1996. The rehearsal dinner was finished, along with the obligatory toast highlighting all the embarrassing things that could be remembered about the groom. Anticipation chased it's partner adrenaline through my veins. In less than 24 hours, I would be waiting at the end of the aisle, her beauty reflecting off tears, dampening my eyes. For now, following tradition, we were separated until that moment.
Friends gathered round with fond wishes in the hotel room, ushering me over the threshold of a new chapter of life. Taking a break from the crowded festivities, my sister's boyfriend and I slipped out to walk through the drizzle toward the florescent white oasis of the gas station. Laughter mixed with contemplation, the intoxicating drink of the evening.
Tinkling bells announced our entrance, awakening the lone clerk from his drowsing. Setting aside the novel, that seconds before was about to slip from his hands, he stepped to the counter, watching our descent through the aisles toward the coolers.
Clatter arose, oppressively loud in such small a space, as we turned to watch a gun slide up the aisle toward the clerk. Hearts stopped as hands darted below the register, grasping offensive protection. Questions like "Where did that come from?" were replaced with visions of explaining my elopement to county custody.
Empty palms and cooler heads prevailed as my cohort showed his permit for the gun that had slipped from his waste band. Nervous snickers, as money slid across the counter to pay for the drinks, waiting to get outside and knock some sense into him. One moment/one choice can change the whole trajectory of your life, even when it is not yours.
Tomorrow we celebrate 13 wonderful years. Happy Anniversary!