In 2002, I lived in Harlaxton Manor in the United Kingdom. In 2003, I made my triumphant return to Stateside.
I’d made the Dean’s list. I was Gandalf at the costume ball. My fiction won applause at open mic night. My music won applause at the talent show. All the girls said they’d miss me.
I celebrated my homecoming by securing the worst job of my life, worse than my brief attempt in the military, worse than my year as Detention officer, worse than using cat litter to soak up liquid detergent.
I knew none of that. I had my first apartment, my first pager. My first private bathroom. From now on, my tuition was paid; no more loans. It would take me longer to finish school, but I was in no hurry. Life was good.
And I had determined never to date another woman for as long as I lived.
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Jason and Megan, 2008
I never gave Megan an engagement ring or technically asked her to marry me.
When I worked for the Sheriff’s department, Megan found a ring she liked and called me at work. The ring was on sale because the store was going out of business. The store was open for one more day…for 8 hours in the middle of my 12-hour shift. I couldn’t come see the ring or buy it for her out of custom. Either she bought, it or waited for another she liked.
Megan assured me:
- We could afford the ring.
- She liked it.
- She had no misgivings.
Mobile phones don’t work inside Orange County Jail (Hillsborough). Calls from the Missus were taken at the front desk, a huge office separated into “behind” and “out front” by huge metal bars — the same ones that demarcated cells. The room was part office, part break room for everyone working “up top” (the front half of the jail).
My half of the conversation was plainly audible.
After hanging up, I turned to my fellow officers and said, “Guess I’m getting married.”
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