Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Story of Us

In our crusade to raise money for the IUI I came across a writing contest that asks about love. I started thinking ok, with everything that's happened to us and everything we've been through what could I possibly write about that might come close enough to win? Well, the one story that always seems to get a reaction from people answers the question, "How did you two meet?"

It all started about 15 years ago. The internet was just starting to take off publicly, there was no Google, no Facebook or Twitter, not even Myspace and online shopping was a thing of science fiction... yes, it was the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth! I (Miranda) had been a member of a great international penpal club that I'd found advertised in the back of Writer's Digest two years previous and had just received my latest list of potential friend matches. Paul's listing was fairly non-descript but we had enough in common that I shot off my usual introduction letter to him. The day I graduated high school I received a letter back and our friendship began.

We both liked writing long letters and talked about everything. Paul was a nice guy with a good sense of humor, had a slight issue with self esteem which I was steadily working to help him with and was on my list of penpals to visit when I would someday embark on the backpacking trip across Europe I'd always dreamed of. After a few letters we exchanged pictures and well, let's just say the picture I received prompted my mother to ask, "are you sure he's not a convict?" I assured her the agency had a strict policy against inmates as members of the club. The sinister looking picture did put me on guard but Paul's letters up to that point had been very nice and normal but I proceeded with caution for a little while. It hadn't helped that during the two years I'd been a member of the club, for every 3 or 4 nice people I corresponded with, there would be the odd nutjob or men who were passionately in love with me just by my intro letter and wanted to marry me (aka trolls looking for an American Visa).

As time went on Paul and I exchanged letters and gifts during the holidays and slowly became more immersed in each others' lives. The only thing better than coming home from school to a thick envelope with an international stamp on it waiting for you is making or getting that first phone call from another country! With us this happened almost a year after our first correspondence when Paul announced he would be visiting New York City and wanted to meet all his friends there. Accounting for the 5 hour time difference, I nervously dialed the number enclosed in his letter. To this day I don't actually know what we talked about! With his thick British accent combating my Northern New Jersey hybrid and colloquialisms, our first phone conversation consisted mainly of "Huh? What? I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" After a few more phone calls, we started being able to understand each other better and we couldn't wait for our first meeting, neither of us suspecting the circus act that that would actually be. Then again, as we've since discovered everything we involve ourselves in becomes a circus act of some kind, it was perfectly fitting!

On that gorgeous temperate day in late June my mother and I were supposed to go into the city to meet Paul at his Manhattan hotel. Mom would've felt better if we'd had a man along but as dad and my uncle were working, this just wasn't possible. My younger sisters wanted to tag along and early that morning my uncle called to tell us he would be able to come along after all. So we piled into mom's Plymouth Voyager and zipped off to the 9am meeting. I didn't want Paul to be accosted by a group of strange people in a minivan so I told them to wait there while I met him in the lobby. It was just a few minutes before 9 and the lobby was empty so I crossed to the in-house phones, nodding to some guy coming out of the elevator, and called up to the room. There was no answer so I figured he was on his way down and sat in the lobby. A few minutes went by and my youngest sister, Annie, decided to join me in the lobby. A few more minutes went by before my other sister, Lavinia, kept us company. A few minutes after that my uncle joins us and so the three of us sit, across from the stranger from the elevator, and wait. It was 9:15 before I call the room again, still no answer, and we're starting to wonder what's going on? Was he running late? Maybe he's stuck in the bathroom from a bad dinner the night before? Suddenly, a lightbulb goes on. My uncle asks me, what's your friend's name? I say, Paul. My uncle looks over at the stranger and asks, are you Paul? Lo and behold, we'd been sitting there staring at each other the whole damn time! Mind you the only thing I had to go by was the portrait of evil that had been sent to me months earlier and didn't do the cutie sitting across from me justice! (shaddap Paul, you are too and quit blushing;)

During this time my mom had gotten in touch with my dad and found out he was able to get out of work early and would be meeting us at the Statue of Liberty. So we headed over after a stop at the Empire State Building, making small talk between questions about life in England that were getting increasingly more embarrassing thanks to my uncle, and met up with my dad. By then it was too crowded to get to anything other than her feet so we decided to hop the subway to Coney Island.

Now, there were three things I'd asked my family not to bring up while Paul was visiting, two of which my uncle unceremoniously hit on repeatedly throughout the day while asking questions that made me want the ground to open up and swallow me. Questions like, "So what do you think of the Queen?" and "Are there swimming pools in England?". The clincher occurred underground while we were waiting for the train to Coney Island. Charlie Brown's teacher got on the PA system to announce there was some kind of delay due to smoke in the tunnel. We started joking about the NY subway system when my dear ole uncle with the diarrhea mouth blurts out "well at least we don't bomb our train lines!" (for those who aren't aware or don't remember, the UK had recently been having big problems with IRA bombings on their transportation system).

Well, at that moment I think time literally stood still and my family and I had managed to suck all the oxygen from that station having gasped at the same time. While my father pulled me aside and talked me down from ideas of shoving my uncle in front of a passing train, my mother pulled my uncle to one side and screamed his ears off while my sisters stood there in a state of shock! I don't know what Paul was doing at the time as I was battling my homicidal rage and embarrassment.

The rest of the day was a good one. My uncle was notably silent as we cruised through the aquarium, rode the Cyclone, introduced Paul to his first Nathan's hot dog and NY pretzel and bantered about whether or not to go on the Wonder Wheel. I was sad to see the day end but at 4pm, Paul and I said our goodbyes in the lobby with a hug and the umpteenth apology about my uncle. I had no romantic inclination towards him at the time, however, as I watched him enter the elevator and gave a final wave before heading out into the street, I had a strong feeling almost as if it were a whispered suggestion, that Paul and I would be in each other's lives forever.

And so, that's the story of how we met:) Next week, we'll tell you about Paul's second visit when friendship began to blossom into love, but then everyone knows there's magic at a Renaissance Fair!

In the meantime, we're having our first giveaway (we hope to have one every 6 weeks or so). Right now every donation gets you entered in a live drawing April 25th (via Ustream, time TBD) for a Cappuccino Mug and Blueberry Pie candle set! You can't have pie without coffee and you just can't have coffee without pie:) The default flavors and scents are Cafe Latte and Blueberry but you can also get Mocha and Apple, Pumpkin, Strawberry, Lemon or Chocolate cream pie upon request. Or if you're sensitive or allergic to scented candles, they can also come unscented upon request.

So please, donate now and help us towards our goal of having a baby. Remember, proceeds not used by the procedure go to the March of Dimes and the National Adoption Center so you're helping three causes:) Also check out a site Paul and I created as part of our grieving process from our last pregnancy that gives information and guidance to those who've experienced the same problem and are having trouble dealing with it or knows of someone who does. Thanks and have a great week!

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