The other night, after we both took back-to back-potty runs at 1 AM, my wife Alison and I settled back in bed. As I expected, she immediately fell asleep to her usual nightmare of annoyances: grunting, snorting, scratching and drooling. As for me, I was wide awake and deep in thought, which in my mind, was the perfect time for a romantic conversation. I poked her while I announced the most affectionate words ever uttered:
Jacta Alea Est! Remember? When we first dated? Jacta Alea Est!
<snorting and grunting>
WTF, Dave? I’m trying to sleep. Quit waking me up. Go back to the can and shake it twice this time. Clearly, you forgot.
Do ya? Do ya remember?
Oh, make no mistake, she remembers. She remembers that photo from 1986 – the photo that started it all – the photo I almost didn’t post on Facebook – the photo that changed our lives forever. The photo she herself dubbed Jacta Alea Est – ‘the die is cast.‘
It was October 2009 when I found myself alone for the first time: my wife of 22 years moved out, my apartment lease was up for renewal, and my three adult children relocated across the country to pursue their own dreams. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an unexpected-empty-nest life-plan at the ready. Because I traveled extensively for work, I intended to live an adventurous life as a full-time road warrior and surf from one Hampton Inn to the next. Walking aimlessly into my future, I terminated my lease renewal and moved my stuff into storage. Meanwhile, I created a Facebook account.
Attempting to rekindle the past, I posted an assortment of photos from my vast collection of dusty scrapbooks. I recalled one pic of me and a cute blond girl I met many years earlier through a friend of a friend of a friend. Although I didn’t remember her name, I never forgot her incredible personality: she was fun, outgoing, and had the best sense of humor I’d ever seen. Carefully, I peeled the photo out from under the magnetic page and stared at it. Spring,1986 was scribbled on the back. I ogled at it for days and contemplated whether I should post it on Facebook. Ultimately, I gave in. Almost immediately, I received a private message from a mutual friend.
Allison! That’s Allison! She’s one of my Facebook friends!
Allison? I was completely befuddled. Yet somehow, I knew my life was going to change forever. Before long, Allison and I were chatting online. In a matter of days, she eagerly agreed to meet in person at a bookstore after work. Afterward, we planned to dine together at the local Olive Garden.
Remember our first date, baby? Remember how bad you wanted to kiss me after dinner?
Geeze, Dave, really? Do we have to play your ‘First Date’ game again? Ugh! I’m trying to get some sleep. Somebody has to work to keep you in the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to.
Despite her rebuttal, she remembers our first date. Fondly, in fact. She treasures the memory as much as I do. Meeting Allison was like jumping into the cool Florida springs on a hot summer day – exciting, refreshing, and breath-taking at the same time.
Our evening was animated, comical, loud, and obnoxious. We traded our most interesting anecdotes. We insulted each other with our best one-liners. We laughed hysterically. We got along perfectly.
Towards the end of the evening, after a lively debate about who made more money, I asked our server to take our pic. For some unknown reason, I put my hand around her waist instead of her shoulder. You guessed it – she shuttered.
Fine! I shuttered. But I made more money than you. And I still do. HA! Can I go back to sleep now?
For some unknown reason, I’m oblivious when it comes to women. If someone is interested in me, they would have to tie me down and force themselves on me. Then, maybe, perhaps, I would perceive an inkling of interest. After all, I’m not skilled at interpreting flirty signals. But with Allison, it was different. She threw herself at me big-time. Yes, it was that obvious.
• She initiated the first kiss
• She announced that we were exclusive
• She proclaimed “Oh, f*ck it, I’ll go out on a limb…I love you, Dave.”
• She declared “I want to build a life with you.”
Remember, Allison? You adored me!
At this point, I sat up in bed and turned on the light. I was even more enthusiastic than before. Allison snorted as I tugged her arm to rouse her one more time from her selfish slumber. Finally, she sat up and admitted it. Genuinely.
I still adore you, baby, You’re my One. I love you endlessly. You’re my harbor in the tempest and my safe place to land. Jacta Alea Est.
I knew I’d break through her barrier; even if it took nearly an hour.
It’s about time you admitted it. Slacker!
A few months after our first date, I asked Allison to marry me at the local Starbucks. I performed my self-penned ditty Better Than a Starbucks High and proposed to her in front of everyone – even though my guitar was out of tune and I couldn’t sing worth crap. I didn’t care – I wanted the entire world to know that Allison was the missing piece to my convoluted life.
The unpredicted power of a 30-year-old photo continues to amaze me. Simply put, a single photo locked away in a dusty scrapbook changed my life. Although unheard for decades, the old Latin phrase rang true the day the photo was snapped. Clearly, Allison and I were meant to be.
Jacta Alea Est, baby. You can go back to sleep now.
Photo: @Dave Pacailler All Rights Reserved