My first love blossomed in the form of words hurriedly written on a torn-out piece of notepaper with shaggy edges. This paper was then folded multiple times into a paper football and launched with a skilled flick of my finger from my seventh grade side of the parochial classroom to the eighth grade side near the desk of Bryan, a blond boy with a middle part, glasses, and a faint mustache. Written on this paper were such romantic greetings and closings as, “Hi. How are you?” and “TTYL.” I think our love lasted the entire last month of school with promises of frequent pen pal exchanges since I was staying with my dad for the summer. However, Bryan as muse quickly fizzled due to my booked schedule of swimming, softball playing, and slumber parties.
The depth of my writing advanced a smidgen in my teen years to include nearly developed paragraphs describing my boredom in dissecting a splayed frog or conjugating French verbs and then concluding with a subject-less phrase such as “Miss you,” which seemed to accurately encompass the angst of teenage love in regards to physical separation. These notes were passed from my hand to his during anticipated rendevous in the hallways.
For what my immature early twenties' mind thought was “the one,” I wrote a letter of introduction on an extra long yellow legal pad after a chance meeting with a friend's boyfriend's friend. To my surprise, he replied to said letter with three-quarters of a page of minuscule young adult male writing on notebook paper, narrow ruled at that. These long-distance words were the gateway to seven tumultuous years of written words due to his affiliation with the navy. When, at last, we were able to coexist without the written word, the spoken words failed us. Thus, our mutual agreement to toss without regret, or any emotion for that matter, the scads of correspondence expressing our forever love should have been a sure sign of the words written on the wall, doomed relationship.
With the advent of the computer, inevitably came meetings via instant, or rather dial-up, communication. A two-week trial stint on a dating site in my thirties proved a lesson in what I truly longed for in a man, beautiful grammar. Instead, what I found were numerous misspellings or wrong word choices, red flags for an English teacher seeking love. The brief introductions of name and occupation written in fragments were overlooked, but when the written conversation continued with all lower-case letters and absence of any form of ending punctuation, I considered singles groups at churches.
As my probationary period online was coming to a close, an e-mail appeared in my inbox with an actual subject in the heading. After opening this message, I think I whimpered at the presence of a salutation with my name spelled correctly. Furthermore, commas appeared after introductory phrases of more than three words. This author at the other end of this cyber connection seemed to be too good to be true, so I immediately replied. The next two days were spent constantly monitoring my e-mail, not an easy task considering my modem speed. To my delight, second-order writing ensued on my screen, and on the third day, a date was solidified. Six months later this sexy scribe handed me a card on our wedding eve with the message, “Love is a verb.” Twelve years, two children, and a double mastectomy later, he remains my muse, and we have yet to have a shortage of love words for each other.