This will be the most personal post in this series, as far as events from my life go. Feel free to skip it, or like it more than all the others; I certainly hope that one person in particular does. You see, I can’t tell my story without making it a love story at some point. I realized this when I had a good look at my own hierarchy of needs, way back then; but there was no story to tell. Then I made an effort to clean up something from my past, and now I have a love story to tell. Settle in, it’s a pretty good one.
I met Dawn back when I was working on the road. We were both in our twenties, but not so early in them that we didn’t appreciate how much fun it was to be together. We were also both very independent people; she was as unlikely to go on the road with me as I was to settle down in the third place my new traveling work had taken me. She was happy living her life in a responsible and self-sustaining manner, and I was happy to finally be getting paid to see the United States. We met at a site I worked in Vancouver, Washington. I saw her in the hallway a few times, and asked around. When I found out she was single, I followed her into the break room one day.
She was sweet, and easy to talk to, and we set up a date. I waved her phone number in co-workers’ faces, and figured out where I could take her. She swears to this day that it was the Olive Garden, but I prefer to remember ‘Yesterday Jay’ as a little classier. I could have sworn we went out to seafood. It doesn’t matter; what does matter is that our server had to come over at the end of the night and tell us that they had closed some time ago. We looked around, for the first time in a while, and realized we were the only non-employees left in the restaurant.
I know, huh? Very romantic. I told you it was a love story.
After we dated for a little while, one of us pointed out that I was spending most nights at her apartment. My lonely little hotel room was not nearly as appealing as my new best friend’s company, so I stopped paying for it. I helped out with groceries, and did all the laundry, and we had a peaceful domestic happiness automatically spring up around us. I didn’t realize how rare it was, or how precious, until I found my mind going back to the times we had together as years passed.
I had wanted adventure and excitement, new places and faces every few months; I saw that she wanted stability, and had a tight group of friends and family around her. When it came time to go on the road again, I thought it would be presumptuous and egotistical to ask her to drop everything and come with. That’s why when it crossed my mind, it didn’t cross my lips.
Also, I was a little spooked. I had always had an escape plan in relationships, and a list of reasons in my back pocket to justify said escape. My ‘Dawn list’ was empty on the negative side; the other side had things on it that I had never listed before, and had never thought to want. My only reason for leaving was that my work was taking me elsewhere; it was the first time I wasn’t relieved to be moving on. Dawn and I kept in touch, talking on the phone from time to time; I kept calling the engineer I had worked for in the area, to see if he wanted me to come back yet.
We drifted in and out of each other’s lives for awhile, and even had another brief stint in domestic bliss. We both drove long miles to attend concerts together, usually Great White or Cheap Trick shows. It was always a breath of fresh air to come together, but something always pulled us apart.
It wasn’t until years later, after I had drifted from the Northwest and Dawn’s life, that I tried to really get clear on what I wanted. I came up with a list, and modified it regularly, and kept realizing something when I looked it over. That list was the same list I had carried around so casually in my time with Dawn. I hadn’t realized the value in it then, only that it was not a burden to carry. I also realized that the reasons I never stopped thinking about her were good ones. I had not treated her with the kind of respect that she had deserved, and I hadn’t given her the love that was flowing in me as completely as I could have. The relationships I had had were all prime examples of why learning to be happy alone was my best bet…except for her. I thought it was something she should know.
So I found her on Facebook. Oh, no! Not another Facebook romance! Yeah, well…it played a part, and I am grateful that it did. I didn’t know how to use ‘The Facebook’ back then; now I know enough to let Dawn guide me and even speak for me. Yep, that’s how far we’ve come. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is one of the best parts.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty fond of words. I rounded a bunch of them up, poured out my heart to her, and hit send. I didn’t know if it went to some public page, or a private account, or what; I didn’t care. Most of what I said was about how awesome she is, or was back then, and how sorry I was for not appreciating it more. I knew she might have somebody, and that was okay; I was just telling her what I thought she needed to hear, and apologizing for being such a schmuck back in the day. I wasn’t trying to win her over…yet. I used a bunch of those words I love, and told her thanks for being so great.
Then I waited. I mean, I went on to do other things; but it was in the back of my mind at the very least. And I waited. I wondered if it had been an old account, or if she just didn’t feel like responding. I had been quite a schmuck, back in the day; maybe hearing how great you are loses some of its effect when it’s coming from someone you don’t have much respect for. And I waited.
Then my phone rang, one night. I guess I had sent her a private message on Facebook; those don’t show up on the mobile app, or they didn’t back then. She had to log on with her computer to see it, and it took a few weeks. We talked for quite awhile, and by the time we were getting off the phone I was making plans to fly up and see her. It was a little serendipitous, the timing of my message. I had thought about writing something like it to her, many times in the past. I never did, and felt that much more of a schmuck for it. But her situation had been much the same during that time: she had a great life of her own, and a tight group of friends and family nearby. Now things were changing, and it sounded like we might be ready to click in even more ways than we had before.
Alas, that will have to be another post. The purpose of this one is to point out that sometimes we need to listen to that voice in the back of our head. The Universe whispers its secrets to you there, and notices it when you start taking responsibility for your own destiny. I would still have a book or three published if it weren’t for the partnership we have forged over the years; but I wouldn’t have four, or a stake in a publishing company, or eight books set to release this year. Those things all came from ideas that Dawn either had or gave me the time and possibilities to have. But again, that’s another story. Finding the right partner was very important to me; whatever it is that’s important to you is important for a reason. Listen to that voice in the back of your mind…it wants to tell you the things you need to hear.
Dawn’s birthday is coming up, July 18th. Wish her a happy birthday on Twitter at @thedear23, Facebook at Dawn Marshall, and Instagram at @itsdear23! I’ll be trying to make it her best birthday ever, like I always do; she deserves nothing less. I’d appreciate all the help I can get!
We’ll talk about the difference between being a writer and being an author, next week. You’ll also see a bonus between now and then, some thoughts about customizing your hierarchy of needs. See, I told you we’d cover that!
Thanks for reading!