I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A quarter century later

1992 --> 2015
Don't let anybody tell you that 25 years is not a long time. It might not seem like much, looking back, but it's almost a third of a normal life span. And frankly, I would be one of the last people to think that the two of us would have made a life together in such wonderful fashion. Me, a veteran of three failed marriages and he of one. And we were both fifty when we first met. Looking at that top picture, it amazes me that we looked so good for our ages. And the septuagenarians in the bottom picture look pretty darn good, too. It is a quarter century later, after all.

I wasn't looking for a mate when we first got together. I had started skydiving two years before and that was all I thought about, all that mattered to me at the time. Every waking moment that I wasn't working was spent thinking about when I would next be able to make a jump. I had state-of-the-art skydiving gear and had bought an old rust bucket of a car so that I could make the fifty-minute drive to the local Drop Zone every weekend. I left work early on Wednesday when the summertime weather was good to make some jumps in the afternoon with three like-minded friends.

There was a news group on the Internet (long before everybody had a website) about skydiving, and I spent some guilty work time on that group, learning all I could about the sport, and making friends who were also skydivers. There was one person who didn't post often, but when he did, I liked what he had to say about skydiving. I could relate when he explained how skydiving had taken over his life, and I decided to send him a private email. It couldn't be delivered, for some reason, so I tried again a week later. He sent back a short cryptic email that said he'd answer when he had some time. I had made contact!

Well, over the period of several months, we sent many emails back and forth, and I learned that he lived in San Francisco and was exactly my age and single. It also turned out that, although he had thousands of skydives, he was not currently jumping. But he answered every question I had about it, and I must say I fell in love with him before I ever heard his voice or saw his face. We made a decision to call each other (in the days when long distance phone calls weren't cheap) and before long we were talking to each other almost every night of the week.

Then it was time for us to send pictures to one another. He sent me some of his writings and a couple pictures of himself from twenty years before, saying he didn't have anything more current. I saw a wild-haired young man wearing a backpack in the wilderness smiling at the camera, and the other he was standing with some other skydivers at a Drop Zone sometime in the distant past. I sent him current pictures of me showing off my skydiving gear before making a skydive. I might have sent him some others, but I don't remember.

We made plans to meet. He would fly from San Francisco to Denver and I'd meet him at the airport and take him back to my apartment in Boulder. We felt like we knew each other well by this time, and the actual physical meeting seemed like an afterthought. I remember standing at the arrival gate at the airport, watching each person leaving the plane, impatiently waiting to see my love depart. Nobody caught my eye, nobody seemed like the man I was waiting for. After everyone had left, I looked around to see why I had missed him. And there he was: a balding slightly overweight man who appeared only faintly like the picture I had in my mind. He looked at me and I looked at him, realizing that reality was taking over my romantic vision.

As we walked through the airport and finally getting in my car, I had recovered enough to realize that this was still the man I loved, and I tried to kiss him once we were inside the car. He recoiled and I didn't understand why. The romantic reunion I imagined was not there, not at all. What I hadn't realized (and I know so well now) is that SG is not someone who rushes into situations without contemplation and caution. I learned much later that the person who approached him in the airport (me) reminded him uncomfortably of his mother, who he didn't much like.

So there we were in my apartment, learning about each other for the entire weekend, and although I wasn't exactly happy about how things had gone, we made some progress towards each other: almost enough for me and overwhelmingly enough for him. We made plans for me to come and visit him in San Francisco. The top picture was taken in his apartment when I first visited, and we walked around the city together and I met some of his friends. That time it was easier, because we knew what to expect from one another.

One thing led to another, and he decided to give notice at his job and move to Boulder. I was able to get him on my health insurance if we were willing to announce ourselves as a couple, and before too long he packed up his belongings, I flew to San Francisco and we made the several-day-long journey to Boulder. He stayed in my apartment for a short while before finding a place of his own to live. I went back to spending every weekend at the Drop Zone, and he accompanied me as I made skydives with other friends.

Before long he was back in the sky with some borrowed gear, and he and I made many skydives together, both with each other and sometimes with other friends. When my mother died in 1993 and I inherited my share of her estate, I used some of that money to buy him his own gear. And that was the beginning of many years together with skydiving at the core of our relationship. We were married in freefall in 1994 (yes, that is something you can do). I wrote about it here.

And now, neither one of us skydives any more, and we have found a place where we belong, here in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying our sunset years together. I have full, interesting days; as an extrovert married to an introvert we spend much of our time apart, doing what makes us happy, but we always spend some time together every day sharing with one another. He is asleep next to me as I write this as part of my Sunday morning routine. I'll soon get up and start my day and head off to the coffee shop to meet my friends there. When I come home, he'll be up and about, and we'll check in to see what the day has in store for each of us. It's a pretty perfect life for us, and we both cherish each day we have together.

I could never had guessed that life would have taken me here with this wonderful man. It's a good thing I wasn't in charge of making the big choices or I wouldn't be here. We seem to have some pretty active guardian angels who helped make it all happen! I hope that the coming week will be a good one for you, and that we will meet here again next Sunday. Be well until then.

23 comments:

jo(e) said...

What a wonderful story!

The Broad said...

My goodness, but that was romantic -- and just goes to show that that you never know what is around the corner! You have both been very blessed...

Linda Reeder said...

Thank you for sharing this story, and the photos! I know that SG is a very private person, but I loved reading about him and your relationship history.

Red said...

Congratulations. I can tell this story means a lot to you. Now for another 25 years.

Linda Myers said...

What a beautiful story! I hadn't known how your relationship developed. I love the description of your first meeting at the airport.

Gigi said...

Happy anniversary! I loved hearing how your relationship blossomed!

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, It is great to see pics of you and SG and read your story! It’s a great story and underscores one thing I’ve noticed over the years about lasting marriages. Those who are totally accepting of each other are most likely to stay together. Those who get married in spite of things they think they can change about the other person are pretty likely to end up apart. Congratulations on 25 years!

Bonnie said...

Thank you for sharing your special story! It is wonderful to read how people get together and it is easy to see that you and SG have a very special life together!

Have a wonderful week DJan!

Olga Hebert said...

Very nice. And you were and are a very handsome/lovely couple.

Elephant's Child said...

Misty eyed here.
A happy anniversary to you both. And hugs.

Arkansas Patti said...

Love this story!!! Thank you for letting us meet SG and get to know him a little. What a facinating, unlikely beginning you two had that developed so beautifully. Happy anniversary and I am sure you have signed up for 25 more.

Arkansas Patti said...

PS Really cute pictures of the both of you then and now.

Marie Smith said...

Such a wonderful love story, Jan. Happy anniversary? Twenty five years is historic! Have a great week!

Jackie said...

A beautiful story....and, as always, so well written, my friend.
I am happy for both of you.
Sending love from South Georgia to you.
Jackie

Carole said...

What a beautiful love story! Thanks for sharing DJan :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a lovely love story. Meeting online works for many people with like interests. I am glad it worked out for you. It sounds like you both have separate but together lives the best of both worlds:)

Rita said...

Congrats on 25 years! Love found a way! :) :)

C-ingspots said...

How wonderful to be sharing your life with your best friend. Congratulations!

gigihawaii said...

Oh, what a heartwarming love story. Meeting your spouse because of skydiving is wonderful. I met my husband at a music rehearsal and he began driving me home after each rehearsal. Now, here we are, married for almost 37 years.

Sally Wessely said...

Wow. What an awesome story. I've known little parts and pieces about SG, but I never knew how you met or how you got together. I know that our mutual friend who skydives told me much about SG when I saw him a few years ago. He credits being alive today to Smart Guy and all that he taught him about skydiving and life as a skydiver. Now, I know the rest of the story, and it is a beautiful one. Congratulations and blessings to you both.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

What a beautiful post and congratulations on those 25 years!!

Stella Jones said...

I'm glad I hopped in to read this post DJan. It's a lovely story and not unlike mine in some ways. I am so happy for you that you have found true happiness at last and that you didn't give up!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

What a lovely tribute to 25 years together. And as I read this I realized I had reached the 50 year point since hubby and I met this past November. Your meeting was way more romantic and both of you had past partners. We were poor students and had no clue then that we would be life partners. Thanks for sharing your special beginning of a beautiful 25 years together.