Sunday, February 6, 2011

Coming to America

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
     I've spent months preparing for Dear Sir's visit. The house shined with cleanliness and warmth, scented with lavendar and rosemary oil. The guest bed wore cozy grey flannel sheets sprayed with rose scented linen water and fluffy towels hung in the guest bath.
     The yard was neatly manicured. The front porch sported a new coat of crisp, white paint and a large pot of Mahogony asters bloomed by the front door. On the back deck, chairs gathered in friendly clusters around the toe toaster which was set up with firewood for an evening fire.
     The refrigerator was fully stocked--including British bacon--and Women & Wine was in motion, with nearly twenty women planning to attend. I hoped to offer Dear Sir a lovely visit he might enjoy immensely and remember fondly. My hospitality was a way of saying "thank you" for all the emails he took the time to write and send, the information on narrow boats and canals he generously provided, and for his friendship.   
Hillside Dining Hall, WSU
     At lunch in the dining hall with my friend Cheri, she broached the upcoming visit of Dear Sir. Smiling at me over her sandwich, she said, "Wouldn't it be something if the two of you hit if off and fell in love?" She chewed thoughtfully as she considered her suggestion with pleasure.
     "Yes, Little Bear that would be something," I nodded my head and smiled,"but you know, he and I are friends and that's enough."
     Cheri comes from a close, loving family. She was wanted and loved as a child, and is still very close to her parents and siblings. She's been married to her college sweetheart Jerry for nearly forty years. Cheri believes in happy endings and a soul mate for everyone.
     I on the other hand, do not believe in either one. Cynic that I am, while my head is bobbing up and down in agreement with Bear's dreamy query, my mind is laughing sardonically. Dear Sir and I are friends and I am content to leave it at that.
     Life has taught me that for whatever reason, it is my fate to be loved dearly by myself, my children, and some very fine friends. I am my own champion and that must be enough. To expect more is to be disappointed. Given the abuse in my past, the terrible male role models with which I grew up and the childhood I narrowly escaped, and my inability to trust men--with very good reason--it was a massive miracle I invited this man to spend a week in my home.
     It is also a yardstick measuring my personal growth. No longer blaming all men for the heinous behavior of a few, I was able to consider friendship with a man--something that would have been unthinkable to me only a few years previously. It meant I was restructuring my inner landscape; tearing down very high walls and replacing them with safe, healthy boundaries. It was the outcome of the inner work forced on me by cancer.    
Sunday October 17th, 2010
     After a busy weekend working in Everett, Washington meeting students face-to-face and advising them in person, Sunday morning dawned foggy, hiding the sun in folds of mist. I agreed to swing by the Seattle Travelodge and pick up Dear Sir at 11 a.m. but I was so keyed up with anticipation I decided to follow the convoy of my colleagues heading back at 8:30 a.m. across the State to Pullman.
driving into Seattle Washington
     Peeling off from my friends on the I-5 just outside Seattle, I crossed the bridge and made my way to the exit by the hotel. The morning fog lifted and Seattle sparkled in the Sunday morning sun.  I turned into the hotel parking lot and cruised through once looking for a place to park, zipped round again pulling into a parking place.
     Dear Sir was sitting outside at a table, reading his book. He recognized me immediately as I swung through and when I stepped around the back of my car he was waiting for me across the lot. He smiled at me and I said, "Les??" He nodded and we hugged hello.
     We chatted amiably riding the elevator up to his room. I stepped inside and peeked around the corner. Very nice basic room. When I turn around he offered me a bouquet of exquisite fresh cut flowers from the Pike Place flower market.
I-90 heading east into the Cascades
     I was totally speechless--all my molecules froze inside me like children do when playing tag, for a VERY long billisecond--and then I smiled and thanked him shyly. Les didn't know it but it was three days before my fifty second birthday and I had just received flowers from a man for the very first time!
Near Snoqualmie Pass
     We set off on our car journey of two hundred and eighty six miles heading out of the Puget Sound. Forty minutes east of Seattle we began the climb upward toward the Cascade foothills. We chatted gently about superficial things, getting to know each other. Les was obviously taken by the scenery. It is hard to wrap one's mind around leaving a town of 563, 374 at sea level with all of its maritime urbanity to find one's self hugged by dense forests of Western  Hemlock, Silver Fir, Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedars ascending to Snoqualmie Pass at 3022 feet.
     It was mid morning as we descended from the Pass into the Kittitas Valley, stopping for lunch in Ellensburg at my favorite burger joint, The Red Horse Drive-In. It is housed in an old Mobil filling station circa 1940's and 50's.The decor is red and white--comfortable booths and tables and neon signs; the food was excellent--large, old fashioned burgers and plank sized steak fries as we call them here in America. We continued our conversation throughout lunch.
     Driving eastward, we continued  our journey in the brilliant late autumn sunlight. The weather was extremely warm for October--high 70's to mid 80's (21-26 C); the brilliant blue sky was cloudless as we wound down out of the eastern Kittitas valley, crossing endless miles of high desert and sagebrush.
leaving  the Columbia Gorge behind
     After we crossed the Columbia River we drove up on the the Columbia Plateau and traveled in a straight line for four hours, passing orchards which gave way to coulees and open desert stretching for many hundreds of miles. I am always moved by this scenery to consider what it was like when the Native tribes lived throughout this land.  
WSU Alumni Orman Johnson's barn hwy 26

     The miles and the hours flew by for us both as we talked, laughed and sat in mutually comfortable quiet while the landscape unfolded around us.
     We arrived home at 6  p.m. The evening sun slanted behind the house and lawn as we pulled in. I took Les on a tour of the house and showed him the guest bedroom and bath. He settled in unpacking and I began supper.
     I had made a pot of beef stew Thursday night before I left. I heated it up and sliced the loaf of  homemade bread waiting on the counter. I set a pan of fresh baked Angel Bars on the counter for dessert. We sat together and I watched with delight as Les' face lit up with pleasure at our meal. As dusk crept across the fields outside, Les unpacked and handed me some books: The Grand Union Canal Walk, English Canals Explained, and Idle Women. He also brought me a beautiful wooden miniature narrow boat. We said good night and parted, going to our opposite ends of the house.
Monday October 18th, 2010
     Sun streamed through the picture windows and lit the sheer curtain panels in my bedroom. I rose quietly, not wanting to wake Les, down the hall in the guest room; I thought he might want to sleep in after all the miles he'd traveled. I walked in to the kitchen to put on the kettle for tea, glancing out the window to the back deck. Dear Sir was leaning on the deck railing, wearing nothing but a pair of jeans.
     The morning sun lit his broad shoulders which tapered down to his waist, a very nice posterior, slim, muscular legs, and bare feet. I bit my fingers and grabbed for the counter to steady me. I woke up expecting to start a bit of breakfast before Les rose for the day, and looked out my kitchen window to see a Calvin Klein ad for jeans come to life on my back deck.


  1. Oh WOW Jaqueline..

    "I bit my fingers and grabbed for the counter to steady me..."

    I think you got the bug you know!

    My best wishes for you, your man is good for sure xx

  2. Hi Les and Jaqueline, hoe you two have a fab time, can't wait to read about it all, love "n" stuff Debbie xxx

  3. Hi Sue,
    Sorry it has taken me so long to answer; I've had my hands FULL with Etc. etc. etc. I count myself very fortunate to love and be loved by such a marvelous, wonderful man. I do have it bad--and it is very, very good!

  4. Hi Deb,
    See comments to Sue above. :) Will continue posts soon. Thanks for your good wishes.

  5. Oh no Jaqueline not another..

    "I've had my hands FULL with Etc. etc. etc."

    Oh please do tell what at least one etc is! ;)

  6. LOL! Hi Sue,
    Les says As your such a good friend, and in the strictest confidence between just us, one etc. equals snogging. I told Les it's a good thing I knew what "snogging" meant--otherwise I don't know that I'd want to do that! Etc. etc. LOL!
    Jaq & Les

  7. Jaqueline ... It's great to read your wonderful love story and I'm impatient for it to catch up with where you to are at Today. Blessings (and I'm an atheist) will surely be yours. Can't wait for August.
    Karen B