Happy to Us
At the T household, Thanksgiving also marks an anniversary of sorts for the Mr. and Mrs. (cue Wayne and Garth "diddly diddly" noise, complete with wavy fingers....)
It was 1992, I had just graduated from college, moved to Louisiana with my then -fiancé, broken off that engagement, moved back home, accepted my first teaching job, and was flat ass broke, living in my hometown with one friend in town. My teaching job could not have been crazier. I taught morning bilingual kindergarten, then traveled to one of the high schools to teach 1 class of ESL, then skedaddled across town to a junior high to teach another section of ESL. Only the kindergarten part was a contracted position- the ESL was a long-term sub. gig. To make ends meet, I taught a night class- Spanish to adults.
For a social life, I hung out with my one friend and her fiancé, and I went out of town almost every weekend to visit college friends. On the Weds. before Thanksgiving, my friend asked if I wanted to go with her and Fiancé to a party. "You remember Mr. T, don't you? From high school? His dad was our art teacher?" Sure, I remembered, we even had a couple of mutual friends. I obviously had nothing else to do, so yeah, I'd go to the party.
I dressed carefully, a really great green fuzzy sweater that made my eyes look like emeralds, green pants and a funky black wool hat that I had bought in Chicago. Mr. T would remember that hat years later when we'd have the "Do you remember when we first met?" talk. We arrived right in the thick of things- people in the basement (Mr. T was living with his mother at the time- give him a break, he was only 21) cigarette smoke hung thick in the air, typical college party. Mr. T and some other guys I did not know were warming up- their band was going to play. He shyly talked to me, looking at me through the hair that hung in his eyes. In later years, people would peg him as a dead-ringer for either Leo DiCapprio or Matt Damon. We reminisced about friends we had in common. We laughed about the only other time I'd been over to his house- again, he and his band were playing in the basement. His mom hollered down for them to turn down the amps, because his dad had a headache. Ever agreeable, always the smartass, Mr. T said wryly, "Nooo fun for you tonight, huh mom?" And for some reason, it just sent me into peals of giggles, and I always remembered it. I even shared that story with him and his mom that night- and they got a kick out of it.
So there I was, 4 or 5 years later, his father had since passed away, he was living with his mom. I stood in their hazy kitchen, hazy because they had to clean the oven, had to clean the oven because Mr. T had put his sister's childhood doll, Baby Crissy in the turkey roaster as a joke and someone unknowingly turned on the oven to pre-heat and stank up the oven and kitchen. I got to meet his mom that night and she took to me right away, and I was immediately comfortable with her. Mr. T was ever the gentlemen, introduced me to his friends, made sure I got a cold Mickey's (ew) and had this sexy way of looking right into my soul when he talked to me. Frankly, I have little recollection of who else was there that night.
We ended up leaving the party early, my friend and Fiancé were smoke intolerant. Mr. T walked us to the door to say goodbye and gave me this slow, warm embrace and thanked me for coming along.
As I slid into the back of friend and Fiancé's car, across the cold, vinyl seats, I leaned forward to talk to them in the front. My face flushed, I said, "Gosh, I don't remember Mr. T being that cool."
The rest, as they say, is history. I tell people this story, and I always add that it was love at first sight. Even though Mr. T did not look good "on paper"- no job, not in school, smoker, played in band, slept all day, lived with his mother- I just knew he was the one for me. He was my diamond in the rough, and remains my greatest treasure.
And so now we have a standing date on Thanksgiving Eve- we go out for a nice dinner and usually go to the Festival of Trees. We now go with our 2 daughters and celebrate the beginning of Us.