Monday, April 26, 2010

I Knew I Was in Trouble When. . .

I graduated from Auburn in early June of 1986. Susan was on the extended, get a 5th football season in, plan. I started work about a week after graduation. My first job was in Rome, GA, at a Burlington Industries textile plant. Management trainee, they called me. The days consisted of standing and watching plant workers do their jobs, learning what everyone in the plant did. Oh boy. Susan stayed and attended summer school at Auburn. We did the long distance relationship thing that summer. I would head back to Auburn as much as possible on weekends, Susan would come to see me when she could, or we would meet in Sylacauga, where her parents lived.
As our relationship grew, believe it or not, Susan was the first to express her feelings. And, while I didn't have any plans to date anyone else, I held back on expressing what I was feeling. Until. One day I was in Auburn, hanging out with her and her rooommates. And this guy walks in. Susan had been sitting on the couch with me, and when he walked in, she got up to talk with him and they begin to have this "engaging"conversation in the kitchen. And I'm sitting there on the couch. Now, for those who know me, you know that I am a VERY competitive person. I'm normally pretty mild mannered, until you put me in a competitive position, and then I tend to get the fire going. So, as I sat there, for what seemed like hours, my blood began to boil. Here this guy (named Oscar I later discovered) was just smiling and laughing and talking to her like I didn't even exist! Well, eventually I stood up, gave Susan THE LOOK, and was just before heading out the door. I don't know if he got the message, or what, but introductions were made, and explanations given. They had just been "old friends." Right.
Later that evening, as my blood pressure dropped below stroke level, we sat out on the porch and "discussed" what had happened. Although we had made no real commitments, I had to admit that I was jealous that night, and I had never really experienced that level of emotion before. And she couldn't have orchestrated a better event to get me thinking about where our relationship was headed. And it got me to thinking: was it orchestrated? I wouldn't have put it past her!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ride Home

On the day after the big lake event, we woke up a little bleary eyed and headed home. I don't think I was still under the influence, but maybe a bit distracted. I was following my roomie, Tim, who was pulling the boat, headed toward home. We came to an intersection, he turned right, and then stopped because of a car he hadn't seen. BAM! I hit the back of the boat with my car. Oh crap! The boat was fine. My car wasn't. The hood was crinkled and damaged in front. It was driveable, so we set out for home. I sure didn't want to have to tell my Mom and Tom!
On Thursday of the next week I decided that I needed to take my car home to Griffin so that the damage could be fixed. Partly because I didn't want to ride alone, partly because I wanted to be with her, I asked Susan if she wanted to ride home with me. It was only about an hour and a half home. Susan agreed, and when classes were over on Thursday at noon, I picked Susan up. Then things got more interesting.
We stopped at the local "Taco Casa" for a lunch on the go. We grabbed a few tacos and headed out. As soon as we got out on the open road, the unexpected happened. The hood of my car, damaged from the bump from the boat, suddenly popped up and slammed back against the window shield! Tacos went flying, all over the pretty white dress Susan was wearing. Blinded by the hood of the car that remained on the windshield I nearly whiped out a row of mailboxes. When I finally got the car stopped we howled amidst the cheese, lettuce and taco meat that splattered all over us. I got out and tied the car hood down tighter this time. I knew it must be love if she didn't kill me right there for being so stupid.
I devised a plan the closer we got to my house in Griffin. On the road as you turn to my parents house in Griffin is this huge, gorgeous antebellum home. Now, there was nothing wrong with my parent's house, but the other house was especially eye-catching. As we pulled into the neighborhood, I decided to pull in the driveway of the antebellum. I looked over at Susan's reaction. She nearly fainted! I got a good laugh and pulled on down to my house. I've never forgotten the look on her face.
We had dinner with Mom and Tom. I'll leave for another post the first meeting of my Mom and Susan. Later , we headed back to Auburn, but this time we were driving the old Chevy truck that Tom used to haul garden equipment. It had no air conditioning, no radio, no nothing. We laughed and talked all the way back to Auburn. She even let me sing her a couple of John Denver tunes on the way. For those who know my lack of singing talent, you know she must have really been smitten to endure that! It was amazing how comfortable together we felt so quickly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Day on the Lake

Time is of no consequence when you are in love. I look back on the month that Susan and I dated when I was still in school. We met at the first of May and I graduated in early June. That month was a whirlwind of activity in which our lives became increasingly intertwined. One Saturday we headed for the lake. My other roommate had a boat and another friend had access to a "houseboat." We spent the day on the lake with lots of friends, skiiing and swimming and consuming lots of "sodas." It was a wonderful day. We were increasingly comfortable around each other, seamlessly making friends with and combining lives with each other. Even though crazy things happened, we laughed all the way through them. For example, we were flying along in the ski boat when we hit a sand bar and about threw everyone out in the water! When you are young and free, even potentially dangerous situations are an occasion to laugh and howl! There is a picture that I have of that day on the lake. I have my "Ray Ban Aviators" on and Susan has her cool sunglasses on too. She's got her sorority shirt on, and I have my fraternity shirt. There are days that need to be frozen in time and thawed from time to time to be able to experience them again. If I could, I would re-visit this day often. But then again, time is of no consequence when you are in love.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Plot Thickens

After the very first date I can honestly say that over the next 22 years I could count on one hand the number of days we didn't talk. Immediately we began to find ways to be together. I would go by her apartment for "Sani-Flush" trips, an Auburn tradition (an ice cream place). We would walk through Auburn's Arboretum and sit on the bench and eat ice cream. Early on, maybe even the same week after our first date, I'll never forget. I had two roommates and we lived in a mobile home called "The Barn." The roomies and I were home studying when a knock on the door was heard. It was Susan, with her roommate, bringing fresh, hot, chocolate chip cookies (my favorite!). More appealing than the cookies, however, was the white dress Susan wore. Looking tanned and extraordinarily beautiful, I was mesmerized I admit. Her looking that good and holding a plate of chocolate chip cookies was about more than a man could take. After they left, the boys and I inhaled the plate of cookies and trash-talked each other about how we were getting "reeled in", hook, line, and sinker. And neither of us was complaining one little bit. Oh, and a plot was being hatched for dates for "South Sea Island" a Kappa Sigma specialty!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"The First Date"

After we "met" in Panama City, Florida, our first "date" came quickly. Due to Susan's roommates interest in my roommate, a first date was quickly arranged, on the Monday night after we returned. We were invited over to their apartment for "dinner and a movie." I believe we did something simple, like burgers on the grill, but can't be sure. I'll never forget the movie, though, "Ghostbusters!". I can remember sitting on the couch, getting to know each other, laughing and joking with the movie playing.
After the movie, the two roommates "disappeared" for a while and left the two of us alone. Although it was a little awkward at first, we felt more and more comfortable as the night progressed. Although we had been at school for four years, and had known many of the same people, our paths had never really crossed before that. I had dated some of her sorority sisters, probably had been at many of the same parties, but never had we met.
Little did I know that the kiss we shared at the end of the first date meant that I would not be kissing anyone else for the rest of our lives together. The relationship was off to a good start.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Begining of the Journey

We met in May of 1986. I barely remember a lot about that first meeting. I was on a beach trip with my fraternity, she was there with her sorority sisters. We were students at Auburn University, and we were in Panama City Beach, Florida. The "brothers" and I had concocted a trash can full of red liquid that tended to make you do crazy things and not remember a lot about it. We were having typical college kid fun, dancing, laughing, falling down, getting back up again. Little did I know: I was about to meet my wife. Her roommate, whom I had known and met for some time, had met my roommate. She liked him. She wanted to go out with him. She asked me to set up a date for her with my roomie, Mike. "Fine," I said, "but you'll have to fix me up to." So she turned around and said, "How about her?" She pointed to her roommate. In the darkness of the moon-lit night all I could see was this stunningly beautiful girl with long blonde hair. "Monday night," I said. And so it was. When we got back to Auburn, the first night possible, we arranged dinner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday Preparation-The Journey Begins

Okay, so tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. It is time that many of us decide we are going to "give up" something. The "giving up" something could be as significant as alcohol or unhealthy relationships, or as insignificant as candy. Whatever the case may be, we often look back on these past attempts to eliminate things from our lives and feel the disappointment of having caved in to temptation, failing in our sincere attempt to re-order our lives. It seems another in the inevitable list of disappointments and failings.
This year, however, why don't we do something different? Why don't we use this season of preparation, leading to the celebration of new life at Easter, as a time to journey together in a spirit of hope. We are beginning this "Journey of Hope" on Ash Wednesday, and continuing throughtout the season of Lent, by looking at issues like self-esteem, money/power, relationships, careers/jobs, tempation, suffering and death. I think that as we take this journey together we are going to realize that we have much more in common than we thought. And that the love of God in Christ is experienced in the way that we journey to hope, together.