Today was one of the most interesting and fateful days I've experienced in a long time - maybe ever.
It all started with a fountain.
If you've read the previous post of mine on here, where I talked about how dark and dismal our apartment is, then the following requires no explanation. However, if you haven't read that post and need a caveat, I'll be brief:
We hate our apartment.
In order to remedy our disdain for our living quarters and liven the place up a bit, I came up with a decorative idea of transforming our living room into an indoor garden oasis. I spent a full day mulling over the internet looking for ideas and cheap products to aid in this project.
I found and bought LED icicle curtain lights, ivy branches, artificial flower garlands, and a wood-scape shower curtain. I had/have other plans for more decor in the DIY department, including a mirror window and a "pond" made out of a blue rug surrounded by fake stones.
But what I thought would really set the vibe would be a fountain.
I searched for hours on Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist for inexpensive tabletop fountains that had the right combination of look, cost, and quality. But nothing seemed to be right - quality, appearance, or price-wise.
Then I finally happened across one that was PERFECT. It was a Craigslist listing in a town I'd never heard of (but turned out to not be too far away). The fountain they were selling was a good size (4 feet tall), looked beautiful (exactly what I'd had in mind), and the price was right ($25).
I replied to the post right away, but honestly didn't get my hopes up because the posting was over two weeks old. I figured something that nice for that price would surely be long-gone by now. A few days went by without hearing back about it, so I assumed it was a lost cause and decided to give up the fountain search until a later date.
Then, a couple days ago, I got the pleasant surprise of an email reply saying that the fountain was still available and asking when I could come pick it up. I was very happy about this and set up a time for the next day (Saturday). When Saturday came, I hadn't slept properly during the night and was in no condition to go out and about. In fact, I ended up taking a decent nap in the middle of the day, so I emailed and asked if the next day (Sunday) would be ok. They said it would be fine, and provided a phone number to call when we were on our way.
Originally, we had arranged to pick up the fountain at 3pm, but my boyfriend and I got an early start today (Sunday), and ended up arriving around 1pm. The phone number that was given in the email was incorrect, and today's emails hadn't been responded to, so we had no choice but to just show up and knock on the door of the address provided.
The address was in the most amazing neighborhood either of us had ever seen. It seemed directly out of a fairy tale - an idyllic community with inviting homes on quaint streets, biking trails lined with lamp posts - all framed in a picturesque backdrop of hundreds of willow trees.
When we reached the house, we rang the doorbell nervously, hoping we weren't inconveniencing anyone by being early, and not knowing what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised when a kind older lady with short red hair answered the door with a smile.
"We're here about the fountain," my boyfriend offered.
The lady nodded, opened the door, and gestured for us to step inside. She introduced herself as "Nina" and shook our hands. Her husband appeared behind her a moment later - a stout older gentleman with short grey hair and glasses, dressed in a plaid robe. "I just got out of the shower," he explained, acknowledging his attire with a chuckle. His name was Joe.
First, it was a pretty standard exchange of conversation, mostly about the fountain in question - how it worked, how long they'd had it, why they were selling, etc. As it turned out, the fountain was one of many things in their home they were selling, because they were planning to sell their house soon and move to a different state to be closer to their children.
As the couple elaborated more about their situation, my boyfriend and I listened with intrigue. Apparently, the couple had been childhood sweethearts (they starting dating when they were 11 and 12 years old!), but hadn't actually gotten married until 13 years ago. They revealed that they had been together for seven years as kids, but then went on to marry other people and relocate all over the country, and even out of the country, over the following years.
Three months after Joe had gotten married to his first wife they were visiting New York City and happened to get on an elevator in a building at the same time Nina also happened to be in New York - getting on the same elevator at the same time. Joe introduced the two women and Nina was visibly upset at seeing Joe with his new wife. After the brief encounter, Joe said that his wife at the time told him, "That woman really loves you."
Joe and Nina didn't see each other again for another 42 years.
As Joe told his portion of the story, he stated that on their 42nd wedding anniversary - to the date - he was in court dealing with divorce papers. His wife inexplicably wanted a divorce and there was nothing he could do to hold her, so it happened. Joe said that he said a prayer to God, saying that he was a family man and didn't think he could stand to be alone. He told a family member this - and the family member happened to know that Nina's husband had passed away a year prior and told Joe about it. Joe asked if he could have Nina's phone number.
As Nina told the story from her perspective, she said that after it had been a year since her first husband had passed away, she forlornly walked into her empty bedroom one night, dropped to her knees, and prayed to God that she would find love again. She prayed to find a man who really loved her, and whom she really loved, also.
Ten days later, she got a phone call from Joe.
Nina said that Joe was proposing to her when he still had six months before his divorce was even finalized. My boyfriend and I shared a laugh with the couple about the fateful timing of their situations, and remarked about how happy they are together - agreeing that it was nothing short of fate. The couple are now 76 and 77 years old, and are the sweetest most genuine people I've ever met. And they are truly happy together and very much in love.
Mike (my boyfriend) and I were astounded because he and I share an equally fantastic fate-guided story, and this couple kept remarking about how they could tell he and I were meant to be together. They even thought we were already married, and even after we corrected them with blushing chuckles, they still continued to refer to me as Mike's "wife", and to Mike as my "hubby".
At that point, we split into pairs - I with Nina, and Mike with Joe - as they each gave us a personal tour of their home, telling us the stories behind their decorations, family photos, and furniture.
It was truly an enjoyable experience as I followed Nina through the lavish four-bedroom, three-bathroom house and shared in the joy of her recounts. She told me about when she made the curtains for the sitting room, how she pulled the weeds from the back patio, and as we passed through the kitchen she quipped about her wayward microwave that made a buzzing noise when it ran, which she jokingly labeled as "microwave arthritis".
Meanwhile, Joe was giving Mike the tour of his handyman work throughout the house. He'd built a tool rack for the garage, carved out the nook where the fountain was - and added the electrical wiring to that area - and built the decorative molding and curtain rods all around the home.
When we all reconvened in the sitting room, Nina hustled into the kitchen and announced that she was making coffee for us. Mike and I took a seat in a comfortable over-stuffed loved seat across from the sofa that Joe sat on. Joe proceeded to talk to us about Bible passages and how they applied to our lives, and how God works to bring people together, and that in order to live a full happy life of love you need to share that love with Jesus.
Being a Christian my whole life, I nodded along knowingly and even contributed to the Bible passages as he quoted ones I was familiar with. Mike was enjoying the conversation in his own way, as he knows a lot about religious practices and loves to learn more - as well as being a fan of Christian fellowship, though he doesn't necessarily subscribe to the full religious practices.
The conversation was also quite an interesting coincidence, because Mike and I had been discussing finding a church to start attending because we both love fellowship, and are trying to bring more positivity into our lives to grow more together as a couple. And here we were - on a Sunday afternoon, engaging in fellowship and relationship advice, with two positive and amazing people who accepted us into their home, not knowing us from Adam.
A few minutes later, Nina returned with a silver tea tray laid out with four matching green coffee mugs, four silver spoons each on a folded napkin, a sugar bowl, and a white ceramic coffee creamer. "Now, this is really strong coffee," she warned as she poured some cream into my mug. "It's Columbian, so you might need a little extra cream and sugar."
Mike and I both smiled as we doctored our coffees to our liking. "Don't worry," I replied. "We're coffee fanatics and I'm sure we will love it." And love it, we did! Mike could tell right away that it was fresh-ground coffee as opposed to packaged. "Yes! I just ground it just now!" Nina seemed delighted that he'd noticed such a detail, and I was also impressed that he'd noticed.
The coffee was absolutely delicious and Mike remarked that we should get our own coffee grinder, but specifying that he would prefer manual over electric. I smiled politely and silently nodded with amusement, keeping to myself that a manual coffee grinder I'd ordered just two days ago for Mike's Christmas gift was already on its way.
As Nina took a seat next to her husband, the four of us sipped our coffee and continued to talk. We talked about our families, our spiritual beliefs, and our futures. They said it was odd that they were even home when we came, because they usually weren't - that on Sundays they normally go to Tampa (where we live...), but they hadn't today because they were too tired. We all smiled and shook our heads at the coincidences that kept piling up (including the fact that Nina made mention that her birthday is June 19th - which also happens to be Mike's and my anniversary).
We spent another two hours in the company of this marvelous couple before we decided to part ways for the day.
Nina announced that we'd made their day, and Mike and I responded with a simultaneous burst of "YOU'VE made OUR day!" We all laughed and hugged and agreed to visit again. Before we left, we exchanged phone numbers, offered to come help them with moving or packing, and were invited back anytime - including at Christmas to meet their family.
We'd come for a fountain and we left with friends - all because I spent hours looking for the perfect addition to a room I wanted to change in the apartment we're unhappy with. It's strange how things happen, and we eagerly await where else this fateful meeting may lead and what it might have in store for us.