Whenever you need someone
To lay your heart and head upon
Remember, after the fire, after all the rain
I will be the flame ~ Cheap Trick
The first time I saw him I heard my soul quietly whisper,
Apart from that there was not much. There was no lightening strike or moving earth beneath my feet. No angels singing or alignment of the stars.
He was still married but in the process of divorce and I was still new at being sober. Between the two of us we had fairly negative opinions on matters of the heart. When I look back, I would swear we were a disaster waiting to happen.
It was an early Saturday phone call from a mutual friend inviting me to go jet-skiing with him and his roommate that brought us together. I really didn’t want to go but we Floridians do love our water sports and the mid-August day was perfect for it after a long work week.
Knowing said mutual friend was interested in more than just friendship and since I was not even remotely interested in matches of any kind being made I didn’t do much to improve my appearance. I rolled out of bed, threw on some cut-offs over my bikini , pulled my hair into a ponytail, and waited for my ride.
Walking down the dirt path to the lake I was starting to feel a little more excited about being on the popular chain of lakes for the day. Our friend and I rounded the corner at the boat ramp and I looked several yards over at the roommate sitting on a jet ski in the middle of the lake.
That was August 18, 1997.
Obviously, he divorced and I managed to scrounge together a few more years of sobriety. We stayed together despite the odds, enjoying adventures I never thought I’d have and for the first time in my life I knew what love, all mixed up with respect, joy, laughter, comfort, and trust, felt like. No expectations. No violence. No conditions.
After three years, the man who told me he would never get married again stood with me, the girl who didn’t really care in the beginning…..until I did, under a willow tree at sunset and said, ‘I do.’ We have taken those vows very seriously, holding true to our word when we’ve had our share of better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health.
We lived within a few miles of each other our entire lives. We attended rival high schools with only a year between our graduations. We shared some of the same friends, went to the same drunken parties after football games. We drove the same streets, ate at the same restaurants. We circled each other, in the same orbit around the same sun, for years upon years.
We both had some tumultuous years before we met. There was alcoholism and addiction along with the chaos those things bring. There were bad marriages followed by bad divorces. There were lives up-ended and righted once more.
Only after the smoke cleared did we find the strength to heal and the power to transform our own lives. And only then did we meet in the middle.
The middle of a chain of lakes where today we take our kids tubing in the summer and, with a shared sideways smile, show them the exact spot where we first met. Maybe there were some odd goings-on with the angels and stars after all.
And after eighteen years, I still hear it.