It was the night following a wonderful Christmas. “Wonderful” had nothing to do with presents. It was just so good because there was no stressor, no grumpy person, that ruined every holiday inside the house. Johnny was in the Navy and unable to spend this Christmas with us, but Dawn and I made a plan to visit multiple relatives in Oklahoma City and Norman on Christmas day.
While we were at a cousin’s home on Christmas afternoon, my cousin encouraged me to go to Pauls Valley with her and her husband to a party planned for the night after Christmas. Our cousins that lived in Pauls Valley were having the party for friends returning home for the holidays. She shared that I might know many attending the party from our school days. Throughout my growing up years, I spent as much time as I could in Pauls Valley. Both sets of grandparents and many cousins lived there. When visiting, I had so much fun. We walked all over, went to restaurants by ourselves, went to the movie for a dime, and played hard. I participated in activities with my cousins, many of which I was not allowed to do at home in Oklahoma City.
You can do some things growing up in a small town that you cannot do in a city. For instance, we did not have a main street in Oklahoma City, where everyone drove up and down, finding each other on the weekends. We also could not or did not dare, go to the park and have water balloon fights or watermelon fights after dark. Nor did we fill up sacks with cow manure and leave it on someone’s front porch, sometimes lighting it with a match! My parents allowed me to car date in Pauls Valley several years before allowing me to do so in Oklahoma City. About the only thing we did in both places was toilet paper friends’ homes. I felt freer in Pauls Valley and could play with no worry because Mama was safe with her mother.
Deciding to go, I telephoned my Al-Anon Sponsor, Sally, the next morning. It had been about two months since I filed for divorce, but my divorce was not to be granted until we went to court. Shortly after I filed, Sally asked me to do something she had done when she worked with her own sponsor. She asked that I not speak to a man for six months. I was more than a little surprised by this request. I knew that I was getting better and better with each of the other suggestions she gave me to do. I considered her idea and committed to it. If I had an appointment about my business, I could speak, but if a question or statement turned personal, I had to guide the conversation back to business or end the appointment. (The result of this experiment brought a calmness that I did not expect.)
Now I was going to a party, and there would be dancing, which I loved to do. I asked if we could waive this request to not speak to a man for this one night. She agreed, so I called my cousin, Judy, and her husband, Phil. Later that day, we headed to Bob’s Pig Shop located in the town where we all three had been born.
As I entered the door, an attractive woman was exiting. She stopped, and we introduced ourselves. There were already quite a few visiting and some dancing. Many had familiar faces that I had not seen for over twenty years since I lived out of state most of that time and usually saw only relatives whenever I returned home. Seeing a friend, I walked over to the jukebox, and we visited a little. A man standing by me introduced himself to me and asked if I would like to dance. His name was John Blake. He was a great dancer. We talked some while dancing, and when the music stopped, we stood still and continued talking.
Our discussion was odd, and I loved it, for we were talking about something of substance. Somehow we found ourselves talking about spiritual experiences and God. As the music began again, we continued sharing. During this second dance, the lady I met at the door tapped me on the shoulder as she said, “I guess you know you are dancing with my husband.” I responded, “No, I did not know. John, you have a pretty wife, and, Susan, you have an adorable husband.” Susan laughed and said, “continue” and went to sit down in a booth.
Upon completion of that dance, we both went to sit down with Susan. Our discussion included my history with Pauls Valley. Surprised, they shared with me they had restored a home built in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and they thought a part of my grandparents’ house that was torn down and replaced with a nursing home might be in their home. They also invited me to come by sometime to see if they were right. About that time, Susan excused herself and left John and me sitting in the booth. I watched as she left us and went outside again. We visited until another friend I had not yet seen at the party came and asked me to dance.
I saw him last when I was 17. He married his high school sweetheart, also a friend of mine. He then said for me to go into the other room and sit with his wife when we finished dancing. I was also not to come back into the place we were dancing in. I did join Sharon for a visit until her husband returned. I then asked why he said for me to leave the other room. He responded by saying that he learned I was coming out of a marriage, and he felt I was about to get into trouble. I asked if the person I danced with was a womanizer. He said no, and he needed to stay that way. He said that he had not ever seen him attracted to someone else.
Judy and Phil were ready to go. I was also. But I loved my evening, and I knew there was something very different in my encounter with John Blake. John did call later about nutritional products. I was back to not speaking about anything except business. In about a year, I ran into John and Susan at a restaurant in Oklahoma City. The three of us visited.
Another few years flew by, and I ran into Susan downtown in Oklahoma City with another man. She shared that she and John divorced about six months prior and reminded me that I never came to see their house. I said that I was attending a family reunion the next Sunday in Pauls Valley and would stop by.