The fall after graduating high school, I was attending St. Paul Technical Vocational Institute, working towards my degree as a medical secretary. I had two best friends by the names of Patty and Linda. We were like the three musketeers, and even though we had just met that year, t didn’t take long for our friendship to grow.
“Cindy, “ said Patty at lunch one day, “Linda and I want you to join this club with us. It’s called M.O.E.A.”
“What does that stand for?” I asked.
“It’s the Minnesota Office Education Association, and it’s for people who are studying office occupations like ours, medical secretary.”
“Uhm. . .I just don’t know if I’m interested in joining a club; I have to work, you know.”
“Yeah, so do we, but this club meets during school, so it won’t interfere with your work.”
“And besides,” Linda chimed in, “They’re getting ready to have their state competition, and we’d get to stay in a hotel room together, and go to the dance, and everything. We won’t even have to pay for it because we’d be part of the club.”
“Yeah, don’t you think that’d be lots of fun for the three of us? Just think – we could stay up all night and party!”
“Well, I don’t know. . .” I hesitated at the thought of joining a club. It really just was not my kind of thing to do.
“Tell ya what – they’re having a meeting this afternoon. Why don’t we go and see what it’s all about, and we can decide then? C'mon, please?” Patty gave me a pleading look and when she looked at me like that, it was hard to stay no.
“Okay, okay, okay. I’ll go just to make you happy, all right?”
“All right! I think you’re gonna like it.”
After our fifth hour class we made our way into the auditorium. We sat in the fifth row from the front, with me on the outside. The teacher began telling us about the weekend and the competitions. Every class would have a competition; i.e. there would a competition for secretaries, accountants, computer analysts, etc. There would be trophies for the top three finishes in each place. It did sound like fun to me. I never could resist a competition. We would all take a bus to hotel which was located downtown on Friday right after school, and we would come home sometime on Saturday afternoon. It really did sound like a lot of fun.
I was trying to listen to the teacher tell us more details when I felt as though someone was boring a hole through my back by looking at me. I didn’t want to look around, but something told me to go ahead and look. I turned around and there, sitting about six rows behind me, was a cute guy with reddish blond hair. He smiled at me and as soon as he did, I turned back around again. I was embarrassed, but I was definitely intrigued. There was just something about him. . . I knew in that moment that I must get to know him better, and what better way than to go on this weekend?
I leaned over to Patty, who was sitting next to me and whispered “Count me in.” She looked at me, smiled, and said “Yay!” I knew it was going to be a very interesting weekend, to say the least.
After we arrived at the hotel, we unpacked a few things and then hurried down to the dance which was already underway. As coincidence would have it, or perhaps it wasn’t coincidence after all, just as we were checking into the dance, so was the young man whom I had exchanged glances with at the school auditorium. We introduced ourselves and I discovered his name was Mike. As it turned out, Mike was the Vice-President of the State M.O.E.A. and as such, he had some things to attend to, but he said he wanted to see me again in a while, if that was all right with me. I agreed and waited for him. After an hour or so his duties were finished.
"Hi. Sorry it took so long."
"Would you rather dance or talk?"
"It's too loud in here. How about a walk?"
"Okay, sounds good."
We left the ballroom and began our walk together.
“So, where do you live?” he asked as we began to stroll through the halls of the hotel.
“St. Paul; what about you?”
“Northeast Minneapolis, although I originally come from East Grand Forks. We moved here when I was in the seventh grade.”
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”
“I have four sisters and one brother. What about you?”
“I have five sisters and one brother.”
On and on the conversation went. We walked up and down the hallways of the hotel for hours on end. We talked about everything from A to Z. The conversation never stopped, and if there was a silence for a moment or two, it didn't seem uncomfortable at all. As a matter of fact, the rare silences were almost as wonderful as the conversations. I felt totally at ease with him, and was savoring his company. As a matter of fact, it was almost as if I had known him all my life. At one point we began to hold hands. I will never forget the moment when he reached for my hand and caught it within his own hand. I remember thinking how right our hands felt together; how they fit together so perfectly, as if they were meant to be together. Somehow I knew this was the hand that was going to hold my hand forever.
Eventually, around two o’clock in the morning or so, we decided it was time to stop our roaming of the halls. During our talks we discovered that our classes were very close to each other in school – his was Accounting and mine was Medical Secretarial – both being on the same floor just around the corner from each other. We decided we would see each other in school, perhaps at lunchtime or between classes, but sometime.
He didn't kiss me goodbye, but he held both my hands in his and said goodnight. It was very romantic. I think he was saving our first kiss for our first official date.
The next day the competitions were held. As it turned out, I took second place in the State for Secretarial. But I felt I had won much more than that. Somehow I knew I had won lifelong happiness.
The weekend had been more than I could ever have hoped for. Because I knew in my heart that I had met my husband.
On Sunday morning when I had coffee with my mom during breakfast, she asked me about the weekend and what had happened, etc. I told her about meeting Mike. I told her how nice he was, and what a good time we had together. I told her that I thought he as going to turn out to be a very special person in my life, and indeed he was.
And to think -- it all began with a smile.