Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day: Falling in love.

I had been in love before I fell in love with Louella. I had been married twice  and was in love both times and I had also been in other relationships were I felt I was in love. In the past, I would date someone and over time feel affection and then feel I was in love. Also, to be perfectly honest, sometimes I think I could not separate love from lust. Also, I am not sure I could separate simple enjoyment of companionship and intimacy and desire not to be alone from love. With Louella I experienced something different. I experienced love in a flash.

After losing a good job because the company I worked for went out of business, I went through a period of unemployment and underemployment and was seeking any work I could find and got a part-time job as a field representative with the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS is the agency of the federal government that produces the Consumer Price Index, which measures price changes over time. The CPI is generally thought of as a measure of inflation. My job was to monitor and report the prices of items or services over time, of a market basket of goods that included everything from new cars, to funerals, wedding dresses, medical procedures, rent, tools, grocery items, clothing and several other things. The methodology for selecting the item and for substituting an item was very specific and complex.

As training for my new job, in May 1992 I had to go to a several-day training session in Annapolis, Virginia and it was there that I met Louella. She was one of the trainers in the class I was taking. I met her due to one of those silly ice-breaker games that you often have to play at events like that. At the start of the first day's session, everyone was asked to list on a piece of paper their favorite book, beverage and broadcaster, then the answers were read aloud and participants had to guess who the person was who provided that answer. I listed my favorite book as Atlas Shrugged and so did Louella. Atlas Shrugged is the novel  by Ayn Rand which lays out a philosophical argument for capitalism. I wanted to meet this other person who had also listed Atlas Shrugged as their favorite book. During a break we spoke and agreed to meet for drinks after class that evening.

We met after class and got to know each other and immediately liked each other and found we had a lot in common. Despite each of us listing Atlas Shrugged as our favorite book, neither of us were libertarians but each fairly mainstream conservative Republicans. Our drinks in the hotel lounge turned into several drinks and then dinner. We talked for hours. After dinner a band took over the lounge and the lounge filled with people partying. The music was extremely loud and appealing to neither of us and we still tried to carry on conversation by shouting in each others ear. We gave up after a while and I walked her back to her rooms and we shook hands and said goodnight.

I returned home after the training and over the next several weeks Louella and I emailed and talked often. Louella was the only person I had ever met who knew the same things I knew. Not only were our politics in alignment but Louella and I had read many of the same books and studied the same subjects. It was invigorating to meet someone I could actually talk to about important things. We also engage in a lot of good natured arguing. It is fun to argue with someone with whom you are in basic agreement, playing the devil’s advocate. It is like a game of chess and strengthens your reasoning skills. Louella could hold her own. Not only did we share the same political philosophy but we shared an appreciation of so many other things. We both liked travel and art and architecture and good food and wine and found humor in the same things and had read much of the same literature that was not political. I looked forward to our email exchanges and conversations. I think we were both hungry for someone that understood us and to whom we could relate.

A couple months after first meeting Louella, I returned to the Washington area for part two of my training. This training was in Baltimore Maryland and was for two weeks. Louella and I spend a lot of time together and we got to know each other better and had lunch and dinner together several times.

I fell in love in a little mini park in Baltimore. It was a long time ago and I don’t recall clearly the setting, but it seems it was in a park no larger than a single building lot. I don’t recall if there was a fountain or not but it seems there was, but I know if was a pretty setting with meandering brick paths and nice landscaping and benches.

We were sitting on a park bench and Louella was telling me about her experience of watching a bull fight on a trip she had taken to Spain. She described the pageantry leading up to the actual fight. She described the matador as being graceful and handsome and his movements almost like that a of ballet dancer. And she described the powerfulness of the bull and how it snorted and pawed the ground. She said she knew the bull would be killed and she wanted to look away but could not. She said she was both attracted to the spectacle and repulsed at the same time. As she told me about this experience, she was animated and expressive and intense.

While watching her tell me of her experience watching the bull fight, I was listening intently and taking in what she was telling me but part of me was also watching her as she told me of the experience. While I was listening to what she was saying, I was also thinking how pretty she was and how much I liked her and how special I thought she was and I wanted to take her and hold her and never let her go. I remember saying silently to myself, “I could love this women.” I was not looking for a relationship and had pretty much given up on love, but it happened and it happened in that instant.

If you were to represent what happened, it was at that monument that cupid pulled back his bow string and let loose and I was smitten and fell in love.

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