Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Brave New World, Part 2

This is part two of a post where I'm reminiscing about my life changes from nine years ago. Read part one here .

Marc Cohn, Healing Hands

My disappointing date with Christie didn't deter me at all from putting myself out there again. As I said, this was just practice. It was early March 1999 and I came across an ad on Digital Cities from a 41 year old Christian woman on the north end of town. She described a bit about herself and the sort of things she liked to do. I spent some time putting together a letter in response to her ad. Looking back you would think that I would have had a letter to spam out to any ads which caught my attention but I didn't work that way. I wanted something less impersonal. Along with the letter I sent a couple photos as well.

A few nights later I was online when I got an instant message from her. We chatted for a bit and were having a fun conversation when (as it often happened) I got booted off-line. That's the one lasting impression I have of AOL from all those years ago...getting booted off and being unable to get back on in addition to a lousy dial-up speed. I tried over the next ten minutes to reestablish my connection but I couldn't. I had to leave for the all night shift and I was worried that she would think that I wasn't interested and had ditched her when that wasn't the case at all. Before we'd lost our connection she'd told me her first name, Tammy, and that she had been married to a Vietnamese man. She didn't care for her last name as it was such a common Vietnamese last name but she didn't tell me what it was.

I left home for work and felt just a bit desperate to try and reach her to explain what happened. My worry was the she would move along to the next name on her list. When I got to work I dialed directory assistance and asked if they had a listing for a Tammy or Tamara Nguyen in Maple Grove. I just took a stab at one of the only common Vietnamese last names I knew. To my surprise I got her number. I quickly gave her a call and she answered. I told her who I was and I could tell she was a bit alarmed. "How did you get my number?" I didn't want to frighten her or come off as the stalker sort. After all, this was the internet. I explained what had happened and she said she figured as much. We agreed that I would call her the next day to talk about arranging a date.

We both felt it would be best if we met sooner rather than later so we set our date for that Friday, the 19th of March. We spent several hours on the phone during the next few days and exchanged emails. This time I actually had some nice photos to work with too. I was excited for our date but I was trying to keep it real recalling what had happened on my last date.

We learned in our conversation that she had a sister who lived not far from me and I had a sister who lived within a couple miles of her. There was more to that than met the eye. My sister's kids rode the bus with Rachel, Tammy's daughter and my sister Jackie knew Rachel. There was something which seemed to be falling into place here and before too long we'd both begin to see it.

I negotiated the 40 mile drive and rush hour traffic listening to the New Radicals and arrived at her townhome at 5:00pm. She met me at the door with the most beautiful smile. It's one of those memories which will forever be with me.

We drove into Minneapolis for dinner at Sawatdee's and were seated in a quiet area toward the back of the restaurant. It was so easy to talk with her and I was feeling very good about our date. I know we spent a good deal of time there being lost in our conversation. We left the restaurant and got in my truck. I put Mark Cohn's new CD on and Tammy commented that she'd just bought the same one and was liking it very much. Burning the Daze would become one of our favorites in addition to Collective Soul's, Dosage. Music of the time. The New Radicals? Not so much but I still like it.

Part of our conversation was about my stained glass hobby and she mentioned that she had taken a stained glass class years earlier. I told her about several pieces I had for sale in the window of a shop not far from where we were if she would like to see them. We drove a few miles south to Jim's shop where she could view the small sampling of what I had there. She'd been busy getting her degree and raising Rachel and couldn't pursue her own interest in the hobby but said she'd like to one day. She'd recently done several watercolor paintings for a college class she took and enjoyed taking time for her artistic side when she could.

Tammy's sister, Theresa, who lived near me did a drive-by of my home earlier in the week. She reported back to Tammy that I lived in a rundown trailer park. Was Tammy scared off? Not in the least. I did confess to her that I had in fact lived in a trailer home for one year after getting out of the Navy. She assured me that it wouldn't have mattered. Not that she needed proof but after stopping by the stained glass shop I drove her by my home so she could see where I lived. Once inside I introduced her to Snickers and gave her a quick tour. We sat on the couch together and Snickers got between us as if to say, 'hey...this is my guy...just so you know.'

We never once lacked for conversation. I don't recommend this for a first date but it worked for us... I had an article from the Pioneer Press sitting on my coffee table describing the eerie coincidences between the Wizard of Oz movie when played while listening to the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. I'd just found out about it and watched it the other night and suggested that she may find it interesting too as she told me she liked Pink Floyd.

Hey, she was impressed. That's all you need to know.

Our date couldn't have gone better. I drove her home and we both agreed that we were looking forward to seeing each other again, soon. I'm not one to play the game where you wait until the following Wednesday or whatever day is deemed appropriate to touch base with your date so as not to seem too interested. Tammy wasn't either. We both from the beginning said we weren't interested in dating others and that we were looking for an exclusive relationship.

We never looked back.

I hadn't intended for this to be a 3 part series but I think it's going to need to be.

To be continued...


Jackie said...

comon' what are you waiting for? Finish the story already! I am so happy for you that you have found this wonderful, wonderful woman. Not to mention Rachel and all that she is to you. Your life is so,so complete in every sense of the word. Party on Brother! You deserver the best!

Kevin said...

I actually didn't intend to talk about the things I have in this set of posts when I first sat down to write a few nights ago. It just sort of evolved but I'm fine with that. I think I'm nearly done but I can't be sure.