Thirteen years ago, I had the odd occasion to interview a bright young woman. She was young and single at the time and very personable. At one point in the interview, I asked her what her plan for the future was and she said she was going to get married and have 6 kids.
She was a college student, probably 19-21 years old, and she seemed in earnest with her answer. I had been present for the birth of my firstborn about 18 months prior and had this vision in my mind of (I don’t know why, it’s how my mind works) this young woman hunched over while the doctor gave her an epidural. Maybe because that was such a stark image from my own experience: watching them put a needle in my wife that was so long it looked like it could come out the other side and, as they fiddled around to get it right where it was supposed to go in the spinal column, her asking, “Are they doing anything?” I’m still blown away by the idea that my wife couldn’t feel that rapier in her back!
Anyway, I ran into the same young woman about two years later at a convention in Tulsa. She was a senior in college, then, and preparing to go off and get a Masters Degree in family counciling. I had just moved to a new church and we talked for quite a while about how great it would be if the church could grow to the point where we could hire a full-time marriage and family councilor. She was enthused about the idea. I asked her if she still planned on having 6 kids and she assured me she was. I asked her if she had a husband in mind, and she just laughed that she hadn’t found him, yet.
Flash forward another year or two and I ran into her at another convention, this one in Longmont, Colorado. Granted, I didn’t realize it was her at first. She actually spotted me. She was (and I say this with an unblemished record as a faithful and loving husband) one of the prettiest women I had ever seen. I don’t know that she had done anything in the ensuing years to her looks, but maybe it was just moving from 20 to 25 that changed her from attractive to knockout. We visited for quite a while and I learned that she had finished her Master’s and was debating about whether to go into a practice of some kind or go for a doctorate. Sadly, I had to tell her that the church I was at still wasn’t ready to hire anyone (and–though I didn’t know it at the time–would close a couple months later [against my will]). She told me she was still looking for Mr. Right and still planned on having a bevy of kids.
After that meeting, I wound up naming one of my characters after her (though I’m not going to tell you which one). The character doesn’t look or act like her in any noticeable way, I just thought she had a cool name.
Flash forward to this week. I was doing some work with the character in question and suddenly remembered that she had been named after a real person. I went on Facebook and started typing in the first name–as I couldn’t remember the last name. Ever type in a name on Facebook–thinking it’s an odd name–and get 50+ possible hits? I hadn’t even finished spelling this woman’s name and up she pops. Apparently, FB only has two people in their database with that first name.
I noticed that the last name she had listed was the one I vaguely remembered from before. She had no hyphenated last name added on like most of the girls (women now) I went to high school with. I clicked on her face and went to her Facebook page. She looked pretty much like what I remembered, still pretty and smiling. But I’ve been a little depressed about it all since then because there was no listing or mention of a husband or kids. Pretty much all the women I know on Facebook have pics of their kids and significant others, if they have them. She had pictures of flowers and a pet.
So now, the author and people-watcher (read: nosey) in me can’t help but concoct stories about why this beautiful young woman who wanted nothing so much as a houseful of kids is now in her middle-thirties and–as far as I can tell–doesn’t have kids or a spouse. Did she maybe marry and divorce? Did she fall in love with a man who dumped her (moron!) or maybe he was a soldier and died in Iraq? Maybe–and I don’t like this option–she studied so much about disfunctional marriages and families that she soured on the idea.
“Why don’t you just friend her on Facebook and ask her all these questions?” you may be wondering. Put yourself in her shoes. Would you accept a friend request from a man you barely met 13 years ago but would appear to have tracked you down? My only hope is that someday she’ll manage to read the work in which I used her name and she’ll email the author, asking something like, “Are you that guy with the little blonde-haired boy I met way back when at a church camp in Oklahoma?”