Jon (Jack) Waines – many things in this world slip by unnoticed
Couple’s Love Song: “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” – Louis Armstrong
Too many things in this world slip by unnoticed, but when I first met Jennifer it was impossible to miss the coincidences that led to our falling in love.
It all started with a murder trial. A Texas man was on vacation with his family in Colorado, his wife fell off a cliff, and he was accused of the crime. Jennifer was a reporter for the San Angelo Standard Times in Texas and her editors sent her to Colorado to cover the story because the man accused was a big name in the neighboring town of Wall, Texas. The first trial, which was held in Gunnison, ended in a mistrial. Every juror voted not guilty except for one who insisted this man had done it.
Later that year, a second trial was scheduled and the new location was Broomfield. A few months prior, I don’t mean to brag, but I had to move back into my mom’s basement in Broomfield. A short time after updating my address, I received a summons for jury duty and was mildly annoyed when I called the day before and was required to appear. Seven-hundred miles south, Jennifer was being informed that the paper had put together the money and she would be sent back to Colorado to cover the retrial.
On the selection day, I, along with the rest of the bored and irritated citizenry filled out the requisite paperwork and awaited the next step. The clerk arrived, collected everything and said that we would all be required to attend the jury selection. Much groaning ensued. An eternity of muffled coughing and awkward silence later and a different clerk arrived to inform us that this would be a murder trial and could potentially last two weeks. Now I’m interested. Sure the pay would be awful, but I’d never been called for jury duty and this could actually be interesting and important. When we arrived in the courtroom, the attorneys reviewed our documents, asked some general questions, and began the selection process. I was sitting in the second half of the second row. There were easily thirty people ahead of me and an additional twelve already sitting in the jury box. No way would they actually get to me.
Who knew the kind of weak reasons the judge would accept for excusal?! Everything ranging from, “I have a trip, I think,” to “I’m kind of sick,” to “Meh, I don’t want to do it and that will affect my judgement.” A couple hours and a wealth of excuses later, and I wound up as the last juror confirmed.
Then came the big day. As we made our way toward the courtroom, I noticed a beautiful young woman typing feverishly into a laptop while seated on the cold tile floor in the hallway. Everything about her was perfect, and I loved how at ease she was sitting on the floor typing away. I made a mental note that if I saw her when we took a break for lunch; I definitely needed to talk with her. As we entered, everyone in the courtroom rose, which was pretty cool actually, but I couldn’t stop thinking about her. The judge went through some general instructions and the opening statements began. Before we broke for lunch, a clerk arrived to give us special instructions. The only one that stuck out in my mind was, “The press cannot talk to you, and you cannot talk to the press. There are a few here already,” and she described them. Of course, one of the journalists matched the description of the woman on the laptop. Damn.
For two long weeks I walked past her every day and every single time had the thought, “I’m going to talk with you.” We didn’t even make eye contact. To her I was just the stubbly-faced juror that wore button down shirts. She was there to cover the trial. The trial ended and after two days in the deliberation room we were all exhausted. The judge thanked us for our service and said we could either go out the back and be escorted to our cars by the police, or we could go out the front but would be confronted by the swarm of press out there. Guess what I chose?
I practically kicked open the courtroom door and the first media person to approach me had a gorgeous smile and a firm handshake, “Hi, I’m Jennifer Rios with the San Angelo Standard Times. Is there any way you’d like to meet for an interview?” “Ab-so-lutely,” I replied. We exchanged phone numbers and met up the following day.
The interview was professional and lasted just over an hour. Having nothing else scheduled that evening; we hung out and got to know each other. I really liked her and the evening had gone very well, but due to the circumstances of the interview, when I walked her to her car I didn’t know if I should go for a hug or for a kiss. She answered for me and extended her hand to shake. I shook it and walked back to my car smiling ear to ear.
At both trials, Jennifer had become friends with Anne from NBC. Anne called a few of us to see if we’d like to be interviewed for an episode of Dateline. To discuss the upcoming interview, we all met at a restaurant nearby for dinner. Jennifer was there! Like a nervous kid in kindergarten, I sat next to her at the table and we all talked about what would happen for the Dateline interview. It was another great night, and after the meal, Anne, Jennifer, and I stayed late by the fire pit and shared stories.
I was hooked. I asked if she’d mind if I gave her a call during her trip home to cut down the monotony of the long drive. She agreed. The next night I called and she was on the road but put me on speakerphone and we spoke for hours. The conversation hit a lot of topics, and when I mentioned the Denver aquarium she said she’d never been to one. I promised that should she ever return to Colorado, I’d take her there. She laughed and agreed while thinking, “That’s sweet, but I’ll never come back to Colorado.”
We kept in touch; first texts, then calls, then calls that lasted all night. We were falling for each other. After months, she summoned her courage and came for a visit. We went to the aquarium. I visited her in Texas. She came back again. And I went back to Texas. All the while we kept in touch which made the many miles between us feel less distant. More visits. More long hours on the road. More freezing rain over Raton pass. It was all absolutely worth it.
After about a year and a half she decided to risk it all and come to Colorado to live with me. Her family was not happy, she’s the first member to leave Texas and they hadn’t even met me yet. Jennifer and I had talked about marriage, but agreed it was probably a long way off. The move-in date was set for August. On July 4th, 2015, I drove down there to meet her family. She was working on an assignment when I arrived so she gave me her key and said I should take a nap while she finished working. When she got home, I told her I had a gift for her waiting under my hat on her living room table. She smiled and went to retrieve it, asking me to stop buying her so many gifts as she walked back while untying the ribbon. When she got back to her room, she looked up from the empty box to see me on one knee holding a humble gold band. I couldn’t help it; this was the woman I had been looking for my entire life. She said yes!
We eloped at Sapphire Point in Dillon on August 13th the following year. Our families were displeased they weren’t invited but they understood how much we love each other and that money was tight since we had just bought a house. We told everyone that we would make it up to them by having a reception where they could all attend and celebrate with us.
In August of this year, we’ll celebrate our two-year anniversary but haven’t been able to keep that promise to our families, yet. We’re looking at venues and caterers for later this year but haven’t committed. Randomly, Jennifer was checking your website for updates about the renovation and she noticed this contest. I promised I’d enter us, so here I am. Thank you for the opportunity, and if you don’t choose to select us, I at least hope you enjoyed our tale. I know we do, and we enjoy every day together as we continue to write the story of our lives.