Paul and I met eight years ago today, on 6 February 2002. It was such a funny and unexpected day. I was meant to be in St. Andrews with a friend; he was meant to be working in York. Through a series of mishaps and circumstance, both of us ended up at a shop called Whigmaleeries on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. And we met; all by chance.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
It was a lovely Wednesday afternoon and I decided that just because my friend was unable to go and do something, didn’t mean I had to sit around on my own. So I left my flat on Morrison Circus and headed up Princes Street. I didn’t really know where I was going, I was just wandering. I turned right to start up the Mound toward the Royal Mile and for some reason decided to walk up a narrow close to get to the mile instead – I’d never taken that route and didn’t know exactly where it would take me, but I was in an adventurous mood.
When I reached the end of the close, I found myself near the top of the mile, directly across from a little shop selling Scottish tourist stuff. The store looked interesting so I decided to go in and buy some souvenirs for my nieces and nephews back home in America. I walked through the door and there was Paul.
Paul was the general manager of a small group of tourist shops in Edinburgh and one in York. Whilst he was meant to be in York that day, staff illnesses meant that he needed to cover the shop floor at one of the Edinburgh shops. It was slow when I walked in, and he jumped straight into salesman mode. He asked me a question and I replied with sarcasm – something that few Americans caught him out with. When he recovered from the shock of not having an instant reply, we got to chatting. And chatting. And chatting.
An hour later I was still in the shop. Customers would come and go and I waited and we chatted more. But then several people came in at once and I decided it was time for me to leave – even though I was really enjoying talking to this amazing guy. As I said my goodbyes, he said that he’d love to take me out for a drink if I was in the area again. I said something along the lines of “we’ll see” then headed out the door. We never exchanged phone numbers – or names.
That night, I had a dream about Paul. I dreamt that I was walking down the street and ran into him. We hugged and said hello then continued walking hand-in-hand. It felt as if we’d known each other forever. It felt like it was the most natural thing in the world. When I woke up in the morning it was so real; it was so vivid. I’d never had a dream like that before and I couldn’t shake it all day long.
Then I had another dream about him that second night. This time I was in a shop looking at cards and he came up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, and whispered in my ear. Again, it felt as if we’d known each other our entire lives. It felt like we were two parts of the same thing. And I woke up again feeling so strange because it was so real. And for the second day in a row, I couldn’t shake this guy from my mind. I had to see him again.
I didn’t want to go back to the shop because I would have been embarrassed if he wasn’t interested. I had the receipt from two days earlier and it had a phone number. But I didn’t know his name. It took all the courage I had, but I picked up the phone and called. The guy on the other end of the phone gave me quite the run-around before finally putting Paul on the phone. It turns out that Paul was hoping I’d call, and the guy who answered the phone was told to be nice if “some American woman” called looking for him.
So, we arranged to meet that night at the Gilford Arms Pub. Just a quick drink on a Friday night; Paul had to work in the morning. I didn’t expect much and figured I would be ready to go home after one beer. (I was known for my extremely picky dating habits and it was almost unheard of for me to want to continue speaking to a guy after an hour.) Once we got talking though we couldn’t stop. One beer turned into two, then three… I think we made it to eight pints before the pub closed. Then we wandered up to a club for one more drink before Paul walked me home.
And that was how it all started just eight years ago. If Paul was here with me today, we would have chatted about that day – even while we both adamantly declared that today is not an anniversary day. It’s just a day… But it was the day that started my amazing journey with my amazing husband.