Some snowy January nearly two decades ago I woke up with a singular thought: I need to go to Wisconsin. So I drove to the airport, bought a ticket, and a few days later was winging my way to Wausau, where my sister Terri had once lived for a very short time, and that was about all I knew of it.
Maybe nothing about that paragraph strikes you as anything remarkable, but if you know of my abiding love for travel, you will realize how very out-of-character all of that was. That’s how urgent it was to me that I meet Lynn in person.
I first encountered Lynn on the internet, but not on a dating site — I wasn’t interested in dating anyone. But I did like TV, and a thousand miles away from each other we were both so enamored of the show Stargate SG-1 that we created websites (all right, Fred was my webmaster — I supplied the content and he made it appear) about the show. And so had a woman named Sally Reeve all the way over in England.
We all were writing what is called fanfiction, where you steal (or borrow, in Mr. Krabs’ vernacular) characters that aren’t your own and have them do what you think they ought to. Most of my website is still up somewhere, hosted as some hidden part of my work website, but I have zero idea how to direct anyone there. And much of Fred’s handiwork has toppled, so all my little Stargate rings that got you to places on the site are no longer there.
Anyway, Sally and her friend Erika had been reading my stories, and they knew Lynn (who was quite the world traveler and had met these two in person — or maybe she did that a few months later). They recommended my site to her. She read my stories; she sent me a compliment. I had read some of her stories; I wrote back. She e-mailed me. I e-mailed her. She e-mailed me. I asked if she smoked. She wouldn’t answer. I asked again. She never did answer. It turns out, she did answer, multiple times (she says), but for whatever reason, those replies never made it through. (For the record: no, not a smoker.)
E-mails with Lynn led to phone calls, and then came that notion that I needed to get on a plane as soon as possible and meet her. I can’t really explain that; who can say why compulsion strikes us? But it was a force larger than myself that put me on that plane, landing at night in winter-filled Wisconsin, green around the gills and wanting nothing more than to get some fresh air.
Lynn had worn an attractive yet only knee-length dress to meet me, and driven two hours to get to Wausau. I would have walked around the airport parking lot a few more times, but she was freezing. Now, in case I’m painting too romantic a picture for you, we ended up at Wendy’s for our first date.
A couple days later we tried a real romantic dinner, and this is how those have always gone: her boss had recommended the White Stag (and we do always try to stop at restaurants that have colors and/or animals in the name — wait until I tell you about the Angry Llama). They seated us in the most remote corner they could manage, right above a vent spewing cold air, and promptly forgot about us. One subsequent Valentine’s Day here in Gunnison we attempted a 7 p.m. reservation at Josef’s — and ended up with me in a snarling fury at Quarter Circle an hour later. (I get crabby when I’m hungry.) We no longer try fancy dinners at restaurants.
Her friends were sure I was gong to be an ax-murderer; I think my friends were dubious as well. But the first thing I suggested was that I meet her mother, who found me to be quite charming. (It’s true!) Carol and I maintained a really good rapport until her untimely demise from cancer. At any rate, I didn’t kill Lynn in her sleep and haven’t even bilked her of cash (unless you count having her pay for my e-mail address for several months), and she hasn’t done me in for insurance money, so I think our friends were wrong (although it’s nice they were concerned).
So that January went well, plane trip and cold night and bad romantic dinner and all, and then it was February. Valentine’s Day. I fell back on cliché and sent her a dozen roses. They were yellow, her favorite color, except for one that was red. The next year, by which time she was here in Gunnison, I sent her two red roses in the dozen. Can you see where I was going?
I never made it to the full red dozen, because she begged me one year to quit spending so much money on something so ephemeral — even if we have dried roses all over the house, in varying conditions, so not as temporary as she thinks. I started sending bouquets of yellow flowers, leaving it to Geri at Misty Mountain Floral to work her magic at selection and arrangement.
I have to say, part of what I really liked about sending Lynn flowers was having them delivered to her at work, so co-workers could see them. It isn’t that I wanted them to know I wasn’t a slacker in the contrived-romance department. It was something else — I’ll get there in a moment.
But her requests that I stop spending money on flowers have become more urgent each year. This had to be balanced with the call I got each year from Geri’s husband Bob, reminding me to get my flower order in. Last year, though, he wouldn’t let me send them on Valentine’s Day (I think I opted for a day earlier), and this year he never called, so the floral business must be good.
So, for the first Valentine’s Day since I met her, I won’t be giving Lynn flowers. What hasn’t changed, though, is that this day — which makes just as many people miserable as it does happy — is a day to publicly proclaim what one would hope your romantic partner already knows.
I love Lynn, and have ever since she wouldn’t tell me whether she smoked or not. For all my alleged skill with words, I’m not particularly adept at telling people I love them. That’s very hard for me, don’t ask me why. I’m not very good with public displays of affection, either, and I’m just not a hugger, no matter how many of you want me to be.
So without flowers delivered to work, and without the cold impersonal touch of a gift card to Houzz, I can only offer this space to tell the Love of My Life that she is just that.
I have lots of great friends and family (including Lynn’s), but there is only one person in the whole entire world who has ever caused me to wake up thinking: I have to get on a plane and go see her. And now I’m married to her.
Love you, Buggy.