how i found you

How I Found: Amy
February 13, 2009, 3:22 am
Filed under: my wife

Amy and I either met in pre-Algebra class in seventh grade, or we met one boozy summer night while dancing at a nightclub in Santa Fe.

We were different ages at each of these meetings, of course. And yet I’ll argue that both of them are accurate.

She was one of the first people I met in Santa Fe when my dad retired from the Marine Corps in 1984. I was twelve years old. My family had left San Diego, that heavenly beach town, and by comparison, the New Mexico desert looked about as appealing as a dirt sandwich. Yes, we blamed my dad. That’s what kids do. But meeting Amy and her quirky friends made things bearable. The dirt sandwich might even be interesting, I started to think.

When I say we met while dancing, I mean that we each happened to be dancing alone and coincidentally saw each other on the dance floor, then started dancing together, laughing about our ridiculous moves. Without exchanging many words, we picked up a friendship that had faded during the social gauntlet that is high school. She would be transferring to my school in August, she said. I suggested she look me up once she settled in. It’s a nice thing to say to people. It’s reassuring. So I was surprised when she did call.

Of course our time together hasn’t always been as simple as our initial days of polynomial multiplication and cheap beer on Saturday nights. For a few weeks while we were teaching in South Korea in the mid-1990s, I truly believed she was going to leave me. That was terrifying. We were very young and newly married and living in an unfamiliar country in an apartment with two cynical fifty-year-old American bachelors (fellow teachers)—it’s understandable, perhaps, that Amy and I couldn’t figure out how to talk ourselves into believing everything would work out well.

And there was a day in Udaipur, India, when Amy and I spent the day wandering the city separately. One of us got lost and couldn’t find the way back to the hotel at the agreed upon time. We’d been traveling together for five months at that point, having eaten hundreds of meals together, never spending a night apart. I’d gotten sweaty and nervous without her, thinking about all kinds of trouble she might get into. So when she walked into the hotel lobby that evening, it felt like I was reuniting with her, meeting her for the first time all over again. I made her hold my hand for hours after that.

I’m constantly meeting Amy over and over again. It feels like a Charlie Kaufman script. Each time there’s a new surprise, something else to learn. For example, it felt as though I met her again today while I sat in the lobby of my dentist’s office. While waiting for the receptionist to call my name, I passed the time by browsing photos on my phone. And boom! I discovered her anew through random snapshots taken over the last four months. I felt a deep sense of good luck to be in some of those pictures with that woman.

And tonight, when I go to bed, I’ll smile, thinking about how I’ll meet Amy again in the morning. Both a new Amy and the old Amy. And for that I’ll be ultimately thankful.

Albert E. Martinez grew up in Southern California and Northern New Mexico. During the mid-90s he taught English in South Korea, traveled throughout Southeast Asia, and spent a winter in a drafty apartment in Mojacar, a tiny pueblo on the Andalucian coast of Spain. In 2004 he graduated from New Mexico State University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Best New American Voices 2006, Gulf Coast, Nerve Magazine, Lost Magazine and Freight Stories. A recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and New Mexico State University, he lives in the Berkeley area.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Beautiful, Al. I just fell in love with you both!

Comment by Aletha

I’m glad that Amy is truly a woman ingrained in your heart, mind and everyday thoughts as you are in hers.

Comment by Julie

amy and al….i felt like i got to meet you over again through this story…i still love you both.

Comment by mia

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