J and I met in August of 1980. We worked at the same company, had been to happy hour with a group from the office a few time, and when he asked me out, I said yes. He was 24 and recovering from a nasty divorce, and I was 19 and ready to fall in love – which I did immediately. Within a few of weeks we were spending a couple of nights a week together. Even though we both knew that J planned to move to New Mexico for the ski season, neither one of us held back. While it seemed like we didn’t have anything in common, we felt an immediate connection that surprised both of us. He was also my first sexual relationship, and was very gentle and even complimentary as that part of our relationship grew. He had been badly hurt by his last two relationships since both women, while much more experienced and overtly confident in their sexuality, had issues that had made a relationship with them not only difficult but occasionally devastating. He seemed to find my eagerness to love and be loved both relaxing, exciting, and a little scary. At the same time, the last couple of guys I had dated had also been damaged by bad relationships, and they were much more closed off than J was, so his eagerness for love and affection made me feel warm inside and out.
I was a naïve bookworm of a girl, I didn’t really like to party – no drugs, very little alcohol, and I had a tendency to fall asleep around 10:00 p.m. He really seemed to like that I didn’t play games and wasn’t demanding – if I wanted to do something, I said yes and if I didn’t, I said no, but didn’t care if he made plans to do something without me. He was surprised that I was young and inexperienced, but not needy or clingy – I had a pretty full life without him, but usually made time for him. He also seemed to really like that I could curl up anywhere with a book and be happy. He was also surprised that no matter how open and loving I was with him, I didn’t flirt with other men, or even seem to notice if they were flirting with me. I think he knew that he could trust me in a way that he had not been able to trust his former wife or fiancée. For me, he fit the image that I didn’t even know that I had developed from all of the novels I had read – romance, western, sci fi – he was tall, dark, and handsome, smart, interesting and a little wild, but need love and comfort. I loved that he also loved the same type of movies that I did – classics, science fiction, Disney, and James Bond. Best of all he didn’t like sports – no football, no rugby, no basketball! Even though he was a little wild, he seemed happy that I didn’t do drugs and didn’t drink, unlike other guys I had dated who seemed to think that I would be more fun if I relaxed and partied more. All during the fall of ’80, he continued to make plans for his move to New Mexico, but we both were willing to enjoy the relationship while we could.
We had one hitch when his ex-wife was in a bad accident and he went to see her, and came back confused about that relationship. Then in December, my dad was hospitalized in Oregon with heart problems, and my mom, who doesn’t handle illness well, freaked out. As it turned out, I moved before J did. Right after I got to Oregon, I got a note from him saying goodbye. He had attempted a reconciliation with his ex-wife, which had not worked, and he was moving to New Mexico as soon as he saved the remainder of the money he needed. I worked hard to help my parents sort out the mess their lives were in, including getting them to move back into their own house and develop some sort of plan. I found a job and made some friends, but I missed Jeff more than I thought was possible, and was not interested in dating anyone at all. I spent a very sad two months, but then in February I got a Valentine’s card from New Mexico saying that he wanted me back, and asking me if he could come to visit in May before he went to Israel for the summer.
He said that he had tried dating other women, even tried to reconcile with his ex-wife, but that he just could not stop thinking of me. He decided he wanted me, and at the end of the ski season, he went back to work and earned enough money to come to Oregon so we could see how we felt about one another. He spent a week in Oregon in May, and met my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I got to show him most of the places in Oregon that I really love – the coast, Crater Lake, the Rogue River, and even across the border into the California Redwoods. It was an amazing week, full of love and laughter, travel and talking. When he left to go to Israel for the summer, we had a plan. We were both moving back to Texas to be together in the fall.
Early in the summer of 1981, I moved back to Texas and J went to Israel on a dig. We wrote one another all the time, exchanging news of what we were doing, and discussing the future of our relationship. I was committed, without doubts, and in it for the long haul. He wanted a future with me, but he was scared to make a permanent commitment, scared that he would hurt me, scared that he would get hurt again. I moved back to Texas, in with my college roommate, was rehired for my former job, and picked up the threads of my life, and waited for J. He came came back from Israel in August, went back to work for the oil company he had worked for in south Texas, and saw me as often as he could. Even with the long distance relationship, we both just got closer and more sure that we wanted a future together. In September, we decided that the long distance relationship wasn’t working – we needed to be together. We went round and round about living together versus getting married. I finally gave in and said I would live with him, but insisted that I still didn’t understand the difference. For me, I knew that I would be just as hurt if we lived together and broke up as I would as if we got divorced. I think J finally realized that I really was in forever and asked me to marry him. Men! We set a date in March of 1982, decided the wedding should be in in the town where we met and I lived, since we both had family and friends there, and then I would move to south Texas. Our plans changed when he showed up on my doorstep on his birthday in November. His living and working conditions had fallen apart in south Texas, and so he was moving closer to me. In the same week, my roommate had a wreck, totaled her truck, caused whiplash in two cars of elderly people, and then moved suddenly to Colorado. J moved in with me, and we settled into living together happily, with the wedding scheduled for March. Both families were happy with our choices, and we worked, decorated, planted a garden, and settled in. Christmas brought a slight hiccup in the bliss. Jeff went home to Houston, and my family came to our house – bringing 4 smokers into the house. My mom watered our plants, pouring water into the TV. We rearranged the furniture to use the other TV, and when he came home, J freaked out. The furniture was not in the same place and the entire house smelled like cigarette smoke. He broke off the engagement because I had let my family invade his space. We worked through it, set some limits, and got married in March. I was incredibly happy!