May 4, 2020

We’d planned to meet for the first time on this day, two years ago. I’d fly in the evening before from Seattle, and meet Carol for a tour of the mission and then lunch in San Juan Capistrano. Flying standby and not wanting to risk not getting a seat on the last plane of the day, I arrived at the airport early the morning of May 3rd, and got a seat on the first flight out. That put me in California around 11:00 a.m., now a full day earlier than planned. Trying not to appear over eager, or worse, that I was bending the terms of our plans, I casually texted that I had arrived, and would hang out somewhere until I could check in to my hotel. Carol texted back: “Tell me why we’re not having lunch together?”

“What Carol remembers most about that afternoon was the suction cupped lip smacker I laid on her as we took our first walk together along the lake.”

The courtship, if that’s the appropriate term, had existed via PM (private message) over the previous month or so. During that period, my increasingly romantic overtures had been swatted back with statements like, “Let’s at least meet first,” or the more indefinite and Arabic inshallah (God willing). To keep track of where we were in our budding textual relationship, I established landmarks along the way, such as “cautiously optimistic,” “optimistically cautious” and finally, “optimistically throwing caution to the wind,” or something to that effect.

When we met for the first time in the parking lot of the Woodbridge Mall, we optimistically hugged and cautiously kissed. What Carol remembers most about that afternoon was the suction cupped lip smacker I laid on her as we took our first walk together along the lake. It was neither cautious nor even optimistic, but as sincere a smooch as I’ve ever delivered. To my relief, Carol did not take it as inappropriate, but did cast a glance of doubt when I explained I had no idea where that impulse had come from. Two years later, I still don’t, but it turned out to be the perfect romantic act for the moment. Go figure.

Nothing about our relationship from then on was cautious, deliberative or filled our family and friends with confidence. We embraced all their doubts with sympathy and understanding, and then preceded forward as if aboard a runaway train. Two years later, Carol and I have a home, a marriage and many, many trips together under our belts. We’re experiencing our first pandemic as husband and wife, and have a set of one-year old twin boys and an Irish setter. (I bet I got at least some of you on that last one, didn’t l?)

The most pleasant surprise (for me, anyway) is how compatible the two of us have remained during the quarantine. Of course, with a marriage less than two months old, you could make the case we are still in the billowy clouds of our honeymoon. But I know me. I’m like a rash or a tumor if there’s no way to get a break from Reid being Reid. It’s a testament to us, but more likely to Carol’s expansive embrace of another’s shortcomings that we remain so close during the pandemic. And that she still remembers that first lip smacker along the lake with fondness and love, and not the Kiss of Death as others before her surely would have.

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