You were expecting some Johnny Cash today, right? Not so fast. Today is a special day that requires its own special music. Today marks the 23rd anniversary of when I fell in love with my sweet wife. Today marks the 23rd anniversary of our first date, way back in 1993.
We actually met late in the night and early morning of January 1st and 2nd 1993. We were at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and our sisters happened to see each other as we all were walking out of the stadium. Her group and mine both decided to head over to Cafe’ Du Monde for some hot chocolate and beignets to celebrate the Tide’s big win over Miami that night and I was taken by the classy, beautiful woman with the cute hat and stunning eyes.
I started working my plan and shortly after everyone returned home, my sister called her sister to see if this classy, beautiful woman with the stunning eyes would go out with me. The plan worked, I secured her telephone number and called her early in the week while I was off working in Montgomery. I had no clue that this date would be anything more than a nice evening with a classy, beautiful woman with beautiful eyes, but I prepared just in case. I jotted down a series of questions on an index card, worked off the nervousness with an evening jog and then called her up.
She answered very abrasively. She was expecting someone else and it was obvious that person wasn’t a welcomed caller. We eased past that and settled into a really nice conversation and within a few minutes things were going so well that I was off the list, flying solo, driving the bike without training wheels. After a few more moments, I popped the question. No, not that question, the one you have to ask before you can get to that question: I asked if she would go out with me. She replied with a yes and told me she’d love to once she returned to school in Tuscaloosa in a couple of weeks. I started to panic. I told myself there was no way this would work out if we strung this out for that long. I had to close this deal, so I said what about this Saturday. I’ll come to your home town. It’s no problem for me. She bit, obviously impressed that I would travel all the way to Oneonta to see her, and we settled on the details for the next Saturday night.
I don’t remember much about the week that followed, but I’m sure it drug itself out. I finally finished up my work for the week in Montgomery, headed back to my apartment in Riverchase on Friday evening and prepared myself for the big event. I’m sure I cleaned out my Ford Ranger and made sure my khaki pants and blue pinpoint Oxford shirt were ready to go. The trip up to Oneonta was no problem, but in those pre-GPS days I had a bit of difficulty finding her house, so I did the logical small town thing and stopped and asked a policeman. He pointed me right to the house (is that good or bad?) and I was able to arrive on time.
The big joke about my arrival – even 23 years later – is that she really didn’t know what I looked like. I was sure she thought I was my good friend who was also with us the evening in New Orleans. And all these years later, she’s never said who she expected to be at the door, but I digress…
We started our date with supper at the best restaurant in Oneonta, The Landmark. We sat towards the corner and lost ourselves in great food and even better conversation. When finished, she gave me a tour of her fair city and then we headed back to her house where we talked for what seemed like hours and hours (though it was probably only a couple). I was amazed at her. I had never connected with anyone like that before. She was kind and listened – really listened to what I was saying, and I was absorbed into every word she said. It was, for me, literally a once in a lifetime experience. By the end of the night, I was sure, I had fallen in love.
As the night ended, she walked me out to my truck and we gave mutual pecks on the cheek. The night was too good for an official “good night kiss” and I was so amazed by her that I was afraid to try. I floated all the way back to Birmingham.
The next week, she moved back to school and I asked her out again. This time, we visited the Cypress Inn for dinner and then spent more time talking. As this night ended, I was still too in awe to even think about a kiss, so she helped us both out. After we kissed, we just held hands for a long time inside her apartment and then I headed back home.
We officially exchanged “I love yous” shortly thereafter and we’ve been in each other’s arms ever since, for 23 wonderful years. We were engaged during the Thanksgiving holidays of 1993 and married in July 1994, but February 9, 1993 is the anniversary I treasure the most. It is the date I fell in love with my wife and it’s from that date that I consider her mine.
I love you, sweet wife. You are truly an amazing gift from God. Happy anniversary.