Valentine’s Day is here and I thought it would be fun to share stories about how we met the loves of our lives. My wife and I met on March 5, 1979 at a singles’ event. All throughout the day I had a growing feeling that I had to go the program that evening, though I couldn’t say why. When she walked in the room, I knew the answer. She was with her brother whom I knew. After the guest speaker had finished droning on, I pumped him for information about her. As she walked past, he introduced us, leaving us alone, much to her consternation. I filled her in on her life story and asked her out on the spot for the coming Saturday night, figuring it was harder to say no face to face than over the phone. Happily, she said yes and when I went home that night, I said to myself, that’s the girl I’m going to marry. And I did.
Bonnie Long is an Emergency Room physician at Truman Medical Center. She and Alex met at a Heart of America Softball League playoff game between Alex’s team, Girls Who Like Bacon, and another team called Karma. Bonnie was behind the plate, calling balls and strikes, pulling double duty providing first aid to injured players.
Alex charged into the catcher, knocking herself silly trying to score the winning run. She opened her eyes and found Bonnie leaning over her, shining a penlight at her, telling Alex that she’d been thrown out and instructing her to follow Bonnie’s index finger back and forth, asking her what day it was and who was President of the United States. Alex laughed, saying who cares as long as it isn’t you or me and woke up the next morning in Bonnie’s arms, the only person other than her father she ever let call her Lexi. They’ve been together ever since.
Alex is staring at forty. She favors pants suits and shirts from Banana Republic and J. Crew in ensembles of black, white and gray for work, living in jeans, cords and t-shirts the rest of the time. Bonnie once gave her a candy apple red dress, an off the shoulder number, telling her she needed to step out once in awhile. Alex slipped it on and looked in the mirror, pulling it off like she was on fire, telling Bonnie it made her feel like a drag queen.
Bonnie is chasing thirty-five. Blessed with rich parents who had the foresight to make her an only child, she has twice-monthly manicures and pedicures, sees her hair stylist every four weeks and buys her clothes on quarterly trips to Chicago where she’s on a first name basis with the salespeople on Michigan Avenue.
When they decided to live together, they did two things. First, they made a pact that, no matter what, they had to be okay because they suck when they aren’t and they can’t imagine life otherwise. They balance one another. If one has a bad day, the other picks her up. If one is sick, the other cares for her. On those nights, they sit in front of the fireplace, arms locked together, the flames rising and falling, and renew their promise.
And second, they bought a pair of matching easy chairs and ottomans, giggling all the way home, laughing at their domesticity, teasing one another about how they would spend every evening in their easy chairs, Bonnie doing needlepoint while Alex watched whatever was on ESPN.
They live in a midtown Kansas City neighborhood called Crestwood in a two-story Dutch Colonial house built in the 1920’s with screened in porches on either end and red brick steps laid in a majestic gentle curve from the front door to the street. Curved streets, small parks and sturdy, picturesque limestone arches define Crestwood. Its blend of Colonial and Tudor architecture projects the comfort, stability and security they crave. Home to a diverse middle-class blend, it’s a place that lets them be just Alex and Bonnie, not the lesbian couple next door.
Each night at bedtime, Alex sinks into the pillows, inhaling Bonnie’s fragrance, a mix of lavender with traces of Chanel. It’s the last thing she does every night before falling asleep, her antidote to nightmares.
Now it’s your turn. I can’t wait to read your story.