Posted: Sunday, February 03, 2013 6:25:20 PM
It's said that the chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time. Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces which we cannot control.
On my first day of high school in 1989, I walked into my fourth period class at Morgan Park High School. It was data processing, and I was fairly sure that I had picked the wrong class, seeing that I was the only freshman in a sea of upperclassmen. I decided I would drop the class during lunch and take something a little less intimidating (read: boring).
That thing called destiny showed up first. Just after the bell rang, this boy walked in, well dressed with a big smile on his face. I saw him and changed my mind instantly.
The boy turned out to be Marco -- a senior, popular with girls and a favorite among teachers. I was way too shy to talk to him, choosing instead to write a journal about my first year in high school, Needless to say, much of what I wrote was about him. I didn't seek him out; I waited to see him in class or by chance in the hallways or on campus. He tried talking to me a few times in class, but I couldn't find anything interesting to say, so I kept quiet. I either stuttered or nodded my head in agreement to anything he said.
Our worlds were a little different. He was clearly a jock, a bit arrogant with his letterman's jacket, collar pulled up high around his neck. I was a little darker, quiet, with a black trench coat, combat boots and short hair. Not exactly a winning combination.
The school year passed with very little meaningful interaction and before I knew it, he was graduating. It was my one and only chance to tell him something -- anything before he left school. I wrote him a note. In it, I told him about my crush, how he made me feel all year, the butterflies, wishing I found the courage to talk to him. At the end of the note, I gave him my number and wrote, "You have two weeks to call me. If I don't hear from you, I hope you have a great life."
Delivering the note was an even bigger challenge. He was always with his friends. But feeling the need to give him this note, I mustered the courage to call him over, wished him well on his graduation and gave him the note.
Two weeks went by. No call. It just wasn't meant to be.
I met Cyndi, his sister, in class the next year. I never asked her about him, but I heard her mention a few times that he was in the Navy.
Life went on.
No trumpets sound when the important decisions in your life are made. Destiny is made known silently.
After high school, Marco moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he went to school and became a FAA Air Traffic Controller while wrestling for the Navy. In 1991, he moved to south Texas where he continued working as an air traffic controller at a naval air base that trained pilots to fly attack aircraft. He was also a part of the police force and was chosen to be on President George Bush Sr.'s security detail. By this time he was also married.
In 1992, he moved his family to Jacksonville, Florida, where his son, Marco Antonio (Tony) was born in March 1994. Soon after his son's birth, he was sent to the island of Crete, Greece. While stationed there, he oversaw air operations and served as the American liaison to the Greek military. He also played baseball in Naples, Italy. Soon back in the States, he played semi pro football for the Chicago Chargers, a team that went undefeated in 1999, winning the American Football Association National Championship under Dennis McKinnon (Chicago Bears 1985 Superbowl Team).
Meanwhile, I also married and later had my first daughter, Caitlin, in 1996, followed by Julia in 1998. I worked the late shift, managing the newsroom for a news distribution and marketing company. Every night, I compiled a list of stories for the morning crew to follow up on, and I called my email "Early Edition". At the time, CBS aired a show by the same name, though I never watched it. I would find out later that Marco had a small acting role on the show at the time.
After a few appearances on TV, including a character role in a Spanish novela, Marco started several businesses, the most significant one in music management called M3 - Marcrod Music Management & DimeQue, Chicago's complete guide
to entertainment. He was one of the first managers on Chicago's spanish rock scene, often working through the night.
I always enjoyed learning, and I knew I had a few talents. In 2001, I started my own painting business. And when I purchased my first home a few months later, I caught the real estate bug and got my license. Everything about real estate fascinated me: scouting properties, mortgages, inspections. I loved it so much that I left one dream career for my new dream career as a full time real estate agent in 2006. My life soon filled with networking events and I marketed myself heavily in my neighborhood, volunteering for community events and activities, and serving as president of the school board at my daughters' school. I had my best year in 2007, and was named among the top 5% of IL agents in my company.
There is no such thing as chance and what seems to us a small accident springs forth the deepest source of destiny.
While I was having my highs, I also had my lows. Newly single, I joined a couple of high school reunion sites and built a profile for myself. I saw Marco's and read that he had a son. I sent him a brief hello. He responded soon after, saying that life had its ups and downs, but he was going strong and had much left to pursue. It was great to hear how well things had worked out for him.
By Spring of 2008, I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon. It was fun seeing old friends and re-connecting. I received an invitation for Marco's birthday but couldn't make it. A few months later, he sent me a message, innocently enough, asking how I was. We talked about life, work, our kids. One day, he suggested we meet to catch up. I was a little reluctant, not having been on a date in 17 years, but I went anyway. Call it destiny, call it chemistry. Whatever it was, was unquestionable. But, our timing still wasn't right for romance. Going through my divorce, he was a tremendous help in getting my financial house in order. It was good to have someone to talk to who had been through a divorce as well. A lot of where I am today is because of Marco. We also joined forces as business partners, opening up a web domain and hosting company called Little Marco Polo. We stayed on the phone often through the early hours, brainstorming and building our business. For the next three years, I ran the marketing end of the business he had started and worked on other marketing projects under the new M3 name, a full service media marketing company that offers websites, domains, marketing material, consulting and photography.
By 2011, our friendship took its first steps towards something more. He asked me to be his girlfriend on July 5th. I actually thought I already WAS his girlfriend! But I guess I didn't know he was supposed to ask me before it was "official." He has taught me much about patience and forgiveness, opened my eyes to music and culture. When he's not making me laugh, he's making me smile and appreciate every moment we spend together. Because of him, I love my family more. I love that he takes care of himself, respects himself and others, loves spending time with his son, and my girls. Not to mention he looks super hot in a baseball cap and a goatee.
Our patience will achieve more than our force.
When I was 14, I thought it was a little unfair that things didn't go the way I wanted with him. I didn't understand why I froze when he talked to me or why I couldn't find the courage to just talk to him. It didn't occur to me until we met again, that life had to happen first. All of his experiences and all of my experiences had to happen before we found each other again.
On December 9, 2012, under the pretense that we were meeting his sisters downtown for an afternoon at the Art Institute, Marco proposed. Except it was no ordinary proposal. As my daughters and I posed to take a picture, a song came on from behind me. I recognized it, but it took a minute for me to understand what was happening. As our family and friends joined the flash mob and danced in sync to Bruno Mars' "Marry You", I realized I wasn't dreaming! Seeing what he did to plan such an incredible surprise only underscores how great this guy is.
There are days even now when my phone rings, and I see his name on the screen, the butterflies in my stomach fly around and dance. I never thought I would see him again. I never imagined I would be his girlfriend one day, much less engaged to be married to him. We've talked about how we came to be, destined to be together after we had each lived our lives apart. We are each other’s biggest supporter. We have amazing kids, and we’re excited by all the things we’ll accomplish together.
And that's just how destiny, or life, or reason, is. We weren't perfect for each other 22 years ago, but we are perfect for each other now.
And on Sunday, May 25, 2014, we'll make that lifelong bond, forever