I spent yesterday of Memorial Day weekend curled up in chairs with sweet tea and a deep conversation with one of the twins. We talked about everything from how to style a messy bun to painting our toenails to world peace.
No electronic devices.
Just hours and hours of heart sharing as the afternoon slipped away.
I was in the middle of telling her about my first dorm room in college and how I bought a moped and drove it around with long-parrot earrings flying in the wind….
….when suddenly she stopped me with a question.
“How did you know you were in love with Daddy?” she said.
“I just knew,” I told her.
“Yes,” she said. “But how did you know? What made you sure?”
I paused and smiled and said, “It was the brownie fudge sundae.”
I had dated my future husband who was still my boyfriend for nine months when he told me he was coming over to my house to tell me something. I ratted my hair and put on a prairie skirt and a concho belt and super thick pancake make-up to hide all the wrinkles I had at nineteen and thirty minutes later he stopped by with flowers and an announcement….
…he had joined the Navy.
I stared at him in disbelief.
I wasn’t ready for something like that. I wasn’t prepared. I already had my life planned out. I was graduating from college and getting a job doing something super important and going to work every day in an office wearing super cute suits like they wore on Melrose Place.
And nowhere in any of those plans did I hear the word Navy.
So I told him I was out.
I told him I was done.
I told him I was breaking up with him when he left and four months later when he headed out for boot camp at 6;30 am on a drizzly Tuesday morning, I hugged his neck and wished him well and watched him walk away with his sea bag over his shoulder. Then I went back to my house and sat on the floor of my room and stared at his picture and cried until his face was too blurry to see. “You’re better off without him,” I told myself. “You have big plans and big dreams and a Melrose suit with your name on it.”
Two days later I left for college.
At college, I couldn’t shake the sadness.
I wore that melancholy like a prairie skirt.
It was pitiful.
I’d spend hours curled up in my room, eating brownie fudge sundaes, wearing pajamas and searching for inspiration in the most brilliant font of knowledge I knew…
….daytime television talk shows.
I’d watch people throw chairs at each other and fight and yell and people break up and people discover their long-lost families and people find their one true love.
I couldn’t look away.
It was terrifying and compelling all at the same time.
And then one day–as I wiped up a drip of chocolate off my pajama pants and took another bite of the brownie fudge sundae–I came to a revelation in the middle of my sugar haze.
I was in love.
I loved that drummer boy who kissed me and left to fight for his country more than I could ever have imagined. I laughed out loud with the joy of it–with the discovery that I loved him with everything I had. I loved him more than suits and plans and daytime television and brownie fudge sundaes.
Except I couldn’t tell him.
He was half a country away at boot camp.
There were no cell phones.
I didn’t have e-mail.
I didn’t have texting. I didn’t have a single way of letting him know I was in love.
And then four weeks later the phone rang in my room on Valentine’s Day.
It was him.
He’d waited an hour in line for the pay phone to talk to me.
He said “Hello” and I screamed, “I LOVE YOU.”
My boot camp sailor laughed out loud and told me he’d known all along.
He was just waiting for me to figure it out.
And all it took was hours of daytime television perspective, a drip of chocolate…
….and a brownie fudge sundae. 🙂
PS He sent me plane tickets to boot camp graduation.
Of course, he did. But even he couldn’t imagine the rest of the story. 🙂
PPS Happy Memorial Day to service men and their families everywhere.