How My Circus Began

Life lesson #325,673,945 (yeah, I’ve had quite a few life lessons): If and when you marry, make sure you marry someone with a sense of humor and who makes you laugh. A lot.

So many people look at me and Vince (Oh! Character Introduction: he’s the guy who plays my husband in this chapter, and for the most part, every chapter, but the jury is still out on any future chapters in future books as I cannot make any promises. Sometimes… people get fired, written off, killed off, you know, it happens) and they see fairy-tale romance. But, if you look a weeeeeee bit closer, you’d see more of, well, um, more of an un-planned-this-was-not-my-idea circus. You never know what’s going to happen within any ring at any given time. You laugh, but I’m not kidding. And for the record, I’m not a fan of the circus, so perhaps that’s what makes this so crazy. Wait til you read about the clown at our wedding! For real. But really? Not gonna lie. Our life, I mean “circus”? It really IS pretty flippin fun! So you are in for a treat!

Until something happens.
And then it’s not so fun.
Until something ELSE happens.
And then it is again!
(Cue circus music). See? Circus.

So here. Here’s where it all started.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far on the other side of the cornfields, called Peotone (ahem. If you can’t hum a tune, pee-a-tone. That’s my only bit of stand-up, sorry), I met my guy. We will call him Vince because, well, that’s his name. We didn’t really MEET in the traditional sense – not at first. So let me ask you… WHO is the bigger loser – the one who PUTS the dating ad in the newspaper or the one who ANSWERS it? Now, I don’t mean “loser” in the actual sense because come on, I wrote a trilogy about kindness, I’m just being realistic, not everyone gets a trophy.

So the trophy winner here? Um, hello! Me. (Wait, what? THAT’S my trophy?)
I answered the ad. But in my defense, I answered it based on a dare. See this was waaaaaay before the “coolness” of any of those commercialized dating sites. THIS was on the back of a newspaper that housed all the GROCERY ads. We are talking BIG TIME people. This was the shiznit.

So, my friend – very strategically – said, “OK, Amy… where do YOU go to meet guys?” Now come on, that was hardly fair as SHE was an electrician and I worked in a school (not stereotyping, just going with the numbers) and I really only hung out at one place (I’m not that bar hopper that ya’ll are assuming, or even HOPING for. JUST because I like some cocktails DOESN’T MEAN that I hop from bar to bar to bar). That said, she DARED me.
ARE YOU KIDDING?
You DARE ME???
Are we 5???

(And for obvious reasons as you will see below, I did NOT do well at college parties.)

Fine. I pick…lalalala….THIS guy! (You know, because he sounded all cool and stuff.)
She said, “You can’t pick him! His ad says ‘European, French-speaking, musician, enjoys travel.’
I said, “Yeah! That’s why I LIKE him! Duh!”
She said, “He sounds like an idiot. European and French speaking? So he took French in high school and his great-great grandparents are from Europe! SO ARE YOURS! And when you put musician and enjoys travel together? Um, UN-EMPLOYED!!!!” ***
(***DISCLAIMER! Sorry if you are reading this and this was YOUR ad. I’m sure you are a very lovely person who now indeed has a job.)

Wow. My friend was so wise. How did she know that? I have to say, I was a little impressed.
Anyway… Next!
So, I call guy #2. His ad read, and I quote, “Model Citizen. Athletic, clean-cut, SWPM (single, white, professional male. Duh.) 28, 5’9, 165lbs, attractive, financially/emotionally secure, enjoys motorcycles, boats, comedy clubs, theaters, sports. Desires humorous, attractive, D/SWF, 21-36.

First of all, at that time, I thought it very strange that people had to advertise that they were “financially/emotionally secure” just to get a date. CLEARLY, I was NOT about to divulge that kind of information about myself.
Now, I will share with you that at the time? I was channeling my inner hippy. I was, shall we say, very “earthy”, a vegetarian, and trying to “find myself”, but what CAUGHT my eye was that he was “desiring” someone who was HUMOROUS. I looked over the “model citizen” part because I could hardly compete, but funny? HECK YEAH I was funny!
Ok. Let me call THIS guy -who, by the way LIED about his age and was 29 ALMOST 30 when he placed the ad! No biggie. Let’s not put him into the fire just yet. But THAT should’ve tipped me off.
So, I called him, left a message, he called me back, and that my friends, was the beginning of the circus. Now, he will tell you that, and I quote (in a super sarcastic voice), “Amy’s was the ONLY message I listened to.”
But SERIOUSLY? I’m pretty sure there were no other messages after mine. Sorry. I’m calling him out.

But whatever you want to call it? That was it. We met, we laughed, we laughed, and we laughed. Turns out, I really WAS that funny or he was so hard up for a date that he just laughed at anything I said. (And by the way, the current crow’s feet around my eyes will vouch for me. Damn! How many crows are ON my face???). Either way? We had a great time. And who knew that because of one dating ad from a police officer way the hell out in Elburn, and a teacher from down in the sticks Peotone, that we’d end up being pretty good together. Because at the end of the day? It’s been almost 20 years.

True story.
Good lord! That’s a long fricken circus!

But here’s the bigger lesson. This whole dating want ads thing? This is another reason I am CONVINCED we are on a certain path for a reason.

I met Vince via the telephone. We met in person several weeks later. We moved in together 4 months later. We got engaged 5 months after that. We married 8 months after that. August 2, 1998 (keeping up?). And here we are.
There was NO WAY our paths would’ve ever even crossed. I take that back… they did cross. Probably several times. This is crazy, but for a while, he worked security at a bar/night-club in the Chicago suburbs called The Alumni Club. That was a really fun bar that my friends and I would sometimes go to. That being said, I’m sure, since he worked the door, he checked my ID, took my money, stamped my hand, made sure I never got into fights… just kidding. I’m a crier not a fighter. And yet we never talked. But, do you see? What are the odds that he worked there of all places? And yet we didn’t meet until years later. The universe was trying to put us together even then and since he was not a “bar” guy and I loved going out, the universe made him work where I would be. Or so I tell myself.
My circus was planned long before I even knew I’d be joining it.

It’s true. Every person, every decision, every scene is either meant to provide an opportunity, teach us a lesson, or provide us as the teacher for someone else. When you look at life this way, it makes some things easier to accept, easier to stomach, and we learn to beat ourselves up just a little bit less.
When you take some time to look back on your life and walk backwards through it, you can start to connect the dots. It was pretty eye-opening for me, and explained quite a few things – both good and bad. But more importantly, it allowed me the focus to live with intention, knowing that, like it or not, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be; that I’m not on my path alone.

And you know what?
Neither are you.

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