It was January of 1991. I was working sales for an educational video company. It was a job I really didn't like, but it was my first job out of college, and I still wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had tentative plans to quit my job in the early Spring and move to the Baltimore area with some college friends. I was in an on again / off again relationship with a guy who was feeling on again / off again about me.
It was the time before the prevalence of the internet, therefore before online dating. There were still classified dating ads in the newspaper, and friends were trying to set me up on old-fashioned blind dates. WPST was the local radio station everyone listened to at the time, and they were having a Valentines' Day contest. If you wrote in a letter describing yourself, your likes and dislikes, they would set you up on a blind date on Valentines' Day. My coworker, absolutely tired of hearing about my trials and tribulations with the on again / off again guy, told me she was writing a letter in for me. Why not? What do I have to lose? Right before she sent in the letter she asked if there was anything that was really important to me, anything that I wanted in the letter. Yes, I said. I would prefer if my date was Jewish.
Fast forward two weeks before Valentines' Day. My work phone rings.
"Hi. This is WPST. We were calling to see if you were still interested in participating in the Valentine's Day blind date."
I grew flustered. I had kind of forgotten about it.
"Yes. I guess. Sure. Why not."
Fast forward again to the day before Valentines' Day. My work phone rings again. I was to go to the Radisson Hotel by exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike and check in at the WPST table. They would then introduce me to the man I was going to have dinner with in the hotel restaurant.
Okay, this was weird.
The next day I wore my favorite dress. It was brown and black herringbone, and fit perfectly. Just the right amount of cleavage and it accentuated my waist. I put on my lucky earrings and my favorite necklace. Was I really making a big deal about this? I guess I was.
After work I drove to my destination. The only place to park was in the parking garage attached to the hotel. I immediately knew this was going to be a problem because I never carried any money with me and this was way before you could pay for your parking with a credit card. Did I even have a credit card at that age? Once I got in to my parking spot I checked my wallet. Just like I thought. No cash. I would have to wing it.
I checked in at the WPST table, and made my way to the ladies room to check my make up. There was woman standing next to me at the mirror. Told her my saga about the parking garage. I asked her to borrow five dollars. She said "no".
Okay, this was going to be interesting.
I was introduced to this guy. He was cute and kind of shy. We sat down at a table and ordered drinks. I talked a lot. I told him about my job, and how it really isn't what I want to do, and my plans to move to Baltimore, and where I grew up, and my family, my friends, where I went to college, and where I live. He told me about his Mom's 50th birthday the weekend before, and how his Dad had hired a monkey (chimp?) to do party tricks, and how his birthday was just the day before, how he went to Rutgers, and he ran his own business. I remember getting up a few times to go to the ladies room and thinking I really don't have that much in common with this guy, but something about him was endearing.
We talked about how we got involved in this blind date. I told him about my letter, and how it was written by a coworker. He showed me a copy of his letter and it was set up like a resume. I thought that was funny and very much unlike me. After talking for a while we decided that maybe the reason they matched us up was because we both wanted to date someone Jewish.
Dinner was over. He offered to walk me to my car. Sure. We walked through the parking garage and he confided in me that he had gotten there early to sit at the bar and have a beer and watch the women walk into the hotel. He had been very nervous. I confided to him that I had no money in my wallet to get my vehicle out of the parking garage, and could I borrow $5? He agreed to the loan, but only if I would go out with him again. I agreed.
We got to my vehicle, which was a red Toyota pick up truck.
"You drive a truck?" he asked.
And he began to laugh. Not in a demeaning way, but in an appreciative way, like it was the perfect end to our night. And I began to laugh too.
I took his $5, got my truck out of the parking garage, and drove home.
Within two or three days I had called my friends and told them I was not moving to Baltimore with them. I had met a guy that I had a feeling was going to be "the" guy. They thought I was crazy. I began to think I was a little crazy too.
I dropped Mr. on again / off again. This new guy and I dated. We went to comedy shows and the movies. I made him burnt meatballs and he ate them. He went with me to see a high school play, and he invited me to his Uncle's house on a Sunday afternoon to meet his family. I met his college and high school friends, and they became my friends. He met my cousins and my friends, and they became his friends. I sat and watched him play in tennis matches with his brother, and met his sister-in-law. She introduced me to others as his girlfriend.
Within a year of our dating his niece was born and I bought her a stuffed animal. She was tiny and beautiful and I began to think of her as my niece as well.
Soon there was a half empty closet just for me - we were living together.
Working in his office.
Then an engagement ring given to me at Freddie's - a restaurant that had history and meaning to his family.
The loss of those we loved.
Teaching part time.
Teaching first grade
Intermixed with memories and dogs and happiness and love.
Adam's mother once told me that our relationship was b'shert, which is a Hebrew (Yiddish) word that loosely means meant to be - predestined soulmate. I believe her.