Saturday, February 28, 2004

She looked at me: I could see every shade of brown in her eyes - originally published March 10, 2001 in the St. Catharines Standard

Until I met the woman who would become my wife, I did not believe in the notion of love at first sight. The idea that you could just see a passing stranger on the street, or as it was in our case, in a café and decide right then that this was the person you were destined to spend the rest of your life with was not only foreign to me, it seemed completely absurd. But that's exactly what happened.
When I met Sheri-Lynn five years ago, I was living on welfare and calling myself a poet. The day was October 1st, 1996. Around five o'clock that afternoon, I went to Shipman's Café to write in my journal. The usual gang was there including some other fellow poets from the Writing On The Wall poetry group. I sat by myself at my usual table by the window. My book was open, but I checked my journal just now, and I didn't actually write anything that day. The girl who'd just walked in and sat down at the poets' table distracted me. When I went up to the counter to refill my coffee, Bill, one of the poets, flagged me over. So I pulled up a chair next to this wonderful girl.
Bill was sitting at a table with Jody and Sheri. Bill and Sheri were joking around. I found out later, that they'd gone out once or twice, but there friendship had always been platonic. This was now an in-joke of there's.
"Will you go out with me?" asked Bill jokingly.
"I don't think so Bill," replied Sheri.
"Would you go out with me?" I asked, trying to add to the joke.
She turned to look at me. It was only a momentary glance. I could see every shade of brown in her eyes. Still looking at me she said, "Yes. What's your name again?"
Here was this cute brunette whom I'd never met before looking through me like we'd known each other for a thousand years.
I hesitate a moment longer, then say, "Well, I guess we're going out then."
And she says after another pause, "Ya, I guess we are."
I scribble my phone number on a pack of cigarettes and she does the same. Jody glances up from his coffee to shake his head. "Did what I thought happened just happen?"
To which Bill replied, "Yup, I think they're going out."
Then Sheri invites me to come out with them to the Mind Bomb. At Mind Bomb Bill, Jody and I have beer (It's loonie beer night) and Sheri has a glass of wine. And so the four of us sat drinking our beer and talking. Around 11 or so Sheri says she's got to get home.
"Anyone want to walk me home?"
"Umm, I will." I say.
"You don't realize how far away she lives do you?" say Bill sardonically.
"I'll be all right," I say to Bill and then we all say our good-byes.
Sheri lives in Merriton, and we're walking. It's a forty minute walk and we pass the time talking about music and poetry and what we're going to do when we get off of welfare. When we get to her house, she invites me in for tea.
"You walked all the way down here with me," she says, "at least stay for some tea."
We talked late into the night. We felt immediately comfortable with each other. Talking with Sheri that night wasn't like getting to know a new acquaintance, it was like getting re-acquainted with an old friend you haven't seen for a few years. It was like a chance meeting at a grocery store, or a long distance phone call from a college friend who has long since moved away. For hours we talked until, finally out of sheer exhaustion, we had to get some sleep.
"You can stay over if you want," she says. I grab my coat and cuddle up on the couch beneath it. When Sheri walks out of the bathroom, where she has been changing into pajamas, she laughs.
"Come on silly," she says, "You look ridiculous hanging off my couch like that. You can sleep next to me, just no funny business, okay?"
"Okay," I reply.
"And lose the coat. I'll get you a blanket."
We awoke the next morning facing each other but still beneath our own separate blankets.
She smiled at me and said, "I think I'll keep you."
And she did.

And that's how I met the woman who later became my wife.
Since I met her, my life has had purpose. We have a two-year-old son Drew, and another son due in April. I work full-time and Sheri just recently went on pregnancy leave. I don't know what life has in store for us. But It's not so scary knowing that she's by my side.


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