I have always been told that in some people lives, there is a distinct moment that can be a paradigm shifting landslide. The game changer; An event that forever alters the course of life as we know it. I am not talking about events such as the decision of which college to go to (although in my case it did lead me to my “moment”). Or had you not gone to the grocery store on Union Street you wouldn’t have bumped into the love of your life in the check-out line.
I am speaking of an event that not only changes your life but your core, your beliefs. It shakes you to your heart and you think of it every day. What you thought was reality is forever gone. And the belief that there is more to this world than just the mindless meandering of our society over takes your own being.
I really only knew one other person who had gone through such a change. My oldest, dearest friend Christine completely turned into a different person when she lost her father at the age of 20. She went from being a wild child, not caring about her family and putting her friends first (we had stopped being friends in high school because of this) to cutting down her friends to a few select when the double melanoma took her sweet father. She watched him die for a year, never complaining or stating how bad his health was.
We have contributed his illness to saving our friendship and reuniting us. I’m sure that sounds a bit absurd, but it is the truth. If he hadn’t emailed me during freshman year of college to let me know how she was doing and that his cancer had returned, I may have only heard about it after. When his emails stopped coming, I started emailing Christine. It opened the gates of communications between us and it took another year but when he died, I was there for her.
I watched as she transformed into an adult. We weren’t teenagers anymore. Watching a man who was once full of life with sense of humor beyond a normal person’s comprehension waste away to a bag of bones will do that to a girl. She changed. It was as if a light had been clicked on for her. No one asked her to be a better friend, sister, or daughter. It just transpired.
I knew it was possible, but I am a stubborn person myself. I had my life planned out, the vision crystal clear of what I would accomplish and how I would accomplish it. I knew who the person I wanted to be and I was already her. In college I focused solely on school (and a little on being in a sorority and of course there was the occasional party, club outing, etc). When I tried to date, my “plans” got in the way. I stayed the course and thought down of those around me with visions of marrying their college sweetheart and preparing for these magnificent weddings (I will say that half of these marriages have ended in divorce – you can’t make a life out of a wedding.)
Logically is the way I lived and thrived. After college when I couldn’t find a job in my chosen profession in my home state of Tennessee, I took the challenge of moving two states away. Texas, here I come! I was excited and thrilled with the possibilities of working for a department store but even more elated that I was on my own, in a place I knew no one. I have never had a problem meeting new people and making new friends. (That is what happens when you transfer college twice. You learn to adapt or be eaten alive.)
But like everything else in my life, I had my rules while living there:
Don’t tell strangers where you live.
Don’t buy too much furniture.
Never drink the water out of the tap (sulfur will make you want to vomit).
Make friends with married couples because they will want to help you move when you get reassigned again.
Be nice to everyone.
Never date coworkers.
Work harder and longer than everyone else.
Sleep as much as possible.
Have fun when you can but remember your goals, you are here for ONE reason.
Get your oil changed.
And the main rule, the number one rule.
THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL
Do NOT fall in love with someone in Texas.
I had my reasons. First off, dating someone in college was always a distraction. I did better in school and in life when I avoided getting caught up in someone else. That’s what high school was for and I was several years past the juvenile longing for a relationship. I learned from my mistakes so I refused to relive them.
Also, how does one date when you aren’t from the area and you might as well be from a different planet? My ideals and beliefs were typically different than those around. I also did not find anyone attractive and being a taller than average female made things interesting.
But my main purpose for not wanting to date or to fall in love with someone in Texas was that I couldn’t see myself staying there forever. I knew in my heart that I would eventually end up back in Memphis. It wasn’t that I missed my family a ton, but Memphis had my heart. I longed to be back there when I wanted to fall in love and start my family. It was another goal.
And one that meeting someone in Texas would jeopardize. I pushed it away as deliberately as I could, even self-sabotaging many possible romantic flings.
But then on a warm May evening in the dessert, I spotted him for the first time.
I still didn’t know then. I had no inkling that this person would change my life in a way that completely and utterly was unexplainable.
But even that wasn’t the moment that changed my life…