February 10, 2014
Linda Steinberg ~ Cupid Comes Calling ... but sometimes, it's not the right time
Sometimes Cupid comes calling but it’s not the right time. Usually, he doesn’t come back. But, fortunately for me, he did.
Jim and I met in college. He was sitting across from me at the dorm cafeteria and I thought he was cute. He had Elvis sideburns and a thick shock of sandy colored hair that swept over his forehead past his glasses. I was a senior, pretty much thought myself too mature to date anyone but another senior. So I asked, quite cleverly, I thought, if he was a junior. “No,” he answered, in that laconic manner I have come to know and love. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then he added, “I’m a freshman.”
No way! At that age, three years difference is huge. And we had absolutely nothing in common. I was a city girl, he was a country boy. I was an only child, he was one of six siblings. We were of different religions, and had different political views. But he was the nicest, most gentlemanly guy I’d met in four years of college. And did I mention cute?
We dated on and off for the next three and a half years. I say ‘on and off’ because most of that time we were living in different states. And whenever we were able to get together I was never sure when, or even if, we’d see each other again. This wasn’t going anywhere. We led different lives. But neither of us wanted to break it off.
Eventually, we both knew it was time to go our separate ways. I could see Jim and me living happily together for a few years, but try as I might, I couldn’t envision myself sitting across the breakfast table from him in fifty years. Hold that ironic thought.
A year later, I met my husband. From similar backgrounds, we connected instantly. We built a life together, traveled all over the world, had two wonderful daughters. We’d been married almost thirty-two years when, suddenly and unexpectedly, he died.
That same year I received an odd message on my answering machine. The caller, a man with a deep Southern accent, said that ‘it had been a long time’ and I should call if I wanted to talk to him. He left a phone number, but no name.
No name? He expected me, after not having seen or heard from him in thirty-five years, to recognize his voice? But of course, I did. Of all the guys I dated when I was single, Jim was the only one I’d ever wondered about. Had he earned the engineering degree he was working so hard for? I hoped he’d found someone special and was happy.
After some hesitation, I returned his call. We talked for two hours, catching up. He now lived in Alabama. He had three sons. He’d been married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and she’d passed away a year before. For someone I’d thought so completely different from me, we seemed to have led almost parallel lives. We exchanged email addresses. I figured we’d correspond for a few weeks or months, then gradually dwindle down to an annual birthday message.
While I was still in mourning for my husband, Jim came to Dallas to attend a continuing education class. It was awkward seeing him, especially in my circumstance. There was nothing romantic about the meeting. But seeing him in person finally dispelled the image I’d carried of that nineteen year old boy with the thick glasses. As we continued to email, I began to think of him as he was now. And at this age, a three-year difference meant nothing.
After almost a year of emails and phone calls, we decided to meet in New Orleans for Mardi Gras to get reacquainted. But we didn’t need much reacquainting. He was still the same person I’d known years ago. And, just like years ago, I left New Orleans without any suggestion or promise of when (or if) I would see him again.
Jim is very handy, and he’s all about being ‘useful.’ So I seduced him to come to Dallas by asking him to help me hang the curtains I’d recently purchased. One visit led to another, and now...
It’s forty-five years, almost to the day, since we first met. Both retired, we’ve been living together for two and a half years. We have a lot more in common than I would have thought, and the differences we do have no longer matter. Remember the irony I mentioned? God willing that we’re both alive and healthy, I am looking forward to that fifty-year mark, sitting at the breakfast table with my Jim, doing our daily Sudoku puzzles.
I’ve been hearing a lot of other real-life reunion stories lately. Has this happened to anyone you know?
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