Sometime late August, 1997 - Parents returned from Kazakhstan. Announced they were moving to Houston, Texas. Asked me to go with them. Resounding no.
Labor Day Weekend, 1997 - Packed my stuff and cat, Chicken. Left promising career as waitress at steak house, beloved 1979 BMW 325i, and not-so-beloved-ex-boyfriend-who-had-trouble-accepting-the-ex-part behind. Moved to Houston, Texas.
Sometime in early September, 1997 - Cat, Chicken, received snake bite on front paw. Late-night visit to veterinary emergency clinic. Reconsidered this God-forsaken place I'd moved to.
Sometime later that week, 1997 - Received envelope from Not-so-beloved-ex containing only a check from sale of beloved 1979 BMW 325i and three photos of new Jeep Wrangler. Name misspelled on envelope. Decided Texas wasn't so bad after all.
Late September, 1997 - Took job, despite parents' protestations, at Barnes and Noble. Lost self in alphabetizing and ladies who lunch. Charming co-worker, rumored to be heart breaker, introduced himself at shift change: "You're the new girl, right?" Walked away.
Later September, 1997 - Charming co-worker / Rumored heart breaker invited me to cigar bar after work to play pool. I neither drink, nor smoke cigars, nor play pool. Went anyway.
Still September, 1997 - Discovered over coffee that charming heart breaker was not ladies man, after all. Rumors spread by psycho hose beast co-worker feeling rejected. Also discovered charming co-worker was extremely intelligent and awkward with women.
Early October, 1997 - Different co-worker with teeth like shovels invited me to see downtown Houston. Spent day avoiding breathtakingly clumsy advances and wondering what Charming co-worker was up to.
Later same evening, 1997 - Teased mercilessly by Charming co-worker for how I'd spent my day.
Wee hours of next morning, 1997 - Charming co-worker made up for teasing with coffee at all-night Denny's. Laughed like I hadn't done in months. Alarm bells went off.
Mid-October, 1997 - Invited Charming co-worker to They Might Be Giants show with sister and boyfriend. Borrowed money from sister's boyfriend to pay our cover. Made Charming co-worker drop me in grocery store parking lot near my house so he wouldn't see where I lived.
October 24, 1997 - My 23rd birthday. Charming co-worker showed up at work on day off to bring cup of coffee and Fiona Apple CD. Feigned surprise that it was my birthday. Smooth.
October 25 - November 16, 1997 - Expended much effort casually bumping into Charming co-worker. Sometimes shared lunch break, later discovered was organized by Assistant Manager who saw more than we did.
November 17, 1997 - Went to Austin on day off to see more interesting parts of Texas. Incidentally, to be vetted by college friends. Fainted in Quackenbush's on 6th. Muffins looked extremely vivid in display case. Came around with face on Formica table. There was no real good explanation for this nonsense.
Wee hours, November 18, 1997 - Got back from Austin at 4 AM. Despite my being lame fainting girl on date, kissed me in the car. "I Can See Clearly Now" on radio.
November 19, 1997 - Felt like idiot for fainting incident. Decided to be casual about kiss. He refused to accept either state of mind. Mercilessly teased and made cryptic announcements on loudspeaker at work concerning muffins. Took me out after work. Kissed me again.
Later that week, 1997 - Decided we were dating. Purchased copy of 147 Fun Things to do in Houston.
Thanksgiving weekend, 1997 - Called on Thanksgiving to say hi. Mentioned that his aunt made White Castle Dressing for the turkey. Failed to mention he was going to college friend's lake house for remainder of weekend. Spent 3 days post-turkey driving aimlessly, fuming, writing lots of bad, bad, angry poetry. Came to senses and decided only logical course of action: break up.
Within an hour of his returning, Thanksgiving weekend, 1997 - Went out for coffee. Script of preemptive heart break preempted by him. Disclosed he was falling madly in love with me. Could leave if I thought he was crazy. Explained I was crazy too, then.
Early December, 1997 - Begged him to locate, and then take me to, The Hobbit Hole Restaurant as described in 147 Fun Things to do in Houston. I ordered the Gandalf - a 3-inch thick guacamole and egg salad sandwich. Spent remainder of evening surreptitiously farting.
Christmas, 1997 - First Christmas I had ever escaped to spend it with someone outside family of origin. Gave me a blown glass fountain pen with ink to dip it in. Gave him a book about cigars and a crappy mix tape. Decided I was completely insane and never wanted to be without him. Began planning my exit.
New Years Eve, 1997/1998 - Further endeared himself by attending extremely lame NYE party thrown by my mom. Wore a silly hat.
Early January, 1998 - Wavered on exit strategy. Tried instead to talk around subject at Denny's. Uttered garbled nonsense: "I worry about the longevity of our relationship". Drunk vomited an astonishing amount of alcohol and pancakes all over the table next to us. Discussion tabled (no pun intended) until further notice.
Later in early January, 1998 - Registered for classes at a frightening state university an hour and a half away. Drove me to registration. Bawled on the way home [me, not him]. Didn't want to leave. He said "Or we could get married." I said "OK". He got out, put gas in car, got back in. Said "Did you just say OK?"
January 10, 1998 - Celebrated his birthday. Attended special performance of Houston Symphony and Choir: Beethoven's 9th, Ode to Joy. They played that just for us.
Later that week in January, 1998 - Worked different shifts. He showed up waving catalog of Celtic knot jewelry I liked. Given to him by my dad. Conspiracy complete.
Sometime in January, 1998 - Told his mom he was going to marry me. Screamed: "Is she pregnant?!" Proceeded to cry, hug, and lend him money for ring.
February, 1998 - Stood in bathroom getting ready for work. Soft knocking followed by a single rose and small blue box extended around corner of bathroom door.
"I have something for you."
"OK, let me put some pants on."
July 3, 1998 - Married. Fajita bar at reception. Spent remainder of evening surreptitiously farting.
July 4, 1998 - Whole country celebrated in our honor with fireworks, barbecues.
Sometime last month, 2011 - Mom, on phone to me: "Sometimes you just meet someone and they smell like home."
**Written in response to Weekly Writing Prompt from Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop: "Married? Tell us the story of how the question was popped." I sort of followed directions. Check out Mama Kat at http://www.mamakatslosinit.com/. **