Did you ever daydream about what it would be like when you met your soul mate?
Your true love? You know, the one you think about all the time and you write your name out on paper only with their last name instead of yours to see what it looks and sounds like when you two marry. The fairy-tale people.
I wanted the fairy tale…
I was at the young age of 16. I dropped out of high school and had just received my G.E.D. I was attending the local community college at night and working at the local Main Street café in our small, rural town during the day. I felt like I was on the fast track to boredomville, United States.
I was going nowhere, and nothing excited me anymore.
Then I saw him.
I loved my job at that little café. Sometimes, I wish I was still there. It was the kind of place you would see in a drama movie about small-town life. The sheriff and his deputies came in almost daily. The locals loved it. Everyone knew everyone. Well, almost anyway.
You see, the local homeless shelter was just across the street. Most people didn’t even know it was there. Homelessness, where I was in Calvert County, Maryland, seemingly didn’t exist. It was more like, not in our town!
Thank goodness our county had come a very long way.
I met people from all walks of life in that little diner on the corner. Judges, attorneys, public officials, all walked over for breakfast and lunch as it was a stone’s throw from the courthouse. The other crowd was the locals. Then there were “those” people.
It was odd, really. I don’t remember any of the people from the shelter looking like the stereotypical homeless people. They were well-fed, clean, and some were well-educated and articulate.
My favorite regulars from the shelter were a mother and daughter. The mother was purely Irish-born. She was in her late 50s and her daughter about 25 or 30 years old. Both so friendly and full of life. She would cry often over her cup of tea and soup, especially on the rainy days. Her daughter would reach across and hold her hand. She said they had been through so much and lost a lot. I never asked what. I didn’t think it was right to pry. I did always sneak and pay for their soup and tea. I couldn’t help myself. I have a heart for those who suffer.
I miss those two and often wonder where life has taken them.
It was a warm spring day just around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the café was winding down. Tables wiped, trash emptied, silverware wrapped, and then, last but not least, I swept the dining area and the front stoop.
It was then and there I first saw him.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but something about him made me feel immediately drawn to him. I actually blushed.
As I turned around from sweeping the stoop and was about to go back inside, I saw this gorgeous guy sitting on the brick wall across the street. He was swinging his feet (barefoot I might add) and seemed amused that I was now staring.
At the risk of looking like a stalker, I gave a quick wave and began to go inside. I thought to myself that he must be homeless and that’s why he is sitting out there in the middle of the afternoon with no shoes on. My second thought was: “That’s the hottest homeless guy I have ever seen!”
With this thought, I was rather disturbed, and yet I could not shake the feeling of wanting to meet him. I then, and hastily I might add, asked him to come across the street. I was waving like a madwoman to walk across. It was my duty to help those in need, I told myself (what we tell ourselves for a hot guy).
I proceeded to introduce myself and offered him to come into the café for a cool drink and warm bowl of homemade soup, my treat. He politely declined and then rather urgently exclaimed, “There goes my ride!”
Needless to say, I felt mortified on several levels.
He seemed safe enough, and therefore, I offered to drive him where he needed to go. He said, “I need a ride home, please.” This was before cell phones were a thing, so missing a ride in the suburbs could be a huge dilemma for a kid.
There goes the homeless theory…
He lived in one of the nicest neighborhoods in our county. How wrong I had been!
During the car ride, I learned he was only a year and a half younger than myself. I asked how it was we had never met in this small county and all?
He actually attended a private school in the neighboring county and he was just waiting for his ride to finish his long journey home. While talking to me, his ride didn’t see him at his usual perch and assumed he had other plans that day (again before cell phones), and as fate would have it, we met that day instead, and I drove him home.
We didn’t see each other again for a year and a half. I was not really progressing in life. I had just turned 18 and found “new friends” out of the county.
On one particular evening, I was drinking screwdrivers and playing spades with the fellas. I was pretty good too!
When three guys walked into my new friend’s apartment, I turned around to introduce myself in my partially drunken and bold stupor. To my surprise, one of them said, “Yeah, I know you,” in a rather arrogant voice.
I, doing my best Scarlett O’Hara impression, raised eyebrow and all, quipped back, “Yeah? I don’t know you.”
He quickly refreshed my memory of the day we had met at the little corner café where I had made him miss his ride and offered him soup. I was so caught off guard! How could I not have recognized him?
Screwdrivers I believed to be the culprit.
I wondered why he had a standoff-ish demeanor toward me? I felt it at once.
The weekends were spent with my new friends, and it was consumed with playing video games and partying. All of a sudden, I noticed “he” was there almost every weekend too. He was as good-looking as ever with all the girls giggling every time he was around. I wasn’t going to be one of them, of that I can assure you!
I was the girl who had a “great personality” but no one wanted to date. Being overweight my whole life and having a beautiful best friend, I was accustomed to that. It was also for that reason I could never pick up on when someone did have a crush on me or found me attractive. I thought I would likely be alone my whole life. God had other plans.
I prayed for my future husband. Some people chant incantations, other people go to psychics to know their future. I tried getting on my knees and asking God to send me my future husband. I used to quietly and almost secretly say to God, “If it’s not wrong to request a specific person, Lord, can it please be Brian?”
I say this not in jest. I actually prayed for this specific man.
The odds were against me, but I had God working for me.
We continued to bicker and “play flirt” over the next year or so. He dated other girls, even one of my “friends.” I had a crush on him. Such is life, right?
I moved on and up.
My dad found God. I wanted what he had. My heart was empty. I was alone. I started attending church that whole following year. I was growing in my faith and myself.
I went to visit my good friend, LeeAnn. She and I had a lot of mutual acquaintances. On this particular day that I visited her and my friend Shannon, there was a knock at her door. Imagine my shock when it was our mutual friend, Brian. He had been in a long-term relationship over the past year, and so we had not seen him in a long while.
He seemed different. Quiet. Almost reserved. Very unlike his “normal self.” I was different too. I had matured. I no longer had the crush, puppy dog feelings for Brian.
In my discernment of him being “off,” I was in a place where I was able to connect with him as a human being and ask if he was okay.
He let me know his girlfriend was moving out of state, and he was sad about it. It led us to have a conversation about life and then God. We were both surprised to learn that we both were believers of Jesus. We didn’t know anyone else in our circle who felt the same way.
Brian and I stayed up all night talking about life with Led Zeppelin playing in the background. We watched the sunrise. It was the beginning of an answered prayer. It was a part of our love story that God already knew.
May 13, 2000, we said forever.
Three children later, there’s been lots of loss, heartaches, journeys, love, disagreements, crying, and making up. We have been working through our fragile mortal selves and learning still to give up and give it to God.
Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary!
We are still a work in progress. After 22 years, we are still growing, still loving, and still learning from each other. At times, we can fall out of love with each other, like everyone else. The good news is God is our glue.
Happy 22nd anniversary, babe.
One day, when we go home to Heaven, meet me at the brick wall on the corner of Main and Duke St.
I will be looking for the hot, barefoot guy and will bring you a bowl of soup.