The place was hopping, the music was blaring and all the young people were out in droves. It was a Friday night. Outside, it was cold and miserable. But inside this tiny bar, it was hot and steamy! The dance floor was crammed, and the hoots and hollers made you feel like this was the place to be.
This was what we did when we were young and foolish and had no plans for the future. It was during one of these nights that I met a young man. He was nineteen at the time. I saw him standing at the entrance to the bar under a stark bright light. He stood there for some time before he walked toward our table. I was a regular at this bar, and knew pretty much who was who. I hadn’t seen this young man before, and I was so taken with him. He was attractive, in a bad-boy kind of way. He had long hair, clean, and obviously blow-dried to perfection. His eyes were a piercing blue and he had a warm, delicious smile that melted my heart. He was boyish, yet had a manly presence about him. He was tall and carried himself with purpose.
The girls and I shared the same table every weekend. This was our favorite bar, a bar where the music was loud and the beer on tap. We knew pretty much every waiter in the place by name. Lionel and Maurice were two of our favorites. Lionel was more serious and probably wondered what each of us would make of ourselves, and if his children were doing the same thing – drinking their young lives away in a dark, smelly bar, weekend after weekend. Maurice was the opposite. The man was clearly out to make money and he must have made a bundle in tips in that place, night after night.
On this particular night, when this blue-eyed boy walked in, my heart raced. It skipped a beat. I felt like I’d known him forever. He captured my heart. There was a sweetness to him, a calm that was mysterious in some way. I felt like we’d known each other before. Perhaps in a past life we’d been lovers, in Rome or Paris, somewhere romantic where our love had been extinguished by prejudice or pride. But we found each other again.
We were the tail end of the boomers and there were a lot of us. In our town, the bars were plenty and the beer was flowing. We were young and stupid and our hormones were soaring. Maybe we were looking for something? What it was I still, to this day, have no idea. It was 1978 and we had our whole lives ahead of us. What do you do with yourself at that age? You rebel. You squirm and carry on like a crazy person until you figure it out. You go through the pain of being lost, of being nobody. You look for love. You look for a way to be carried through the journey that is life, that’s so terrifying at that young age.
I found love. With him, the blue-eyed boy. Our relationship went on for many years without a commitment until we were married in 1984. I married this young man on the premise we’d have a good life together. I married him because I loved him with all my heart and knew that love conquered all. I knew that he loved me too, just as furiously, and that we’d find a way to make a life together.
Through thick and thin, we’ve lived almost forty years, side by side. We’ve conquered addiction, loss, and sorrow. We’ve raised two beautiful children, a son and a daughter, who contribute to society and who, in their own right, have made a mark on the world. And to our delight, we have a beautiful grandson who is our pride and joy. Not bad for a couple who met in a bar. Who could predict what our future would hold? It’s been a life of laughter and love, a life I would not trade for fame or fortune. The connection this blue-eyed boy and I have is far more precious than anything I can think of in the world today.
Now in our sixties, we are on a different path. This path is one of solace and silence. A path that neither he nor I would ever have chosen, yet here we are. He’s living with stage 4 lung cancer. My, how things can change within minutes; how life can look so different when struck with the idea of mortality. I still see the blue-eyed boy, looking at me with hope and love. We carry on with the knowledge that time is an enemy we cannot deny, and each day we are grateful. Grateful to have each other, to have someone to cheer us on when it seems we’re all alone.
All those years we’ve left behind us are the years that made us who we are today. My blue-eyed boy is still as handsome and sweet as he was when I first met him. Although we’ve changed quite a bit over the years, I still see that young man and am thankful for this life we’ve built together.
Photos courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved