Monday, 22 May 2006

How we met, or the longest post in the universe.

This took a long time to write out. How to give people just enough of an idea of how we met without writing down every single detail. Well, here's most of it. Take it or leave it. Go have a nap in the middle of it. It's very long and very difficult but maybe it explains a lot. Or not.

The summer of 1997 I was 26 years old. I had a car, a husband of 4 years and a cat, a nice big flat near the beach and a bunch of cool friends, friends since I was about 7, friends whose parents had cottages up and down the east coast. Some on lakes, some on the beach. I worked days at a bank, Trey worked nights and weekends. Hey, we never saw each other but we were hard workers, saving for a house, a family, everything we ever wanted. I wasn't going to sit home on the long weekends and miss out. But I wasn't dumb either. I stayed with my girfriends (in groups no less) and rarely drank, and never was alone with a guy who wasn't Trey.

Not like I could. No one messed with his wife. Trey was the badass of the group. I was the barbie doll. Or something, I'm trying to give you the visual. Think very low maintenance barbie. Please? Tomboy Barbie.

So one weekend I drove up to the beach late. I was working overtime and I was so tired. But I wanted to get there and beat the Saturday traffic. I arrived at my friends' cottage around 9:30. The party was in full swing, there were so many people I didn't know. I grabbed a vodka cooler that was passed out to me and I said my hellos. The cooler hit a bit harder than I expected so I went down to the water, to the hammock that I loved to hang out in.

There was a guy already sitting in it. Rocking slowly. Holding a beer. It was very dark. I asked him if I could have a turn in the hammock because I had just driven out from the city and I was zonked.

He said he really didn't want to go back up to the house but he would make room if I wanted to share it.

I rolled my eyes to no avail, since it was dark and told the guy that I wasn't interested. Because, oh my god I was so tired. Just get out.

He laughed and asked me what wasn't I interested in.

Someone finally flicked on the patio lights right then. They were strung all the way around the property.

My god, what a good-looking man. He sat there grinning at me, enjoying his beer and his peace and quiet. I swayed a bit on my feet and he jumped up and took my arm and helped me crawl into the hammock. After a couple of minutes of trying to sit properly together he gave up and put his arm around me. He was about 5 inches from my face, and cute as he was, I was annoyed and I tried to push him out, I really didn't feel good and I was married. He said he really was harmless and that I looked really pale. I slurred something to the effect that I have a much-sought-after alabaster Irish complexion and then I promptly passed out cold.

The next morning I woke up with a killer headache. I was still in the hammock, still in the arms of this guy, who was asleep with his face buried in my neck, our arms wrapped around each other. His jacket was over me. I didn't really remember him. I think I flipped out right around then. My friends were calling out and running down the path.

I fell out of the hammock and then, so did he. Everyone was yelling. They thought I had been kidnapped. They found out one of the guys had put roofies in a bunch of the coolers the girls had. He admitted it after they left out of guilt. Then when they were trying to round up and pour out all the opened bottles no one could find me. They couldn't see me in the hammock because of the man and his coat.

Okay, this is looking good. Trey is on his way, everyone is flipping out.

We finally calmed down. Jacob introduced himself. He was the older brother of one of the girls, who had dragged him with her for a designated driver but then she didn't want to leave after all so he was hanging out, avoiding the party because he's not really a partier-type. When I stumbled down to the water he thought I was very very drunk and he was going to suggest I cool off and sit down but then I passed out and he didn't want to leave me alone in case I drowned or an equally drunk guy found me and raped me or something.

I wanted to go to the emergency room, drugs really freak me out and I couldn't really wake up. I sat back down. I wanted to wait for Trey though. Jacob put his coat back around my shoulders and sat with his arm around me for support. Everyone else was busy planning to kill the guy who had brought the drugs without getting the police involved. Why I will never know.

Trey finally arrived and at first he thought Jacob had given me drugs. Once he established that Jacob was looking out for me he apologized and then he took me back home. I think I slept the rest of that long weekend. I slept in Jacob's coat.

Friday morning Jacob called the flat. His younger sister gave him my number. He wanted to see how I was doing, and also could he get his coat back? It was a favorite. He asked if I would meet him at a coffee shop near the university that weekend. Sure, he had to have his coat.

When I got there he had on that grin again. He bought me a coffee and I gave him his coat and I formally introduced myself. We talked about what we both did, and to my surprise Jacob told me he was starting school again, taking his masters in divinity. Okay Bridget, good move then to pass out in the arms of a potential minister. I apologized for my behavior the night of the party and he reminded me I had been drugged and there was nothing to apologize for.

Then he said he really wished I wasn't married.

Oh man, did he have to say that? I briefly wished I wasn't too. Honestly I did. But I started to gather up my coat and bag to leave. He stood up and grabbed my hand, and he said he was sorry he said that but he hadn't stopped thinking about me all week but that he could respect my circumstances. I told him he had to stop right there, I wasn't interested in him, I was married. For a long time, and besides, we were trying to start a family.

Then he asked if he could just be my friend. We had the same friends in common, we were the same age and we shared some sort of connection he couldn't articulate. He was completely right. I said he couldn't do it and that if he was just going to lust after me then forget it. My husband would kill him. He laughed again. Oh what a great laugh. He said he could do it and that God had brought me into his life. I reminded him God brought him into my life and he said we were even.

I didn't see him again for almost a year. He didn't call, out of respect or being busy and I didn't know his number. Life went on. I thought about him every now and then, wondering how such a cute guy could want to be a minister. Sometimes I thought that's why he was so cute-God rewards people who believe in Him by making them very good looking.

Early in December I attended a cocktail reception at a gallery. I was newly pregnant, very newly pregnant, sick as a dog and trying to put on a face for an hour or so to support my friend's show. I went outside on the balcony at the gallery and tried to quell the nausea. Someone stuck a bottled water under my nose.

Care for a drink? Still sealed?

I knew that voice. I think the grin split my face in half before my eyes made it to his face. It was Jacob.

Hi Bridget. His eyes twinkled. Oh dear god. I took the water and opened it and drank some. Then I said Hi Jacob. Nice to see you again.

We grinned. Deja vu, I wavered again. Dizzy. Nauseous.

Then he asked me if I was okay. We laughed and I said no, but this time being sick was a happy occasion. I was pregnant! He gave me a very nice proper hug and said congratulations. I asked him how his studies were going and we chatted for a couple of hours. I finally left and he walked me to my car and I remember holding his arm so I didn't wipe out on the ice. He said he hoped he'd see me before another year passed because so much would change for me in the next year. I asked if he was going to the annual Christmas party thrown by friends who do a huge huge party. He said he was, so I said we would see him then.

The party never took place. Instead the next time I saw Jacob was at the hospital. My best friend stopped taking her insulin. She fell into a diabetic coma and died. I drove for an hour through a blizzard to get to the hospital and I didn't make it in time to say goodbye. Christmas was a week away. She was supposed to be at my baby's birth next summer. I was so angry. I never saw it coming. She had stopped taking her insulin.

I spent the night sitting in the family room with Jacob. I couldn't leave, I wasn't in any condition to drive and the roads were scary anyway. Our other friends drifted away out of shock, grief. A group went down to the chapel. I thought Jacob would go but he sat back and put his arm around me and didn't say a word. I didn't say a word. We sat there and stared at the wall for hours. I didn't cry, I just sat. He somehow just knew not to talk. When the sun came up I asked him if he would pray with me. If he would lead, because I wanted it out loud.

He said the most beautiful prayer that day. I can't remember a word of it.

And after that he stepped in and became a best friend. Not to replace the one I lost or anything, but it just happened. Because God put him here to watch over me. And he has.