I met my wife while playing Hide and Seek in the dark. Perhaps I should explain…
But first, some background…
When I was a youngster all of our relatives lived out of state, so my family celebrated holidays with another family who were close friends and were in a similar situation. Since virtually every house on the cul-de-sac (we grew up calling them “courts”) where they lived had kids who were our age, we tended to go to our friends’ house for the holidays.
After each holiday meal all the kids on the block would go out to play on the well-lit, very low traffic street. There must have been 20 or 30 of us at times. Our favorite game to play after dark was Hide and Seek. We’d use the street light as “Home Base” or “Safe” or whatever it was called. (It was about 45 years ago and I sadly haven’t played that game in a while—-though I plan on doing so with my 2 month old grandson when he gets a little older!)
A few years later, on another holiday, at a house three doors down from that of our friends lived a family with three girls. That family had a basketball hoop. One day the three sisters challenged my two bothers and me to a game of basketball. None of the Towne boys were particularly athletic—and in my case that is putting it very kindly—but we were boys and we were taller than them (and the extra height and reach is a big advantage in basketball) so we accepted the challenge. What could go wrong?
Everything. Talk about a set up! Those short girls were very athletic and very good at basketball. We got our clocks cleaned. The game wasn’t even close.
Fast forward to high school. I’m an introvert and in those days was shy and lacked confidence with girls, especially if I had any romantic interest in them. But I was comfortable with girls who were just friends because they were “safe”. I wasn’t trying to get them to like me romantically so wasn’t at risk emotionally with them. I didn’t have to worry about the dreaded “R’ word (rejection) and could just be my goofy self. I could even flirt with them a bit if they flirted with me first.
I had an upper locker and two fun and flirty girls shared a locker below mine so we used to flirt and talk to each other a lot. Their best friend was a gal who had multiple sisters and she and her sisters all looked alike to me. I didn’t know how many of the sisters there were and wasn’t sure of their names so I just said “hi” when I saw any of them. So the girl and her sisters were just in the background and I never really took much notice of any of them.
About a year after graduating high school I was at a party where I knew all the girls pretty well—-all except one. The latter was sitting with a girl I knew quite well and wanted to dance with, so I politely interrupted their conversation and asked my friend for a dance. As she got up, I jokingly said to the one who was still sitting on the couch, “Don’t worry, I’ll have her back here shortly.”
Well, I didn’t. The girl and I ended up dancing for half an hour. When we were done, I remembered my joking promise to the other girl and saw that she was still sitting on the couch. I went over to her and jokingly apologized for breaking my promise and hogging her friend. She was gracious about it. I sat on the couch next to her and we began to talk.
Within minutes the strangest thing happened. We didn’t talk about what people in their late teens tend to talk about. We started to talk about our dreams, and not just generic dreams, very specific ones. For example, we both wanted to have two biological children and then adopt. And the babies we wanted to adopt were some of the ones that were considered the least likely to be adoptable:
Those in the U.S. who were missing one or more limbs, who were blind or deaf, or had other similar challenges, or a baby from another country who was in a very bleak situation and would likely die or face terrible choices as they grew up.
It became immediately clear that we shared the same dreams; so much so that we began to finish each other’s sentences as we knew what the other was going to say before we said it.
My heart sank. I was reeling. I remember thinking , “UH OH, how many girls in the whole world could possibly share my EXACT dreams? OH NO, I’m probably going to end up having to marry this girl and I don’t even know her, and I don’t even know whether I like her, let alone love her.” I was not at all sure this was a good thing, and was completely unprepared for this situation.
I ended up asking her out for coffee after the party. My car must have been in the shop because I had my dad’s Travel All (picture a huge SUV-type monster with four-wheeling off-road tires that were so big that I could barely climb into it, and she was a full foot shorter than me). And like most girls that age in those days she was wearing a short dress.
It became obvious that getting her into the vehicle was going to be kind of tricky. But she was game for it so I began to help lift/push/shove her upward. At a critical point when she was balanced precariously, I had no choice but to place my hands on her behind to finish helping her into the vehicle. But I did what was necessary to help her as any gentleman would do under the circumstances.
At the coffee shop I remember that she had lemonade and I had hot cocoa and we shared an order of onion rings. (I don’t recommend having any two of those items together by the way. What were we thinking?!)
We talked for awhile and when it was time to take her home I had to help her get back into my vehicle. Well, I can’t say that it broke my heart. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
She lived with her parents and as I turned onto her cul-de-sac (court) memories started flooding back to me. This was the same street I’d played on as a kid on holidays for so many years. When she pointed to her house, it was the one with the basketball hoop which she and her sisters had used to massacre my brothers and me.
It became clear in an instant. I’d played Hide and Seek in the dark with her when we were young children. She gave a knowing look to me and smiled as she could see it all falling into place in my head. She’d known all along.
She kidded me about the basketball game, and about how I didn’t seem to notice her at all through high school even though she was best friends and always with the two girls who had the locker below mine.
She said she’d had a crush on me all through high school. My head began to swell but I also began to feel bad about not noticing her sooner. Both feelings quickly disappeared when she added that she’d had a crush on a lot of boys in high school!
Thankfully, we didn’t fall in love.
We grew to love each other.
Six months after that fateful night we were engaged, and six months after that we were married.
Thirteen months later my beloved wife gave birth to the first of our two biological children, both boys. Then we adopted a little girl from Chile’.
We’d come a long way from those kids playing Hide and Seek in the dark.
And along the way we’d made our dreams had come true.