by The Thinker
I was a late bloomer. Love is for the young at heart.
|On October 24, 2003, laying on my laptop was a blue envelope with the words "Happy Anniversary." I couldn't believe we've been married twenty-two years. We're still on our honeymoon! The card said: "To my best friend and true love, Happy Anniversary, Love ya! Karen. A lot of water that has gone under the bridge between age 55 and 78. As far as I'm concerned, life doesn't get any better than this.|
It all started one evening in the singles bar of the Greenwood Inn in Portland, Oregon. We had just met, but chatting like old friends who just happened to bump into each other. I made a date with Karen to hike to nearby Multnomah Falls. We were on the trail, sitting on a log chatting, when an enormous black column appeared to our northwest. We hurried back to the car and learned that Mount St. Helens, not fifty miles away, blew off her top 1,000 feet. The blast was from the north side of the mountain, thank God! We were southeast. So, our relationship started with a bang on May 18, 1980, to put it mildly.
Not long after Karen and I met I took a two-week vacation from my job, one week to visit my son in Texas, one week (unknown to Karen) for a sailing adventure. I had chartered a sloop in Seattle. Upon my return, Karen met me at the airport. If ever there had been a doubt, it was removed when we hugged and kissed. We drove to my condo, stopping on the way for a bottle of champaign.
It was a glorious morning. Through my fifteenth floor condo's ten foot curvilinear glass wall, we enjoyed a panoramic view, including Mt. Hood's glistening white peak against a background of deep blue. As I sat sipping champaign, looking into Karen's amber eyes, mirroring kindness, I somehow knew in my heart that I could give her my all. I'd never before had such a feeling of trust.
I asked how she would like to go sailing on Puget Sound. She looked at me amused. Then I told her that I had a sailboat chartered. She was thrilled. I knew she would be. Like two kids, we hurriedly packed and took off for Seattle.
The wind was brisk and chilly. We were beating into a chop, cold salt spray flying. Karen was sitting on the high side. She had never been sailing. I asked her how she liked it. She turned, red nosed, and exclaimed: "I love it!"
The first evening out we anchored in 20 feet over a gravel bottom, which means letting out a lot of rode. Should the wind shift, our scope would put us in contact with other boats anchored nearby. I didn't have a choice. About 3:00 a.m. I heard, "Ahoy there, we're going to bump!" We pulled in our anchor and set sail for Seattle, her lights twinkling in the distance. With the sun's rising, lighting majestic Mt. Rainier's enormous snow capped peak, we silently slipped into our harbor.
As we approach the dock, I instructed Karen to stand at the bow with docking line in hand (one end already cleated to the boat), jump to the dock and secure her line to a piling, leaving plenty of slack for me to swing in the aft. Instead of jumping, Karen put one foot on the dock, just as I started swinging in. Her legs parting, Karen squealing, a gentleman rushed over and grabbed her outstretched hand just in time to stop her from plunging into icy Puget Sound.
We breakfasted in a café on the dock and were off again, this time for Hood Canal, a long slender finger of ocean cutting through the steep rainforested slopes of the Olympic Peninsula. As the sun set, we anchored in Squamish Harbor. I pulled out my guitar and started plucking. Karen made the drinks. We sipped in the twilight, mist floating just above the water million miles from nowhere. I was a late bloomer learning that love is for the young at heart. We were boy and a girl dedicated to having fun together. It has never changed. We love to tease each other. Karen found out that I hate to be kissed on the ear. She still does it.
Both of us are nature lovers. In our following days of wine and roses, we bought a tent and camping equipment, and camped out often. On one camping trip, a bee flew in and Karen sat on it. A doctor had told me to immediately suck the venom out. I had Karen lay on the seat. I was leaning over her, with the door open. I pulled up her shorts and panties and saw the sting on her cheek. To Karen, it was uproariously funny. She thought I was teasing her. I'd started sucking, Karen shrieking, when suddenly two horsemen appeared. I'm not sure they knew I was doing what the doctor ordered. Karen and I have always had so much fun doing things together. She's marvelous company.
The next morning I started the Coleman stove and made coffee, the whole time a chatterbox woman irritating me. I poured two cups and took them inside the tent. We drank our coffee and proceeded to prepare for breakfast. The chatterbox reappeared. We broke camp and drove down the road to a picnic area and breakfasted. A trail took us through giant douglas firs, shafts of light illuminating brilliant red sumac. It was like nature planned the spectacular display just for us, even to the mossy spot where we lay on our backs staring at the bows high above swishing in the breeze. The sound reminded me of ocean surf in the distance. I'd not yet given up the sea.
Some say that living together before marriage is not a good idea. I'd sold my condo. Karen invited me to move in with her. Having a man back in her home was a bad reminder. After 23 years of marriage to an authority, she wasn't sure she wanted to give up her independence. She was asleep in a recliner when I departed and checked in at a motel. Two hours later I heard a knock on the door and my name being called. How she found me I don't know to this day. But I know she wanted me.