Jeri Kemple in Colorado

The Yellow Cadillac

I live in a small town (population 1500) with big skies and no hills. If I climbed the 100-year-old oak tree in my yard, I would see endless fields, now barren of corn or soybeans. I like it here, and I have lived many places to compare it to. I live with my three children, husband, and dog. As I write, they are all warmly tucked in bed. I have nurtured, fed, bathed, read, or laughed with each of them today. At the end of the day, I take a deep breath and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. My life is rich with family and friends, and I often wonder who made this all possible. It occurred to me today that I am no longer in control of anything, which is something I believed I had a couple of years ago, control. Let me take you back to the day I met my husband, one of my favorite stories. The year was 1997. I was 20 years old and getting ready for an event-filled evening of ringing in the New Year. I had expressed to my friends at the time, when they invited me out for the night, that I was going out on my own. I needed to be free of everyone else's agendas. I needed to float around on my own, be the leader of my own destiny that evening, which seems fitting when I look back on it. I was in college studying to become an art therapist and working at a pizza place. I was feeling confident that I would continue to follow the path I paved.

I went out to a favorite bar and saw friends there. We danced and then ended up at a party that my ex-lover had invited me to. Being a young, partying woman, I headed for the beer when I arrived, which was in the kitchen. Here is where the music would get soft, and the lights would dim with a spotlight on me as if I were in a play. When I got to the kitchen, there he was, this man, this face, this soul -- I knew him intimately. I recognized him from recurring dreams (now the spotlight is on the two of us). We were standing across the room from each other; everything in the room dropped out of focus. He smiled at me, and I was petrified. I remember turning around and leaving the kitchen to look for a bathroom. In the bathroom, I started talking to myself in the mirror. I felt like a complete idiot, but I knew I had just met my future husband, I just knew it.

After regaining my sense of reality, I left my haven with the locked door in search of that beer. While pouring myself a cup of ale, my ex-lover approached me with "him." Crap, here we go again, the spotlight, head spinning, weak-kneed stuff. My ex-lover introduced him, and I recognized his name. He was freshly divorced. He had kids. I wanted to run away as fast as I could, but me being me, curious and crazy for romance, I stayed. That night he followed me everywhere I went. I wandered onto the porch -- he found me. I sat at the end of a sofa packed with people -- he got a folding chair and sat next to me. He talked incessantly, but I don't remember much about anything he said. It got late and I got tired. I was ready to go home to my sanctuary, my sweet little haven I had made for myself. I said, "Goodbye. See ya later." He said, "Let me drive you." I declined and left.

Heading home, he pulled up next to me in what I thought was the coolest car ever, a yellow Cadillac. I got in and told him where I lived. He took me to the woods where we later got married. He asked if he could lay his head down on my lap, and I knew this was it. No turning back now. After hours of talking, he took me home and I invited him in. He stayed the night and into the next day, only to return in the evening with a ring. I said yes. We were married nine months later.

I'm settled in the first house that I've ever owned. Two of the children are in school, and one little guy stays with me at home. My husband works for a university as a piano technician. It has been a hard road getting here, and I'll fill you in on the gory details later. For now, I am content, happy, and stimulated. My life is an unguided stream of cosmic coincidences.

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