Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happily Ever After?~ Parte Due

Okay, okay, Weimie- here's the rest of the tale!

I arrived in Kansas the end of August, just in time to start school. Chris & I spoke on the phone a couple of times, but it was too hard to keep it up. We each started dating again & the first part of December, I met B, who I would eventually marry. He was five years older, with a good job & a nice car, & was ready to be in a steady relationship. He had a close knit, friendly family who enthusiastically took me in as one of their own- I think half the attraction was his family.

After a year, I went back to California for a visit, but Chris wasn’t there. He had gone with the Young Rebels on a 4 week performing tour of Poland, Romania, & Czechoslovakia, & wouldn’t return until a week after I returned to Kansas. What he did do was send a huge bouquet of flowers & a cassette tape of music, with a recorded message telling me how much he had missed me, how sorry he couldn’t see me again, & that he would always care about me. I wish I still had the tape, but B wasn’t comfortable with me remaining friends with an old boyfriend- I think he threw it out, along with the few pictures I had of Chris.

B & I got engaged 2 days after my 18th birthday, much to the dismay of my parents, particularly after I told them I wasn’t going to college. Never one to sit & do nothing, 3 months before the wedding, my Mother called Chris & asked him to contact me. She was obviously hoping that hearing from him would cause me to reconsider getting married, & as much as I hate to admit my Mother was right, I nearly did. I was sharing an apartment with 3 other girls, students at the University; I came home one evening to a message written in big red letters “Chris G called & want you to call right away!” I phone him back & we spent a couple of hours talking, catching up on the past 2 ½ years, when he played his trump card: “I just wish I could see you again, now that we’re older & on our own- there is so much that we missed, so many things we couldn’t do back then.” Okay, that was not fair- I had pretty much settled in my mind that it really hadn’t been the Grand Passion & forever-after love, that I had just romanticized what was an ordinary short-term relationship. Suddenly, all those memories & feelings flooded back- here he was telling me it had been special to him as well. I got off the phone feeling very confused & restless; I spent the next couple of day mulling over the whole conversation in my mind, & decided to call Chris back. I went directly to the point: if I were to come back to California right now, what would our relationship be, where would we stand?

This is where the flaw in my Mother’s scheme showed up- she neglected to find out what was going on in Chris’ life at that time. He stuttered a bit, & replied that we would be “very good, old friends”- you see, he was living with someone & they were talking about getting married! Well, that torn it- I told him have a nice life & said goodbye. Then I got married.

I won’t go into my first marriage- as I said in my “101” it wasn’t really bad- it just wasn’t good. Mistakes were made by both of us & forgiveness was hard to come by. Suffice to say; at the end of 5 ½ years, it was definitely in the midst of death throes. The last year had been horribly stressful, after both the children had been injured in separate accidents, Robb quite seriously. I had taken the children to visit my Mother in California for a week in December; I needed some time away, as we had decided to separate after Christmas.

One evening, while talking to my sister, she asked me if I ever heard from Chris. I told her that I hadn’t spoken to him since before I got married & asked why she wanted to know. She told me how he used to come by to visit them every few months or so, but they hadn’t heard from him in nearly a year & wondered if everything was all right.

This got me to thinking about Chris again (as if I had really stopped), wondering if he was happy, if he had any children, etc; so I decided to call his Mom to see how things were going. His brother answered the phone, & after I explained who I was, he said that he remembered me, & that Chris wasn’t there right now, but should be home in a day or two. Huh? He was living at home again? Last I had heard, he had his own business & was getting married. Well, it took Chris two days to call back- 45 minutes before we were leaving for the airport to go home. We really only had time to express regrets for missing each other again & exchange phone numbers & promises to talk later.

I finally screwed up the courage to call him a week later. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t particularly impressed with him at 25. He had lost his business when the construction boom ended, had gotten involved in drugs, lost his house, his fiancĂ©e (they never got around to getting married) & his driver’s license; he was living with his Mom, helping out after she had cancer surgery, & spending entirely too much time partying. I was politely winding down the conversation, with no intentions of ever talking to him again, when my husband came into the room & demanded to know who I was talking to- when I replied “An old friend,” he began yelling that he knew it was a man, I wasn’t allowed to talk to men, etc. Chris could hear him, & asked me if I was in any danger- was he going to hit me? I assured him that I was fine & said goodbye; then proceeded to have a huge flaming row with B, one of many over the past year.

The following morning, Chris called me back to make sure that I was really all right. I thanked him for his concern- he really was a good friend- & explained about our situation, that I would be moving out the first of the year. He asked if it would be okay to call every so often- we were both going through hard times & it would be good to have a friend to talk to about things. So that’s what we did.

In the beginning, we would talk once a week; then twice a week; after a couple of months, we were talking every day. Through what Chris credits to my influence, he went off the drugs cold turkey; he started staying home in the evenings so we could talk & really applied himself to finding a new job. Once we got past all the macho posturing- I told him it was a lot of B*S* & he needed to drop it- I saw that kind, gentle boy I had known nine years before. Jessica & I were living with my Dad, while I worked at the local fabric store for barely over minimum wage, so there was no money or time for any kind of social life. I depended on Chris’ friendship & encouragement, since he understood how difficult it was rebuilding a new life from the ashes of the old. I also shared my faith in God with him, something he had walked away from after his father’s death.

Over the course of the next 5 months, friendship grew into love; but this was a different kind of love than before. We became intimate on a different level, sharing our hopes, dreams, & disappointments. Although neither of us said it outright, we knew we wanted to be together, yet we were still separated by 2000 miles. Chris encouraged me to come out to visit, to look for work &, more particularly, see if we really wanted to be with each other. So, the end of April, the day my divorce was final, I flew with Jessica to California.

I was so nervous- I hadn’t even seen a picture of Chris- all I remember were flashes of a skinny 17 year old- & here I was, a mother of two, built nothing like I had been nine years before. I drove up to his Mom’s house, & there he was, leaning against the fence, watching for us to arrive. He was so handsome, & definitely full-grown, but there was still the tenderhearted boy in his eyes. We hugged & kissed, then I introduced him to Jessica- she has never known what a stranger is, so she took right to him (women often do). That evening was really our first date; the three of us went to dinner at the local Italian restaurant & sat for an hour talking & eating. Since it was Friday night, there was a small combo playing music in the lounge; Chris asked me "Would you like to dance?" I replied, "I'd like to, but we can leave Jessica sitting here alone." He gave me a surprised look, & said "I was asking both of you!" That is one of my favorite memories- the three of us dancing together to "Unforgetable".

We spent the next seven days together; I found a job & a babysitter for Jessica within 4 days, & then Chris’ Mom asked me to move in with them, instead of sharing an apartment with strangers. I was overwhelmed; this woman was willing to take in a virtual stranger & her child for her son’s sake- but evidently, she had decided long ago that I was the right one for Chris. I went back to Kansas & gave my notice at work; 3 weeks later, Chris flew out, we packed up the car, said our goodbyes, & drove to California to start our life together. (Little aside- Chris had just started a new job 6 weeks before I moved out there. I was planning on driving by myself, since he couldn’t take off work so soon & really couldn’t afford to fly out anyway. When his boss, Pat, found out about the arrangement, he told Chris to take off four days- with pay- & used his frequent flier miles to give Chris an airline ticket. Pat & his wife are an awesome Christian couple & blessed in so many ways over the years, & Chris stayed with his company for 7 years, only leaving because we couldn’t afford to live in the Bay Area anymore.)

It was a three day drive from eastern Kansas to the San Francisco Bay Area; we stopped in Reno on the second evening, & called his Mom to tell her we were staying over- but she threw such a fit about not being able to drive up there on short notice, we decided to drive on through. We were married four months later, on September 2, 1988- but that is another story.


Stefaneener said...

Meg, thank you.

Charity said...

Meg - I love your story! Have you ever thought about putting it into a novel? :0)