I met a lot of people my freshman year of college. Some of them I met, forgot, then met again. You have those conversations where you discover that you were in the same room at the same time with someone you later got to know well, yet you have no memory of them there at all. But I remember the moment I first saw my husband, even though I did not know him or anyone else in the room. I’ve forgotten all the others, but I remember him.
Everyone who knows me has heard this story a million times, of how I “met” my husband (of either 34 or 29 years, depending on where you start counting), but it’s worth repeating here, on our 36th Valentine’s Day together.
Thinking that I would be a costume designer, I took theater classes my freshman year. Quickly discovering that I absolutely hated being around actors (so why am I working for a theater now? It’s a question I ask myself daily), I switched to the art department the following year. I don’t remember anyone from my theater year, except that skinny Chinese fellow with the aviator shades. Sophomore year, having put theater behind me, I was sitting in the choral rehearsal room, and in that guy walks. Chr*st, I thought, the theater people are following me.
He tried to get me to go on a date for a year. He once cooked me a pot roast, but I got cold feet and stood him up. I had been telling my friend Susan about this guy who was chasing me; we were sitting in a campus cafe one day when he walked by, saw us, and plastered himself to the window, miming “I LOVE YOU XAN” from outside. Susan looked at me in horror (I swear that was the expression) and said, “Xan, he’s Chinese!“
Whoa, thanks for clearing that up.
Without ever actually going on a date with the poor fellow, I went off to Europe for a year. He wrote me the most charming letters, which, incredibly, I did not keep. I would give anything to have those letters now. I came home unexpectedly, early; no one knew I was coming. And I was standing at a street corner on campus, when I saw him walking towards me. Well, I thought, there he is.
There he was. My one true love.
I never did shake him loose (tried once or twice, but he’s a stubborn fellow and I’m no match).