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Our First Date Was 24 Years Ago

January 2nd is a special day for me. It marks the 24th anniversary of my first date with the man I married. Ours is a unique and romantic story. I’ve posted about it before, but I’m feeling nostalgic today.

Back in 1998, I was a single young woman trying to find my way in life. I was working two jobs and trying sell Avon on the side, which by the way, I was an absolute failure at sales. I was a busy lady.

Early that year, I’d parted ways with my ex-boyfriend who I’d dated for two years. I had truly envisioned a future with him, but we were not meant to be. He refused to make a commitment to me, and I needed to get on with my life.

Newly single, it seemed like everyone I knew was trying to fix me up with some guy or other, and I did go out on several dates. They were all perfectly nice guys. There was nothing horribly wrong with any of them. Unfortunately, none of them made me feel that special spark.

By November of 1998, I’d decided to give up on dating and focus on addressing my shortcomings, both personal and financial. My life was a mess of my own making, and only I could correct it. I was concentrating on working, paying bills, and trying figure out my path in life.

When a friend of my mom’s told me she was having a dinner party and would like my schedule so I could attend, I thought nothing of it. I had attended Mary Kay and Tupperware parties at her house before, and I figured she was having something along those lines. I gave her my schedule and promptly forgot all about our conversation.

Then on December 30, 1998, I received a lovely bouquet of roses from a man I’d never met. Cue confusion. Who in the world was this guy who had sent me flowers? The card basically said he’d been talking to my friend Lynda and would like to meet me. He included his name and phone number. As soon as I got home that night, I immediately called Lynda and asked her who this Jim guy was and what had she done.

She laughed and told me he’d chickened out of the dinner party where she’d planned to introduce us. She went on to tell me that he was a great guy, a wonderful single dad, had a steady job working with her husband, and he liked to play video games. She told me she thought we’d really like each other, but if we didn’t, she’d would understand.

The fact she’d been trying to set me up with someone was news to me. A part of me was a little upset with her over that, but she has a loving heart and meant well. So, I was faced with a decision; call the guy or forget about him. It seemed rude not to at least thank him for the beautiful flowers. I called, but no one answered. No answering machine (the forerunner of voicemail). I tried calling a couple more times to no avail. I gave up, thinking he must have changed his mind.

The next day, New Year’s Eve, I was at work at the grocery store where I was the bookkeeper when Mom called. She told me the flower sending guy was on his way to meet me, and I should go put some makeup on and run a comb through my hair because this guy was a “dreamboat” and would be there soon. Yes, Mom actually called him a dreamboat. She wasn’t wrong.

Unfortunately, I was stuck running a cash register because we were exceedingly busy with people buying last-minute New Year’s Eve supplies. I didn’t get off the register in time. He came through my line with a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi. Because we were so busy at the store, we didn’t have time to really talk. He introduced himself and asked for my phone number, promising to call that night.

I have never felt such an instant connection with another person before that day. I couldn’t stop shaking, my heart was racing, and I knew I had the mother of all blushes because my face was on fire. Yes, this red-headed giant who towered over me with kind blue eyes was different from all other men I had dated.

However, I was cautious. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’d had plenty of heartache and wasn’t looking for more. While I’d given him my phone number, I really didn’t expect a long-term relationship with him. I figured we would go out and have some fun. Perhaps we’d get together once in a while for dinner and a movie. I certainly couldn’t have predicted what happened.

We had our first date on January 2, 1999. We spent six hours together on that first date. We saw a movie, “The Water Boy,” had lunch at Casa Montez, a local Mexican restaurant, and spent hours getting to know each other. To say I was besotted would be an understatement.

By the time our second date was finished, I knew I was going to marry the man. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were engaged on Valentine’s Day and married in October of that same year. I have now been with my husband for twenty-four years. It doesn’t seem possible that so much time as passed.

Life with Jim has been a whirlwind. By marrying him, I not only took on the role of wife, but I also assumed the title of stepmom to two small children. My stepdaughter was seven years old, and my stepson was two years old when I married their daddy. They now have kids of their own, and I’m Nana to two rambunctious boys and one sweet girl. I was born to be Nana.

It’s funny to consider that a blind date, which never happened, resulted in a relationship that’s lasted twenty-four years and counting.

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