Eight years ago on 1-9-05, Seattle lay under a light blanket of snow and I got into my car and drove the mile between my apartment and Big Papa’s house for our first get-together. Over the previous week, we’d exchanged a few emails after meeting on an online dating site, but this was our first official, in-person date. Our plan was to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and go wine tasting at the island’s sole winery (how times have changed).
His house number: 1905. Yes, you read that right. Our first date matched the number on his (now our) house.
I felt nervous and apprehensive. I was about to spend a few hours, stuck on a boat with a guy I didn’t know. If my previous online dating experiences foretold the future, those few hours weren’t going to lead to anything more. Some months later, Big Papa divulged he’d been thinking the exact same thing, “Why waste a perfectly good Sunday afternoon on a date that goes nowhere.”
Thankfully, neither of us changed our mind. We took the proverbial plunge and headed across Puget Sound on our first trip together. That trip led to another and another and another.
When I reminisce about that day, I remember exactly how I felt and how I couldn’t envision that I might live the life I have now, eight years later. Big Papa and I have traveled far together, literally and metaphorically. We’ve been to nearby destinations like Walla Walla, Willamette Valley and the San Juan Islands. We’ve traveled to farther flung locales too: China and Tibet, Canada, California, Hawaii and Mexico. We’ve traveled cross-country on numerous occasions to visit with family. On one trip we moved his mother into a memory care facility in Pittsburgh and on another (infamous) trip we flew my father from Ocala, Florida to live near us in Seattle. And, most memorably, we’ve traveled half-way around the world four times (five for me) on our journey to adopt, before finally coming home with our daughter.
There have been a few trips I wish we hadn’t had to make, but just as many I can’t imagine not having taken. And I hope there’s more travel in our future (I dream of much more, but I have a bigger wanderlust than Big Papa).
Yet for all the places we’ve been and all the places I want to go, there is nothing like coming home and pulling up to our little yellow house with its number, 1905, trailing down our door jamb.
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”