Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Good Book and a Happy Birthday

It was about this time of year, January of 2008 that Mrs. Blackwell and I first started to get to know each other.

At the time, I was a reporter for a newspaper and she was the director of the local chamber of commerce. We’d meet when local events that I was covering required her attendance, or when stories I was writing required me to call for her knowledge and expertise.

I had a crush on her from the first time that I met her but, frankly, I didn’t give it much thought. The timing wasn’t right for either of us.

But, a few months later it was.
Great looks and she's tolerant of my
obliviousness to the outside world.

We started off slowly, meeting up for drinks at a local bar with some of her friends, or my friends along for the ride. The extra company made sure that these couldn’t be construed as “dates” although we usually ended up sitting next to each other and talking.

During this time she called me one evening to join her and her friends at a local restaurant. I declined and I told her I was reading a book. To recap, I told this girl was crazy about that I couldn’t go out with her because I was reading. 

She called me the next morning and I inquired as to how the previous evening went.

As we chatted, she mentioned that her friends were all buying her drinks. “Why?” I asked.

“Because it was my birthday,” she said.

So, to recap again, I said “No,” to going out with a girl I was crazy about so I could stay home and read a book — and it was her birthday. I asked why she hadn’t told me and she replied that she didn’t want me to come out because it was her birthday.

She wanted me to “want” to come out, not to “have” to come out. (This ladies and gentlemen is a tactic Mrs. Blackwell employs to this day. Interpreting this approach requires a level of nuance and tact that I do not possess.)

Fortunately, the book/birthday incident was in the rearview in short order and for the next few weeks the world swirled around us and we were together more and more frequently. I don’t remember anything else happening in my life at this time. I just remember her and being happy being with her.

And then she was gone.

Mrs. Blackwell, as it turns out, likes to “get involved” in things. Part of this drive saw her partake in a one-month Rotary International trip to Brazil.

My world immediately lost something and, for four long weeks, life went back to normal.

Only now, normal didn’t exist. How could it? Once your life grows to include someone else, your version of normal adjusts accordingly and there’s no going back.  And while I missed her, there was no question my world remained brighter, even in her absence.

In fairness to me, it's a great book.

Before Mrs. Blackwell had left, I told her I might not be there when she came home. I was unhappy with my job (find me a reporter who isn’t) and was looking to move on.

I’ve been through periods in my life where I was really looking for a job and I’ve summoned motivations and efforts on behalf of that search that I have yet to conjure up anywhere else in my life. Fear, frustration and eagerness can have that effect.

Suffice it to say that, while she was gone, I didn’t exactly set the world afire looking for my next assignment. I remember applying for a job in Japan of all places. In retrospect, it’s clear to me that I didn’t want to leave.

The stresses of my job — any job really — were a small price to pay if it meant I got to be with her.

We emailed back and forth a few times while she was gone — enough to convey that we were in each other’s thoughts and I can say that, when she arrived home two days earlier than I expected, it was one of the best surprises of my life.

I remember seeing her face when she opened the door. I’d missed her more than I’d known and I knew that I wanted to be with her always.

Seven years later, I am happy to say that I am. 

I am also happy to say that we’ve made plans for her birthday this year, even though I’ve got a good book on the go.

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