Childhood Sweethearts:)

They met on Valentine's Day, when they were both too young to know what Valentine's day was.

Sherry, two years old as of last December, was digging in the sandbox with her little blue plastic shovel. It was her favorite sand toy. She wore a matching dress and sunhat with little hearts all over them. Even if Sherry didn't know the reason for the hearts, her mother thought it was cute. And the hat kept the sun out of her eyes.


David, no older than Sherry but big for his age, toddled up and snatched the little blue shovel out of her hand. Sherry wailed. Their mothers rushed over: Sherry's to console her, David's to scold him and make him give the shovel back.

Two-year-olds seldom hold grudges. By the end of the day, David and Sherry were playing happily together. David's mother, whose name was Leanne, and Sherry's mother, whose name was Cynthia, had a nice, long conversation, after they got through the initial abashed "I'm-so-sorry," and, "It's-all-right-children-are-like-that."

Cynthia and Leanne discovered that they lived in apartments just a block and a half apart. Leanne was single, and Cynthia's husband worked such long hours that she often felt like she was single. They decided to trade babysitting by giving their children frequent playdates.

By the time David and Sherry learned to say the words, "Best friends," that was what they were. By the time they were four years old, Leanne had found a new husband. But marrying him meant moving to Minneapolis.

Leanne and Cynthia promised to write, of course, but neither of them proved to be good about doing it. This was before the age of the Internet, back in the days when keeping in touch meant putting pen to paper and hunting up an envelope and a stamp.

As the years went by, Sherry remembered David the way she would remember a happy dream from long ago. David remembered Sherry in much the same way, and with a special wistfulness that would often surface when he was being pestered by his younger half-sister. But neither David nor Sherry could clearly remember the other's face.

They met on Valentine's Day, at a college party. It was the heart of a drab and blustery Midwestern winter, the middle of a long stretch of days when the holidays seemed like a distant dream and spring like a rumor that could never be true.

Sherry had been excited to see snow for the first time in her life. In December, when the first snow fell, right on her birthday, it had seemed like magic. Now, she missed the sunshine very badly.

Valentine's Day was a Saturday that year. The next Tuesday would be Mardi Gras. It was a combination Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras party. Garish glittering paper hearts and real Mardi Gras beads reflected the lights from the disco ball that belonged to one roommate in the party giving house and the lava lamp that belonged to another. With the regular lights also on, at varying levels of dimness, the party's decor seemed glaringly out of sync.



Mark, David's best friend from high school, was a freshman at this college. David went to a different school. He was visiting for the weekend. They had decided to drop by the party at the last minute, after hearing about it from a friend of a friend of a friend.

When David's eyes had adjusted to the off kilter lights in the room, he couldn't help but notice the girl on the other side of it. There was something familiar about her. Something he could not quite place. She reminded him of a song heard once long ago, a tune to which he had all but forgotten the words. Looking at her, David felt as if he was returning to a long forgotten place that had been his home all along, though he hadn't known that before.

Sherry did not see David until after he saw her. A glimpse of his face brought a brief flash of memory to her mind, a memory of sand and sunshine. Then it was gone.

David couldn't shake the feeling that he somehow knew this girl. Eventually, he went up to her and said, "Hi."

*

They met on Valentine's Day, six years later. They met before the altar they had made for themselves near the beach.

Here in southern California, where they now lived, the middle of February was clear and bright. It was warm enough for an outdoor wedding.

The mother of the bride wore blue. The mother of the groom wore green. Cynthia and Leanne were both overjoyed, not only at their children's marriage, but from renewing their own friendship after all these years. When the wedding was over, they planned to take a trip together. They were looking forward to sharing grandchildren.

Mark, who had gotten his minister's license from the Unity Church, where anyone who pays the fee can become a minister for life, married Sherry and David. They had written their own vows.

In honor of their first meeting all those years ago - twenty-three years, to be exact - something was buried beneath the altar. Something blue. It was a little blue plastic shovel.
laurie37 laurie37
18-21, F
May 22, 2012