in august 1985, i had just returned to the united states from traveling for months in mexico and central america. hungry for an authentic taste of home, i rode the greyhound bus from indianapolis to st. louis to visit my grandparents. after a few days with older adults, though, i was longing for the companionship of a peer. i immediately thought to call ellen -- one of the women with whom i had traveled in mexico. i knew she lived in st. louis and phoned her to catch up. we immediately fell into easy conversation that would outstrip my grandparents’ view of what an appropriate call length would be so we decided to meet. problematic because neither one of us drove. a friend of ellen’s offered to give her a ride.
ellen stepped out of the passenger side of a lemon yellow 1976 mustang. from the driver side emerged the tallest redheaded drink of water ever to grace the streets of south st. louis. that was the very first time i ever laid eyes on kelly wallace. two years later, almost to the day, kelly and i were married.
just last week i got an e-mail from ellen. she had found me through my blog. she was going to be visiting family in st. louis (having moved out east many years ago) and asked if we would like to get together. we made plans for tuesday night.
thinking back i calculated that it had been at least twenty years since ellen and i had seen each other. when she stepped out of the passenger side of the rental mini-van i could see that she hadn’t changed one bit. her peaches and cream complexion was still flawless; her eyes were clear. after we’d hugged i could tell too, that her manner was still just as easy-going and open. of course, much has changed.
we’re both married now. we’re both mothers. if you stepped back twenty-two years and imparted these two facts alone to my former self, you would have successfully blown my mind. love was an elusive and mysterious emotion back then. relationships were hit or miss and much more often miss than hit. naturally, at that age, everyone is just trying people on for size and fit, making mental lists of must-haves and deal breakers as we move through our sentimental fumblings.
but when i look back on the first afternoon i spent with kelly i can remember all the things that remain true to this day and immediately made me feel connected to him in a way that i’d never felt before…he was immensely generous and kind, he was funny, he had a great smile, he liked to make physical contact with the person he was speaking with, and he had the bluest eyes i’d ever looked into.
this entry is a thank you note of sorts…a thank you to the internet for bringing ellen back into my life and a thank you to ellen for needing a ride twenty-two years ago.