May 6, 1990 a very handsome young man took me to a place I had never been before to teach me to do something I had never done
before. He was patient with me. His words were kind and encouraging. I didn’t have to explain to him that some of his instructions confused me because my dyslexia got in the way of me understanding left from right. My baited hook spent more time on the beach and in the trees than in the water. Still, he was sweetly leading me to enjoy this simple little park. OJ Watson is the name of the park he taught me to fish.
I was already beginning to look forward to the time we spent together. I had conned him into taking me home from work just a month before. I felt terrible when he ruined his transmission because I realized that I left my purse in the Taco Bell we went to for our first date. He was an expert at making me laugh, and feel at ease. Through his eyes I could see I had value.
It dawned on me about a week ago while we were riding down the road that it would be 24 years since that momentous day at OJ Watson park. We were walking up the bank back to his silver and maroon El Camino. He stopped by a tree and looked down towards me with a shy, awkward smile. As I got closer, he pulled me to him. Holding my hand, he asked me if I could be his girlfriend and date only him, no one else.
Twenty-four years later it is still only him and no one else. Honestly, this moment in our collective history has usually been an afterthought. We generally don’t pay it any mind except to say “Oh, yeah. It was that day.” This year, this time around I suggested it would be fun to go visit where it all began.
The weather was perfect. It was almost identical to the way it had been when we were there as kids. The part of the park where he asked me to go steady was fairly deserted. We were disappointed to discover that part of the area was turned into a railroad track with a bright red covered bridge with white outlines (like the barn from a Fisher Price farm play set). The tree where he asked me was still there. I could still see my hook getting flung on the ground behind us as I attempted to learn how to cast a line.
After we walked around for a while we made our way to a picnic table in the shade close to the pond. We sat down and enjoyed some Crazy bread we got at Little Caesar’s Pizza. There was a cute little male mallard duck swimming in the water just in front of us. I separated a small chunk of bread from my stick of crazy bread and tossed it to our new guest.