“I want to see your smiling face 45 years from now”
I read once that an informal survey revealed that most people’s favorite seasons were revealed to be spring and autumn, in almost a neck for neck tie. Not really surprising since both are associated with pleasing weather and different colors in the landscape. Whereas spring is about birth and renewal, autumn (and I still prefer to call it autumn rather than fall) is really about change. Those bright reds, oranges and fading yellows that speckle the terrain, before they begin to fall. The crisp smell in the air, the taste of fresh apples, the first signs of frost on the ground complete the picture. In our own lives, autumn is usually the time of transitions, and in the seasons of life is generally considered to be the longest period. As I discussed at the end of yesterday’s blog, towards the end of my “summer” I really needed a change. Happily, that is when she walked into my life.
“She” is of course the woman who became my wife. It started out innocently enough on a Sunday night in September of 2002. We had never met before, but a mutual friend was having a birthday gathering at a local pub. In an attempt to make up for the disaster of the previous summer’s trip to Ireland, I went back. Thankfully this time was infinitely better and there were no problems upon my return. I am not sure if it was because of that fact that our friend introduced us (meet my friend Rob, he just came back from Ireland type of thing) or for some other reason, but in no time we were having a great conversation. I showed her some photos of the trip, the rocky and rugged terrain of Donegal, with rugged cliffs and oceans, wildflowers and deep green grass everywhere. In the darkened light of the pub (and not due to consumption of a certain beverage, or so she says…), she also detected speckles of white scattered through the rocky terrain. “Oh, they still have snow there at this time of year” she asked? It being September at the time, and with no desire to come off as a jerk, I responded nicely, “oh no….those are sheep” while secretly I chuckled a little.
But my considerable charms (yes, I can’t even believe I just wrote that) must have worked because she was having such a fine conversation with me that she willingly decided to stay longer and miss her favorite show at the time, The Sopranos. High praise indeed. When she did leave I had realized that I had just conversed with someone for a few hours with such ease that it had seemed like mere minutes. Within a day or so I had obtained her number from my friend. When I worked up the courage to call her on said number a few days later we had another nice chat, despite her being unsure if my name was Richard, or Roger, or some other name starting with an R. In spite of that moment of forgetfulness on her part (which she covered up well…OHHHH….Robert, yes from the other night….of course I remember you!) we made arrangements to meet again.
Because of her job as a live in nanny at the time, and because of my job where I had to work on the weekends, our initial dates were always at night time, and usually took place at that same pub. It was a few months in before we ever had a daytime date in fact. But one night early on we shared our first kiss at the pub. For some reason I had to leave before her, so we said our goodbye’s outside, in full view of the pub’s window. Now why neither of us had the wherewithal to step 5 feet away to avoid this PDA I don’t know, but I went on my merry way, while Jennie had to go back inside. Where she was promptly met with loud applause from all who had witnessed it, led on by a scurrilous bartender. Gradually with each date and with each moment we spent together over meals and drinks, visits to various museums and walks through the park it became clear that there was something great happening. Though I was more than a little thick in taking things to the next level, in my heart I knew that Jennie was the one for me.
When I look back at that time, the words from a song by the late great Stan Rogers, one of Canada’s greatest artists comes to mind. In his song 45 years he talks about that sort of moment. Even though the circumstances he describes are different to our story, it is that idea of wanting to see her face 45 years from now that is so simple and beautiful. I love that he chose such a random number of years to describe this feeling. To say that I want to see you today, and I want to see you 20 years from now, and 32 years from now, and 45 years from now. In any relationship there are disagreements and problems, unexpected curve balls that interrupt life. Working through those times together is worth it, believe me. One further thing I have to say about the song is to ask, where can I actually find a place that has a glass of beer for 45 cents!