I looked out the window of the RV yesterday and had a flash of déjà vu. I realized that the place we are parked on Shannon’s parent’s property is just about ten feet away from where Shannon was living when I met him, and the view from our windows is the same one he had there. I have stood here hundreds of times since then, but to see the view out the window triggered the memory.
Shannon had just retired from the Navy in June of 2002 and was living in a house trailer at his parents’ home. This trailer was where his parents lived while they were building their house, and it served well as a resting place for both of their kids when they had to come home to regroup. I think that Shannon’s plan at the time was to live off his retirement from the Navy, keep the shades drawn and play World of Warcraft for the rest of his life. God had bigger plans for him.
In August of 2002 I escaped from an unravelling personal morass in Santa Fe, New Mexico to come and live in the Four Corners, near the Colorado/New Mexico border. I had friends here, I was active in a Competitive Trail Ride organization and we rode a lot in this area. I had fun here, but I would always have to go back to the mess that was my life in Santa Fe. So, I untangled myself from all the things that were making me unhappy there and moved myself and my 3 big dogs to Aztec. There I purchased a foreclosure house that had been sitting empty for over a year and settled in to lick my wounds and evaluate the damage. God had bigger plans for me, too.
Back in the days before we could just take a picture with our phones and show everybody in our lives where we were and what we were doing, my mother used to worry every time I moved to a new place. She was especially concerned when I would up and relocate to an area where there were no family or friends. Dad used to worry if there was no Sears and Roebuck. I think he was always fearful that I would disappear into some time warp where they had not yet discovered general anesthesia. To mollify my mother and her need for community I promised her that I would go to church at least once.
I put it off for as long as I could, but the first Sunday in October I ventured out to fulfill that promise. I headed for the Presbyterian church in town, a non-threatening older building nestled among older houses on a tree-lined street. I had been raised in the Presbyterian church so I figured they wouldn’t throw anything at me I was unfamiliar with. But God had bigger plans for me.
I’m not even sure how it happened, but I found myself being soundly greeted at the entrance to the Methodist church one block away. Before the service was over I was committed to a choir picnic the following Wednesday and a stint working in the Pumpkin Patch youth fundraiser. Normally this would be too much scary stuff to throw at somebody who shows up at your church for the first time, but I must have been starved for companionship that didn’t drool and shed, because it worked on me.
At the same time, Shannon’s mother, in an effort to get her son to see the light of day, volunteered him for the Pumpkin Patch youth fundraiser. All the pieces were in place.
When I showed up for my shift at the Pumpkin Patch with two of my dogs, I was joined by a man driving a Suburban (think wife and bunch of kids). Bessie the Border Collie helped us break the ice as she thought we had just turned her loose in fetchable dog toy heaven. When we tired of throwing pie pumpkins for her she spent the rest of the afternoon dragging bigger and bigger pumpkins out of the rows by their stems in a concentrated effort to find the perfect throwing pumpkin that would re-engage us. Pi, my Aussie, always tired of the fetching games first and would spend his energy hiding the pumpkins from her, hoping that she would give up and rest. He never won that one.
Shannon, it turned out, was not a man encumbered with family, but was instead driving the family mortuary business body retrieval vehicle. We spoke at length of investing in real estate and flipping houses, a topic of great interest to me since I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to stay in the foreclosure.
The next time I saw Shannon was Halloween, 2002. . .he was dressed in a strait jacket and was accompanied by two very distinguished Addam’s Familyesque types. Mom and dad were just on their way home from work. I’m not sure what Shannon’s excuse was.
On our first date, Shannon, ever the romantic, came to the house and helped me set toilets. From there it was dinner and a movie, Solara, the choice of which I have not been able to live down to this day. In spite of my choice in films, we became quickly inseparable, and were married in that Methodist church on July 6, 2003. Shannon talked me into keeping that house and we lived happily in it for the last 14 years.
Fast forward to today. . .so much has changed, some for the better, some not. The house is on the market, hopefully waiting for the next people to grace its walls with love and happiness. The old trailer is gone, replaced with a much nicer shed/workshop. We have all gotten older and are learning to deal with the trials that brings. And Shannon and I have embarked on the next leg of our adventure together. God really did, and still does, have bigger plans for us.