Over the years I have been encouraged to tell the serendipitous story of how my husband, Jim, and I found each other. Valentine’s Day seemed like a good time. Honestly, I tried to keep it short, but it just isn’t that kind of tale.
I was 23, touring as a performer in the National IV tour of CATS. He was 25, working at his family owned hotel in New Orleans, LA – which is where the story begins. The tour stopped in New Orleans for 2 weeks of performances and some of us ‘Kitty’s’ were thrilled to find and stay at his quaint, historic hotel. Our first meeting occurred over a broken stove. I called the front desk to have someone come repair the stove in my room (this was when cooking actually seemed fun) and he showed up at my door. Over that hot and steamy repair job (kidding!) the attraction was immediate. We spent those 2 weeks together, getting to know each other.
After those two weeks, though, on I went with the tour to the next city.
Over the next several months we stayed in contact by letters (you know the handwritten thing that goes on paper). We kept in touch while I finished the tour and went back to Los Angeles to continue my performance career and he cruised around South America starting an export business (the legal type – Alpaca sweaters) and around the US on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit as a Bull and Bronc rider (all true, I swear).
Finally, an agreement was made; he would come to LA to visit me. However, not long after his arrival in LA, I informed him “I do not see this relationship going anywhere”. In truth, I do not recall saying it in just this way (as he relayed to me some time later), but my Mom ratted me out by saying it sounded “exactly like something I used to say in those days”. (There went her Christmas present that year!).
Anyway, off he went, back to New Orleans. That was the last time we spoke.
7 years went by (yep, 7 years!).
In that time he continued with his export business, riding the Pro-rodeo PRCA circuit, and attending to the hotel. I kicked around LA doing commercials & videos, singing in bands, marketing music artists, and doing what all aspiring performers do in LA –bartend, waitress and do odd jobs.
But, the pertinent part is, during that time, I had the pleasure occasion to kiss a lot of frogs. Cute some may have been, but none of which turned into a handsome prince (although, a few morphed into evil wizards with bad complexions).
Then, it happened. One day, on the heels of the crown jewels of bad relationships, I was teaching Line Dancing at the trendy Denim & Diamonds Country Music Nightclub in Santa Monica (one of those odd jobs). I happened to look up at the TV screen with the ever running assortment of ‘all things western’ and there he was; on the screen, in all his Pro-rodeo glory, riding a bucking horse (well, getting bucked off a bucking horse if you must know), in a PRCA rodeo in Texas. Thus began the obsessive thought process that would plague me for days on end: “He was a really good guy”…”What was I thinking back then (as in, what an idiot I was)”…”man, I really blew that”…”I wonder what he is doing now…married???”
I spent days thinking and thinking about it; until I could not take the cosmic hammering anymore and decided to take action.
At the time, I was performing in a trio that was preparing to open up for Carlene Carter. As the group was addressing promotional postcards with our picture on it (this is what one did before “social networking”), I addressed one to him at his hotel in New Orleans, which consequently his family still owned, with a small note (and, duh, my phone number) included. (oh, home-wrecker I’m not – one call to chatty desk clerk at hotel confirmed bachelorhood).
Since our final parting 7 years prior had been, ummm, not the best in his memory, he was prepared to possibly discard the greeting. That is until his English friend (I knew I liked that bloke), in his never beat around the bush way, pointed out that due to the “positive physical attributes” displayed in the picture, perhaps at least a return phone call was in order (praise be the wisdom of guy-logic).
He did call. Then he called again, many times. And then we arranged to get together. Gullible Forgiving guy that he is, he, again, came out to see me in LA. This time, I did not send him home with some stupid edict, but rather with the promise of a reciprocal visit to New Orleans and more.
And despite the fact that I bristled ever so slightly at the statement made by him some months later that if “anyone had ever told me I had already met the girl I was going to marry, I would never have thought of you” and he, annoyed by the fact that I had to slobber all over a bunch of frogs before finally getting it right…
We married a 1 ½ years later.
Well, 7 years and 1 ½ years later.
This year we will celebrate our 16th anniversary. I am thinking all those frogs and bucking livestock were well worth the trouble – which only goes to show that it is a good thing, life is what happens while you are busy making plans!
As author Saul Bellow so eloquently put it:
“Unexpected intrusions of Beauty. That’s what life is.”
Happy Valentines Day