For better or worse, here’s a little true story I entered in a Valentine’s Day contest sponsored by
Well, it wasn’t a Streetcar Named Desire. And Judy Garland wasn’t singing The Trolley Song. But I remember the night John and I met on that
bus as if someone wrote a play about it and someone sang a song.
We were both live-at-home students at
in . It was a Friday evening in October, and I was
on my to help decorate Bryant’s gymnasium for a Halloween dance Phi Sigma Nu
fraternity was holding the next night—a semi-formal, which meant girls would
wear dresses and heels and boys would wear jackets and ties. I was looking forward to it. Even more so when a handsome Phi Sig guy I’d
seen around campus hopped on the bus, and I guessed he was going to help out
too. Providence, Rhode Island
The bus was crowded, so he took the seat next to mine. As the bus lurched along, starting and stopping at every other block, we began talking and were soon exchanging names. Wasn’t it the neatest thing in the world that both our names began with J? Think of it. How often did that happen? He loved the same classes I did (business and English) and, even better, hated the same ones (sociology and accounting).
When our stop came, we stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the Rexall Drugstore on the corner of Thayer and Waterman Streets. John said, “It’s kind of dark out tonight. Would you like me to walk you over to Bryant?”
Would I? I’d been hoping he’d ask but would have died before letting on. So I accepted his offer with a noncommittal and very sophisticated, “Okay,” but my heart was pounding. Far from being the prettiest girl on campus, not even near to such a designation, my self-esteem was pretty close to zero. What I didn’t know until much later was that John’s self-image was shaky too.
But on that night, the stars were in alignment. Either that or some cosmic aura was shining on us. For the truth is that two shy, unspoiled kids had found each other. Though only exchanging uncertain glances, not daring to hold hands, and only speaking of superficial inanities—still, we had found each other, and somehow we knew it.
We still do. We’ve been married since before the
Alps peaked up, and over the years we have loved and
argued in equal measure. But even after
all this time, John and I grow nostalgic whenever we talk about the October
night we first met. The night we took a
bus ride on Hope.