Debra's first visit to San Diego
In 1966 I entered the third grade at the Wolcott Elementary School in Davison Michigan. Debra Melanson’s family had just moved into the school district and that was the first time I saw her. Although we were just kids it really was “love at first sight” although I just couldn’t muster up the courage to talk to her. From that point on though I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Not in the “stalker” sense but more “oh my GOD I don’t know what to say” sort of way. Typical of kids at that age though really. My mother just kept telling me “Oh honey, it’s nothing more than puppy-love and it’ll pass.” But it never did. Ever.
Until 1970 when we entered the Davison Junior High School we had managed to always end up in the same classroom but of course Junior high in those days was designed to prepare students for high school and college in that your classes were in different rooms with different teachers throughout the day. As fate would have it, we only had one or two classes that were the same so of course the only time I got to see her was in passing in the hallway. By that time though the only words I could get out of my mouth were “Hi Debra…” to which she would just politely answer back and keep on walking. I used to ride a bicycle all over the place by then so when I discovered that she and her family lived in a small old farm house just a mile and half from me I decided to just ride up and try and talk with her outside of school. Unfortunately when I arrived, she, her two sisters and one brother were out and about with their mother and only her father was home. He invited me inside to sit and “talk” a bit and although I was shy as hell I stepped inside, shaking like a leaf on a tree in a tornado. I sat there in the living room as her father grilled me for what seemed to be an eternity! He wanted to know all the usual “father” stuff such as “so do you play sports”, “what are you parents names” and the ever popular “what are your intentions towards my daughter”. Finally he decided it was time for me to go so he could “get on” with his day so I jumped on that bicycle and peddled home just as fast as I could. The next week when it was time to go back to school I was looking forward to a potential conversation with Debra about my having met her father… but again, I couldn’t get up the courage to say a word to her. Not a peep. I was somewhat surprised that by the end of the week she hadn’t tried to ask me about it either. Debra as it turns out had no clue that this event had ever taken place until I told her about it decades after it happened.
In 1972 we were the first Freshman class in the “new high school” that had been built for the district. But even this brought no change in my personality and all I could do was stand back and watch as she’d walk down the hallway with her friends. She had joined the “Pom-Pom Squad” by then so naturally I marveled at her beauty in those cute little outfits they wore. The agony continued all the way up until our senior year (1975 – 1976) when finally I decided to just bite the bullet and TALK to her. It was May 1976 and the school year was coming to a close and I knew it would likely be my last chance to ever see her again. She was sitting in the grass with two of her friends on the north-east lawn of the school. I gathered up every ounce of courage I could find, walked up to her , said “hello” and proceeded to ask how she was. Her first words were to inform me that she was all excited about being engaged and that the wedding was to take place in July of that year. My heart SANK. Like a balloon that had been released… I deflated… I was crushed knowing that I had blown any chance I had with her. I gathered up the pieces of my broken heart, casually congratulated her, turned and walked away never to see her again.
After MANY years had passed… I had moved to San Diego, sobered up, gone to college and was pretty well established in the technical field (we’re talking roughly 30 YEARS now) I started looking around for “old friends” I hadn’t seen or heard from in a very long time. Naturally Debra was at the top of the list. I dug and searched off and on for several more years but could find nothing at all. The World Wide Web was just starting up so of course there were no such things as Google, much less Face Book. Finally one day (in 2002) when I came home from work, low and behold, here’s this e-mail message in my mailbox from Debra Melanson! I almost had a STROKE! She had written me, telling me she had gotten my e-mail address from my Aunt Irene who used to live just a mile and half down the road from her (my father’s brother Bob and his wife Irene). She was asking if I remembered her and that she used to baby-sit for my cousins (Bob and Irene’s children), and that she had been divorced for a little over a year at that point. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Not only did I not know that she was my Aunt and Uncle’s baby-sitter but I didn’t even have a clue that she even KNEW them. I spent the next two hours typing out a reply to her, pretty much telling her everything about how I’d had this big crush on her, how I remembered the “talk” on the front lawn in 1976 and how I had been trying to find out what ever happened to her. We started exchanging e-mail heavily after that although that first one did take her aback a bit (LOL scared her at first I should say). As it turned out, we had a mutual friend from high school who lives in Tucson (he and I had already been in constant contact for several years) and when I mentioned I had heard from Debra he just asked if she was still living in Clarksville TN. I sort of scolded him for not telling me that he had always known where Deb was and how to get in touch with her… but didn’t bother to tell ME. LOL
After a couple of months, she told me that she, her mother and one of her aunts had a ‘ritual’ of flying out to Las Vegas every year in February so I let her know it was only a 5 hour drive for me and that I’d love to come up to see her while she was there. After some understandable hesitation she agreed that it would be nice so off I went. We ended up having the most spectacular weekend together. She extended her trip for another 2 days (against her mother’s advice of course) and spent the entire time just catching up on the past 30 some odd years. Of course by this time I had learned to be far more outgoing than I was way back when… and we really did just “click”.
About a year later, after hundreds of e-mails and telephone conversations, she decided to risk it all… and move out to California, and in with me. That was roughly 15 years ago… and we’ve been together ever since. Her mother thought I was the greatest thing to happen to her (before she passed away). Her aunts and uncles agree that Deb has never seemed happier and my friends all tell me that I’ve never seemed happier either. I wouldn’t trade the last few years with Debra for anything in the world. It’s sort of been a “Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl” story in the beginning… but it’s all worked out perfectly. On the 17’th of September 2013 we were married at the San Diego ‘Town Hall’. Debra picked that date because it marked my 29 years of sobriety… and she knew I wouldn’t forget it. Ha ha ha