Concluding the harrowing tale of how Julie met my family for the first time. The first installment can be found here; the second is below the fold. When we left off, we were waiting at a Starbuck’s for my old college friend Anne-Marie when a barista came and asked if I was Greg, saying there was someone on the phone asking for me.
“It’s Anne-Marie,” Julie guessed, and sure enough, it was. Dex still wasn’t back with the car and she was terrified she’d miss meeting Julie, could we just come over to her apartment? 30th and Pacific.
Anne-Marie was waiting on the stoop when we pulled up. She embraced Julie and said, “My dear. I am SO HONORED to meet you finally, Greg says such wonderful things about you.” Julie blushed delightedly at this, and Anne-Marie turned and gave me a hug and a quick peck on the cheek. “How are you doing anyway? You HAVE to hear what your mom said. Come on back.” We followed her into the building courtyard and she added, “Can we sit on the steps here? It’s cooler, and honestly I need to smoke. Dex isn’t back yet and I’m really worried. He’s usually Mister Punctual, I’M the one that makes us late.”
We assured her it was no problem. Anne-Marie turned to Julie and said, out of nowhere, “You have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen.”
Julie giggled and blushed again. “It’s Camay.”
“Really?” Anne-Marie said, interested. I had forgotten that despite her history as a hell-for-leather, anything-goes, just-as-good-as-the-guys party girl, she’d always loved the morning female rituals of makeup and cleanser and conditioner and so on. Her bathroom traditionally had been a minefield of bottles and potions and lotions in varying shades of pink and lemon yellow.
Julie, on the other hand, generally eschews makeup, washes her face and calls it done. “No, no, I’m kidding,” she said hastily.
“Oh,” Anne-Marie said, disappointed. “Because I discovered Oil of Olay in high school and it’s worked pretty well for me — I mean, I’m not the leatherface my sister Cindy is — but I’ll never have skin like yours. Anyway,” she turned to me. “Your mother. Greg, honest to God, you wouldn’t believe it.”
“Well, what? Tell us.” I had been patient through all this foofy talk of skincare stuff but enough was enough.
“WELL. So I call this morning,” Anne-Marie began, grinning with the relish that only comes when you are about to deliver really good gossip, turning to include Julie as well. “You have to understand, I’ve known Greg for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS and I’ve never MET his mother. I think we’ve exchanged maybe twenty words over the years, usually when I call the house when he’s in town and leave a number, you know, like that. That’s it.”
Julie blinked. I put in, “I don’t just shield you from Mom, honey. Everybody gets it. I hate for anybody to have to put up with that level of paranoia.”
“ANY-way,” Anne-Marie went on, “So I call and you guys are out on your walk or whatever. Well, we all know about Patty — Patricia — Mrs. Hatcher, actually, I always call her Mrs. Hatcher — so I’m thinking I’ll put a good word in. So I –” She paused and sat up a little straighter. “I heard somebody in the apartment. Dex? Is that you? Are you back?”
There was a muffled assent from behind the curtains of the open window.
“They’re here,” Anne-Marie hollered. “I called Starbucks and told them to come over. Because SOMEBODY DIDN’T SHOW UP WITH THE GODDAMN CAR! DUMBASS! I think you should just stay in there a while and think about what you did. No, no, you sit your ass down! You can’t come out here yet! You’re in the doghouse, mister!”
By this point Julie and I were both in hysterics. “You are enjoying this way too much,” I said.
Anne-Marie grinned at us and said, “Well, I WAS really worried. But we’re kind of having a Kid’s Day today.” She raised her voice again. “Maybe later you can come out and sit with the grownups but NOT NOW!”
There was a muffled protest from inside the apartment.
Anne-Marie cocked her head to one side in a perfect disdainful diva pose and rolled her eyes heavenward. “I don’t THINK so! Shut up! I’m telling a story and you’re not allowed to hear, it’s only for the GROWN-UPS!” She turned back to us. “So ANYWAY. So of course I’m thinking I’ll use the moment to put a good word in, and I said to Patty — Mrs. Hatcher, of course I would never CALL her Patty -‘So, what do you think? Because from what I know she just sounds wonderful,’ and your mother just went ON and ON about what a beautiful person Julie was and how she has such a good soul, you could just tell, and Greg was very lucky, this is all what she said, and I said, ‘well, I think it’s his turn, don’t you?’ And she laughed and said, ‘Well, you remember Marti’—”
“Oh for God’s sake,” I exploded. “She is going to beat that horse into mush no matter what.”
Anne-Marie laughed and put a hand on my arm. “No, LISTEN! I said yeah I’d met Marti and she said Julie was NOTHING LIKE HER and she was SO HAPPY you’d finally met a NICE GIRL and then she started going on about how NICE Julie was and ON and ON. I actually got teary-eyed. I have NEVER heard Greg’s mother talk like that,” she explained to Julie. “Never EVER. Usually it’s just ‘I’ll tell him you called,’ that’s all she has to say. So you must be doing something right.”
Julie chuckled, a little nervously. “Well, I’m still scared of her,” she admitted.
“Oh honey,” Anne-Marie leaned forward and patted Julie’s knee reassuringly, “We’re ALL scared of her. You’re doing fine.”
At this point a blinking and sleepy Dex came out on to the stoop, rolling a cigarette. “Oh, THERE you are, you DUMBASS BASTARD,” Anne-Marie said gleefully. “Well you’re too late, I’m not telling it again. You’ll never know.”
Dex ignored this and shook my hand. “Sorry I’m late,” he said gruffly. “Nice to see you both.”
“We forgave you an hour ago, Dex,” I told him, grinning. “She’s just having too much fun to let you up.”
“I think she’s going to spank you,” Julie giggled, beginning to get into the spirit of things.
“Oh he WISHES! Come see the apartment.” Anne-Marie stood and waved us to accompany her and we followed her on in.
She gave us a quick tour of the place — it was a tidy, endearingly cluttered and eccentric little one-bedroom, typical of close-in east Portland. Julie sighed with envy and admiration, “I love it. It’s funky. I needed something like this after Oswego.”
“Oh, yeah, no funky in Oswego, there’s some sort of ordinance,” Anne-Marie replied without missing a beat, and they were laughing again.
I grinned with pleasure at seeing the two girls having so much fun together, and then reluctantly checked my watch. I’d needed a funk break myself, but it was about time to clock in again. “Baby, I’m sorry, but we have to head back, Tom and Liz are expecting us about six.”
“Oh HELL,” Anne-Marie said crossly, then brightened. “But it’s so wonderful that I got to meet you at all. You must come back. We’ll go have coffee on Hawthorne, it will be the uber-funk…” She took Julie’s arm and started walking her out to the car, still chattering gaily along, Dex and I walking a few indulgent paces behind.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, too,” I told him. “Instead of just being a voice on the phone. You must be doing her good, I haven’t seen her having this much fun in years.”
“Never been with a smart girl before,” Dex said with a dry chuckle. “It’s different, being with an intellectual equal.”
“Been a while since she had a smart guy, too,” I assured him. “I’ve smiled through my teeth at some pretty dumb muscle boys of Anne’s over the years. You are a step WAY up.”
This pleased him. He shook my hand and said, “Sorry again about being late.”
I waved it off, about to tell him the comedy routine had been well worth it when suddenly I had an armful of Anne-Marie. She gave me a huge delighted hug and leaned forward to whisper, “She. Is. SPLENDID. You give her that rock soon, buddy, I mean it.”
“Soon,” I told her. “Let me just get through this weekend first.”
“Sissypants girly-man,” she whispered. “I mean it. SOON!” She whirled and faced Julie. “Both of you! Come back soon!” Then she twinkled at me, enjoying my consternation at her effortless diverting of Julie away from asking what we were talking about.
More waves and hugs and promises to visit and then we were finally in the car and on the road. “See?” I told Julie. “They aren’t all like Mom.”
“Now I just have Tom and Liz,” Julie said, with a thin smile.
“Pfft. They will love you. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’m TRYING not to,” Julie said gamely, but I could tell that she wasn’t succeeding.
“Are you okay?”
“I have a really bad headache,” Julie admitted. “Do you still have the ibuprofen in your bag?”
I’d been chewing through it like candy, for all the good it was doing. “It’s back at the house. Do you need some? Mom’s probably got–” A whole pharmacy, that fine old Oswego tradition. “–some stuff that would be stronger, even.”
“Just the ibuprofen… and I have to do my insulin before we get out there, too. Don’t tell your mother though!”
“Huh? Baby, Mom already knows about your diabetes, that’s why Tom is grilling chicken tonight and she only bought light-carbo groceries for us. Of course she lives on, you know, Triscuits and lettuce leaves anyway. But it’s no big deal–”
“Just — don’t — tell her,” Julie said. “Let her think I’m just, you know, in the bathroom for a long time, okay?”
I would have argued it but I heard the edge in her voice; she sounded like she might burst into tears. There are many times in a man’s life when the better part of wisdom is to just shut up and this was obviously one of them. I shut up.
We had been taking the scenic route for most everywhere we’d gone this weekend but since we were running late I decided we’d better just get on to I-5 and punch it. We made pretty good time until the Lake Grove turnoff. The landscape had changed so much in the intervening twenty years — what I remembered as largely pasture was now a series of suburban strip malls that seemed to be spreading, amoebalike, out from Oswego to engulf the freeway –that I almost didn’t see our exit.
But I got us on to Bryant Road and then South Shore, and then a red sports car with a personalized plate — MARG C– pulled out in front of us, and then slowed to a crawl.
“Son of a bitch,” I said savagely, knowing that back at the house, Mom was no doubt standing and glaring, first at the clock and then at the still-empty driveway, and back again. “If you’re going to have a goddamn red sports car, Marg, then you ought to drive fast–”
“You know,” Julie observed, “I think I’ve heard you swear more in the last two days than in the previous six months.”
I shut up again, embarrassed.
Julie reached over and squeezed my hand. “I know. Old patterns.”
We pulled up to the house and Julie rushed into the bathroom. I went on out to the kitchen and Mom said efficiently, “I called Liz and told them we were running late so that should be fine. But we need to go.”
“Can’t yet,” I told her. “Julie’s in the bathroom.”
“Oh. Well, that’s not anything…”
“She’s going to be a little while.”
Mom gave me a look. I sighed and said, “Insulin,Mom. But she’s embarrassed about it so don’t say anything, okay?”
“But that’s silly,” Mom protested. “I certainly don’t–”
“Just play along, will you?” I said, rather desperately. Mom looked like she wanted to argue some more and I added, “Just do it for me.”
“But I — all right.” She paused. “I have some questions for you.”
Well, this couldn’t be good.
My expression must have been really transparent. Mom actually chuckled. “It’s not bad,” she said. “I just want to know some things. If that’s all right.”
“It’s fine.” This was, after all, why we had come, I told myself sternly. Suck it up. At least she’s interrogating you and not Julie.
Mom took a deep breath. “I know you think I am just terribly superficial and materialistic, but really, Greg, have you thought this through? What about money, what are you two going to live on? You need…”
“We do all right,” I told her. “Not, you know, up to Oswego standards, but…”
“You needn’t be so biting.”
I took a deep breath. Don’t start, don’t start, no fighting, you swore you weren’t going to let her get to you, it’s a legitimate question. “Mom, you know, I do think about this stuff. There was a time, oh about a couple of months ago, Julie sat me down and said we needed to talk, and I thought, oh great, because, you know, when a woman says that it’s never good news.”
Mom actually smiled at that.
I went on, “So I asked her what was on her mind and she took my hand and said, very seriously, ‘you need to quit worrying about the money. I know you are never going to have a lot of money and that’s all right with me.’ Because, you know, I was embarrassed about it, and covering it up with a lot of kidding and stuff. And she made it a point to let me know that I didn’t have to do that anymore, she didn’t care.”
Mom said nothing.
I added, “That’s how she is, Mom. So yeah, we’re poor. We’re probably going to keep right on being poor unless, you know, I sell a book or something and then we might be slightly less poor. We’re never going to be able to just take off for Sun River or Maui the way Tom and Liz do. But we’re okay with that. Do you understand?”
She didn’t, not really. But she nodded anyway and I was grateful for that. “All right,” she said. “The other question I have — a few months ago you talked about Frances. Isn’t this a little, you know, sudden? I mean…”
I waved it off. “You have to understand, Julie was there for all of that, Mom, it’s just… Julie’s always been the dependable one, the bridesmaid, the best friend, the chauffeur, you know, like that. She didn’t think she really had a shot with me because she never thought she had a shot with anybody. She was the chunky comic-relief girl, not the lead. You know? And after my marriage blew up years ago, well, I kind of wrote off the whole idea of ever being with anybody. So we’d spend a lot of time together kidding around about how we were both going to die alone, we’d never get a date again, so on and so on. But I’d see her every other day practically, she was just getting to be one of the most important people in my life. Frances, on the other hand… well, we worked together and we were friends and I had these events where I had two tickets and I was thinking it would do her some good to get out, that’s all. And once we’d been out everyone at the studio started sort of pushing us, you know how people are, ‘Woohoo, Greg and Frances are dating!’ So I kind of thought, well, okay, why not? But it never went anywhere, I couldn’t really get interested… and Frances really wasn’t thinking of me that way anyway. But it did get Julie off the launch pad, so to speak. She was okay with being on the sidelines as long as we were both alone, but the idea that I might end up with somebody else, well… does this make sense? It wasn’t any sudden realization or fireworks or anything. It was more just me finally realizing that Julie’s the one that’s more important to me than anyone else. And vice versa.”
“Yes,” Mom said, surprising me. “I just didn’t want you to be rebounding or something. I understand now. That’s all,” she added, laughing. “You don’t have to look so grim. Interrogation’s over.”
After a moment I laughed too. It was funny. I had probably looked like a captured resistance fighter that was ready to spit in the face of the SS. Unclench, I told myself. If Mom can laugh then you ought to be able to.
Julie emerged from the bathroom and joined us in the kitchen. “Well, let’s go then,” Mom said brightly.
She swept out past us to the garage and we fell into step behind her. Julie said, sotto voce, “What was that all about? I thought I heard you guys arguing again.”
“Nothing. Old patterns.” I looked at her and noticed how pale and shaken she looked. “How are you feeling? Did you get that ibuprofen?”
“I’m fine,” Julie said. “Let’s go.” Now she was the one who looked ready to take on the SS.
“We just have to do tonight and then it’s over,” I told her, reassuringly. “Then we’re done, we can leave as early as you want tomorrow. I was thinking,” I added, “Traffic’s going to be just as horrible going back up. If we have to spend an extra three hours on the road anyway, why not go up the coast where the scenery’s better?”
“I was hoping you would say that.” She looked cheered by this and I tried not to be too obvious about checking my watch as we clambered into the car. Not as though we were counting down the hours or anything, but I admitted to myself that my real reason for suggesting the coast road idea was that it was a great excuse to leave at the crack of dawn. And, well, there were a lot of romantic spots along the Pacific coast. Maybe one of them would be a nice place to give Julie her ring.
Always assuming there wasn’t some kind of meltdown tonight… I checked my watch again. Just a few more hours. And counting.
My brother Tom and I are polar opposites in so many ways that if you somehow combined us into a single being you would have one well-rounded person. He’s athletic, I’m sedentary. I’m a reader, he’s not. He’s financially well-off and has a good head for business, I’m poor and suck at math. He’s a homeowner and enjoys working in the yard, I prefer apartments and think gardening is a form of slow torture. He likes golf, I loathe it. He’s right-handed, I’m a lefty. And so on. Anyone seeing us together would be hard-pressed to see we were related at all…
…. Except that there is one place we’ve always been on the same page. Dealing with Mom. I knew that the reason my brother had offered to host this barbecue tonight was to show solidarity with me and get Mom away from her house and over to his, where she would be forced to be on her good behavior, and also more easily diverted into helping with Liz in the kitchen or playing with my little nephew. In short, it was his way of giving Julie and me a bit of a break, and I appreciated it.
We never discuss this sort of thing out loud in my family, it’s all subtext. But I knew that was what was going on when we pulled up to the house and saw that Liz had put a little sign on the door that said, WELCOME GREG AND JULIE!
“That’s for you,” I told Julie. “I don’t usually get a sign.”
The door opened and there were Tom and Liz, tanned and athletic as ever, with little two-year-old Bryce sitting in the crook of Liz’s arm. “Hey, you two,” I said, and then grinned at Bryce. “And how are you doing, junior?”
“Ah BAH!” replied my nephew, and spread his arms wide with a triumphant smile.
“Is that good?” I asked Liz.
“He’s just happy to have an audience,” Liz said, smoothly handing Bryce off to Mom and giving me a quick hug.
“This must be Julie,” Tom said. “Nice to meet you.” They shook hands.
“Greg, for God’s sake, where are your manners?” Mom said. “Tom, Liz, this is Julie… um…”
“Radmacher,” Julie supplied. “I’m glad to meet you.”
“We’re glad you could come down,” Liz said. “This is a treat for us, we never get to see Greg except at Christmas usually. And he needs to see his nephew! Isn’t that right, Brycey?” She cooed at Bryce and at the same time gently guided Mom towards the kitchen.
“You two should come on around back with me, I’m about to fire up the grill.” Tom waved a vague hand towards the patio and Julie obediently moved in that direction. He looked at me and quirked an eyebrow. “So how’s it been going so far?” he asked quietly. “Mom been okay?”
“Skirmishes. More my fault than hers, to be honest. She’s really been making an effort.”
Tom clapped me on the shoulder. “Well, Liz has been talking to her and from what I can tell Mom seems to really like Julie.”
“She’s been telling everyone that except Julie herself,” I said, irritated. “God forbid Mom actually let her off the hook… just a word or two would really do some good. Julie’s getting so wound up I think she’s making herself sick. This is a big deal for her.”
“So it’s pretty serious then?”
“Serious as can be.”
“Good for you. About time you met someone.”
This is why I love my brother. No questions about money or what Julie did for a living or anything. Just, Are you happy? Yes? Okay then, case closed. If it wasn’t for dinner we could have left right then.
We went out on the patio and Tom made cheerful small talk with Julie about the art studio, pottery, and handicrafts while Mom fussed over Bryce, who was in his turn delighted to be the floor show. I stretched out in one of the patio chairs and tried to relax. Seven o’clock. And counting.
After dinner Bryce wanted to show us his room, and introduce us to all his stuffed animals. Tom and Liz and Mom were clearing the table and shooed us away when we offered to help, so we followed Bryce upstairs.
It was the most relaxed I’d seen Julie for a week. “I see Clifford,” she told Bryce. “And Pooh! Do you know the Pooh song? Winnie- the- Pooh… Winnie-the-Pooh…” Her voice trailed off and Bryce made an impatient noise. “Oh, you want me to sing more? You’re the only one that says that, but okay. Winnie- The- Pooh … Winnie- The- Pooh…”
While Julie sang and Bryce gurgled happily in response, I heard muted voices from downstairs. Feeling ridiculously juvenile but nevertheless wanting to hear, I edged closer to the landing. I thought I heard Julie’s name mentioned, but their voices were too low.
Then they came out of the kitchen and looked up at me where I was standing on the balcony. “How’s he doing up there?” Liz asked me.
“He and Julie are bonding over the stuffed animals,” I smiled. “Apparently Bryce was not aware that Winnie the Pooh has his own theme song. He’s absolutely enraptured.”
“Oh, yeah, he loves Pooh,” Tom said. “And Shrek. He’s all about Shrek.”
Julie and Bryce emerged from the bedroom. “Shrek?” she asked.
“REK!” Bryce said, lighting up.
“Okay honey, we can watch Shrek, and then it’s time for bed,” Liz said wearily. Something must have shown in my face because she added, “We don’t watch the whole thing. He just has to see the scene with the dragon and then the song at the wedding. We do this every night, we have those particular chapters memorized on the DVD,” she added, laughing.
So we all went downstairs again and rolled Bryce’s two scenes from Shrek for him on the DVD player, and then it was time to go. Tom clapped me on the shoulder and shook my hand again. “Sorry we didn’t get to talk more,” he said. “But it really is pretty much the Bryce show around here these days.”
“That’s all right. I never get to see him anyway, I was happy to let him have the floor.” I told him.
“He’s really cute,” Julie put in.
“Well, he sure likes you,” Tom said. “Usually he doesn’t take to people right away like that.”
“I like him too,” Julie beamed.
“Anyway. Come back. It was great meeting you, and–” Tom winked at me. “–I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again.”
“I’m sure,” I said. We both looked at Mom, who pretended not to notice.
The next morning, Mom insisted on both making us breakfast and packing a lunch, even though Julie and I were anxious to get on the road as quickly as possible. But it was easier and faster to just let her do it than to argue. We said our requisite goodbyes and then there was an awkward moment while Mom and Julie looked at each other.
“Thank you for everything,” Julie said.
“Well. It was nice meeting you. I’m sure we’ll see you again.” Mom said it in her brittle voice, the same one she’d been using Friday night.
Finally Julie awkwardly gave her a quick hug and then we were in the car. “Get us out of here,” I said.
“Yeah,” Julie replied, and stepped on the gas. “And turn on the music. Something funky with non-white people,” she added, laughing. “We can roll down the windows and play it really loud.” She glanced over at me. “You want coffee?”
“Sure. But don’t stop for it here. We’ll go up through northwest Portland and get on the old highway west from there, bypass Vancouver. There are a million coffee shops out there and none of them are in a goddamned strip mall.”
Julie nodded and punched it. We were out of Oswego and into downtown Portland in no time, and I could feel the tension slowly uncoiling in my back with each mile my old hometown was further behind us.
We found a nice bakery on northwest 21st and Flanders, and as we were walking back to the car with coffees Julie said, “Any of that ibuprofen left?”
“Sure,” I said, frowning. “I thought you were feeling better. You seemed okay at breakfast.”
Julie grimaced. “That was my ‘happy’ face.” She squared her shoulders. “But that’s okay. We’re done. No more auditions.”
“Honey, it was never an audition.”
“It was, a little.”
“No,” I said firmly. “It was not. This was a courtesy call and nothing more. Mom is just going to have to–”
“I don’t mean your MOTHER!”
“Huh?” I glanced over and saw, incredulously, that Julie’s eyes had filled with tears. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about your brother and Liz and Anne-Marie! Those people are really important to you! I was scared to death!”
I suddenly felt two inches tall. I had been so self-obsessed, so wrapped up in the dysfunctional dance that Mom and I had been doing for decades, that it had never even crossed my mind that Julie was worried about anyone else.
“But… but…” I said, helplessly. “None of the others would ever put you under the microscope the way Mom would. I wouldn’t put up with it anyway. But… they’re not like that.”
“But… what if they’d all hated me?” Julie said, brokenly.
“I’d have told them all to go to hell and we’d have been home a day early,” I said, annoyed. “For God’s sake. Come here.” I pulled her over to a park bench and we sat down. “Do you really think I’m the kind of — of — spineless milquetoast shit that puts these things up to a vote? Nobody has any say in how I feel about you but me. I don’t care what other people think.”
“You say that,” Julie said. She looked away, embarrassed. “B-but… I hear how you talk about your brother and Anne-Marie, I know how much they mean to you.”
“Hey. Look at me.”
She looked up, her eyes swimming with unshed tears.
“Here’s how sure I am.” I pulled out the ring from my pocket and showed it to her. “Marry me.”
“What? Oh my God. My God.” She hurled herself into my arms. “You know I will,” she said, kissed me harder than she ever had, and then broke down completely.
Wow, that was easier than I thought it would be, I thought, a little dizzily.
“But you have to get on one knee,” Julie said after a moment. “Let’s do this right.”
“All right.” I knelt in front of her and looked up. “We’ll probably always be hardscrabble poor but we’ll laugh a lot and I will always love you. Spend the rest of your life with me. Marry me.”
“Yes! I say yes!” She pulled me up and hugged me again. There was a smattering of applause and a WOO HOO! from behind us. I looked up and saw that we had the approval of a couple of the homeless guys that frequent the park. I waved at them.
“You understand now that it was never an audition?” I asked her as we walked arm in arm back to the car.
“Yes,” Julie said, and leaned into me. “I believe you now.”
That was in September of 2003. We were married the following July.
Mom is gone now, as is Anne-Marie. My brother and his family are still living in the Portland suburbs, leading their utterly opposite lives to ours; Bryce is in high school now, which will give you something of an idea how long ago this was.
Julie is calmer now, after a decade and a half of being married to me, about being introduced to my old friends. But it still makes her nervous. I have never understood this since it’s painfully obvious to everyone that SHE is the nice one after spending five minutes in our company. Fortunately, she is so instantly beloved by everyone that it passes quickly and she can relax. But I suspect it’s always going to be A Thing with her.
She loves that this story exists as a printed piece, and still makes us slow down whenever we pass Couch Park in Northwest Portland to make sure ‘our bench’ is still there, and the gazebo.
It is– along with the homeless guys and the needles and everything else. But none of that matters to Julie. To her it’s the most romantic place in the world, because it’s where I proposed… and in so doing, proved I really wasn’t kidding about There Is No Audition.
That’s the woman I married. I’d do it all over again in a second. Hard times and money troubles and medical scares and all of it. Being with her has never not been worth it.
Except we’d elope. But that’s ANOTHER story.
Back next week with something cool.