Still in Love
When people ask how Carl and I met, they are often surprised to discover that we met at the Dandy Mini Mart here in town. It is not a place that people commonly associate with discovering love.
Truth be told, I never had any intention of dating Carl. When I met Carl, my first impression was that he was old and grouchy. His first impression of me was that I was a ditz.
He was quite grouchy. He wanted someone to love him just for him, exactly as he was. He had also recently lost a sister. He was a very negative person at that stage of his life.
I was a ditz. I took time to grow comfortable around people (I sometimes still do), and that caused me to do silly things, because my discomfort led me back then.
When I met him, I was going out with another guy. It simply wasn’t working out. The guy’s mom worked at the Dandy Mini Mart, and since she and I were close, I used to go there and talk to her about her son. She still had hopes back then that I would be her future daughter-in-law.
As I mentioned, Carl’s sister had recently died. He used to go to her house after work and just hang out. When she died, he didn’t have anywhere else to hang out, so he started hanging out at the Dandy.
He was a friend of this guy’s mother, so she introduced us, never dreaming that we would eventually end up together. It certainly didn’t start off that way.
As I said, I never intended to be with Carl. I couldn’t see myself with someone that grumpy. Eventually, though, the relationship that I was in ended. Carl and I had been talking only as friends, but something was growing between us. When he let his guard down, I saw the kind heart that was under the tough guy exterior. I liked what I saw. I knew that he was interested, but would never make the first move.
I was 26 and he was 42. Sometimes, a man that age thinks that a woman of 26 would never look at him that way.
Meanwhile, I had started a second job. This one was at that same Dandy.
Back then, I was pretty slender and looked good. I had a lot of attention from the local guys. I enjoyed the attention, but there was only one guy I was really interested in.
One night, I was cleaning up in preparation for closing. Carl hadn’t been in at his usual time. I was mopping the floors and had just stopped for a smoke break. I was surrounded by about 5 guys, when Carl walked in. He glanced in my direction, went to the cash register, picked up his cigarettes and lottery, and walked out without speaking a word.
The next night, I asked him why he hadn’t spoken to me. He said, “You were okay. You had plenty of company.”
I realized that he was jealous, but was trying to hide it. I said, “Yes, but you were the guy I really wanted to see.”
I was a single mom of three kids, so I didn’t have much alone time. One weekend, however, the timing worked out just right. My kids had all spent the night at a friend’s house. This was my opportunity to invite him over.
I decided to invite him over to watch a movie. It was an innocent, casual thing, but I was scared to death.
I have a way of speaking very quickly; this gets worse when I’m nervous. It’s because I’m too on edge to concentrate on enunciating.
Before I lost my nerve, I said, “You wanna come over and watch a movie tonight?”
There was this pause, in which I mentally said to myself, “Let him have heard me. I don’t think I can do this again.”
Then, he said, “Okay. What time?”
I breathed a mental sigh of relief. I then arranged a time.
The rest, as they say, is history. We started seeing one another in 2002, got engaged in December of 2003, married in April of 2004, and had Cameron later in 2004.
Some things have changed in the years since Cameron was born. We get a bit distracted and have to make an extra effort to spend time together, even if it’s just a trip to the store together. We don’t get a lot of personal relationship time, as Cameron takes so long to go to sleep and wakes so early.
The things that matter, however, have never changed. He has called me beautiful every day of our relationship. He has always made me feel important and loved.
When Cameron was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism, a part of me went into a sort of self-medication. My version of that is binge eating. It got to the point that I would look into the mirror and cry. I hated what I saw, but I felt helpless to change it.
I couldn’t see the beauty that was in myself, which is ironic, because I always seek out the beauty in others. I always look beneath the surface and see what many others miss. I just couldn’t seem to do that for myself.
Carl loved me enough for both of us, ’til I was able to love myself again. I remained overweight for six years, before I started doing something about it. He called me beautiful all that time; it never changed.
I am on my way back from being lost for so very long. I have lost a lot of weight and I am able to look into the mirror and smile again.
The love between my husband and me has grown over time into a beautiful thing. It was always beautiful, but now the light is almost blinding.
I look at this man and I think to myself, “There he is: my man, my other half, my missing puzzle piece.”
I am now 36 and he will soon be 52. I have no regrets. I have many blessings to count.