May 15, 2008

Much Later, My Love


I heard a song the other day which reminded me of when I was a teenager. It’s important to know the title of this tune and the band that played it; and, what’s also interesting is that it made me recall a series of incidents which I find mystifying to this day.

As I sat in the driveway of my home listening to that song the car radio, I flashed back to my days as a sixteen year old working in the town library after school.

One of the librarians I worked with was a friendly woman with two children whom she talked about often. She lived in nearby town; but, not close enough where I’d know anyone from her neighborhood. I did meet her daughter, though, a pretty girl about my age, who often visited her mom at the library accompanied by her friends. I never said more than “hello” to the girl, and only once or twice I was in the same room with her as she would often enter the library and go directly to her mom’s office.

I left the job after I graduated high school and lost contact with the librarian and her daughter.

Years later, I met my wife and we began to date. While becoming acquainted, we talked about growing up and school and about our friends. It wasn’t long before we discovered that the woman I worked with at the library lived next door to her; and, that her daughter was my “new girlfriend’s” best friend. I also learned that their families were extremely close and often vacationed together. My wife considered her friend’s parents to be surrogate relatives, calling them “Aunt Millie” and “Uncle Joe.” When I was reintroduced to her friend, Diana, she remembered me from the library and our reunion was pleasant, if not amusing.

The one benefit of this coincidence was that my future mother in law was relieved to learn that her daughter’s new boyfriend, me, was considered to be a “nice young man” by her librarian friend, Mrs. Martens. My background investigation was completed with a stamp of approval coming from my former boss who just so happened to live next door to my girlfriend.

After four years of dating and engagement, we had a big, Italian wedding, and in due course, two wonderful children followed. During that span of time, I joined the police department and since retired, my wife advanced in her career, and we both reached middle age. Our family is doing well and I’d like to think that there is a lot more history to be made between my wife and me.

Every so often, we have some quiet time to chat as the day to day tasks of working and taking care of the kids means that we have few occasions to be alone and just talk. Sunday mornings, we rise early, at around six o’clock, and head downstairs while the kids are still sleeping to have coffee and read the Sunday paper. This is our opportunity to enjoy each other's company and to share a hushed laugh. Occasionally, we surprise ourselves.

On one particular weekend morning not too long ago, we talked about various jobs we had in high school. Of course, we reminisced about how I worked with Mrs. Martens all those years and eventually ended up marrying the woman whom she regarded her “niece.” I described how I remembered seeing Diana coming and going to the library with her friends all the time and my wife raised an eyebrow.

What do you mean she used to go to the library with all of her friends?” she asked.

I picked my head up from the sports section and looked at her. “Huh? That’s exactly what I mean. Diana always had a friend with her as she came to visit her mom.”

She never took anyone to the library but me. I went there with her all the time.”

My mouth opened and I paused a moment. Finally I spoke.

You mean to tell me that was you who I saw with Diana way back when I was sixteen years old?

We both stared at each other. It was a moment when we both understood how eerie the circumstances actually were. More than just the coincidence of working with Mrs. Martens in the library, and then meeting her again nearly ten years later while dating her daughter’s best friend, was the fact that I used to regularly bump into the woman I would someday ask on a date, fall in love with, become engaged to, marry, and father two children with. All of this happened long before I would meet her one evening in a loud, smoky, night club and asked her to dance at one thirty in the morning.

I have the chills.” I remember my wife saying.

Wow. That was you the whole time? I can’t believe it. And we wouldn’t meet again for almost ten years as total strangers in a bar.” I pondered.

It took a few more seconds for that insight to sink in for both of us; yet, it required twenty years for us to finally discover this concurrence. We still chuckle about it. And, once in a while, something will make me ponder the mystery surrounding the memories I have of a young, teenaged girl following her friend around the library as I watched from between the book shelves.

Her image remains blank, as if shaded to obscure her identity. In my recollections of her at the library, she exists as an anthology of fleeting glimpses and passing glances. I’m unable to conjure a distinct likeness of her. The discovery of our previous encounters is like unearthing a treasure chest and finding nothing inside. It hurts because I can’t envision her walking next to Diana; and, I wish I was able to remember what she looked like when we came within precious inches of each other not knowing that one day we'd meet again and fulfill a new destiny.

Yesterday I sat in my car in the driveway of my home, and listened to a song I first heard as a sixteen year old teenager back in 1980 while driving to my job at the library. Inside that building was a woman who would remain an obscure outline in my mind for many years until the day I found her again and she became my wife.

That song made its own significance clear by its title: “Don’t Stand so Close to me,” by The Police. For me, it reminds me of a young man edged by providence away from the woman whom he was supposed to fall in love with later on in life, and not before. Perhaps if I stood closer to her, if our eyes met and we chatted like two awkward teenagers, things would have turned out differently. Who knows? What I do know for sure is that I am happy. We are happy, together.

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32 comments:

The Supplicant said...

Wow. What a story. Excellent piece of writing Mike. For me the "coup de grace" was the following majestic formulation of words: Her image remains blank, as if shaded to obscure her identity. In my recollections of her at the library, she exists as an anthology of fleeting glimpses and passing glances. I’m unable to conjure a distinct likeness of her. Well done! You certainly have a gift for weaving the story and keeping the reader spellbound. As always I thoroughly enjoyed this. Take care my friend.
~JD

Casey Quinn said...

Hi, I like your site, found it on blogcatelog. We have recently opened a new Ezine for short story and flash fiction writers that I thought you would be interested in.

Check out http://shortstory.us.com if you have some stories you would like to submit for review for future releases or if you are looking for some good quality reads to help pass the time!

Paul Burman said...

Nicely told, Mike, as always. And yes, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Max said...

Hey Mike!

I am not the kind to be moved too often; but your post moved me!
I know exactly what you and your wife experienced, and let me tell you that it is one of the most beautiful non-coincidental moments in anyone's life.

I dare saying (and allow me to expose my mystical side a bit) that you and your wife were destined to be together. God sealed your love since you were young :D.
I think that even if you had spoken in the library (when teens) the outcome would've been the same (with some nuances though)...but if you met 10 years later it was for a very good reason :D!

I utterly loved this post! And I am so glad that you and your wife are happy, extremely happy *happy and tender faces*!

May God bless you and your family even more!
Have a great weekend...

Cheers

Poetikat said...

Isn't that incredible! It must have been a true epiphany to discover that all that time she was the one in whose presence you were.
My husband and I often wonder if we were ever in the same place at the same time - we had similar haunts in the "big city" and we are of similar age. He came from the north end and I from the suburbs. It's not out of the realm of possibility.
I understand your sadness at not being able to clearly see your wife in your mind's eye, as she was then. Great story, Mike.

Kat

franscud said...

Great post Mike. It's amazing how life plays out, and sometimes the coincidences would challenge if we hadn't experienced them. A wonderful read, and I felt effortlessly moved along by the writing to the very touching conclusion.

Sleeping Beauty said...

Sweet. You just never know what or who the future holds.

Bob Johnson said...

Wow, quite a story, it is amazing the twists and turns in life, what might have been, if only, but you know for you it turned out very cool. Thanks again for a great story Mike.

Jack Payne said...

I guess the guy / gal--whoever--came up with "It's a small world" knew what they were talking about, huh, Mike?

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
You flater me with your praise of my writing ability.

"For me the "coup de grace" was the following majestic formulation of words: Her image remains blank, as if shaded to obscure her identity. In my recollections of her at the library, she exists as an anthology of fleeting glimpses and passing glances. I’m unable to conjure a distinct likeness of her. Well done!"

However, I am kind of happy with the way that particular line came out. Thanks again. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Casey Quinn,
I will check out your aite, and thanks for inviting me. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Max,
Thank you so much for reading this peice, and for your kind words here.

"I think that even if you had spoken in the library (when teens) the outcome would've been the same (with some nuances though)...but if you met 10 years later it was for a very good reason :D!"

You know, I am still glad that I never talked to her in the Library because the way I was as a teenager, I was too much of a goofball to be impressive. If we met later on and she met me again, that would have spolied everything. Still, I appreciate your vote of confidence. Thanks, Max. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Paul,
Thnak you for your compliment and for reading this. It means a lot to me that you read my work. I appreciate it, Paul. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Poetikat,

"My husband and I often wonder if we were ever in the same place at the same time - we had similar haunts in the "big city" and we are of similar age. He came from the north end and I from the suburbs. It's not out of the realm of possibility."

I belive the both of you better sit down and the kitchen table on a Sunday morning and begin chatting about your early lives. That's how we discovered our previous encounters, lol. Still, since I wrote this, my coworker discovered that he and his wife bboth went to the ame church when they were young, and another cuple we know discovered their families shopped in the same store and they beilve there is an encounter there as weel, however brief. The fun begins as couples try to find out if they were "destined" to be together and if they had chance meetings eary in life. Thanks Poetikat. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Francis,

"A wonderful read, and I felt effortlessly moved along by the writing to the very touching conclusion.

Thank you very much for reading and for your kind words about my writing. I try very hard to make my writing "effortless" and in this case, based on your comment, I feel I succeeded. You're a talented writer, and I admire your art and poetry, and your words carry a lot of weight with me. Thank you. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Sleeping beauty, It is so nice to see you again! Where have you been? Has parenting taken its toll? I checked out your blog and I see that you've posted again. I'll give your piece a good read when I have a chance. Thank you so much for coming by, and it is good to see you back in "blog world," lol. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
I appreciate your kind wordas nd comment on my post. I am also glad you enjoyed this. Thank you. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jack,
It is indeed a smal world, but I still maried the most beautiful wman in the world. Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. -Mike.

Mike French said...

I'm late for the party again - sorry M2.

It's like chemistry - the wrong set of chemicals mixed together and nothing happens. Add the right ingredient and wham you have a reaction.

I guess your missing ingredient was time and who you both were then. Mature a bit add a bit of time and pow what was inert explodes into life!

Strange how life plays out.

Swubird said...

MIke:

I only have two things to say after reading your heartfelt story.

One: It's a very small world. Sometimes we search all over for what we want only to find that it's been right there in front of us all along. You just have to see it.

Two: You and your bride will still make a lot of history. Once the kids are grown and out on their own, you'd be surprised at how much living the two of you will do.

Thanks for sharing a little part of your life.

Happy trails.

Madison Richards said...

Very cool. Same thing happened to me recently with a good friend who is also an author. I thought I had met her husband first but then we realized we met at a writer's conference several years back because I remembered a woman and her daughter who asked me to take their picture outside the resort! It was them, of course.

Now we are both writers and our families have been friends for years - our daughter went to Africa with her husband's charity organization and ... ok, I'm rambling. Sorry!

I love it when those things happen!

Great blog - keep writing!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike,
You're never late for the party and you are always welcome, my friend.

"It's like chemistry - the wrong set of chemicals mixed together and nothing happens. Add the right ingredient and wham you have a reaction.

I guess your missing ingredient was time and who you both were then. Mature a bit add a bit of time and pow what was inert explodes into life!"


You are so right, my buddy. I never looked at this the way you describe it. I suppose if we met any earlier, things could have been awkward and we never would have made it. Thanks so much for the insight, Mike (M1).

-Mike. (M2)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Swubird,

I am always grateful to have fine folks such as you visit here and read my stories. It is my pleasure to share my life events, and you never have to thank me for posting my writing. I need to thank you for being loyal to me and for understanding what I do here; and that is to write from the heart. I appreciate you pointing out that my wife and I still have a long history ahead of us. Thank you, Swubird. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Madison,
Don't you love coincidences like ours? This is such a small world. Im waiting for one day when I bump into a blogger I know one somewhere. "Hey, didn't you used to write this blog called...?" Wouldn't that be funny? Thank you so much for reading my blog, and never, ever, feel like you are rambling. I do not care how long a comment someone levaes for me. This is all in good fun. Thanks!

-Mike.

Peter said...

Hi! Getting on with the in-laws is a must in my books. Just prior to meeting up with my future in-laws many moons ago, I was told that the last boyfriend to visit the house, was met with a knife. So as soon as I saw them enter the house, I told them I was a good Marist Brothers Boy. They were catholic you see. Well, that is how I broke the ice and got into their good books.

Take Care,
Peter

elaine said...

Wow, this is amazing! I enjoyed reading this post. It's like a page from my favorite pocketbooks. lol (I am a hopeless romantic).

I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. Some people are really meant to be.

I wonder when would that twist of fate let me meet the person I am going to be for the rest of my life.

The Muse said...

Beautiful! I have a similar scenario. That small world theory just keeps ringing true. I love it.

And then there's those songs...Sometimes I get so caught up I can't breathe.

Excellent story!

Have a great day!

Peter said...

Hi! Just popped over again to thank you for all the support you have given me during the last 12 months.

Take Care,
Peter

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Peter,
"I was told that the last boyfriend to visit the house, was met with a knife. So as soon as I saw them enter the house, I told them I was a good Marist Brothers Boy. They were catholic you see. Well, that is how I broke the ice and got into their good books."

That was a harrowing experience to say the least. I've had some rude welcomes at girlfriend's homes before I met the lovely lady I married, but never with a knife. It's a good thing that your quick wit and charm won them over. Thanks Peter. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,

"I wonder when would that twist of fate let me meet the person I am going to be for the rest of my life."

I am sure that you have the man of your dreams waiting in the wings somewhere until the day you are both destined to be together. It's a mater of timing, I suppose. There's something to be said for being a romantic. Romantics have the biggest hearts and are always destined for true love. Thanks Elaine.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Muse,

"Beautiful! I have a similar scenario. That small world theory just keeps ringing true. I love it."

I'd love to hear your scenario. And yes, it is a small world indeed. One day, perhaps, all of the secrets of this life will be revealed to us, and that is something worth waiting for, and worth living well for. Thanks, Muse. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Peter,

"Hi! Just popped over again to thank you for all the support you have given me during the last 12 months."

You're welcome, Peter. It's been twelve months already? Wow. I'll catch up at your blog soon. -Mike.