Asheville Citizen-Times 10/29/2014 –
Deb was on a weekend getaway-birthday celebration with a group of girlfriends. In the evening, after a glass or two of wine, and as the hour grew late, the women began discussing their first loves.
For Deb it had always been Steve. If she closed her eyes and remembered all the way back to 1964, she could still see the two of them dancing to their song, “Ebb Tide.” They had been inseparable for years in high school, but after she left for college, they quickly broke up.
And nothing was ever quite the same.
That night, after the wine and stories, Deb had a dream urging her to call Steve. The strange thing was that she’d had the same dream three weeks before.
She thought it might be fun to have lunch with her old boyfriend and his wife (also a high school friend) the next time she was visiting Indianapolis, where they’d all grown up. She’d heard he was an attorney there, but after finding him online, she was sad to discover that his wife had passed away four years earlier.
Deb called Steve’s office and left a condolence message on his voice mail.
Within minutes, he returned her phone call. They talked nonstop for an hour and a half.
And it all began again.
Steve had remained in Indianapolis, but Deb was now in Asheville. Still, there was so much in common, such extensive ground to cover — family members, old friends, children — all spanning decades. They began making phone calls at all hours. Deb said that she would wake up in the middle of the night and dial his number. Steve would do the same. They exchanged photographs.
The two hadn’t met yet, but in a long-distance romance gone wild, Deb confessed to Steve that after her divorce, she had sworn off men, but suddenly she was so happy she felt giddy. She even admitted to Steve she had a major crush on him. He took it a step further. He told her he thought he was falling in love.
Two months later, in January, Deb flew to her hometown and the two met for the first time in nearly 50 years. He kissed her. And in Deb’s words, “I was a goner. That’s all it took.”
In March, on another visit, Steve drove her to the Royal Pines section of town, now an upscale housing community, but back in the ’60s, a convenient place to park, unseen, on a date. He wanted to see if Deb remembered. She did. He proposed. She accepted.
Steve asked her if she would consider moving to Indiana. As much as she loved Asheville, Deb agreed. But then a funny thing happened. Along with falling in love with Deb, over the course of several visits, Steve had fallen in love with Asheville, too.
He was very close to his son, Adam, and mentioned he was considering moving. “I feel bad because it means I won’t see you as much anymore,” he told him.
Adam offered up a smile.“I can’t get you out of town fast enough. I think you’re crazy if you don’t go. You’ll have a beautiful home in a beautiful city with the love of your life. What could ever be bad about that?”
On July 19 of this year, Deb and Steve were married in Asheville.
They had never pined for each other in the decades apart — no lost love desperation. When Deb heard that Steve was married, she remembers hoping he would be happy. Steve had totally lost track of Deb and through the years was busy with his law practice while raising a family. He dated a little after his wife passed away but wasn’t seriously looking for another life partner.
And then the stars aligned.
Since their wedding, Deb’s children have thanked Steve for making their mother so happy. Steve’s daughter and son have had the same conversation with Deb.
And today, as a couple, their love is sweet, kind, and unassuming. They both believe that maturity adds substance to their marriage. Little things that were once so important no longer matter. Steve says he’s left all his fighting back in the courtroom.
They sing along with the Beach Boys. They watch romantic comedies together. They hold hands and talk about old friends, all the while acknowledging their good fortune in finding each other again, understanding that it’s a second chance most people are never given.
“Somewhere in the back of my heart she always lingered,” Steve says.
And if Deb closes her eyes and thinks back, way back, she can see them dancing to the voices of the Righteous Brothers — just as they do now, 50 years later and 100 years wiser.
Her first love is her last love.
The stuff dreams are made of.
Ted Alexander lives in Asheville. His first novel, “The Fall of Summer,” a 1960s coming-of-age story, is now available at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe and via http://tedmalexander.com/Books.html. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.