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You are Here: Home > Love Stories > How We Met > It was Fate

It was Fate
by Marilyn
I had begun my 'being single' adventure six days earlier. After filing for divorce from my husband of twenty-nine years, I left for my summer sabbatical from my small midwest town for six weeks on the west coast - just me and my car. Along the way I'd stopped to visit various friends and family members; the last of whom lived between Flagstaff and Phoenix. I loved the freedom my trip gave me; I could do/go what/where I wanted whenever I wanted. I'd left my cousin's home about 9 a.m.

Because I teach science, I'd made lots of stops to photograph various rock formations, mountains, etc. North of Phoenix I saw a rest area approaching with another spectacular view so decided it was time for another stop. I pulled in to the rest area packed with people, got out of my car with my cigarette in one hand and camera in the other. I walked through the picnic area to the lookout point to take pictures. As I walked through, there was a man sitting on a table smoking. He was distinguised looking with a gray beard - one of those men for whom it's hard to pinpoint an exact age. He smiled at me as I walked by and I smiled back. While taking photos, I glanced back to where he was sitting and noticed him still watching me. There was something about him that made me want to know more, so I sauntered back and sat on a nearby table to finish my cigarette. At that point, he said, "Hi." I said "Hi" back, and we began conversing. I could not believe how easy he was to talk to; I felt such a comfort level with him. Our conversation covered everything from who we were and where we were from, to my divorce, to his bad experiences in relationships, to life in general. There was not one topic that was taboo. After what seemed a short time, I glanced at my watch and realized an hour and a half had passed! I couldn't believe it; it seemed like it'd only been a few minutes. I told him I HAD to get on the road, my brother in L.A. was expecting me. He jumped up and said, "Let me give you my e-mail address. I'd love to keep in contact with you." He ran to his car and wrote it down for me. We said our good-byes, and he gave me a hug and left. I went into the restroom grinning because I thought,"What a nice man." I also realized that I'd have to call my brother and let him know I was running late.

I hopped in my car and pulled back onto the interstate. Driving along my thoughts turned to my new friend, Jerry. I laughed to myself that my friends/family just WOULDN'T understand how I'd spent so long talking to a 'strange' man. Nothing strange about him; he had twinkling blue eyes, a deep baritone voice, and a great laugh and sense of humor. He was only a little taller than me but had a great build. I'd also discovered he was 59; I'm 50. He was retired and lived in Tucson and was originally from the Bay area of San Francisco.

About ten minutes later, I rounded a bend in the mountain and saw his car alongside the road with him leaning against the back of it. I started to slow down and pull over thinking he had car trouble. He saw me, waved me on and jumped in his car. I continued driving and laughed, thinking "What the hell was that about?" I noticed in my rear view mirror he was catching up fast. He pulled alongside me, rolled down his window, and asked me if I wanted to have lunch with him in Phoenix. I said, "Sure. Where?" He replied, "I don't know, follow me," and pulled ahead of me. By this time, I was laughing outloud thinking, "Oh Lord, now my friends/family will REALLY think I've lost it!" I rationalized there wasn't a problem; we'd be in a public place; I had my own vehicle and could leave whenever I wanted. Besides, I'd taught delinquent children for over twenty years and honestly felt I was a pretty good judge of character. He finally found a place to stop to eat, and I pulled in too. As we walked into the restaurant, I was acutely aware of his hand in the small of my back guiding me. It was almost as if there was an electricity there - a connection that felt so right. Needless to say, once again time flew as another hour and a half passed while we talked and ate. The comfort level I felt with him was so natural and easy. He was kind, and charming, and warm, and funny, and I loved the way his blue eyes sparkled as he talked. Once again, we bid farewell in the parking lot as he again put in a pitch to come visit him in Tucson.

Thoughts of my new friend occupied me as I drove the remaining miles into L.A. I rehashed in my mind everything we'd said and what I'd learned about him. It helped the remaining miles fly by. The next morning my brother went to work, and I went to his computer. I sent Jerry a note thanking him for lunch. I told him how I couldn't believe I'd stopped like that with him; that although I'm an impulsive person, this was way over the top for me. Later that day, I received an e-mail from him stating that he appreciated my e-mail and how glad he was that I had agreed to have lunch with him. He said I wouldn't know how much he argued with himself those ten miles after we parted at the rest area about stopping. He finally decided "This is a nice lady, and I can't let her get away from me so easily." He also commented on how impulsive this was for him; he's not usually that way especially around women to whom he's attracted. I felt flattered and decided to continue corresponding with him for the month I was in L.A.

The entire time I was in California we e-mailed each other daily. He called me several times, and I called him. The more I got to know him; the more I wanted to know/know about him. During this time, he'd also put in subtle hints about coming to Tucson. They'd make me laugh - things like when I said the marine layer was bad that morning; he'd respond with, "There's no marine layer in Tucson." Finally, a couple days before my departure, I received an e-mail saying, "O.K. are you going to come visit or not?" I responded, telling him that MAYbe I would visit, and babbled on about a guest room saying, "You DO have a guest room - don't you?" and other things. He replied with yes he had a guest room; his intentions were only honorable, and he'd just like the opportunity to spend more time with me. It convinced me that a visit would be good, and I left L.A. on a Thursday headed for Tucson. (He puts it that after 32 e-mails and 14 phone calls, I finally came to see him.) Only two of my very close friends knew where I'd be; they had his name, address, and phone number. Although they were supportive of what I was doing, they also were concerned about what I was doing.

As I hit the outskirts of Tucson, my butterflies had butterflies! I thought, "What the HELL are you doing?" Along the way, he'd called periodically to see where I was in my drive. The final time, I was only a couple miles from his place, so he said, "See you in a few!" It was so strange because as I turned on to his street, I saw him in front of his house waving to me. All nervousness I had vanished in an instant. He opened my door and greeted me with a hug and a kiss. He helped me unload my bag and showed me to "my" room. After I was settled in a bit, we sat on the patio for hours talking. I'd told him in an early conversation that I liked White Zin wine, and he had a bottle of it and glass chilled for me. I was impressed by how he'd truly listened to what I'd told him. My ex-husband never really listened to anything I'd ever said to him.

About an hour after I arrived, we went out for pizza, returning home to the patio where we sat and talked until 1:30 a.m. It amazed me how quickly the time passed. We went into the house, and he gave me a hug goodnight as he went to his room, and I went to mine. I slept like a baby feeling more at ease and relaxed than I had in a long time. The next morning he had coffee and bagels awaiting me when I got up. Once again, evidence that he listened to what I told him - that I often had a bagel and coffee for breakfast. He had set an itinerary of where to take me during my visit, and the next two days flew by. Each day there reinforced how 'right' my decision to visit had been.

My final night.....oh m'gosh...what a final night! We'd gone out to dinner and returned to sit, once again, on the patio. Me on the lounge chair; him on a patio chair next to me. After talking awhile, he moved to sit on the end of the lounger and was rubbing my legs. After a long time, he leaned over and gave me a kiss like none I've experienced. It was tender but had such underlying passion; I knew I was a goner! Everything that followed seemed so right and was so good. I realized that I had found the man of my dreams; the one I always thought should be out there, but just hadn't found. The next morning as we laid in bed talking, I said, "I suppose this means when I come back the guest room won't be made up for me," and giggled. He grinned and retorted, "Not unless I'm there with you."

Saying "goodbye" was the most difficult thing I'd done in a long while. As I packed, he busied himself washing the windows on my car, filling my cooler, etc. We both had tears in our eyes as we bid farewell. I didn't want to leave but had to return by the following Monday for a job commitment. I have such a vivid memory of him standing in the driveway waving goodbye as I drove away with a heavy heart.

In the nine months since we first met, so much has happened. My divorce is final. My phone bills have been astronomical - all calls to Tucson. I've been back to Jerry's four times to visit - each time for at least a week. On my visit at Christmas, Jerry proposed marriage to me. Huge changes await me. I am leaving my teaching job of 23 years and moving to Tucson in June when school's out. We are going to Lake Tahoe to be married as soon as I'm settled in and unpacked. My friends are ecstatic for me; my children are adjusting well to the prospect that I'll now be 1600+ miles away - not across town. And the best part? I am happier than I ever thought possible. He IS the man of my dreams. I am anxious to begin our 'happily ever after' part of our romance.

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