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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Are you dead?"

It was a stormy, sultry night on the Space Coast of Florida. A few miles away an early autumn storm was tearing across the Atlantic as the humidity further inland pushed 100 percent. I was a freshman in college, a biologist surrounded by engineers, and living on the fourth floor of a seven-story co-ed dorm.

My roommate and I had just entered into a Cold War truce where we each pretended the other didn't exist. We were the cautionary tale of why you shouldn't lie on the roommate questionnaire. A recovering neat-freak and a slob who couldn't even agree on how to pronounce "Italy."

She was sitting in front of her unholy shrine of Mountain Dew (Always leaving the last inch in the bottle and collecting more green bottles until you couldn't see the floor! I have nightmares to this day!) and I was studying for a BIO 101 test when the fire alarm went off.

Our dorm was the one lovingly referred to as "The Death Trap" by natives. I wish I could say that it was all inspired by the fall the elevator repairman took the first day of school that left him in traction for six months, but we all know that's a lie. The dorm was a concrete monument to hurricane-proof-bad-design. Ugly, ominous, and with narrow passageways that made the psychology department's cheese maze look roomy.

I filed out with the rest and, like any 18-year-old far from home, went looking for some hottie to talk to. I'd spent the last six years of my life in the culturally isolated Rocky Mountains where there is nary an accent to be heard. Florida was a revelation, especially at a school that hosted such a large international population.

I loved talking to people from far flung countries whose accents brought to life a thousand stories of places I'd never seen. From Cockney slang, to the soft South African whispers, to the Caribbean. Mmmmm. I do love Caribbean accents.

My flavor of the week was a surfer from Trinidad named Ryan.

Don't ask me what his major was, I'm not sure we ever got that far. All I remember is ocean blue eyes, washboard abs, and an accent that could have made the calculus text book sound sexy.

I thought I saw Ryan lying down by a tree. I went over, kicked his foot, and asked, "Are you dead?" Expecting something along the lines of, "Yes! The lack of decent waves here sucked out my soul!"

Instead someone with a soft accent I've learned to identify with New York apple country said, "I was just looking at the stars. What are you doing?"

In the next six months we talked once, when I whistled to someone who I thought we my lab partner. He turned out to be a dark-eyed man from my chemistry class instead.

It took me a whole semester to learn his name, even though we had half our classes together. He lived two floors down, and his major was biological oceanography. Our first kiss was at a campus Mardi Gras party. We started dating the next week.

Nine years ago today, we were married in Orlando, Florida.

We've moved seven times, have three children, lived in separate countries for fifteen months, buried loved ones, met new friends, finished school (twice!), and created our own beautiful world that involves getting up at 2 am to watch storms (we did that last night), loving foods our parents will never touch, and doing things our way.

True love stories never have an ending.

Do you have a story of true love to share? Stop by the contest page and leave a comment for a chance to win CORDELIA'S HONOR.

Image of the beach wedding found HERE, used under FAIR USE rulings. What? You thought you'd actually get to see a picture of me? You silly darlings, you! It's never going to happen.


  1. Lianna...you have such a way with words. I love you posts.

  2. :o) Florida makes me poetic. The beaches are made for Latin dancing and long walks on the sand.

  3. Awwwwwwww. *wipes little tear from corner of eye.* Such an adorable love story.

    Tara Maya
    The Unfinished Song: Initiate

  4. Those ending words are absolutely fantastic. They're frameable.