Friday, February 26, 2016

A BELATED VALENTINE


For better or worse, here’s a little true story I entered in a Valentine’s Day contest sponsored by Southwest Florida’s Spotlight Magazine.  It won a box of Norman Love Chocolates.  Strictly speaking, this is not a mystery except in one regard—that two people can stay married as long as John and I have without killing each other.  Or even wanting to. (I think that’s called romantic suspense.)  Here goes:

BUS STOP

Well, it wasn’t a Streetcar Named Desire.  And Judy Garland wasn’t singing The Trolley Song.  But I remember the night John and I met on that Hope Street bus as if someone wrote a play about it and someone sang a song.

We were both live-at-home students at Bryant College in Providence, Rhode Island.  It was a Friday evening in October, and I was on my to help decorate Bryant’s gymnasium for a Halloween dance Phi Sigma Nu fraternity was holding the next night—a semi-formal, which meant girls would wear dresses and heels and boys would wear jackets and ties.  I was looking forward to it.  Even more so when a handsome Phi Sig guy I’d seen around campus hopped on the bus, and I guessed he was going to help out too.

The bus was crowded, so he took the seat next to mine.  As the bus lurched along, starting and stopping at every other block, we began talking and were soon exchanging names.  Wasn’t it the neatest thing in the world that both our names began with J?  Think of it.  How often did that happen?  He loved the same classes I did (business and English) and, even better, hated the same ones (sociology and accounting).

When our stop came, we stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the Rexall Drugstore on the corner of Thayer and Waterman Streets.  John said, “It’s kind of dark out tonight.  Would you like me to walk you over to Bryant?”

Would I?  I’d been hoping he’d ask but would have died before letting on.  So I accepted his offer with a noncommittal and very sophisticated, “Okay,” but my heart was pounding.  Far from being the prettiest girl on campus, not even near to such a designation, my self-esteem was pretty close to zero.  What I didn’t know until much later was that John’s self-image was shaky too.

But on that night, the stars were in alignment.  Either that or some cosmic aura was shining on us.  For the truth is that two shy, unspoiled kids had found each other.  Though only exchanging uncertain glances, not daring to hold hands, and only speaking of superficial inanities—still, we had found each other, and somehow we knew it.

We still do.  We’ve been married since before the Alps peaked up, and over the years we have loved and argued in equal measure.  But even after all this time, John and I grow nostalgic whenever we talk about the October night we first met.  The night we took a bus ride on Hope.

9 comments:

Clare London said...

Jean, what a lovely story! And so lovingly written, too. You deserved those chocolates x

Cathy Perkins said...

Happiness :)

jean harrington said...

Thanks Clare and Cathy, a bit of shameless grandstanding here, but do forgive me. It won't happen again!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Ah, how lovely. I totally understand how you two came together and just knew it was right, and the stars aligned, or whatever. That's kind of how my husband and I met. So sweet. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa Q. Mathews said...

Loved this story, Jean--and best of all, it's true!!!

jean harrington said...

Thanks to Anne Marie and Lisa, Yup, happiness is an old husband!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Aw, Jean. What a lovely story! Thanks for sharing.

Rita said...

I have a broad grin. Thanks for sharing.

jean harrington said...

Marcelle and Rita, thank you for the warmth.