Sunday, October 15, 2006

FIRST DATE


DSCN0003_1, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

Twenty-five years ago this Saturday, Ted and I went on our first date.
It was a bright blue day when he picked me up in his old Ford Falcon. He told me proudly that he'd paid twenty-five dollars for it.

Ted still loves to tell people I wasn't sure I liked him--at least not in that way.

He was right. But it was just a mountain hike and lunch, and he was clearly a sweet guy. What did I have to lose?

Rattling along in the twenty-five dollar car, I wondered if we'd make it to the mountain. But we did. At the top, we sat on a rocky ledge,
and looked out over the Connecticut River, the patchwork of fields, the blazing trees of autumn.

We talked about the books that had influenced us most, and our deepest beliefs, our all-time favorite bands, and the number of children we hoped to have (separately, of course.)

Ted also loves to tell people that despite our pleasant afternoon, I thought the hike was the end of our story. He claims to have known better, even then.

Though I'd lived in the area for many years, I'd never been to that mountain before. And in the intervening years, I've never returned--until Saturday, exactly twenty-five years later.

By then, we'd not only forgotten the way, we could no longer recall the name of the park or the mountain. We had driven all over the valley and were about to give up when we saw a farmer loading pumpkins onto a truck.

We bought a pumpkin for 75 cents and asked directions.

"That sounds like Mt. Holyoke in Skinner Park," the farmer said, happy to solve our personal mystery.

Once again, it was a perfect day when we ascended the mountain, and found the ledge where we'd talked, really talked, for the first time. But this time, taking in the spectacular view, everything looked different. Twenty-five years ago, gazing out over the valley, I didn't know what I was seeing; I had no idea that the marvels spread so abundantly before us were nothing less than the future.

**********************************************************************************

The other day I asked if anyone had read a blog or post that demanded to be shared:

C-love directed me to Quiero Round Egg a post that reveals the amazingly simple secret of getting what you want.

Meanwhile RDL mentioned the writerly inspiration she finds on a regular basis at Just Write, a site I frequently visit myself.

And Swirly reminded me that I was overdue for a trip to La Vie En Rose.

28 comments:

Matt said...

I loved reading this (I found my way over from Musings; hope you don't mind linking your blog on mine), and it reminded me so much of when I met my wife on a blind date 13 years ago. She didn't have anything to say to me at all for the first 90 minutes, and it was only when I mentioned a Tim Conway skit on the old Carol Burnett show that she finally opened up to me.

Now, 13 years later (including ten years of marriage), we have one beautiful daughter with a second on the way. And yet, even after all that time, I still joke about her not wanting to have anything to do with me the night we met (that, and I had to propose three times before she finally said yes!!).

Congratulations!

Patry Francis said...

Matt: Thanks for visiting and sharing such a great story. It gave me a wonderful sense of your marriage and your family's closeness. Congratulations to you as well and many more.

marja-leena said...

Congratulations! Such a sweet story...

Patry Francis said...

Thanks Marja-leena, and I'm sure you have a similar tale to tell.

bloglily said...

How lovely that you found the place again! That image of the superman lunchboxes crossing the street was quite moving -- it's odd how you wish your children would grow up just a little and then they go ahead and do just that and it's utterly heartbreaking.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Happy Anniversary, Patry! What a gorgeous place (and how wonderful that it hasn't been subdivided and developed, too) to sit and get to know someone special. I met my husband at archaeological field school, and I do think there's something about being out in the country that lends itself to a clarity of vision. It's easier to know what you're seeing out there. Oh, and he drove a 1965 Dodge Dart convertible that took us all the way to Chaco Canyon and back with the top down, despite the lack of paved roads. Congratulations on 25 years!

Sky said...

glad you guys found your spot. i am surprised it took you so long to wander back to the beginning of this long connection! i am a hard-core romantic myself. :)

congratulations to you both on the wondrous future you found that day!

gerry rosser said...

Is that view in the picture from the rather bold mountain which rises up more or less across the river from Northampton, Mass.? I sat up there one day reading a book and just enjoying the view. Even if it's not the same place, it's beautiful.

Left-handed Trees... said...

Congratulations! Finding your way back to where it all started is such a sweet and powerful thing...I'm glad you got to have your day. Reading things like this makes me grateful for all that I am lucky enough to have as well in my marriage.

robin andrea said...

Very romantic, taking that walk back to the mountain where it all began. The October earth is a beautiful scene when you're having a first date, and and even more so when you're recapturing the moment 25 years later. Lovely.

MB said...

How wonderful that you found your way back to that special spot with a view. But even more wonderful that you were able to do it together after twenty-five years. Happy anniversary!

Patry Francis said...

bloglily: Oh, so true about the kids. And thank you for writing something that made me recall that Superman lunchbox.

sharon: Unfortunately, some of the gorgeous farmland in the area has been subdivided and converted to "McMansion" developments, but most of it remained the same. I wish I had stopped to take photographs of the fields of pumpkins we saw. Anyway, love your story about the Dodge Dart, and the Chaco Canyon and your line about the country: "It's easier to know what you're seeing out there. Oh, yes.

Sky: We were surprised it took us so long, too. But then again, we were also surprised that twenty-five years had passed so quickly! Thank you for your kind wishes--

gerry: That is the exact spot. It seems you and I have been walking similar ground for years...

left-handed: "Finding our way back" was almost as much of an adventure in serendipity as finding our way forward has been, and continues to be.

robin andrea: In all these years, I've never before thought about what a great first date it was: climbing a mountain, and communing with the "October earth."

To all those who are still in the exciting stage of life known as "dating," I recommend it!

mb: Thank you for your lovely wish (she says, smiling.)

The Curmudgeon said...

So you didn't remember the name of the park or the exact location: You remembered what was important. Congratulations.

rdl said...

25 years!!! so when is the big anniversary then?? i seem to have forgotten; when did i live on Martha's Vineyard. see i still need you to provide the details. :D

Sereeb said...

Congrats and many happy return.

We all love happy endings but

What changes uncertainty into sureness?

What converts doubt into certainty?

Is it fate? luck? Coincidence? Circumstance? Magic? Or, as we call in Arabic, Nasib? (what’s written up there for you)

I wonder!

Great blog. I can't wait to read your book.
Soad

Sara said...

Oh, how sweet! Mazeltov!

I hope you get to do it again in 25 more years.

Swirly said...

What a wonderful story - coming full circle in so many ways. Congratulations on 25 years!!

Also, here is a post I love:

http://asweetlife.typepad.com/la_vie_en_rosea_sweet_lif/2006/09/wanting_to_be_w.html

Patry Francis said...

curmudgeon: What a lovely comment. Thank you.

r: Next week we have the wedding anniv.--twenty-three years. That was when you were on the Vineyard, right?

sereeb: Thank you for your visit and for the poetry of your questions. Thanks, too, for introducing me to the concept of Nasib.

sara: Thank you. We're hoping for that, too.

swirly: Thanks for the kind words and for the link to an excellent post.

chiefbiscuit said...

Many congratulations - and all of a a sudden you're in the USA? I wondered if I had the right blog for a minute there ...

Patry Francis said...

chiefbiscuit: Now I'm curious. Where did you think I was?

donna said...

Heh. Twenty five years go by so quickly...

Known my guy for nearly 28 years, been married for 22 of them. Unbelievable.

Brenda said...

Twenty-five years is fabulous in itself, and to commemorate your marriage, years together, at such a beautiful spot, the one where you first really connected, is even more fabulous... glad you found it, thank you for sharing. xo

Patry Francis said...

donna: You are so right. And congratulations to you, too!

brenda: I was just thinking of you and one of your paintings last night. Do you think I drew you here with my thought patterns?

Alexandra S said...

How could i almost have missed this post? That is just such a beautiful and inspiring post. You two are among the blessed. Twenty five years? wow!!! may you have another 25 and then another 25 more!

Patry Francis said...

Thanks, Alexandra! We did feel among the blessed when we returned to that spot.

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