A Post in Numbers and Letters: Mom meets Dad
September 2008…we see each other in a Borders Bookstore
1 month later…we started dating
14 months after that…we were married: 12.27.09
12 months after that…we were pregnant
9 months after that…we meet you! (see Bears all things)
Since I’m on a roll with blast-from-the-past letters, I thought I’d tell you about the time I met your Dad. I’m sure, in few years, I’ll get to tell you in person as many times as you'd like to hear it. But I wanted to write you here too because these are the stories that make us a family.
I first read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers in my first-year seminar class at Mount Holyoke College. The seminar was called “Growing up Southern.” I took it because I was Southern—at least according to all the girls from New England and Philly—and also considered myself a grown up on most days of the week. The seminar was a course in the English department, though, and I really had no interest in reading and writing then.
My memory of Lonely Hunter is tied inextricably to that gnarled New England campus and also to a sense of achievement (don’t worry, the part where I meet your Dad is coming—let’s just quickly skim over several years here, years when I wish I knew him, but sadly didn’t yet). So I finished the book, which I rarely did with books then. I enjoyed it, and my professor wrote some nice comments on my paper that I now can’t remember. And this is how it happened that I became an English major who agonized over many, many more books, papers and comments from professors that I do recall like “pyrotechnic syntax to cover up complete lack of substance.” (We've all got flaws, son).
Somehow after college, I ended up working in a bookstore where I often got lost in the M’s, picking up Melville paperbacks, reading the first lines of McEwen novels, and discovering McCullers’ collection of short stories. In the alcove of L, M, N, O and P is where I met your Dad—who was wearing a ball-cap and wondering what to read— and I recommended, since we were standing in the Ms, that he buy The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. For a moment he seemed put off by the “Oprah Book Club Selection” stamp on the front cover hanging next to a black and white photograph of a sad-looking woman with bangs, sitting in bunch of brush.
“I’ll take it,” he finally said. And I was so relieved, too, when he suggested that after he finished it, we could grab a coffee together (Though, I later found out that he doesn’t even drink coffee, which is just fine).
That night, after my closing shift, I went home and picked up my own paperback copy (without the Oprah sticker) and began reading to refresh my memory.
It begins “In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.”
Son, I don’t think I could have picked a weirder book. Maybe one day you’ll read it too and think the same. But your Dad came back after all, and thank goodness he didn’t wait until he’d finished it!
Your Dad and I must have seen each other before this exact instance in time (and we continued to see each other for many, many more instances), but this is how it will go down in family history. This is how I became an educated woman, a married woman and (you guessed it) a Mom. Thanks to Carson McCullers.
Always remember that you have parents who love each other (and you) very, very much; and that makes you one of the lucky ones, kid.
I hope one day, you find as much joy in books (and sharing them with someone special) as we have.