I still remember the exact moment. There are all sorts of parts of my life I've forgotten and I'm sure tons more that I have yet to forget. But not this. Not that moment. Never that indelible slice of my life. I'll never forget her beautiful smile.
It wasn't years ago, but decades. And the moment is still fresh in my mind. It was only a moment: just an interval of time a bit longer than an instant. I was shot directly in my heart. At that moment my life didn't end, but instead it began.
She walked by where I was sitting. I didn't know that she was going to walk by, but she knew I was there. She planned to make eye contact with me and smile as she went by. She liked me and hoped to get my attention. That she did.
A friend of hers walked by a foot or so in front of her. It was my natural reaction to look up and see who was walking by me. To this day I have no idea who that first person might have been. That person is not part of the memory and honestly I don't want them to be. They only served as a short countdown to seeing her.
It was the early 1980s. She was dressed as you might expect a young pretty student would be dressed. Tight blue jeans. Loose blouse covering in layers, colorful cloth. Warm brown hair with a lot of curl and volume. Shiny, dangling jewelry.
But even what she wore is a a bit of foggy memory. What is perfectly clear in my mind, and I hope will be to the very day I die, is the stunningly beautiful smile that she flashed to me. I cannot express in words my feeling at that moment. I felt "there" - does that make sense? I had been sitting there with my thoughts on who-knows-what. But all of a sudden I was occupying that space, that moment in time. My sight had been turned on to light, my skin awakened to the heat. My lungs filled with crisp clean air for the first time ever.
As she walked by all that remained to my stunned senses was her musky perfume and a perfect memory. That lovely young girl eventually became Mrs. North.
I was asked a decade or so ago if my love for my wife was love at first sight. I thought for a moment and my reply was something about "growing used to someone." I don't know if I ever had thought about it in any depth at all. But when faced with this question at that time I could only think that you have to get to know someone before love can develop. Love can't just snap into being as if the universe had planned it and was waiting for a trigger.
That is where I was ten years ago. Now? I've certainly changed my mind. Yes now I believe in love at first sight. Why didn't I way back then? Or even as recently as a decade ago?
I think the answer is that I've grown older and can see things differently. Bits of my life and the people that are in my life now have different meaning to me. I can look back at the very young me and laugh at how little I knew, how little I could see, and how dull my senses and my sensibility were.
The loving connection that I made was put in place by a higher power. It was God that started the ball rolling with her smile, and then it was His instruction to me in that flash of time to keep the ball rolling. Probably, were I able to hear it, it would have been a simple message like: "Don't mess this up." Over the years I've slipped, but I have not fallen. I've kept this incredible gift.
I know that I have friends that were given to me as a precious gift, and that it is up to me to see their value and to keep them. I can see them differently - like the colors of light not just from red to violet, but deep into ultraviolet. X-rays and infrared. I feel more now - subtle vibrations from years of experience on this Earth. Senses honed from life's trials, from failures and successes. I don't think it was random chance - I believe that I've made connections to friends for a reason.
In a few months my wife and I will celebrate twenty-five wonderful years together. I knew her for a few years before we decided to get married. That first moment we met is still perfectly clear to me.
I believe in love at first sight.