[All photos from Unsplash]
This scene is part of the serialized publication of scenes from my falling-in-love memoir. Read Part 1 of "Meeting - January 23, 2009."
About then, the service starts. The lights dim and then flash in reds and blues as the stage fills with smoke.
"Is that a fog machine?" I say.
He smiles at me. "Let's just say this isn't normally my scene," he says. I smile back, and then wish I looked like an Anthropologie model.
I can feel the bass line pounding in my chest. The room sings lazy choruses that repeat and repeat again. A guy five rows ahead of us is jumping up and down with his hands raised to the ceiling. It's not my first time in a service like this, but for the first song, I just watch the show. Then, a song later, I join in, air moving through my chest and throat and then escaping my open lips. I even raise my hands and close my eyes, and I feel alone again.
Then, after a half hour, the band exits. Someone turns on the lights as a man in jeans and a polo shirt sits on a wooden stool in the center of the stage. He balances a Bible on his knees.
"Today we're going to talk about the sin of gluttony," he says. Apparently, he's been preaching a series of sermons about the seven deadly sins.
"How lovely," I say. My date smiles.
"The root of gluttony is mistrust of the Lord," says the preacher. I know a lot about mistrust. So I reach into my purse and pull out a notebook and scribble down notes through the rest of the sermon.
At the end, the preacher says, "If you feel you need prayer about this sin of gluttony, or really anything else, we will have people up front, below the stage, who would love to pray for you after the service. Don't hesitate to come on up."
Then, my date and all his roommates stand up. They are all talking with someone at the end of our row. It is you. You are wearing those speckled rectangular glasses and that blue cap that just sits on the back of your skull so that your Johnny Bravo hair pokes out the front.
"Who's that?" I ask my date.
"Oh, uh, sorry," says my date. "Liz, this is Jeremy." You look at me, and I look at you. We smile, and you stretch out your hand. I shake: our first meeting. I will marry you less than two years from this moment. But of course, at the time, all I know is that you are blocking the end of the row, and I need to pass by, please and thank you.
So we shake hands as strangers and I say, "Excuse me, actually, I need to go," and I smile again. You step backward, and I walk past you toward the front of the auditorium and a women with long, brown hair, who stands waiting for me.
This is the beginning of the serial publications of scenes from my in-progress, falling-in-love memoir, about the anguished, beautiful, and spiritual way that my husband and I met, fell in love, and married.
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