept us together, being the unseen cord of the three corded braid!