Well, here it is! Be advised, this one's a bit longer than any previous posts! I enjoying writing this up and being able to look back on every moment that you're about to read. Enjoy :-)
After high school, I went straight to working in retail. I also went to trade school for HVAC - Dad owns his HVAC business, and I was set on taking over in about 15 years' time. While in school I worked at a gas station, and eventually was pregnant. I graduated from trade school with full certifications, and had about 2 months of pregnancy left. I was also single by this time. Mom & Dad let us stay with them, and in December of 1998 I started a new job with an airline.}
Now, in October of 1999, my team had a new class of employees join us. I noticed him right away, and my supervisor saw that. Thanks to "Wolfie", I met my future husband! Wolfie put me in charge of training Ardeo - 2 weeks during which I tried to teach him all aspects of our job. On the first day I already had the butterflies and weak knees when I saw him - but I had to try and talk to him too. Not easy when you're tripping over your tongue... but I managed, and he learned with no problems. It helps that it was mostly simple routine anyway! At the end of the two-week training, I was able to spend a lot of time talking to my best friend there - I'll call her Ski (as in snow and slopes) - about him. She kept telling me to "jusk ask him out for a beer or something". Well, after the previous year's events, I was already pretty set on all the good men being spoken for, or myself not being his "type" - I honestly wasn't looking for a relationship at all. So I had Ski ask him if he was married or seeing anyone. He wasn't! I was thinking - okay, he's not married. I must not be his type. I hope he isn't gay! (Yes, I know it's terrible - but that's what I was thinking at the time.)
A few weeks later, the company's Winter Dance date was announced. They chose that year to go Sadie Hawkins with it. So now I asked another friend, Burt, to talk man-to-man with Ardeo for me. (I still couldn't talk to the man without the butterflies.) You know - is he seeing anyone? Is he going to the dance? Does he have any kids? Does he know I have one? Bless him, Burt asked him all those things and got back to me the next day. When I found out he hadn't planned on going to the dance I bought two tickets - intending them for the two of us, but wouldn't have been upset if he didn't want to go.
Thanksgiving came and he came down here to visit his family, while I stayed with mine. The dance was just a couple weeks away now. Our schedules had just changed, but we were on the same team and same shift for the next 6 months. Wolfie still had us working very close - on the same side of the building - almost every week. I asked Burt if he'd let Ardeo know that I had two tickets, and wondered if he'd think about going to the dance with me. Burt asked, and P said he would think about it. I ran for Ski and told her we needed to find me a dress for the dance! :-)
On December 15, 1999, Ardeo and I were working on a few flights together. It was raining most of the night, a little more than drizzle but not quite pouring. Both of us in our sexy yellow raingear. LOL On my last flight, he was helping me load the bags and get everything finished up. Once all baggage was stacked, I laid down on the floor of the cargo bin and stuck my head out to talk to him. I will always remember exactly how he looked at the moment, how hard the rain was falling, the way the light was hitting his eyelashes, the hat part of the rain coat..... everything, as if it were a photograph. I could *almost* count the raindrops surrounding him when I got the courage to ask "Wanna grab a beer after work?" - I thought my stomach was going to jump out my throat! He said he'd like that, and my stomach was flitting around inside like a hummingbird. We walked back inside until the flight was ready to go, and about 30 minutes later we clocked out.
He followed me to Applebee's just up the road. Went inside, got a table, ordered a couple beers, and just made idle chit-chat until they came to us. The next moment is the the one he still teases me about, and it still makes us crack up when we talk about it. I had to ask though, to set my mind at ease.
"Are you gay?"
The look on his face was similar to this:
"Uh .... no."
Whew! And I said that, too. I explained how I came to be a single mother, and that my mindset was that 'all the good men are either gay or married.', and I knew he wasn't married. We laughed about the question a bit and finally went on to talk over a couple more beers - about two hours. Applebee's was about to close and we went out to my car. It was raining harder now so we sat inside talking a little more. I asked him if he'd like to follow me home - totally out of his way - and continue our conversation; he agreed. We went back to my house, and stayed in the car while we talked for another few hours. I think it was around 4 a.m. before he left to go home! We both had to work the next day.
The dance was another week later. I went to his house to pick him up. Two of his friends (one was his roommate) were there helping him pick a tie. We only stayed a few minutes, then left for the dance. All I really remember was dancing to "This Is How We Do It" with another coworker - it was funny, we were acting like fools - and leaving kind of early. I took him back home, but stayed for a couple hours this time while we talked some more. He's still not the type who likes to dance, but we danced a bit in his room (standing up, don't worry!!) if a good song came on the radio. Driving home that night I was completely ecstatic - I already knew there was a reason for my job there, his job there, Wolfie putting us together for two weeks.... I knew this was the man I was going to marry one day. I kept that to myself for months, but always just knew we were meant to be together. We spent many nights for a few months sitting in either of our cars, just talking until 3 or 4 a.m., and by Spring I felt that we knew just about everything about each other.
In July of 2001, we were standing on his back porch looking at the sky around midnight. Boy and I were spending the night, as I had to work the next day and Poseidon was going to babysit for me - Boy was already asleep by midnight! So having a quiet night looking at the stars and talking a little, we stood up and he was telling me about his Orion tattoo (Orion isn't visible here in July). He was behind me with his arms wrapped around me, we were just THERE. Then he said he wanted to ask me something - I truly did not see it coming - and turned me around to face him.
"Would you like to spend the rest of your life with me?"
Of course I teared up, but managed to tell him yes! It was as if he'd asked "Is the grass green?" Well, yes! YES YES YES!! I don't know how I was able to sleep that night, but I did. The first person I told was Ski, then word spread through the team like wildfire. I was again ecstatic, I couldn't believe I was going to marry Mr. Right!
August, 2001 - On the advice of my closest cousin (Lurkey - another story for another time!) we decided to live together until we were married. We set a Spring date and moved closer to work in September of 2001. We actually looked at the apartment at 9 a.m. on 9/11.... I went into work at 10 that morning, but had no idea what had happened until I got to work and heard that we were on a ground stop. I remember looking at the sky and thinking "It doesn't look like bad weather, wonder what it is?" Then Ardeo called to tell me he was watching the news while the boy was watching cartoons in the other room. Dad also called me to see if things were okay at our airport (they were, we were all just in shock like everyone else.).
After a month or so, our personal lives were more settled, and we started looking for dates in March, hoping to be married at a nearby park around the vernal equinox. One day he was just browsing online, and ran across St. John's Weddings - it sounded perfect to me! We looked at our schedules, rearranged them a bit, and scheduled three days in the Caribbean to be married on the beach. (WOW! It only cost us $200 back then!)
We arrived to St. Thomas March 20 in the afternoon, went to the courthouse to get our license, then found our hotel and chilled for a while. I don't remember much else from that night, other than walking around enjoying the view and settling on the balcony after dinner.
The next morning we got ourselves ready to ferry over to St. John's. Anne-Marie was expecting us around 10 a.m. - and when we got to that island, we couldn't find her! Luckily there was a lady working inside (clerk's office, maybe?) who saw that we seemed "lost", and offered to help. She knew exactly who we were looking for and called the Reverend at home. She gave us a few ideas to kill the time, as Anne-Marie would be there in about 30 minutes, and wished us well. When she arrived she introduced herself, and asked us where we wanted to do this. When we said we hadn't thought about it, she led us to a more secluded part of the beach, almost a cove. She gave us a little history of that particular beach, told us that the island was part of a National Park, then asked us if we would like to begin the ceremony.
She read Song of Solomon 2:8-12, gave a small speech from her heart on love, and said she could tell that we truly loved each other and should be together always. When it was time for the rings, we both got so nervous that we couldn't put each other's rings on! We laughed as Anne-Marie said "Look, you two are working together so well already!" while we fiddled with the rings. After she pronounced us, she offered to take a few pictures for us and give us a few moments to enjoy the seclusion - while she went to look for witnesses. LOL It just so happened that the first couple she ran into lived near Ardeo's family! They wished us well and told us to 'look them up' when we visit the family. We would, but I haven't been able to decipher their last name - they kind of signed in a hurry! After the 5 of us chatted a few minutes, our witnesses went on their way. Anne-Marie talked to us again, telling us that "it's said when you marry in the Islands, your love will last forever.", and speaking a bit more about love in general. (Now, she was an awesome lady with a wonderful soul - but she kind of reminded me of a stereotypical 'free love' hippie flower child type, but that was totally okay by me! Those who know me understand that completely!) As Anne-Marie was about to leave, she gave us $50 back and said that our first meal as man & wife was 'on her', and wished us well in our lives as she left.
We spent the rest of the day swimming and walking around. Ardeo bought me a dress and a pair of sunglasses - those are my souvenirs and I still have both! The sunglasses were finally broken just last year, but I do still have them. I hope to be in that dress this summer too. It's a bright but lovely orange, and just a tinge snug these days. Our dinner that night was a restaurant on the beach with a reggae band playing. It was an open-air place, and we were seated by a 'window'. A man walked up to us after we ate and asked for a smoke. LOL It was a good meal, and I wish I could remember the name of the place! We just walked around next to the water for a while, then caught a taxi to go back to our room.
We spent our wedding night watching basketball. :-) As an added bonus - that was the night that Indiana beat Duke!!! So it was really a great day that ended awesomely for two UK fans :-)
Now we've been married 6 years, and daily I still see the man I fell for 8 years ago. I am so happy! Only 90 years to go :-)
We're off for a great weekend alone. Enjoy your upcoming week!! Happy Spring!
Amphitrite, lover of Ardeo (in this case!)