How We Met

Melissa's Side of the Story

I was on a one-day trip from Ithaca, NY to Manhattan to photograph a musical artist that I liked a lot (Tori Sparks). It was rather odd and fateful how I had connected with her and wound up taking the 4 hour round-trip drive just to photograph her Soho performance. Having recruited my best friend Angelica to come with me to the show, it was also rather odd that I wound up driving us into the city for the first time. We had somehow missed our exit on the NJ Turnpike towards the bus station and decided that it was just one of those spontaneous types of days, full of chance. "Let's just go for it," I think I said.

We reached the city in one piece, made it to the concert 5 minutes late, and stayed until the very end of the venue's musical line-up, having such a great time all the while.

After the shows, we were desperate to not part, and when we heard the bad renditions of bar-time favorites creeping out from the karaoke bar next door, we knew that it would be the perfect finale to a wonderful night.

Once inside the bar, we signed up to do a jingle and were told that we had quite the wait before we'd go up. Being the silly ones that we are, we decided to keep ourselves busy with some interpretive dorky dancing together. Instead of shaking our hips, we mimed actions like opening jars, vacuuming the carpet, stocking the shelf (my personal favorite), and the like. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bright wide smile with two eyes on me. I had never had this happen before while displaying my nutty dance moves. I had to see who my no-shame demeanor made smile so warmly. When I turned around, I saw him. The tall, dark, and handsome man in a button-down shirt, glasses, and jeans, I had to know him. He had to know me too, and initiated conversation.

It was noisy and rambunctious in the pirate-themed bar, so I kept misunderstanding what he said about himself. It took me a few months to realized that he never went to NYU, just took classes there.

When I asked him what he did for work, I heard him say "I am into Peruvian drugs". I said "Come Again". And there it was again - something that I simply could not believe about the man who I felt in love with from the moment I saw him. I dragged Angelica into the bathroom and relayed the profession of the super cute, super sweet, super smiley man of my dreams out on the dance floor. She laughed in disbelief and said something empathetic like "you can't judge a person by their job".

I swallowed my hesitation and went back out to him, unsure of how to confront the issue at hand. I decided the best way to move forward was to see if what I had heard was seriously how he made a living. I said: "So, let me get this straight. You sell drugs?" And his big smile grew even bigger. Amidst wild laughter, he corrected me, "No. No. No! Persian rugs! I am into Persian rugs." What a relief -- although while I had never been with a drug addict, I had never been with a rug addict either.

Needless to say, my dream man had a healthy habit and profession. He had something to teach me. I liked him even more. While we kept connecting, Angelica and I were finally called up to sing our karaoke song, "Santeria" by Sublime -- which turned out to be one of Dave's favorites, and soon enough it was time to grab some NYC pizza before I headed back to Upstate. I took the liberty of sprinkling crushed red pepper on Dave's slice, as if I had done it many times before and knew he would like it.

We talked, laughed, argued with drunken college students, and then, walked in the moonlight all the way back to my car. It was so romantic, so new with a feeling of ease and comfort, and when our lips met, I think that we both knew that we had only the sweetest of intentions for one another, an exchange of gentle kisses as if we knew that we would grow old together. We clutched each other's hands and said goodbye, knowing that it would not be the last time. 

The Photo From the Night that we Met (courtesy of Dave's cell phone):

Dave's Side of the Story:

But the weaver watches with skillful eye
each shuttle fly to and fro,
and sees the pattern so deftly wrought
as the loom moves sure and slow.

- Unknown

We met on a Thursday. September 3rd, 2009. Sept. 3, ’09. 09.03.09.

Blog on Rug Rag about a computer game. I don’t like computer games. Walk Beasley, the two eyed four legged Basenji-dog. Gather up clothes. Neatly but hastily place them in a brown overnight bag from L.L.Bean I’ve had for 20 years (it may be bad luck to throw something out with your initials on it.) Proud of the bursting seem holding everything behind the canvas fabric, I stand and admire the zipper for a minute. We’re leaving! Me and the bean… Two beans! Fumble for the holding a leash with Beasley at the end, my brown L.L. Bean sac, an ironed shirt on a hanger, a plastic bag with sneakers, another with pillows and waddle out the front door, pulling the door closed in a klutzy no-hands-tip-of-the-shoe pull. Sometimes it’s just not easy but if you get it right you feel like you just dunked a 15’ basketball hoop. Ba-chaaa. First time I admitted that. Never again. Hear the door slam but forgot Beasley’s seatbelt for the car ride. In other words, got the dunk, but fell flat on my face. Strategically figure out how to get a free hand by dropping Beasley’s leash to step on it. Struggle to grab my keys as I dig into my recently-washed, too-tight-jeans, wiggle my hand into my front right pocket in haste and get stabbed by a pen. Rightfully so given the premature celebration. Two bags fall from my shoulder to my arm crotch releasing the keys out of my fingers onto the floor… Feel the weight of everything force forward as I bend to pick up the keys. Can’t grab the leash at the same time, so move back upright, push the leash to the wall and pull it up with my shoe into my hand. Make it back inside with the dog, bags, shirt and all. Round two, this time it’s for real… Leave Westchester. Make it to the city by 5:45 and wait 15 minutes until 6:00 to ensure a space in that precious window of rough parking after 6:10.

There was no need for me to be in the city. Really. I specifically recall not having an objective. But I felt compelled to go. And I was there, but exhausted. Contemplating having a night in, slouching on the couch and vegging with the TV and Beasley was tempting. Push after push, I had to keep going. A friend wanted to meet up, but was not willing to come uptown. I laid out on the couch while time kept progressing. My brain trying to convince my feet that my legs were not as tired as my arms and we should all work together to make cohesive, forward movement. After about an hour, out of nowhere, I jumped up, turned on some music, took a shower and was ready to go.

My friend Dave and I met in mutually agreed location for food. For some time after, we walked all over Manhattan. Up, down, across and around with no specific destination. We heard someone call us over on Spring street. This crazy guy out in front of a Karaoke joint was pulling every rabbit out of the hat to get us to come in. I took their card, set and ready to look for live music at some point that evening. We stood outside to talk for a bit. Reluctantly, we accepted the invite inside perhaps partially out of sympathy for this man’s effort in convincing us to come in. Before entering, we already decided we would leave within ten minutes.

Pushing through the crowd, we made it to the karaoke area. At about 8 feet tall stood the biggest giant I’d ever seen. Like Fezzik from the Princes Bride with a twist of a Goonies atmosphere.

Ten minutes was running short. I was being prompted by my friend for us to leave. But I just then saw her. My head tracking her dancing with a friend (Angelica). She was fluid, coordinated, rhythmic… and silly. Simply fascinating. All noise, commotion, pushing, shoving I previously associated with this Pirate’s den was out of mind. I was smiling ear-to-ear. She turned just a bit, smiled with tight lips, slowed her dancing for a moment, laughed with her friend, turned back and danced more… More emphatically, more coordinated, more rhythmic, more silly. I was staring, and got caught. She did too. There was only one thing I could do and that was get closer.

‘You fascinate me! Will you sing too?’

And she did. Her and Angelica. After, we all grabbed Pizza. Two Daves, Melissa, Angelica and Steve. Melissa explained she lived far away. In what seemed like a small world, I soon realized how unique it was we would have run into each other, although it felt as though life would have it no other way. As though bits and pieces of a twenty-seven year puzzle fell into place, and those not yet in play made sense to eventually fit in. This is who I want to be with.

Talking with Melissa my heart felt at home. As though every preceding moment led me to where I was, when I was, and why I was. Any good day or bad day before the moment we met seemed more level, rational and easier to objectify. Any event, journey, pain, happiness, sorrow or bliss experienced prior to this night culminated in our meeting, and with that came appreciation. More unusual was how humble I felt. The kind of feeling you have when you look at a photograph of the Earth from space: We quickly recognize and accept it for what it is as an all-encompassing picture. Although we’ve never really witnessed this sight ourselves from such a perspective, we understand it. If you allow yourself to get recognize the concept of how dynamic that seemingly placid photo appears, it’s disorienting. But we can accept this image as it is presented, for we know it to be what it is.

It wasn’t about closing the door with some geeky move, or getting stabbed by a pen in my pocket. In the moments of that night, meeting Melissa, the love of my life, I appreciated events and journey’s I’ve had: Not only for what they were, but for where they brought me on the evening of September 3rd, 2009. As though I had always understood what was and could true be from what was accepted as possible. Having the luxury of trusting my own eyes and hand holding hers as a witnesses to our own experience that night going forward, she was the one for me: Within a world, she was the all-encompassing, real, true, comprehendible one of my world.

It was overcast and drizzling. On a quiet night in New York, the lights of tall buildings illuminated misty air and empty city streets. Walking Melissa back to her car, we held hands all the while and kissed three times. It could not have been more precious and sweet. We said our goodbye. So long as you have food, water, shelter, health you’re doing well. That night we also found love.

As many coincidences we share, I found the poem at the top of this entry on Melissa’s photography website. I love you Melissa.