I met my beloved husband on a cold January night in 1989. It was my first night in a new town, and I barely knew a soul. I was embarking on a new job, enrolling at a new university, studying a new field, and living in a new town. I wasn’t really sure why I had landed in Murray. It felt that I had stepped backward, landing in the middle of nowhere. Never in my life did I feel so out-of-place. A family friend generously invited me to dinner that first evening. She and her husband had already been incredibly helpful, with their networks of support that had moved mountains convincing me that Murray State was an excellent graduate school. While we ate, she suggested that after dinner we attend a meeting at the community theater. A new program was being developed for local playwrights and she was involved with organizing the first production. It sounded interesting, and besides, I didn’t want to go back to an empty room.
When we arrived, the others had already settled into reading scripts. We quickly found seats, and I tried to settle without further interruption. As I looked around the room, little did I realize that these people would become dear friends. At that point, they were strangers who didn’t appreciate tardiness. The stranger that had arrived in their midst had burgundy, punk-styled hair and was wearing combat boots with a dress. Being theater folk, they were not impressed with my post-modern look. They had seen better.
As the readings continued, my eyes once again wandered around the room in an attempt to understand the natives in my new land. That’s when I found a gentle, smiling face. Much to my surprise, that smile led to a quick wink and quiet chuckle that captured my heart. Later that night, I called my former college roommate and told her that I now knew why I had landed in Murray – because I had just met the man I was going to marry. Of course, it took awhile for our relationship to begin because I ignored Him for nearly seven months. My track record with relationships was notched with crash-and-burns. There was no way I was going to get involved again – graduate school was to be my complete existence, then I was leaving Small Town USA for bigger and brighter lights. But everywhere I went, He was there. I couldn’t avoid Him, as He was friends everyone I met. It drove me insane.
Then one night I volunteered to work concessions during a production at the community theater. I met a lovely older lady who was completely charming. We became instant friends. Just before intermission, she suggested that I should meet her son, but I quickly told her that I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone. I was on a path and men were not a part of my plan. As the show was ending and we were cleaning up, she invited me to go with a group of folks from the show to eat a late night breakfast. I accepted and went to collect my things. As I waited outside for her, I watched as all the cars slowly left the parking lot. Then there were only three cars left: mine, hers, and His. I panicked as I heard them walking thru the building, laughing and joking as they turned off lights and locked up. When they came out of the last door together, I must have still had that panicked look on my face because He asked if I was having car trouble. “Oh no,” I said. “I’m waiting for Sandra. She’s asked me to go eat after the show….” He slowly turned to my new friend and said, “Mother, what have you done?” She chuckled and said, “What you should have done already – asked her out!”
The rest is history. I never sought those bigger and brighter lights. For I married my beloved at the place where we had met – Playhouse in the Park. We’ve built a life together that I cherish. It didn’t take long for me to find the charm that is quintessential Murray. I can’t imagine living anywhere else, as I never want to leave this place that is my home. Happy Valentines Sweetheart – I love you with all my heart.