It was a bookstore. Late night. Many years ago. I sat in the corner, reading. I was enthralled in an important piece of classic American literature at the time.
A girl walked in. She made me nauseous. My ex-girlfriend. She’d done me wrong, and felt no remorse over her devilish behavior. None.
She sat beside me. “Hey, you,” she said in a cheery voice. “What’re you reading?”
“‘The Far Side,’” said I. “Volume one.”
She told me she was meeting someone. A Sunday-school teacher—she was substitute-teaching for a children’s church-class that week.
It’s a wonder lightning didn’t strike and fry off her eyebrows.
I stood to leave. But before I could, another girl walked through the door. She carried textbooks beneath her arm. Her hair was shoulder-length, and she walked with determination.
She was the Sunday-school teacher. She sat across from me and we made fast friends.
She wore a baby-blue sweater. She had hell-raiser eyes, and when she spoke, she sounded like Escambia County.
She was funny. She had a way of making me feel like I’d met her before. Like, perhaps, we’d been friends in another life—if you believe in that sort of thing.
I thought about her all week. All month. For a few months. I am a slow thinker. Back then, it took me at least forty minutes to decide which dirty shirt I would wear for a given day.
Eventually, we had a first date. I took her for a drive. She was loud-talking, happy, honest to a fault. I saw her again. And again.
One night, we sat on her porch swing for eight hours. She fell asleep. Her head laid on my chest. When the sun started to rise, I told my dead daddy I’d figured out what my life was about. Her.
He didn’t say much.
I asked her to marry me. She didn’t even think about it. We both cried. We honeymooned in Charleston. It cost all the money I had.
We moved into a small apartment with a window-unit air conditioner. We ate cold fried chicken for breakfast. We took vacations in tents, and played Twenty-Questions in the car.
I could say those were the best years of my existence, but they weren’t. These years are. And God willing, the next years will be, too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: the good moments of my life are the ones with her.
Anyway, there’s no real reason I’m telling you this. No special date. Nobody’s birthday.
I just got to thinking about the times we’ve almost lost each other. Once, because of a tumor. Another time because of a totaled truck.
I’m out of town right now. I got so lonely tonight I had to visit a bookstore just to cheer up.
And I can’t do bookstores without talking about my best friend.
Kaye Wells - April 12, 2017 11:01 am
Sweet. That’s the way a marriage should be.
Jeannie - April 12, 2017 11:51 am
David Bonnell - April 12, 2017 12:22 pm
You made me laugh with the Larsen reference to start and tear up ending with your wife as your best friend. I see my wife and my relationship through the same lens. Another great post! Thanks Sean!
Sandra Marrar - April 12, 2017 12:35 pm
I loved how you described your ex and the lightning!
I think you and your wife are so very lucky to have found each other.
Lee Reed - April 12, 2017 12:43 pm
An old Sylacauga boy advises that you’ve banked some goodwill with this one. Forget to take out the garbage? Leave your dirty socks on the kitchen floor? Neglect to gas up the car so that she runs out of gas while going to pick up her friend? No problem! Well, maybe not the last one.
Missy Shaffer - April 12, 2017 12:44 pm
You are my new favorite author. But I have to stop reading you because you make me start nearly every morning, crying.
Maybe it’s worth it.
JANE HUMPHREY - April 12, 2017 1:14 pm
I LOVE ALL YOUR STORIES….KEEP EM COMIN
Kathryn - April 12, 2017 1:43 pm
And just think – you owe all that happiness to an encounter basically set up by your ex-girlfriend, the heartbreaker. It’s proof that God can use anyone!
Gregory Dixon - April 12, 2017 2:07 pm
Splendid essay on enduring devotion. Plus, she likes to eat cold fried chicken for breakfast. Try not to mess this up, Sean.
Phillip Hunter - April 12, 2017 2:21 pm
‘The Far Side’. Love it! That and ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ are, no doubt, classic American literature.
Willie - April 12, 2017 2:51 pm
Suzanne Wright - April 12, 2017 2:59 pm
Oh that every woman were blessed with someone that felt your way about them! God bless you both! Stay loving, kind and happy!
Carol - April 12, 2017 3:15 pm
Beautiful description of a happy marriage!
Sherry Saunders - April 12, 2017 4:06 pm
Thank you Sean Dietrich for always making my day and making me smile.
The happiest years of my marriage are now also! Kids grown and we actually have time
to talk and are not so stressed over everything. I loved the year’s when they were growing
up, but there’s just something about being back to just the two of you!
Thanks again for your words,
Lydia - April 12, 2017 4:51 pm
I am happily married to my best friend as well but now that I have discovered your writings, through an Alabama friend, you have become one of my best friends. I relive life daily through your stories and am so blessed that you have become my newfound friend! I can hardly wait to read your next column and have purchased your books! Keep them coming…
Sam Hunneman - April 12, 2017 5:26 pm
Ain’t nuthin’ like a self-aware and appreciative man. Good on ya.
Bruce Zeiger - April 12, 2017 5:35 pm
I have only been a subscriber for a couple of weeks, but your blog is the one email I look forward to each day. I have been happily married to my best friend for 45 years, and it gets sweeter every day. God bless you!
Michael Bishop - April 12, 2017 8:47 pm
Ditto to Mr. Hunneman’s post.
Peggy Black - April 12, 2017 8:52 pm
Books and that one enduring love. It just can’t get better.
Lilli Ann Snow - April 12, 2017 9:42 pm
You are now insispensanle to my heart health.
Lilli Ann Snow - April 12, 2017 9:43 pm
You are now indispensable to my heart health.
Susie Munz - April 12, 2017 10:58 pm
You both won the relationship lottery!
Olivia Grizle - April 13, 2017 12:49 am
This is beyond sweet. What a joy to read about a love like yours. My husband and I share a special love. Fifty years March 5th. of this year. Very blessed. May you and your wife have many more happy years together.
Shirley Strickland - April 13, 2017 1:21 am
What a beautiful tribute to your wife. I finally have someone in my life that I feel thinks the same for me. I know I feel that way toward him.
Susan - April 13, 2017 1:35 am
I’m half in love with you. No worries though since I totally love my husband.
I love your stories. Thank you for sharing yourself.
Michael Hawke - April 13, 2017 3:17 am
Thank you. See you next month in Dothan.
LindaD - April 13, 2017 4:18 pm
Perfect timing for this one. Yesterday marked my best friend and soulmate’s and my 48th wedding anniversary. We also met because of a mutual friend’s introduction, but ours happened at a high school basketball game instead of a bookstore. It seems like just yesterday sometimes, but it was a lifetime ago. I wouldn’t trade these years for anything. We were been so blessed to find each other, and I thank God every day for Jim’s love.
donna - April 14, 2017 12:43 am
thank you for making my heart feel good..
Dora Huelsbeck - May 11, 2017 3:39 am
Love reading all your stories. Sorry that I missed hearing you speak tonight at The church of the Natavity. Heard you were great. Thanks again for sharing your stories.
Ben Smith - June 10, 2017 11:57 am
Well that’s awesome I have been blessed with my best friend also.God has Blessed use.
Deanna J - June 10, 2017 12:29 pm
Thanks, 50 yrs. with my man! I was 13, he was 19, still going, fed has dementia, but we just cling together and take easy day as they come!
Gerald - June 10, 2017 1:59 pm
Thanks Deanna for sharing. I have a similar situation. We will be married 53 years in August and my wife also has dementia. She is relatively healthy and certainly seems happy and my goal now is to keep her that way as long as possible. It’s been a great trip and isn’t over yet.
Judy Harris - June 10, 2017 1:42 pm
These are the type of words so many women would love to hear on a special day. Your wife is blessed that she doesn’t have to wait for the special day. That makes both of you blessed.
Mary Frances Paine - June 10, 2017 1:46 pm
Thank goodness for ex’s, without whom you might never have had the chance to meet your true love.
Cyndia Montgomery - June 10, 2017 2:10 pm
I’ve been reading you awhile, and as a result, shedding more tears lately than ever before. How do you do that?
I think that finding your best friend and marrying him or her is an amazing and rare thing. I married mine 25 years ago come December. Both of us had been married before, too young, but we learned from our failures and have gone on to be very happy together. I’ve almost lost him several times, as he’s been fighting cancer for 17 years. He’s going through chemo again right now, so your story this morning felt very close to home. Yet somehow these ARE the best times, because it makes us more appreciative of what we’ve got. Anyway, sorry for being long-winded, but what I’m really trying to say is “THANK YOU”. You are helping me get through this scary time, and I am grateful.
Sandra Simpson - June 10, 2017 2:42 pm
I guess I’m southern at heart. I love your stories about people you’ve met.
My husband and I will have been married 48 years this July. Prayers that the Lord Blesses you with that many or more.
Rebecca King - June 10, 2017 2:46 pm
My Saturday morning Blessing. You did not disappoint.
Gloria - June 10, 2017 2:57 pm
Your wife is so fortunate to have a loving husband who can express his feelings so eloquently with words.
Sandra - June 10, 2017 3:50 pm
You are the man.
Ann - June 10, 2017 10:28 pm
You make me laugh, you make me cry. Love, Ann
Jeff Brown - June 11, 2017 11:09 pm
Gloria Rumph - February 28, 2019 9:15 pm
Beautiful story about two beautiful people!love when we hear about you and Jamie!