In a way, my meeting Juliet was a fortunate fluke. It was one of those things that sometimes happens and then never leads to anything. I was very lucky that this time it did work out, that we found each other, and that Juliet refused to let me get away. (Juliet tells this story much better than I do. I'll just try to tell a little of it from my point of view.)

In the autumn of 1984, I was working as a petroleum geologist for an oil company in New Orleans. Needing a vacation, I decided to take the first week in November and fly north to New York City to see the museums and catch a few Broadway shows. I swear... that was it.  I wasn't looking to meet anyone. I was still — after a year — getting over the bad end to a long distance relationship and was just starting to think about (maybe) dating again. But, even so, I was looking to meet someone in New Orleans, not New York. I was not looking to meet any women on my vacation. Strange how life works.

I had known Lisa since high school back in Kentucky. She had gone to college in New York and had stayed on, working for a trade book publisher.  "Look, there's this woman here at work — Juliet — I think you would like her. Why don't the three of us have dinner tonight in Little Italy?" Perhaps Lisa thought I had taken too long getting over that other woman. Perhaps she even thought this was a match that had some potential. As for me... well, Reagan had been elected to his second term of office the night before and I needed a reason to not flee the country.  "Sure. What time?"

There we were, eating spaghetti in Little Italy. The waiter, a hulking gargantua in an off-white, stained t-shirt, spoke in grunts and seemed personally offended when we requested napkins with our meals. Juliet found this terribly amusing and I was amused by her amusement. We went to a different place for dessert.

After dinner, the three of us met Lisa's husband for drinks in Greenwich Village.  I tried to impress Juliet with my artistic ability by drawing on the tabletop.  Luckily, this was allowed and even encouraged at this particular bar, as each table came with crayons.  Needless to say, Juliet's feisty liberalism was in rare form that night and made quite the impression on me. "What a little fireball!" Conversation was easy and we laughed a lot. It was a good time.

When the evening was done, Juliet walked me through the Village to the subway station. I was going uptown; she was going downtown. As we were parting to go into the separate entrances to the different sides of the subway station, Juliet leaned up and kissed me goodbye on the cheek. It wasn't anything unusual. It's just one of those social grace sorts of things that people do. But I thought to myself, "That's nice. She didn't have to do that." And as we waited for our trains to come, we signed to each other across the tracks: Juliet on one platform using real sign language, and me on the other platform being goofy. The trains came and I thought I'd never see her again.

Lisa, on the other hand, was in a meddling mood. I had plans to meet her for lunch the next day. "So? What did you think of Juliet? Do you want her address?" By that time, Lisa and I had been corresponding for nine years, so she probably knew that I would jump at the opportunity to send and receive mail. Yes, I was interested. What was the risk in writing Juliet a letter and seeing if I could amuse her?

So, when I got back to New Orleans, I wrote a letter. Juliet and I began to correspond. After a couple of months of corresponding, Juliet got up the nerve to ask me to meet her for a weekend at Disney World. I said, "Yes." It was a great leap of faith for both of us — for Juliet to have invited me, for me to fly off and spend a weekend with someone I'd only seen and spoken to once. But the weekend was incredibly fun and easy. I think it was the elephant jokes on line at Epcot Center that cinched the relationship.

We fell into a long-distance relationship. Juliet came down to visit me in New Orleans and I went to New York to see her. The letters were still going back and forth, and now we were spending hours on the phone, talking about everything. After a while, it became clear that the relationship had promise, but that we would never know where it could really go without being in the same place together for a while. So, less than a year after we met, I flew up to New York, we rented a Ryder truck, and we moved Juliet from the familiar streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn to the oak-lined strangeness of New Orleans.

It was another leap of faith. I had never lived with anyone; in fact, by that time, I had been living on my own for 8 years and was nervous about sharing my space with anybody. Juliet had never lived more than a commuter train ride away from her mother and never in her own place.  And we only knew each other from letters, phone calls, and visits. This was real. This was 24 hours a day, "your stuff is sitting on my stuff", "who puts the toilet paper on the roll that way" craziness. Yet we adapted. Within a couple of months, we were getting comfortable. In a couple more months, we were talking about getting married. Despite Lisa's own shaky marriage, she had made a good match. Ten months after Juliet moved in with me in New Orleans, we were getting married in her mother's Long Island backyard.

Finding Juliet was the best thing that ever happened to me. I love her more and more. She's funny, intelligent, attractive — and having her around is a constant blessing for me. Any child is lucky to have Juliet as a teacher. Any child will be lucky to have Juliet as a mother.