I Met A Girl
On a warm Sunday morning in Alabama in July of 1980, I was walking across the parking lot just outside the dormitory that I lived in on Maxwell Air Force Base. Patti pulled up in her little blue Chevy Chevette. She was a girl I’d been friends with for a few months and we never really got around to the dating thing. She got out of the car and introduced me to her sister, Michelle. She had just arrived from D.C. the night before and they were going to be living together for a while.
Michelle was wearing a white cotton short-sleeve blouse and light blue capri pants with little canvas flat shoes. I’d later find out that she got her shoes while she lived in Japan and she had about five more pairs of them, or maybe more. And her hair was short, but sort of covered with a colorful silky wrap on her head, tied on the side. There was something different about her. She had a uniqueness that made me feel like she had personality, without knowing anything about her.
You’re probably wondering why I’m giving you the rundown on what this girl was wearing and what she looked like back on that warm summer morning. When I was in Junior high I was infatuated by a girl named Julie. She was my first puppy love and all that silly twelve year old stuff, but I could not begin to tell you what she was wearing the first time we met. In high school there was Pam, but she was the same. I was head over heels for her, but I can’t even begin to tell you what she was wearing the first time we danced at a high school dance, or what the song was that was playing. Then in the Air Force, I dated a couple of girls, but I’ve got nothing much to share. Blue jeans, I guess, but who knows.
But forty-three years after meeting Michelle, and forty-two years after marrying her, I can still close my eyes and see what she looked like on the day we first met. And I know what it felt like when we went on walks and tried to figure out life in the first few weeks that we knew each other. And the feeling of our first slow dance together will be with me forever. We danced to “Can I Have This Dance,” by Anne Murray at the Gunter Air Force Base NCO club.
I’ve made some mistakes in my life and if I could do a few things over, I would. Mostly because even after all these years I feel like the girl I met in that parking lot deserves someone better than me. I’d try to do it better for her if I got a second chance. The first time I looked at her I knew she was beautiful, but I did not know that within a few days we would be inseparable for the rest of our lives. After all these years, when she walks into a room and smiles or laughs, or when I watch her sleep, I still see the nineteen year old girl in a white blouse and blue capris that filled an empty space that I had carried for so long that I presumed it was supposed to be empty.
People talk about love at first sight, but I’m not sure that’s what happened to us. It was more like I had always been in love with her. I just hadn’t met her yet.