Maureen looked out the window again. She had lived for 37 years in four different states and never seen rain like this. The tall pine and eucalyptus trees danced to rumba music turned crazy. Below them, the Bay waters were rocking and rolling to a different beat, crashing against the beach two streets below her apartment built on a hill. The wind screeched as if blown out of the mouth of an angry giant.
Maureen shivered. Why had she ever moved to this bohemian state, thousands of miles away from her home base on the East Coast? California, her friends had warned her, was uncontrollable and wild and bizarre. The weather was proving them right.
She looked at her watch and walked to the mirror in the hallway, perusing her face anxiously. Six months earlier, unsatisfied with her job and bored with her social life, she joined a chat group on the web. Within a month she had three job offers and two marriage proposals.
One of the jobs was perfect for her: an assistant to the editor of a major “city living” type of magazine. Neither of the marriage proposals was taken seriously, but one of the chatters sounded familiar when discussing his childhood, his education, and his college experiences. On a whim, Maureen typed a message to him one late evening: Green Grocer – are you by any chance R. H.? R. H. responded immediately: Multi-MediaM – e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maureen and Robert, college sweethearts from their sophomore to senior years, had rediscovered each other. He lived in Santa Cruz, California and was a Marketing VP for a successful small chain of grocery stores. Her new job placed her near San Francisco.
The doorbell rang, and with the rain raging outside, the bell sounded as if it was 40 leagues under the sea. Maureen checked herself in the mirror once more – short, curly hair still mousy brown, now with a few added highlights, yellow-brown eyes still lively with some added crow’s feet to add interest, chin still too pointy and cheeks too round, but overall, she looked like the 20-year-old she had once been. She opened the door.
There was Rob, 16 years older, looking at her sheepishly. She wouldn’t have recognized him on a city street: he seemed taller, but stouter; his blue eyes were less troubled than the boy she had known; and he wore nicely pressed clothes. He had obviously parked his car on the street below and walked up the stairs to her front door, because his thinning sandy-brown hair was plastered on his head like wet cement.
“I look a fool,” were his first words. “Can you believe I’m this nervous about seeing an old girlfriend?”
“Watch the term “old,” fella,” Maureen replied, laughing.
“Well, are you going to invite me in?” Maureen noticed that Rob had that same wicked grin. She looked at him thoughtfully, then slowly took her shoes off, inhaled, and ran out the front door.
“It’s only fair that we start off equally,” she responded, as the rain ran rivulets down her head onto her face. She was soaked in a matter of seconds.
Rob walked over to her. “Maureen?”
“Wild and crazy California, here I am!” Maureen laughed.
Rob placed his arm around her. “I think I like the California Maureen,” he said softly into her wet ear. She noticed a neighbor lift a curtain and then let it drop.
“So do I!” she said, allowing the wind to push her further into Rob. “So do I.”