I started as the mailroom clerk. I was getting paid $9.50 an hour and SO proud. I worked Starbucks on the weekends. Son, I was realizing this week that ever since I moved out on my own, I have always worked two jobs, or just plain worked too hard. The exception, I think, is the year I stayed home with you.
At any rate, after I had been at Cinnabon for three months, I took a position with the Vice President of Purchasing. For two weeks I was working both jobs, getting a little stressed out. It was on one of those days that the new phone guy showed up to fix our voicemail.
I was busy, and irritated, and when he knocked on the mailroom door, I’m afraid that I was a little short with him. He asked where the IT manager was, and I showed him, and I pretty much thought that was that.
Over the next few weeks, I saw the new phone guy a few times, and I am happy to say that I was much nicer to him after that. Before long, we were hanging out all the time. He was bringing me flowers at work and all the ladies were jealous. He was the first man I ever met that treated me as a friend, didn’t push me into something before I was ready. His name was GoodMan, your dad, and I came to love him very much.
Once we went to the zoo together, with BigSis and BigBro, your brother and sister. It was the first time I had met them, and we had an awesome time. Your dad told me later that he fell in love with me that day. I think that I had been in love with him already – I just didn’t want to admit it.
After about six months of just hanging out, getting to know each other, GoodMan let me know that he was going to be going to Vancouver, WA for the weekend – he had a job there, and he was going to pick up BigSis and BigBro, his kids. It was the first time ever we had not hung out on a weekend – the first time, really, that we would be apart for more than a day.
After thinking about it for a little bit, I told my boss that I needed the rest of the day off, and I called GoodMan and invited myself to go along. After I said it, I was suddenly afraid that maybe he didn’t want me to go after all – then he laughed through the phone and said that he would love it if I went.
I think that I started to realize right then that I loved him.
When we got to Vancouver, it was too late to pick up the kids, so we hung out in the hotel and watched infomercials. We ended up buying a set of videos that were similar to Candid Camera episodes – we spent most of the evening howling with laughter watching the clips. It was during one of them that we were both laughing, and we turned and looked at each other, and suddenly I said, “I am so in love with you!”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was scared. I had never done anything like that before! What if he didn’t feel the same way? What if I had just ruined our friendship because of saying something that there was no taking back?
As I sat there, quietly dying inside, your dad suddenly leaned over and kissed me, soft and sweet.
“I love you too,” he said.
On the way back from Vancouver, we stopped at a Denny’s for lunch. In those days we went there a lot – we liked the crispy chicken salad with ranch dressing. We were still kind of getting used to being together – it was the same as before, only now we held hands, and kissed, and said openly that we loved each other. I had never been so happy.
Over lunch, I just suddenly said, “You know, I think we should just get married.”
You will learn, as you get older, that I sometimes have no governor on my tongue. Whatever I am thinking just kind of pops out. My counselor says that it’s a sign of my innate honesty, that I can’t hide what I’m thinking.
He says it’s a good thing. I sometimes have my doubts.
In this case, it was definitely a good thing. GoodMan smiled, and took my hand, and said, “I think you’re right.”
Several months later, your father took me on a trip to Leavenworth for my birthday. On the way, he stopped at the mall and emerged with a box half as big as I was. No matter how much I pestered him, he refused to tell me what was in it.
When we got to Leavenworth, we spent a day snowboarding and then went to a quiet, romantic restaurant for dinner. While we were waiting to be served, your father pulled a box out of his pocket and put it on the table. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stop grinning. He started to tell me how important I was to him, and how much he loved me, and how grateful he was that I was in his life.
Right in the middle of it, of course, the waitress came with our wine. As soon as she realized what she had interrupted, she got all embarrassed and started apologizing, but I think your dad was more embarrassed than she was! Finally she left and your father opened the box and put the ring on my finger that would stay there for the next four years.
Over the next two years, we spent all our time together. We laughed, we cried, we went camping, we traveled to Las Vegas…we had the time of our lives. Those were the best years of my life, make no mistake. For a while we lived in my apartment in Magnolia, then we moved in with GoodMan’s mom, your Nana, in order to save money to buy a house. We never argued, we just loved and laughed and looked forward to our new life together.
One weekend, we went on a trip to Port Townsend, on the peninsula. On the way back, we passed through Poulsbo and started looking at the houses there. They were beautiful, and inexpensive. Somehow, we talked ourselves into the idea of buying a house there.
We started looking around. We got a real estate agent named FisherDude, and he must have shown us six or seven houses before we found this one.
The house on Keyport Road: our first home together, where we got married, where you were brought home when you were born, where things started to go wrong. Before all that, though, we were happy. Happier than we had ever been.
Next: chapter fifteen.