My wife, Tycelia, and I have known each other for more than 40 years. We married just three years ago. When they hear the story, people typically say, “Oh, that’s the most romantic thing!” It is. It’s also sad. Here, let me strip away some of the romance in the telling:
I met Tycelia in September of 1963 in an empty apartment above a shoe store in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. It was my 21st birthday and I was transferring into Kutztown State College from -- well, from several other places which are not important here. I was looking at the walls of the apartment I was about to move into and share with one friend and several strangers. A noise, I turned and there she was. She had come in behind me and was looking for someone. Not me.
Of course I fell in love.
She, apparently, did not.
We went out a few times. Enough, I guess, for both of us to confirm our initial feelings about each other. As college relationships will, ours drifted apart. She started dating one of my roommates who shared that now-filled apartment where we’d met on my birthday.
I went into the Air Force shy of my degree. It was 1965.
By 1969 I was out of the service, recently married, living in Philadelphia and majoring in Theater at Temple University. I was happy.
I’d heard from mutual friends that Tycelia had married and was going to graduate school in Montreal.
She called sometime in the mid-70s, left a message on the machine. She was divorced and back in the States. By then I was working toward my Master’s in theater at Villanova University. I was still married, still more or less happy. I never returned the message. I knew what would happen -- at least from where I was standing.
A few years later, I divorced, moved to Minneapolis and, eventually, came to Chicago.
In 1999 or so an old friend from the Kutztown era interviewed me for an article he was writing for the alumni magazine. The article was about people who had been writers while at school and who continued to write and publish into their adult years.
He mentioned that he’d interviewed Tycelia for the story, that he’d found her through the alumni association. She was still divorced, teaching and living in a small town in Maine.
Would I like her phone number?
Yes. Sure. Okay.
I didn’t call.
Eventually, I did.
We began with letters, email, visits. I was still in love and, now, miraculously, she was too.
Several years later we married. We just celebrated our 3rd anniversary.
We love each other very much. We’re very happy together. While part of me laments the loss of 40 years of being together, I also know that at the time we met I (at least, I) was not ready for a serious relationship. Had we gotten together then, had we married... Well, I know enough now to know that while we seem perfect for each other, that perfection of fit took a good chunk of a lifetime to create. Had the two of us gotten together in 1963, I think Tycelia and I would be a distant memory. As I say, I miss those 40 years, but I am as happy as a human can be that we’re together today.