Is it meant to be?

We met in second grade, Mrs. Rose’s class, where we sat in alphabetical order. My last name started with D. Her last name started with F.

She had red bows in her hair and blue eyes and she always knew what to do next. She was my best friend. I remember spending time on the playground, her balancing on some ledge, me walking beside her. She was the athlete, I was the quiet one. I remember the year she had the complete 1986 TOPPS baseball card set. Everyone was jealous of her baseball cards. I was just happy to hang around with her. One year for my birthday I wanted to have a sleepover party. I told my parents I wanted to invite a bunch of the other boys in my class and Betsy. They called her parents to work it out. Ultimately, we invited an equal number of boys and girls to the party. My parents got two big tents, one for the boys, one for the girls.

My dad kept watch on the patio over night to be sure everyone stayed in their respective tents after lights out. It didn’t matter though, Betsy was able to sneak past him to play a prank on us boys. It was fun. I didn’t know much about girls then, I just knew she was my friend. But she gave me a handmade card for my birthday and signed it “Love, Betsy”. Later that paper would mean so much more to me.

A few years later, in fourth grade, my friend didn’t show up at school. And the next day too. In fact, I never saw her at school after that. I didn’t know why.

I felt sad about it, but life went on. I asked my parents if we could call her mom. I talked to her on the phone. She said I could come over and play soccer in the backyard. I was so happy. We kicked the soccer ball, had dinner with her family, and then we all played in the pool.

After swimming, Betsy and I played video games. She wore blue shorts and a white shirt. I wanted to kiss her on the cheek but was too afraid to say anything. She wanted to play Asteroids on her Atari. We played Asteroids. I didn’t see her again for a long time.

I missed her greatly. When we were in sixth grade, I sent her a Valentine’s day card. I didn’t know it then, but it meant a lot to her.

High school came and went and I didn’t hear from her. She moved away. Then I moved away. But I never forgot her. She was always the one that got away. My junior year of college I had become something of a romantic. I still thought about Betsy from time to time and I figured I’d send a letter to her, to give a shot. If I got nothing back, that would be okay. But I really wanted to know what happened to her, and whether she ever felt the same about me. I sent a letter to the last address I had for her, which was then about 10 years old. Much to my surprise, she wrote me a letter back. The letter started by saying that her parents had moved again since we’d last talked. Although my letter went to the old address, the new owners were nice enough to bring it to her parents, a few blocks away, who sent it on to her at school in South Carolina. She was on a scholarship there and we exchanged a few letters about how we were doing, what we’d been up to, that sort of thing. After the second letter from her, I called her. We talked and it was great. I called again, but she never called me back. No more letters either. I figured I should take a hint, so I moved on.

I graduated college a year later and became a pilot in the Air Force. I was traveling all the time and I stopped thinking about Betsy. I dated a little and had been going out with one girl in particular for eight months when she broke up with me. She said we weren’t right for each other, even though we had a lot of good times. She was probably right. Still, I was devastated. Two days later, I was back in the plane, headed to Maine, looking out the window and feeling terrible.

After we landed and buttoned up the jet, we had dinner then headed I to the bar with some of the guys and I proceeded to drink away the memory of my last girlfriend. Around 2 am I got back to my hotel room. With all the noise in the bar, I had missed a call. A 513 area code. Where is that, I wondered? Who would call me from there? Very uncharacteristically, I simply hit redial, convinced I would figure out who this was. Even stranger, a female answered and was not at all unhappy that I had called her at 230 in the morning. She wouldn’t tell me her name, but she seemed to know mine. She toyed with me over the next 15 minutes, asking me questions and never revealing who she was. I was confused. Finally, she said do you know called you? I said no. She said her roommate called me. Did I know who her roommate was? No, I said. “Guess”, she implored. I guessed. “Wrong,” she said. I tried again. I think she was laughing now. Finally she gave me a little hint. I couldn’t believe it was true, but what the heck. I guessed that her roommate was Betsy, and that she’d called me back after all these years. “Correct,” she said. Whoa, I thought. I wasn’t expecting that. The girl on the phone told me her roommate was asleep but would be available in the afternoon if I wanted to call back. I did. I said goodnight and promised to call back in the daytime. The next day I called and I talked to Betsy. It was wonderful. I tried not to get too excited, but I felt butterflies in my stomach.

Betsy told me that she had just moved to a new place, and in the process of moving boxes, my letter from college had fallen on the floor. A roommate asked about it, and she told them the story. They said she had to call me. She called an old number which led to my parents house. They were nice enough to give her my cell number, and that’s how she came to be calling me that night.

Over the next month or so, we called and talked more. Finally, it seemed like it was time to meet in person. She couldn’t get free from work, so I drove fourteen hours to see her. On the way I imagined what might happen. I thought it would be fun to catch up. I thought there might be some chemistry between us. I thought the chances of this turning into a long term thing were pretty slim. I knew one thing though — I didn’t want to walk away again without knowing. As soon as I saw her, I was going to kiss her and see what happened.

At the time, she was working in a golf pro shop, so she asked me to drop by her work and meet her there. I walked in the door and saw her on the other side of the room. The shop was empty aside from her and I — not much golf in late October. We said hello and I walked up to her. I opened my arms as I leaned in towards her and softly pressed my lips against hers. She reached for me and kissed me back. We spent a minute there, like something out of a movie. It was better than in my imagination. After all these years, I had finally kissed her. I stepped back and we started talking. It was so easy to talk to her. I can’t even remember what happened next, but we drove around and ended up at dinner with her parents, and brothers, and I think some other relatives. No pressure. I knew some of them from visiting her house all those years ago, but that was a long time ago. Everyone was very nice, but it was a little overwhelming.

Finally, we headed back to the house she shared with two other girls. She introduced me, we had some laughs and then she showed me the guest room. We said good night and she went to her room. I closed my eyes and dreamed of her. The next day we spent hours decorating their house for a huge Halloween party. A haunted house section, spooky props, lots of food and drinks. When it was time to say goodnight, I went to the guest room and she kissed me goodnight. We ended up back in her room, kissing on her bed. I was excited and nervous. Where was this going? Was I ready for this? At some point she stopped. Let’s stop here for now, she said. “Okay,” I said (a little disappointed). “But you can sleep here if you want,” she said. I felt better. I laid down next to her and we turned off the lights. I felt so content to be next to her.

The next day we ran around the area, seeing the sights, meeting friends of hers. When nightfall came, I figured I might be able to sleep next to her again. It was my last night in town after all. We headed to her room and started kissing. This time things went faster. At some point I told her that this would be my first time. I was a little embarrassed as I was already 26 years old at that point. I wasn’t even 100% sure of what to do or expect. She said maybe we should wait. I said no, I want my first time to be with you. She considered this and then started kissing me again. The next few hours were the most amazing night of my life. I’m not sure we even slept. In the morning we went downstairs to have breakfast and say goodbye. I was so happy to have finally connected with her and sad to go. We made plans to meet again soon.

Over the next year and a half, we flew back and forth every 6 weeks or so. Sometimes it was her place, sometimes it was mine. At least once, she missed her plane home. At least once, we stopped on the way to the airport for a few more minutes together. It was tough to be apart but when we were together, it was incredible. About a year later, I had to move and she helped me choose the new place. We spent a week or two together and it was great. We went on trips together and even attended two weddings that year as a couple. We were still just having fun, but I was deeply, madly in love with her. We still lived several hundred miles apart.

One day out of the blue, she told me she wanted to move in. I think if I said no she was going to say goodbye. Kind of a now or never moment. I said yes. She showed up with a Uhaul full of stuff. It was crazy and awesome. We loved being in the same city. Having her around everyday was the best thing ever. I don’t think we slept much then either. She moved in at the end of May, and the house I was buying was ready the first week of July. We both moved in. It didn’t even have grass in the yard, just clay. Before we could even put seed down, I got word that I was going to be deployed for about 4 and a half months. She hardly knew anyone there. What would we do? A month later, I was on a plane for the other side of the world. That night was one of the hardest of my life. To leave her for so long? I was sad.

We kept in touch thru phone calls and email. She sent videos (not that kind) to me of her telling me all the things that were going on and showing me stuff she did around the house, like setting up the Christmas decorations. While I was deployed, I thought about what comes next. Should I ask her to marry me? How did I know this was the right time, and she was the one? Other folks deployed with me told me about their failed marriages and divorces. I worried. In January, I was finally able to come home. In February and March, I got sent out again. 6 weeks here, 6 weeks there. In April, I was still gone, but only 4 hours away. We used to meet halfway on the weekends. I took her hiking one weekend and we climbed towards the highest point in the area, overlooking a nearby river.

When she turned to get water out of her bag, I reached into mine and kneeled down in front of her. I asked her to marry me. She said, “No way!”, but in a good way. Then she said yes and hugged me. We kissed and held each other for a while. I was so happy. A storm rolled in and we had to swim across the river in our clothes to get back to the parking lot. It was pouring down rain and we were soaked. I turned up the heat in the car and we drove back to the hotel. Clothes came off and we celebrated our engagement. It was wonderful. Time went by quick. We married eight months later on a crisp January day. She looked so beautiful in her dress. I couldn’t believe my dream had come true.

After 2 kids, 3 dogs, 4 moves and almost 13 years, we are still together and she is still my best friend and the sexiest woman I know.

I used to wonder if anything was really meant to be. Now I know that sometimes it is.

A dream come true.

Husband. Dad to two kids and four dogs. Trying to become more authentic and less afraid.

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