I thought she was a babe. She thought I was intense. I don’t even remember if she introduced herself. I just knew I wanted to know who the red-headed, freckle-faced, blue-eyed babe was standing behind her friend who was in my way. That was in 2003. I was so enamored in that moment that it took me a whole 3 years to screw up the courage to approach her, and even then it wasn’t all my initiative. I mean at heart all men are cowards, we just aren’t willing to admit that sometimes.
Part of the problem was distance. I lived in NYC she lived in Orlando. Distances tend to hamper intimacy, and this was definitely in my mind. But I came across a rumor in the Fall of 2005 that the babe-alicious red-head was interested in the arts project I helped direct for college students during the summer. This was awesome – I had my opportunity. Or at least I thought I did. That winter on a providential trip to Florida I contacted Sarah and made myself available for a “business meeting”; after all there were obviously questions to be answered. What better person to do that for the red-headed, freckle-faced, blue-eyed babe than a director of the project, right?
We had a good time that night…at least I thought so. I waited the commensurate number of days before I contacted her through email not to appear TOO anxious or TOO indifferent. To this day I never got a reply to that email. So a month later I sent another one – just to make sure the other wasn’t “lost” somehow in the “digital sea”. To this day I never got a reply to that email. I got the message – NOT interested.
I was mature and adult enough to discern that there was not going to be any more open doors from the red-headed, freckle-faced, blue-eyed babe. Later that spring at an arts gathering we both attended in Los Angeles I decided to do that adult thing and not avoid her – I approached her to at least say “hello”. But before I could get the words out she burst out firmly;
“I know I know I know…I owe you an email.”
“Well, yes, but…hello”
We chatted for a few moments with nothing spectacular happening except the indirect communication that there were no hard feelings. We left as positive acquaintances. I had no intentions to initiate any more.
When the summer came around the staff for the project arrived early in New York. This was done in order to brief them on needed issues before the college students arrived. One of the ways we got the “out-of-towners” used to the city and riding the subway was sending them out in teams for a photo scavenger hunt – and making it a competition. Along with the teams we sent New Yorkers who had lived in the city for a time just to make sure they didn’t end up in Yonkers. I was assigned to Sarah’s team. To this day we aren’t sure if that was arranged by a friend, but I certainly did not purposely choose to be on her team. We were merely positive acquaintances. I still had no intentions to ask her out. But I had a job to do – city tour guide – and as would be the case I tended to be at the front of the traveling team to make sure people were going in the right direction.
A personality trait that was revealed to me that day in Sarah was her competitive spirit and strength of will – she wanted to win. So, she too was at the front of the group, with the list of things to get pics of urging her teammates forward.
On one transition from the upper east side of Central Park we had to make our way to the Egyptian obelisk behind the Met, which meant walking around the north side of the museum. On that side is the glass enclosed “Egyptian wing” with its architecturally placed buildings from a dig in Egypt. It was also the scene of that very famous moment in “When Harry met Sally” when Harry (played by Billy Crystal) mimics a funny voice to Sally (played by Meg Ryan) and says “Waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash…” As we passed this part of the Met I said that line out loud as I remembered the silly moment in the movie. In that scene the next line Harry mimics is “…but I’d be proud to partake of your pecan piiiiiiiiieee.” Which was what Sarah herself mimicked in response.
I decided in that moment that I would ask her out again. Sixteen months later Sarah became my wife.
This week the world became a little less romantic, a little less funny, a little less sentimental and wise. We’ll miss you Norah Ephron!