There are 8 million stories in the naked city … and 53.3 percent of them are love stories. OK, I made that statistic up, but look around you – you can practically see the hearts floating up out of people’s heads!
Yes, there are a lot of love stories being written all around you right now. And who doesn’t enjoy a good love story? Since it’s nearly Valentine’s Day, I’ll tell you MY love story – my side of it, anyway. It’s a good story, and it positively REEKS of Chapel Hill.
Picture it: Chapel Hill in the late ’80s … Dean Smith and Bill Friday are still top dogs, Jonathan Howes is mayor, Superchunk is playing the Cat’s Cradle and, fittingly, “When Harry Met Sally” is playing at the Ram Triple on Rosemary Street. I’m guessing at some of that stuff, too, because my memory of that era is sketchy. But this part I DO remember: Tom Moore and I are sitting across from each other at our place of work – a local newspaper (not this one) where he reported the news and I was what the British call a “dogsbody.”
Soon Tom began to ask me out with charming (alarming?) persistence, but as a gung-ho new Christian, I was sure I needed a guy who pursued Jesus with equal zeal … maybe a pastor or something? Sadly, this did not describe Tom with his casual, Presbyterian ways.
But we did get along well, so we remained friends over the years, discussing pop culture, seeing movies at the Chelsea and concerts at the Dean Dome. Tom was my airport ride, stayed at the office to keep me company if I had to work late, and after he graduated from UNC’s law school, he helped me with speeding tickets.
And I ... well, once I brought in his mail when he was away.
Anyway … flash forward to 2000 … I had decided, for adventure’s sake, to move to Asheville. And after a farewell dinner at that restaurant Michael Jordan used to have, Tom took me home and… instead of doing our normal friendly side-hug thing … HE KISSED ME ON THE LIPS!!! Well, my eyes popped open like a cartoon cat. I mean, really! The nerve!
I was too surprised to say anything out loud, though. I just went inside and kept packing … and then I moved.
So there I was surrounded by stunning mountain views, meeting new people, learning a new job, but truthfully … I couldn’t get that kiss – or him – out of my mind. And I didn’t have to. He continued to call and email and long-distance romance me until I was worn down to a nub of “yes.” Not that it took much by that point!
Dividing our time between Asheville and Chapel Hill, we continued to get to know one another in long hours spent talking. We found that besides having common interests, we were practically the same person in some respects – born to similar families, attending junior colleges, then UNC, where we even had the same favorite professor: historian Otis Graham. We loved our town, Bob Dylan, and cheap birthday cake.
The New York Times recently had a piece about a scientist who succeeded in making two people fall in love by having them ask and answer revealing questions about themselves, then stare into each other’s eyes. Well, I guess that’s what we were doing … just … over time.
As for marriage … it was pretty much inevitable from our first “real date” at The Weathervane – 13 years after we met. I honestly struggled with the idea of marriage. Still single at 39, I guess I almost regarded myself as some kind of nun or something… Was I forsaking God? Fortunately, the wisdom that comes with age also showed me that Tom and I share the same faith, but express it in different ways. So in the end, I followed the advice of everyone’s favorite marriage guru, St. Paul, who said “It’s better to marry than to burn.” (That kiss! Sigh.)
Following our modest wedding at the Chapel Hill Bible Church, I was happy to re-immerse myself into life as a Tar Heel. And here I am, and that’s my love story. What’s yours?
You can reach Julie Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org