Friday, April 29, 2011

Long Hair Trajectory

One version of the story about the way I fell in love with my future husband goes like this: I fell in love with his painting first. I saw it on the wall of his brother’s house, when his brother Paul and I were college classmates together. It blew me away. Not just the orange hair and the purple scar leaking down a ghastly pale face, but the quote written along the sides: “Find someone with your fears and you’ve found someone to love ◊ Diamond God”

With Genesis blaring over the stereo speakers, I’d been goggling this masterpiece like I’d dropped acid when Paul came up to stand beside me.

“Who painted that?” I asked.

“My brother Dave.”

“Have I met him?”

“No, he dropped out of Calvin and moved to New York City.”

Desire kindled. Period. Never mind that when I actually met the artist, he impressed me as a witty, annoying brat. Within a year, I would marry him anyhow.

The second version of the story goes that I loved my future husband from afar, primarily because he had long hair.

Hold on, this was 1976, after all. When I moved from Ohio to Michigan to attend Calvin College, I arrived in hippie overalls, fresh from a liberal enclave in a southeast suburb of Cleveland. At Calvin, the strapping Dutchmen all over campus resembled Lenox boy figurines. I could count on one hand the guys on campus with long hair: Andy Abma, Peter Oppewall, and a third guy, who seemed pretty shy, but to whom I longed to be introduced.

Then one day, the third guy and I were walking toward one another, no one else around, in the quiet, carpeted hall of the Spoelhof Center. My dream come true. I remember the moment so well that, years later, I pointed out the spot to our son and daughter. “This is where I first laid eyes on your dad,” I would tell them. This third guy clunked past, with his long hair and beard, his plaid shirt, jeans and hiking boots. Inwardly, I swooned. But we merely nodded and passed by. After that first semester, I didn’t see him on campus again.

When I met the artist of the neon painting in person, he had a haircut acceptable for employment. It wasn't until a couple of years after we were married that I came across a picture of the long-haired version of him. Only then did I realize that my husband Dave and the long-haired Calvin dude were one and the same. My dream come true.