So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
~Refrain from Leaving On A Jet Plane by John Denver
Bedazzled, bedraggled, and befuddled, I left Julie and Wichita Falls to travel to my parents’ home in a very small town in southwest Missouri where I had arranged to visit and spend the night before returning to Chicago.
The trip to the airport had been anxiety provoking because Julie, who had driven that route many times and, unlike me, was an excellent navigator, had made a wrong turn that had taken us several miles out of our way. The trip had also been tearful, both of us plainly heartbroken about separating after the astonishing experience of being together the preceding 60 hours and neither of us certain about the future. It didn’t help that when we were within ten minutes of the airport the car radio began playing the sweetly sappy Peter, Paul, and Mary version of Leaving On A Jet Plane.
When I reached my hometown, I was disappointed about the prospect that my romance with Julie might not extend beyond our one weekend together and still unsure about what would happen next, but I had reached two conclusions. I had decided that, regardless of what happened between Julie and me, I would not continue to be part of an unhappy marriage and so began making concrete plans for a divorce. I had also resolved that, while I was uncertain about the specific course to follow, I would do whatever possible to persuade Julie to live with me – that the risk lay in doing too little rather than too much.
And no, I don’t know why, after eight years of being smitten with Julie, after six years of being miserable when I was geographically and emotionally separated from her, and after just spending the happiest sixty hours of my life with her, that it took another eight hours for me to realize the obvious – that I was wildly, irredeemably, utterly in love with Julie and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
Arriving at my parents’ home, I was immediately set upon by family and friends and had no chance to take any action or do any further planning on my campaign to win Julie over until that evening after my visitors had dispersed.
Carpe The Damned Diem Already
I had promised to call Julie to let her know I arrived safely. In keeping with my newly crystallized convictions, I was determined to use this opportunity to at least make my position clear and, toward this end, mentally rehearsed an impassioned declaration of my feelings and intent, leavened with a soupçon of wit and supplemented with suitable lines from Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress:1
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
OK – What?
I drove to the town’s single telephone booth.
I dialed, the phone rang, and Julie answered. I began my soliloquy and got to “Hi, it’s …,” at which point Julie finessed a subtle script change by interrupting me to say, “OK.”
In a display of my astute perspicacity, skilled articulation, and profound sense of drama, I responded, “OK – what?”
It turns out that the what she had in mind was, “OK, I’ll come to Chicago to live with you.”
And that is exactly what she did.
In the words of Hannibal (no, not that Hannibal – the George Peppard character on “The A Team” Hannibal),
I love it when a plan comes together.
In my own defense, I will point out that I was able to gather my wits sufficiently to unambivalently and, indeed, enthusiastically join in this commitment.
And, yes, I made her listen to my poetry recitation anyway.
I should also note that this story has by no means yet arrived at Happily Ever After. The next several months were, as you’ll discover, a particularly challenging, painful, and difficult period for Julie and me as we broke away from our old lives to begin making our way in the world together. It was also a time filled with some of the most intense joyfulness and excitement I’ve ever known.
But all that will have wait for the next installment; for now, I’m ending this post with Julie’s “OK” because I need to linger with that memory for awhile.
Note: Originally posted May 11, 2006 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
Julie Showalter was the fiercely intelligent, sexy, and loving woman with whom I had a outrageously wonderful marriage that ended with her death in late 1999 from cancer diagnosed the week of our wedding nearly 20 years earlier. She was also a brilliant scholar, the mother of our two sons, and a prize-winning author. Many posts on this blog are about her and still others consist of her writings. Julie’s Story is the account of our unlikely romance, Information can be found at Julie Showalter FAQ.
- Give me a break. We were English majors. I had these lines memorized and there was a surprising paucity of appropriate poetry in my mother’s library of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. And sometimes, albeit rarely, Willie & Waylon lyrics are not a perfect fit to the occasion. [↩]