During my early twenties, I was a lost soul in many ways. I wanted desperately to share my life with someone, but never seemed able to find a kindred spirit in human form. In cat form? Yes! I considered becoming one of those old women with hundreds of cats as her family. I informed my parents that they should be prepared to be cat-grandparents, because I was giving up on men.
Then one summer things changed. I moved back to the Midwest after a year of living in Miami Beach. My friend, Julie, called to ask if I’d like to see the movie The Lion King which had just been released on the big screen. We were both suckers for sentimental Disney films, and decided to act like kids for the night. On the way across town we got stuck waiting for a long, slow-moving train to pass. We waited so long that we missed the opening of the movie and decided to go get a drink instead. Who knew that our decision would change my life forever?
Julie and I sat outside in the beer garden of a small local bar, talking. There was an open spot at the end of our table, and a man asked if he could sit down. He joined us and we started talking…and talking…and talking. Pretty soon (I am ashamed to admit) I forgot my friend Julie was even there. My world centered on the man who sat next to me that night. It was an instant bond. We shared so many stories, as well as some of our deepest, darkest secrets. I kept wondering if I would say something that would scare him away…but he never left, he never laughed, he never judged. He simply listened and shared.
As the night came to an end, I worried that we would not see each other again. We didn’t have cell phones back then. We couldn’t find a pen and paper to exchange numbers. I was heading out of town for the Fourth of July and worried that I would never again find this man who seemed to know my soul. I recited my telephone number to him over and over. He said he remembered it and that he would call. I drifted home, too euphoric to sleep.
When I returned after my trip, my heart sank because there was no message on my answering machine. I worried. But I shouldn’t have worried one bit! We were fated to be together, and we both knew it. He did call, and we haven’t spent more than a few days apart from each other ever since that fateful night–17 years ago.
We lived together for two years before we were married. Our wedding party celebrated at the little local bar where we’d met. On our first anniversary, he bought the VHS release of The Lion King and we watched it together. For our tenth anniversary, my parents bought us tickets to the stage production of The Lion King. We sat together, holding hands. Our third child danced in my belly while my family cared for our two toddlers at home. We enjoyed the show and we enjoyed our time together.
Now, our children are growing up. My husband and I are growing older together. Our life presents many challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. We have each other, and together we are raising a beautiful family.
People may look at us and see an interracial couple. If that is what they see they they are only looking skin deep. Because what we are is so much more: soul mates from first glance; best friends; partners for life.
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