Playing catch-up with a friend, our conversation was interrupted by a starry-eyed young man. Sensing a need to balance out the intrusion, my friend made polite introductions. Only the gentleman’s unflinching gaze made it clear that I’d instantaneously become a third wheel in this encounter.
His eyes transfixed on my youthful (and single) friend, he hardly noticed my existence. And when another party broke into the circle, I suspected from the look on his face that he was mentally plotting a plan to keep my friend from drifting out of his sight.
Unaware of the nature of their relationship, I could only surmise (from the smitten look on his face) that this stranger hoped for something more than this chance encounter with her.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
This week my husband and I will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. Watching this youthful exchange flung me back in time, like a ride in Doc Brown’s DeLorean, to the summer before my 8th grade year.
I was an awkward, freckle-faced girl wearing jelly shoes. And the boy who caught my eye was a scrawny 15 year old donning metal band t-shirts and surfer shorts.
Meeting on the adjoining, asphalt driveways of our best friends, we both had that look flash across our matching, brown eyes. However, our looks of longing were triangular on that hot afternoon.
As though it was yesterday, I still remember how desperately I wanted to garner the attention of this fascinating boy. The quartet of us wandering our way downtown to the North Center, I held out hope that his focus might shift in my direction.
Lady and the Tramp
We shared McDonald’s french fries (a memory which plays out in my mind like that famous scene from Lady and the Tramp) and a soda, but alas his eyes (or hormones) were riveted toward my best friend.
Over the next four years, the boy and I formed a sincere friendship; but every time one of us felt free to pursue something deeper, the other would be entertaining romantic thoughts for a third party.
It took us a few more years of playing cat and mouse before we were mature enough to see beyond the distractions and earnestly give consideration to one another. Once we did, our friendship easily blossomed into genuine love.
It was on another hot summer afternoon when that affection led us down the aisle of a church. We’d vow to yield our two-ness into one.
Standing there in a flowing white gown, with a shiny gold band on my left ring finger, I stared over at my handsome tuxedo-ed husband and tried to imagine what might lie ahead in this new life together.
Beyond My Wildest Dreams
We were both firstborns with a sense of adventure (although I’m admittedly the far more cautious one) and a desire to blaze unchartered territory, but my newlywed fantasies about the journey to come scarcely scratched the surface.
Our wedding song (Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home”) seems all the more fitting now that we’ve resided in eight different locations in three states.
Truly, home for me has little to do with a place anymore and everything to do with this man who captured my attention three decades ago. So long as I can lie my body down beside him when the moon is high, I am content.
Big-hearted dreamers, we’d hoped to be prolific, but it still takes my breath away some days when I count the souls (14 in all) that our love has generated.
And even though he’s every bit a man and father, some part of him will always remain that 15 year old Jersey boy who attracted my attention.
Not All Dreams Come True
Of course, not every moment has been joyous and not all of our dreams have come true.
We’ve know searing sorrow, overwhelming anger, serious disappointment and re-occurring frustrations. We’ve hurt and been hurt, forgiven and been forgiven.
Overall, these last 23 years have been heavy with blessings because we’ve not only grown-up together, we’ve grown in our faith as a family.
We’ve come to the understanding that love is a choice we make, not just a feeling we have.
I’m not sure if that young man succeeded in his pursuit of my friend because I quietly excused myself when one of my children required my assistance, but I’m appreciative for the trip down memory lane that he inspired.