She was wearing the pink sweater the first time I noticed her, 18 and gorgeous; curving, fuzzy lines, hypnotic shapes that have driven men forward and crazy for like, ever. She said the things we thought, had a word express running from her mind to her mouth, and she had the most beautiful, sad-looking, mischief-making eyes I’d ever seen, a magnificent, magnetic smile that sucked on my soul, a harsh Long Island sensibility and sardonic wild wit, soft and nimble hands – Jane was the production artist for the college newspaper. I’d walked in there, to the Suffolk Community College newspaper office, after a drunken six months at the University of Georgia, and I saw the rest of my life.
God, it feels almost lecherous to look at that small, small number – 18. But then, I was only 20. Even so, we’d already lived action-packed lives. Matter of fact, her nickname back then was Action Jane. We’d lived plenty for a couple of kids, and when we met, when we fell, our short past life looked like a century – how had we managed to survive in the world for so long without running into each other, without knowing each other?
So, we met and I wasn’t looking and neither was she. A fiery relationship went up in flames for me on the trip back to New York from Athens, Ga. When I dropped that girl off near Penn Station, it was for good. Jane was still involved with another guy, a fellow who helped her get over a pretty painful affair with an aggressive douchebag. Her boyfriend, Tom, was a guy I could learn to like.
But Jane had other plans. Namely, me. She didn’t love Tom – felt safe and normal, but didn’t feel love. Simon and Garfunkel were reuniting for a free concert in Central Park in late September. Our gang of young, ink-stained wretches decided to go. The plan was, Jane would pick me up at my house, and we’d meet our friends in Deer Park, take the train into the city. Turns out, she called every one of our friends and said, “find your own way.” She was spinning a web with room for just one more, and I was blissfully unaware, until we boarded the train, and she told me what she was up to. We never did hook up with our friends, though I’ve been hooked ever since.
We spent the night in a dorm room we borrowed from her friend at NYU. I called in sick to work the next day. And we spent the next three years looking for the perfect diner, going to concerts and midnight movies, driving through New York and New England, camping, ditching school for the beach – at any time of year – until we finally ditched it altogether.
On October 20, 1984, we got married. It’ll be 25 years tomorrow, and it is supposed to be a big anniversary. We respect that, Jane and I, but really we’re always up for any excuse to find a sitter (not easy at all) and eat a fancy meal made by someone else – the sort of together-time that we didn’t exactly take for granted way back when. We just took it easier.
Neither of us gets overly sentimental about dates on the calendar (would 25 years be as big a deal in a base-12 numeric system?), but there is real significance in the number. For example, it takes the sun 25 days to rotate on itself. More important to me, there are 25 letters in the sentence, “I love Jane forever and always.”