29
Dec
16

Falling in Love Again: A story of Missy n Me…

The story of Missy n Me started more than 30 years ago.  30 years.  Where does it go?  It is a simple story about true love.  Does anyone ever forget their first true love?  I doubt it.  I never did.  In fact there have been studies about first true loves, and apparently it is something not too many ever get past.

Our story began innocently enough on a summer day around 1984 at a Civil Air Patrol encampment based at the airfield outside of Springfield, Ohio.  We were camping on the green right in front of the terminal building.  Squadrons from Xenia, Dayton/Kettering, and our scrappy bunch of cadets from Squadron 706.

I remember the damned searchlight going round and round all night.  Some of the cadets stayed up into the wee hours…talking…playing cards…and generally just trying to be as adult as our age would allow.  I was 16-ish years old, and had never dated…let along really been in love.

Then as the song says…”I was walking along minding my business…when out of an orange colored sky…FLASH…BANG…ALA KAZAM!”  Love came along and hit me right square in between the eyes!

That morning as we were preparing for the days training session…there she was.  I still remember it like yesterday.  Dressed in nothing but green military fatigues, the most adorable young female cadet I’d ever seen walked by.  I felt my heart pound…alternating pulses of hot and cold though my veins. It was far worse than the feeling of getting detention…interim reports…or bad grades…and knowing the punishment that was coming.  This was the same…but different.  It was amazing!

I watched her walk by, and later found out she was “dating” a guy who was a Master Sargent!  He was nearing completion of courses to Warrant Officer!  Oh God!  I was a lowly Airman!  How could I compete!?!?!?

I couldn’t!  She was beautiful…and was dating a guy with MORE STRIPES!!!  UGH!!!

I was sunk.

I watched her from afar.  Even clad in nothing but green she seemed to exude such warmth through her big smile, her eyes twinkled when she smiled.  She had a cute little nose that caught my attention.  Her face was gentle and kind.  But she was with another guy.  I’d never cross the line to try and steal another guy’s girl…and how could I?  He HAD MORE STRIPES!

At some point I was asked to take something to her where she was working in the terminal doing clerical stuff…I guess.  I approached and she smiled as I reached out to hand her whatever I’d been asked to deliver.  I swallowed hard…took in a big breath…and when she said “Thank you”…I mumbled something that undoubtedly sounded like I had gas from the can of Spaghetti-o’s and soda I’d eaten for breakfast.

That was the end of it!  I was done!  She’d never speak to me again…and god willing she’d never remember what had just happened.

So the timeline gets fuzzy here, but at the end of the year was our annual C.A.P. Banquet.  I had been asked to deejay the event since my buddy and I had started a business spinning records.  So we showed up…set up…and were ready to go.  Dressed in a tux…I was the front man…and Jimmy spun the records and attended to the technical stuff.

As things got underway…and folks began entering the room, alas I saw her walk in with a… friend.  Hey!  Wait!  Where was old what’s his name…the Warrant Officer?  Strange.

After the awards were passed out following dinner, Jimmy and I were introduced and began our shtick…which was “under development” still.  We were novices. As I stood nervous on stage back selling songs and trying to keep things going forward, my nerves were not owing to the performance.  It was “What if I fail in front of HER!?!?”.

As the evening wore on, my dreams were answered.  This young cadet I’d been watching from afar came up with an envelope from her “friend” of whom I’d been acquainted, yet disinterested in.  She introduced herself…as if I’d never noticed her…and handed me the note…which I believe I stuffed in a pocket or read quickly and dismissed.  I had something more important to do right then.  With every ounce of guts and determination I could muster…I blurted out “Would you like to dance?”.  She said “Sure!”…and there was that smile again.  Her “Pepsodent Smile”!  I could have passed out.

So I told Jimmy to keep playing slow stuff for a bit…and Missy n me…we did the “High School Hangs”.  My feet never touched the ground the whole time.  I was flying higher than anyone could imagine.  Me…dancing with HER!  WOW!

It nearly wrecked the gig as I wanted to keep going on slow music, but the other kids wanted something…well…more up-tempo.  Finally I had to succumb to their wishes.  It was a non-paying gig after all!!

The night went on…and I was in love!  Though I didn’t know how much so right then and there.

At the end of the evening she gave me her address or phone number, and we were going to stay in touch.  Problem was she lived in Springfield…me Englewood some 30 miles distant to the west.  I had no car…no drivers license…not a single luxury.

So thus began one of the great letter writing campaigns in history.

We wrote sweet innocent love notes by the mailbag full.  Back and forth the postal truck roared along I-70 carrying our precious cargo.  Some weeks there’d be 5 or so letters between us.  Sundays were pure hell!  Through rain, sleet and snow…but not on Sunday by God!

Everyday I would meet the post man…a grumpy old guy in a jeep…at our curbside mailbox in hopes of another letter from my long-distance sweetheart.  The mailman got on to what was up.  I suppose they see trends and back in those days they knew everyone on their route.  So he’d put all the mail in the box…rather than handing it to me.  Then I noticed he would sit in his jeep sorting the next batch of letters…while I perused our posts for “The LETTER!”.  He would see my face grow long if nothing was in the pile of junk mail…and like a genie out of a bottle…”Oops!  I musta missed this one!”…or “Hmmm…this was on my dashboard!”…or the old classic play “Darn it…I guess I dropped this one!”…as he handed me the LETTER of my dreams.

I would walk calmly into the house…but with a quicker step than normal…and head for my bedroom to read my latest post from Springfield.  The letter would usually go to school with me the next day and during study hall…a return letter drafted and sent back across I-70 to Springfield.  This is potentially why I was such a bad student with such lousy grades.

Finally it was my Senior Prom! 1986…theme…Sailing.  (Yes the Christopher Cross song!)  I asked Missy to accompany me…and she said okay.  But having no car…etc presented issues. So I enlisted a friend who had wheels to double date…then after-prom…then King’s Island the next day.  We were set.

We went to pick up Missy…all the way in Springfield and came back to my folks house to take photos, then off to prom.

Yup…same tux I wore for the Civil Air Patrol banquet.  Missy looked beautiful like a princess.  I looked more like an anemic Jimmy Stewart!

We danced…slow dances at prom.  Talked a bit.  I was still nervous and scared.  She was sweet as usual.  The next day we headed off to King’s Island where Mark’s date tried to get Missy to take off with some guys they met while waiting in line for a ride.

But alas, she stuck around with me.

However, eventually not having wheels to get back and forth got the better of us, and she called it quits.  I remember the letter telling me we don’t see enough of each other.  I remember going out to get the mail…and seeing the postman’s perplexed look when there WAS NO LETTER.  After a week or so…he got the picture and as grumpy as he was said “Sorry kid!  Nothing today.”  I think what he meant really…but didn’t know how to say was…he was sorry.  He no doubt saw the look of lost love on my face.

So what to do?  Get a license and a car! So over the summer I did.  Then fall rolled around.  And somehow I still couldn’t get Missy off my mind.

Again…mustering all the courage I had…I gassed up my trusty new/used Pontiac J2000 and drove all the way across I-70 to her high school.  I arrived as 7th period was wrapping up and waiting hoping to see her leaving so I could ask her to go get an ice cream or something.

My heart was pounding as class let out…and suddenly there she was…heading toward me.  She didn’t see me at first…but I stepped right out in front of her and said “Hello” or something equally romantic.  She greeted me looking perplexed, then a surprised look filled her face.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it!  It seemed odd and strained. Surprised was to be expected, but slightly shocked…or horrified was not.

I asked if she would like to take a ride in my car…and amazingly she said yes…but then she said “Just a minute…I need to talk to someone.”  She went over and spoke to some fella standing with his friends…and then returned, and away we went.

I guess never in a million years had it occurred to me that maybe…just maybe she might move on and start dating someone else.  It truly didn’t occur to me until a day or so later…that guy she spoke to…was her now ex-boyfriend.

Well we went to the mall and walked around.  We grabbed a snack…and shopped a bit….then I took her home.  We sat in the driveway talking for a time…then I had to go.  This is when a most uncharacteristic thing occurred…I leaned over the center console and gave her a kiss.  I was stunned.  I did that!?!?

She smiled sweetly…probably seeing the shock and embarrasement on my face…and then she got out and went inside.  I on the other hand had to drive home while suffering a near heart failure while asking myself…”What the hell did I do?  Do I have no self control!?!?  Was it good for her?  It was good for me…all 3 seconds of it…WOW!  Oh god…she’ll never want to see me again…WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?!?!?”

But we did see each other again.  Often!  So much so over the next couple of years her father threatened to write me off his taxes as a dependent.

So this was the beginning of our real love story.

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Missy’s Senior Prom was coming up too.  The theme was “Sailing”…it was 1987 and yes…it was still the Christopher Cross song by the same name.  My prom was held in a banquet hall…Missy’s in the high school gym.  We walked in and it was amazing.  The gym was decked out with a false tunnel of streamers leading to the tables and chairs and the dance floor.  She looked amazing.  Her strapless gown with gloves.  Me again in my white dinner jacket with black tie this time.  We danced the night away…slowly…then went out to the local reservoir and sat in my car.  We watched the stars and the water…then with all the romance of the day…I am told by her…I fell asleep…in my drivers seat.  She sat quietly until dawn.  Then we took off for King’s Island again.

Romance.  HA!

We stayed steady for what seemed like for ever.  But it must have been shorter than I thought.  As I look back though, her 1987 Prom pictures are the first time we looked like adults.  The first time we looked happy.  And as I look at the photos below…it is easy to see how in love we were.  And we were!  My first true love.

This must have been my birthday.  I’m perched on a new bike which Missy remembers us riding at the reservoir a lot. In the second photo, you can tell…we were so happy…and in love.

scan_20161225-7I love this picture.  We were building a new disc jockey set up to go on the road with.  I’m sure she’d rather have been doing something else, but she was always willing to help.  The reason I love this photo is this is the smile I fell in love with.  Big and warm…she looks like a rainbow could shine from behind her.

So after working all day…we finally got this new project done.  We set it up in the garage and she was a great sport through it all.

scan_20161225-11It’s Christmas time, and we have just arrived at my folks house.  I wore a leather flight jacket long before Tom Cruise and “Top Gun”…and yes I’m sure the fashionable headgear was inspired by a different movie.  But…here is Missy…with that smile!

scan_20161225-13We both are old souls.  I loved old music…big band and jazz…she is more of the 1950’s faith.  Thus Missy got me a replica Philco Model 90 and I got her a miniature Wurlitzer Jukebox that played little tiny tapes.

scan_20161225-17Yup…spring has sprung and we took a road trip to Indianapolis Union Station.  It had been converted into a shopping mall.  I guess there’s always a train around me somehow.

Standing on the back porch at my folks…we must have been ready to go boating.  I must be happy…as they say a happy man gains weight.  I must be happy here judging by the spare tire forming!  We used to go boating with my family.  Ironic since it is still a past time for us.

scan_20161225-20My second favorite photo of us.  This was kind of us in a nutshell.  I loved Missy deeply and intensely, which would present issues down he road.  But some good natured hamming nonetheless…and yet I would guess I was still being very sincere.

scan_20161225-24These are special photos.  This is my Grandma Stubblefield…mom’s mom.  She was a wonderful character.  Warm…and fun loving.  And that little Pontiac Fiero in the background was my undoing.

scan_20161225-25Grandma Stubblefield loved Missy.  Missy was very kind to her.  but Grandma had never driven a car in her life.  But being a fun loving person…I think she would have tried if we’d let her.  Simply a favorite photo for both Missy n me…Grandma with the keys in hand…ready to go cruisin’!

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Possibly my favorite photo of us.  Stubblefield family get together…nearing the end of our run together.  I’m still in love…but Missy is nearing the end of “US”.

So all good things must come to an end.  The Fiero was perplexing to me…and came to be a symbol of Missy striking out on her own.  I was 19 or 20 and very much lacking in confidence under the surface.  She was growing and finding herself.  We had talked of marriage by this time.  It scared me to death.  We spoke about marriage and having children, which Missy very much wanted…and I did not.  I wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting which was not promising financially…especially starting out and raising a family.  And she was working full time.  Her father and I were beginning to have issues, as I was trying to get his daughter away from him, and he was trying not to lose her to someone he viewed had no future.  It’s an old story.

It finally ended…supposedly on, or around my birthday.  Missy came to the house.  We were talking. I knew things were not good…and hadn’t been for a while.  And she ended it despite my pleas for working it out.  Ultimately…she was right.  We were heading down different paths.

I died a little that day.

No more sweet smile.  No more twinkling eyes.  No more road trips in my pick up truck.  No more getting to hang out with her and her two sisters…her parents, whom had become part of my life.  I sobbed for hours.  It hurt.  Damn how it hurt.  My first true love had ended.  I had ruined it in large part…by being so insecure…so I blamed me mostly.

I lost track of Missy after that.  I was mad at her.  Years later I found out my mom, with whom she had bonded deeply as well…kept in contact with Missy for a while after we ended it.  Mom even sent Missy gifts when her first two children were born. When I found out, I was aghast.  It’s not like it hated her…really.  I was worried she was dead in a ditch or something.  It would have been nice to know she was okay.

But life moved on.  I dated…but no one came close to “the standard” set previously.  I married…and loved her too, but in a different way than a first true love.  It’s possible to love more than one person.

However over the years with the advent of the internet I had kind of “searched” for Missy on and off.  As the internet improved…the chances of finding out ow she was improved too.  One day I found her dad in my search.  The database said he was 55 years old.  I remember thinking how odd that was.  The math didn’t make sense.  Then the reality hit that he had passed away.  My heart sank.  I started thinking of her mom…sisters…and of course Missy. He was actually a smart and wise man.  He had a deadly sense of humor…and a laugh I can still hear in my head.  It was infectious!! So

I clicked away a bit and found Missy had married another guy from Civil Air Patrol who had been a life long friend with her family.  I felt relieved.  I remembered him as a decent and generally good guy.  They had 3 kids.  Missy got what she wanted and deserved and I was at peace with that.

But she never really left that special place in my heart for a first true love.  I carried her along with me.  For many years I was in radio, I thought our paths might cross as I did a number of 50’s/60’s formats.  Right up her alley.  But it wasn’t to be.

We came close though!  In fact closer than we imagined!!

I tired of radio.  I’d gone through several mergers.  I’d been in a management role a number of years…and decided to change careers.  I left and went to work for a Class 1 Railroad in Hillard, Ohio at a big hump yard.  One day while shoving a train out into the old yard tracks near Scioto-Darby Road…I was “flagging” a crossing to stop traffic.  Suddenly out of the string of cars approaching, a lady with some kids drives over my foot.  I remember it clearly as day!  I looked into the car and thought…”WOW!  That looked like Missy!”.  Well I had a train to put away and I did so.  Little did I know that Missy and her family were living in Hilliard at that time.

She denies it happened…or it was her.  I have my doubts.

So move ahead another decade plus and 2013 rolls around. Technology plays a role.  This time not the U.S. Postal Service…but the internet.  She came searching to see what I was up to.  She mustered all the courage she could to hit “send” and I received a message asking how I was.  It seemed pretty thinly veiled and it appeared to me her life wasn’t going well either…or why would she contact me?  I’d just be a faint memory if everything was “swell” with her.

I was honest.  “NOT GOOD!  Can’t find work…marriage is ending.  How are you?”

Her reply was honest too.  She’d been married to a police officer.  Thank god they do what they do…but it usually costs them personally.  She had 3 grown kids.  She was calling it quits too.

We sent messages back and forth for a bit and decided to meet and just go over old times I guess.  Besides…I was frankly still a little hacked she ended it almost 30 years ago!  I wanted to tell her so.  So we met.  We talked.  I told her I was older, grimmer, greyer, tired…and fatter.  She said she was felt alone.  I wanted to still be mad at her.  I tried being as frosty as I could, but I melted.  I was not surprised…at all

We talked so much we forgot Missy had packed lunch.  And we talked…and talked.

Eventually the writing was on the wall.  We still had that little spark between us.  It was just an ember.  But it was more than either of us had at home.

We kept in touch, and the emotional affair began.  The marriages had ended years before really. I think we were both deeply concerned about whether this was just two old fools trying to relive the past.  But it just didn’t feel like that to me.

My heart still pumped like the old days when she would smile, she still had that sparkle in her eyes.  I felt her warmth and sweetness when she talked of her kids.  All the old feelings were still there.

I went home and researched a bit about “First True Loves”.  It seems some psychologist had done a study on first true loves who get back together later in life.  Most fit our very profile.  Older, previously married…and know what they screwed up in prior relationships.  In fact…those who got back together had a more than 80% success rate.  That’s a helluva a lot better then most marriages.   Maybe there was something to this.

So we agreed to give it a go.  Fairly straight forward.

And we did.

We still have fun.  We still road trip.  We laugh…and despite being older and heavier, we are both less grim, grey, and tired since we got back together.  We enjoy spending our time together.  She still makes me laugh.  If I get riled up and start cussing or ranting…she just laughs.  I feel a little foolish…then laugh along.  She’s been wonderful for me.  I hope I am for her.

So we got married on September 19th,2014…at the courthouse in Columbus.  I was horribly sick in fact.  But we had set the date previously so there was no going back on it.  Besides…it looked like I may need a live in nurse.  We had a quick ceremony in the 3rd floor of a Bail Bonds building across from the courthouse.  And our wedding dinner was at Taco Bell.  Following that we loaded up the truck and boat and went to North Webster, Indiana to and Antique Outboard Motor meet. I drove as far as Wapakoneta, Ohio and nearly passed out.  Missy drove the rest of the way.  Amazingly our friends from the AOMCI heard what had transpired and threw us an impromptu reception.

There was cake, dinner, and champagne…none of which I could taste since I’d lost a sense of taste while sick.  But Missy took care of me.  She nursed me back to health.  And we take care of each other now.

She still makes me very happy.  It was amazing that no one really seemed surprised we were getting back together 30 years later.  Her family…my family…our mutual friends all kind of guessed it when we each broke the news.

We take time to enjoy each other…and look after one another.  She still has that twinkle…the warmth…the sweet smile.  She still sends my heart racing when I see her laugh.

So Falling in love again…it is possible.  It can be a most amazing adventure!  And so it is.

As a post script…the more things change…the more they stay the same.

Instead of disc-jockey gear…this time we’re working on restoring our 1958 Lyman 15 foot runabout.  We enjoy going to Classic Boat shows and just traveling local waterways in her.

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20160427_184441So long for now.

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