Do you want to hear how John and I met?

Lynda who lives on a farm in Colorado looked at that year ago post from yesterday and asked me how this all happened.  That a New Zealand girl could wind up living in the middle of nowhere with an American man. It is not a long story, but I guess it is a sweet one.  I think all our stories are special. Just finding someone you can live with is pretty special all in itself.

Well, when I was seventeen I came to the United States as an Exchange Student. I came straight from the beach out to the prairies. I was skinny, with glasses and hair all over the place. All legs and hair in those days. This was the last gasp of the seventies not a year for high fashion but great jeans. I had been nursing a sick Mum and going to a convent school.  I was the fizzy coke bomb bottle.

I lived, for a year, just down the road from here, in a big house with John’s family.  His Mother ‘The Matriarch’ was a teacher at our school.  John was a senior, and in the same grade as me,  so he was delegated to drive me to school every day. He had a penchant for old Chevy cars and Bob Dylan.

I did not. Bob Dylan sounded screechy to me and his car was awfully drafty and not terribly clean. I was a chatter box and he was as silent as the proverbial grave. I was into English, books and driving around with gaggles of girls and he was into physics and cars. I was a pompom girl (the most awkward one who could never learn the routines and fell over her own feet). He and his hairy mates (hairy being the boy fashion of the time) went to the games and parked on the dark side of the field. I knew nobody so I was friends with everybody. He  lingered and watched and I darted about in my giggly butterfly fashion tasting most things and taking very little notice of other things. He was a solid A student and I was suspended for three days for smoking in the art room and another time I was seen jumping out of a two story window on a dare. Well I am sure you get the idea by now. The shaken coke bottle had been opened and I just fizzed with delight all over the place.

He tells me now that he had a crush on me but he was not a big talker and I never stood still for long anyway. You can see his problem. I had rather a wild time, was frequently rescued by him or his older brother when I got into trouble, and left at the end of a year none the wiser.

As I sat in the bus with all the other AFS students on our way to the big reunion in Washington before we were all put on our respective planes and shipped back home, I opened my diary. A tiny torn strip of paper fell out. On it was written I Love You. In capitals.  Each letter below the other. That is all. Just I Love you. The letters had been  traced over again and again so the letters were strong but made up of many many tiny lines and you could have read it like braille on the reverse side.

But I had no idea who had written this little note, on this tiny scrap of paper, torn into a little rectangle as though dissected from a bigger picture.  I still have it in that little diary with the tiny brass lock,  in a big trunk in New Zealand (along with about forty other diaries I might add… piles of them, I wrote everything down.  Most of it is rubbish).

Many years later after my own children were grown,  I returned to Illinois to meet up with John’s mother again.  John was back in town.  He told me that when I walked down the curving wooden staircase in his mother’s house he knew.  But he waited.  It took him four years of me visiting his family two or three times a year, to finally ask me to stay.  Our John asked me five times to marry him. 

I said no four times. Living all the way out here in the country was an enormous change from the high life I was living amongst the film set in London. Spending weekends in trendy bars  drinking champagne, wearing cool shoes, spending ungodly amounts on coats  and scarves (my weakness) and flying all over Europe with my not terribly demanding but very well paid job.  So he waited again and asked me again. He said it would be fine. And on the fifth time I was ready so I said  yes.

And he was right. I found my home here. As you know I am not gushy about these things.  I think there is a lot more to a good relationship than love and sex.   These are part of a bigger picture. There has to be compatibility and respect, kindness, gentle forgiveness and a lot of good old fashioned work. Marriage is not easy. There also needs to be patience and Our John is the master of that.  Plus a cow. I think a naughty cow is good for a marriage too!  But most of all I think you have to WANT to live with this person in this life.

Bob Dylan I can still do without. 

Good morning. Have a lovely, lovely day.


103 Comments on “Do you want to hear how John and I met?

  1. Wonderful to hear your story. Bob Dylan is a brilliant songwriter — if you can’t take his voice, which is different on some recordings, listen to covers of his songs by other people. Or come to California in your spare time: I sing a few Dylan covers in the subway.

  2. It’s a wonderful story, C…I *did* wonder how you wound up back on the prairie so many years later, but was sure you’d tell us, sooner or later…
    The Daily Shot looks blustery…no bad storms, I hope?
    (Oh…I have a pile of scarves, too. And jackets. They’re addictive. 🙂 )

  3. I always knew this particular story would be something wonderful…I think what all of us coke bottle bombs really want, what we are really looking for, even when we don’t know we need it, is a Man With Heart. A patient, good man who knew what he wanted, a woman with some fizz… Lucky for both of you, against all odds.

  4. Yes, I agree everything in its own time and place! I am curious about John’s German surname/heritage …. and please don’t make us wait till this time next year for a current photo of the two of you together 🙂 Laura

  5. Also meant to add … Bob Dylan not so bad ….. compared to Leoanard Cohen for instance 😦 Laura

  6. It is wonderful to finally read the story of how you and Our John got together!!! We have received a hint or two, but the whole story is wonderfully romantic. How the plains need you my friend. No doubt you brought a refreshing breeze along with you when you said yes, at last, and moved there. Oh, did Our John admit to writing the I LOVE YOU note that was in your diary??? xo

    • He wrote it exactly the same in the first and last birthday card he ever sent me when I lived in london. (Don’t tell him I told you this though) He said he does not mind my stories as long as they are not about him!! oops .. c

  7. Oh, thank you for sharing this, miss c. (And for the shout-out.) I had Just been contemplating the ingredients for marriage between coke bottle bombs and staid midwesterners last night. Truly! 🙂

  8. Amen to your view of marriage, it’s not easy, it’s more than just a romcom and it does require oodles of patience and everything else but when you WANT to live with that person, what does it matter? So sweet. And John deserves many congratulations of in his patience and his perseverance. 🙂

  9. Enjoyed hearing how you landed on a farm. I like how you call him Our John. I’m with John on Bob Dylan. Listening to Dylan is a mind set. You don’t do it for a lovely voice. Anyway, enjoyed your post and wishing you a great day, Cecilia. I wrote a poem about reading Bob Dylan’s book. It is on my blog. Maybe John would be interested? Has he read Chronicles…Dylan’s book?

    • I think he has read and heard everything there is to read and hear as far as bob Dylan goes.. but I will ask him.. might be a good christmas pressie.. c

  10. So pleased you left a comment on my blog – I followed the link back to yours, and what a great story to come in on! Are all your posts this good?

    • Good morning and welcome to the Lounge of Comments, mostly we just farm and it is quiet on the farmy today!! c

  11. I agree. It’s truly miraculous when one finds someone that they can actually live with in this life. The third time has been the charm for me, and with that came that revelation. We had perfectly lovely AFS students at my high school, and I wish I had taken advantage of that experience when I was young, but I was kind of shy. So sweet…a truly wonderful story, and thank you for sharing it. Obviously the two of you were meant to be, just had to “be” in the same place at the same time. I, too, would love to see a pic of John now, though totally understand if he wants to remain anonymous! 🙂

    • He would most definitely not like me posting shots of him.. he seldom reads the blog so I am hoping I can slide our story across to you without him noticing!! He is the quiet one.. c

  12. What a great story of life and love… I’ve often wonder how you ended up there after NZ… its good to know you’re obviously happy… and damn but I do love your farm…

  13. Such a sweet story. Life takes us in some unusual, but fascinating, directions. Glad that you two found each other in the end.

  14. Thank you, Lynda, for asking so we could read this sweet love story. Indeed, John is a patient man to ask to marry you FIVE times. That shows the depth of his love.

    Also, I’m with you on Bob Dylan, a Minnesota native, BTW. He’s a great songwriter, but not so much a great singer. His hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, celebrates Dylan Days each summer and there’s even a creative writing competition:

    Perhaps you should enter.

  15. I am so delighted, hugely so, to hear the story of how you and John came to be, and your amazing transplantation to the American mid-west! I feel like I’ve been included in the most delicious secret. You told your story so well, and I can just picture your “coke bottle fizzy self” juxtaposed against the “tall dark silent type.” I don’t know John’s true appearance, but I know the personality! 🙂 You are such a delight, Celi, and I really thank you for sharing so much of yourself. I feel like your neighbor just up the road! oxo

  16. Celi,

    I continue to read/absorb your daily blog.

    There is one simple reason for this post and it is to simply say “thank you!”
    Two simple words. Expressing gratitude.

    Through your open, free yet determined spirit, those very areas of mine are re-ignited!

    I am one of the folks who looks forward to my daily lesson. It is past time that I gave something in return for your efforts.

    Again, I offer my sincere gratitude.

    Simply, purely, and most heartedly,
    Thank You!


    Sent from my iPhone

    • Diane I am thrilled to know you are still reading. And thank you so much for such a kind message, you are a wonderful person. Our lives are so precious. Have a lovely lovely day. c

  17. Love and Fate…Beautiful. .I think, Ms. C; when you are in New Zealand this winter you should extract a few of those old diaries…what seemed like rubbish then may make you smile now!

  18. I wonder if your life would have been different if John had spoken those words to you all those years ago.

  19. Another piece to the puzzle … I do take issue, though, with your describing it as a “short story.” Any tale that takes spans 2 (ahem) decades and crosses 3 continents s hardly short. There’s time, though, for the details. A wise friend once told me there’s always time. 🙂
    Have a great day, Celi!

    • You have such a way of looking at it raining up your way, we have had rain all day.. i even lit the fire, not because it is cold, just gloomy.. c

      • It’s rained off-and-on all day. Nothing hard, more shower-like. Yes, it is gloomy. One gray blanket covers the sky, a sure sign that Winter is coming and perfect for a fire.
        Enjoy that fire, Celi, and the rest of your day!

  20. I absolutely LOVE this story! And I am in complete accord as to what makes a good marriage. Complete accord. Seems we’ve both been the wild child, now married to the stogy old boring kind for us in those days. So happy with my Chris, as you are with John. For all the best reasons!

  21. Celi,
    This one moved me to tears. Maybe it’s because I found the person I could really live this life with the second time around. Had it not been for that first round, though, I wouldn’t have the sons and the beautiful grandchildren. I would have had a very different life if I’d stayed with him, though. A lovely, lovely tale. Maybe one of these days, I’ll tell the story of how my second husband and I met. I always say he was “dropped on my doorstep.” Beautiful story!

        • Gerry and I are into a memoir challenge. (Gerry is so much better at it than I am, I’m twisting all the rules) The challenge is supposed to include 25 years so I’m hoping G’s going to post her story. It’s absolutely fascinating learning about my friends in my writing group. I love, LOVE people’s stories.

          • Make sure I get to read it when she does, with my dimwit internet connection I sometimes miss stuff.. the memoir challenge looks great! c

  22. Lucky ducky you! Robert and I are still trying to figure out this Vancouver/England two houses, two countries three kids-turned into seven life. That’s why I love to read your blog…lets me escape my madness for a few minutes. 🙂 Next life = organic farm.

  23. That brought a tear to my eye. If the story was in a movie most of us would probably think, “How lovely and how improbable in real life”. So, good for both of you!
    BTW, Bob Dylan’s not so bad, he’s a bit more accessible than the Grateful Dead 😉

  24. Cecilia, I am so glad that you shared this story. It is fantastic. I love your descriptions, especially of your seventies fashion and hair. I can just imagine the pair of you and the years in between where you each likely learned a lot about yourselves. Groundwork done – now your’re collecting on the investment. Wonderful.

  25. Hi Cecilia, I have just joined your blog and I enjoyed reading this reflection on how you and John met. Love the photos, so vastly different from my corner of the world, not far from NZ! Regards,

  26. Celi,what an enchanting story – John sounds wonderful… so glad you are so happy, because it comes through and spreads to everyone else. You are a gift to the world Celi – with love, Valerie

  27. Celi, thank you for the trust and the love you placed in us, your Community, to tell this beautiful story . . .each and every one of us has a tale, many of us would not be able to know how to tell . . .I fervently hope you do not mind if I visit the Farmy ’cause it makes me feel good . . .

    • All are welcome, always and one day maybe you could visit for real, The Granny Flat will be a retreat house for a while! c

  28. I always had a feeling there was a special back story to how you ended up in the US, and with John. It’s amazing how life has plans for us even if we don’t see them. I met the G.O. in my mid twenties busy going from one disaster to the next but we always stayed somehow in contact, and when the time was right the pieces fell in to place. I regret the years we didn’t have together but being who we were and doing what we did I’m not sure we’d have been as good a fit then as we are now. I’d love a cow but eventually I think we will have to make do with a cat 🙂

    • a cat would be nice and I know John wishes we had been together longer but I know in my heart that I was not ready.. we have to give life a chance to make some choices too i think.. c

  29. What a beautiful story, and how wonderful that you knew each other when you were young as well. That makes a great foundation. I’m so happy for you that you said yes, and that you found a patient man who was prepared to keep asking.

    • This comment was from me Juliet, but it came out as anon. I’m still restoring computer damage. Have been having a lovely catch up of all your missed blogs.

  30. I find these ‘reconnect’ stories of how couples met, then ended up together, the most romantic. Lovely, Celi. Well done 🙂

  31. The right time. Met my German husband in america 19 years ago. He rented a room from my dad for 2 years while finishing his masters degree. We were friendly acquaintances… He came from Germany to visit my dad 4 summers ago. Me divorced with 2 beautiful kids..Him never married. We fell in love and I’m finally experiencing the greatest relationship of my life. Cheers am dear!

    • Yours is a wonderful story, sometimes you just have to be married to the wrong people for a while to see what is right, or not right as the case may be and the children are always the bonus because they are always right, do you live in germany or stateside?

      • I’m a little between worlds. I’m in Hamburg at the moment but we are transitioning back to the states- orcas island off the coast of WA state. You’ve got a lovely story yourself… we’ll have to share notes sometime off the grid 🙂

  32. Wonderful story C and one that is hard to compare with. Funny how the right time, place, and people can bring one’s life to a complete and fulfilling level…that and a cow. 😉

  33. I am a new follower, over from Viv in France’s blog. In the early 70’s, I lived for a year in Australia. My dad had an exchange pastorate with a minister from a suburb of Melbourne. As a young girl who grew up in rural Illinois, this was a big change for me, so I believe I understand where you are coming from, in reverse! I still live in Illinois, in a small town.

  34. Celi, thats one of the most romantic love stories I’ve ever read. I think your life would make a most interesting book. 🙂

  35. Everything you write is a book for me.. I love this story and imagine it a movie one day. I can just picture John.. waiting and watching for the right time:) *sigh a real love story, this one!! xx

  36. Well, I knew if I waited long enough I would read about how you and John met. Along with a few others (I am sure). I wondered how this woman in the movie industry, living in London, came to be living in the American Midwest AND becoming the head mistress of the Farmy. It’s a lovely story Celi. Thank you for sharing. Hugs Virginia

  37. Great story C. I love how you have such a long history together. My father was an AFS student too and he went to Portland, Oregon in the 50’s. He went to Grant High School which is where Mr Holland’s Opus was filmed. He has great memories of this time in the US and still keeps in touch with the two boys he lived with (the parents are now sadly, deceased) xx

  38. I loved reading about how you and John met! I’ve asked myself that question many times while reading your blog. Quite the lifestyle change!

  39. Lovely story about how you met John. Really liked it. And thank you for liking one my posts the other day. I’m fairly new to this blogging lark so it was much appreciated.

  40. I love this ‘meant to be’ story. I had one like that, but very, very different. Celi, your thoughts on marriage mirror mine. Unfortunately cancer parted us almost seventeen years ago. True, true love is a wonderful thing and sex, I have always felt was a bonus!

  41. Late marriages are best. You’ve both settled into your personalities, have stopped ‘displaying’ for other people, and know what you want and like without feeling you have to pretend to like each other’s obsessions. My own John is such a joy to me. Wish I could have a cow too, but no space! Lovely, lovely story, Celi, and you tell it so well.

  42. I have never read this until today. What a lovely story. Some of us are lucky enough to find the person we were meant to be with and have the life we were meant to have. I wouldn’t have seen the link to this story if I didn’t read EllaDee’s blog! So happy to know this, I had wondered… xxx

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