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  • Writer's pictureKristen Rocco

"When Paula Met Steve"

The best part of my job as a professional love storyteller is inspiring others to think about and honor their love stories. I got an email from my Aunt Paula with a beautiful written account of how she met my uncle one sunny Seattle day.

Please enjoy, "When Paula Met Steve," written by Paula Cipolla.

It all started at a deserted wooden park bench, eyeing the natural beauty of Green Lake at sunset where I sat unwinding after exercise. The chatter of skaters, bicyclists, walkers, and strollers, mingled with the whir of wheels buzzing by like swarms of busy bees. Facing west, sunlight pressuring towards the skyline reflected on the jaws of the encroaching lake, settled warmly upon my face.

A runner sat down at the opposite end of the bench, leveled a styrofoam container on top of his knees and opened the clamshell, the wonderful aroma of Asian food, along with the impression that he didn’t seem like a weirdo, encouraged me vocally. “That smells good!” “Want some?” “Uhhhh… no.”

Maybe ten minutes passed in which I learned he was from Wisconsin, recently moved to Seattle, was an avid runner, lived in an apartment without a shower near the Seattle Center, thus causing him to make trips to Green Lake to shower. We exchanged names then said goodbye with a comment that if you frequently run here, most folks come here habitually, and perhaps we’d see each other again. The thought of Steve passed almost as quickly as my distancing figure.

I had decided to go see the double feature thrillers, “Half Moon Street” and “The Morning After” at the Neptune 15 days later. I raced after work to arrive just in time for the start of the first show. My duffle bag flung over my shoulder, harbored my work clothes and my dinner, a simple sandwich. At the end of the first feature, I deliberated bringing my duffle with me to the restroom or trusting one of a half dozen moviegoers. Tapping the shoulder of one nearest to me a few rows up on the aisle, I asked if he’d watch my stuff, consoled by the thought that the most he could run off with would be my business clothes and my sandwich. Returning several minutes later, the house lights on, the guy stood up and faced me. Whoa! It was Steve!

(Pont du Gard, France)

He remembered meeting at the lake. A few words, then, that awkward silence of what to say next. “Do you want to join me?” I asked finally. “Come and sit with me,” he said. He moved his duffle bag and we watched the second movie. I recall he chatted rather a lot during the movie, to which I had to shush him a few times. Later, we went to The Brooklyn Café where we shared pie a la mode and listened to those brave souls stand in front of an audience at open mic night.

He’d call me sometimes during the work day identifying himself as “Dr Albright.” How odd! He was harmless enough and quite a friendly fellow although I wondered about his attempts at getting together, usually spontaneous. For example, one Friday afternoon he called to ask about going out that very night. “What the hey?” I thought. “Well, I’m going to the Fremont Fun Run. You can meet me there if you want.”

(York, England)

Not giving it another thought until I heard a voice call out to me as I approached the finish line, “good job, Paula!” Yep, he actually showed up! Yes, he’d found me in the throngs. And, even more oddly, we found each other at the finish line, where we ran into a friend of mine, coincidentally, a friend of his… from Wisconsin! Too many coincidences?? Afterwards, I invited him to go for pizza at Olympia Pizza where I was meeting another friend. “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to get in the way with you meeting this guy.” “No, Joe is a friend.” So, Steve joined us and became a regular part of my life (and a good friend of Joe’s!). He began running with the same running club as me at Green Lake, then we’d find some activities to do together.

Over time, he rather grew on me. There was so much to like! Then, as it happened, along came one day, when, like the proverbial ton of bricks, or was it a love bird pooping on my head (?) jolted a realization: “I really like this guy! Seriously, like this guy!”

(Masquerade Ball, Seattle)

In May, exactly one year after we met at the theater, we became engaged. Exactly one year later, in May, we married. And, that was 27 years ago, this upcoming May!




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