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What Brought Me to the Islands?
You know what is crazy? That someday I would be changing my life forever after visiting this tiny island and setting the wheels in motion. Gazing out at this island 3 miles away, I would never imagine that in the future I would someday quit my corporate sales job, marry the woman of my dreams and buy a house on Put-in-Bay. Growing up in South Central Ohio, the islands were just not on my radar, and I do not ever remember hearing about this place. So about fifteen years ago, my best friend Robert talked about meeting for the weekend somewhere between Springfield, Ohio and Salamanca, New York. Since I had been to the island for the first time a couple of years earlier, I mentioned the place and coincidentally he had been talking with someone about their experience on the island.
The plan was hatched that we would travel there, joined by my Air Force buddy who had a boat and wanted to come as well. We are all set with a hotel, transportation to the island and great weather. The day arrives, I pull up in my convertible, dressed in a conservative suit and excited about just closing a large deal with a large company in Columbus. Off we go in my buddies’ boat, the weather was cool, it was June 8th to be exact. As most people know who visit this time of year, the water is still very cold and on that day we had 3 to 4 footers. We make it to the bay and are freezing, we go to Mossbacks for lunch and warm up, which will be to this day the best burger I have ever had, especially since I was shivering and very hungry. Anyway, we spend the next three days partying on my friends’ boat, which is parked at A dock, spending little time in the bars and meeting lots of people and having an amazing time. The weekend was mesmerizing and fell in love with the whole scene. When looking back, I can remember sitting on a park bench downtown feeling whimsical about leaving.
Fast forward a year, my buddy and I want to go back to Put-in-Bay and he was not that excited about spending the money for a hotel, so we ended up booking a campsite at the State Park. So the date comes, he takes his car overloaded for camping, as he is an accomplished camper, I arrive in my suit and tie, carrying just a sleeping bag. Robert laughs at me, of course, but thank goodness he was prepared. We get settled into the camp and the next morning we venture out with our coffee to see the town, and I have not mentioned that my buddy is a true social butterfly, he will talk to anyone no matter what. The morning is beautiful, and we walk around town, ending up where Harbor Square is now, and a little store called Freshwater Sensations. My buddy Robert, an accomplished social butterfly, spotted this beautiful woman in her shop unpacking the inventory that she would be selling. Robert walked in and I stayed behind sipping my coffee. Robert began his normal queries and banter, as Christie kept unpacking and looking at the new dresses that were folded and creased. Christie being used to tourists coming into her store and bugging her with questions, she handled my friend graciously. As I stood watching my friend as I have many time in the past, Christie called out to me that it was okay for me to enter the store with my coffee. This was the first time I met the woman that I would someday marry. After we talked a bit, we moved on and were on our way to find more people for my Robert to talk to. Looking back on that morning, my memories are of a very lovely woman who had changed into one of the new dresses from the package, deep creases in the dress and she wore no makeup. I remember an easy-going woman, who was friendly and polite to these two tourists. So off we went on our merry way.
The next morning as we walked around the town, Robert found some people to talk to and I decided to poke my head into Christie’s shop. As I came into the store, I was not sure if she remembered me from the day before or not, but she said hi all the same. Minutes later the phone rang, and that call changed my life forever. To summarize the call, Christie answered and the guy she was dating was breaking their date for the weekend. He was going to come to Put-in-Bay and something came up. Seeing that she was disappointed, I asked her what was wrong, and she told me. So, I invited her to come out with Robert and I for a beer at the Boardwalk when she closed her shop. She hesitantly agreed and we were set for our first beer. Later that evening, Christie showed up at the Boardwalk, sat down and the three of started talking and it was clear that Christie and I have more in common and Robert walked off to chase butterflies. He would tend to do that if he is not the center of attention, I can say that because he’s my best friend.
For the next three years Robert and I would come to the island for our getaway, and every year we would ask people if they knew where Christie the schoolteacher was working that summer. We did not know her last name, but we knew that it sounded Japanese or something. Each year we would find her and each year she would spend a little time with us, between working at the Goat, or Irving’s Deli, or running to her daughter’s birthday party. Christie and I remained summer friends for many years, and I always looked forward to seeing her for our brief conversations and catching up.
The summer Christie and I started dating caught us both by surprise, as we had been summer friends for many years and never thought that we would end up together, as she will point out. You know when you are just friends with someone, and they tell you stuff about them. Especially since they have no idea that someday you might live there.
Christie would say I baited and switched her, just like any fisherman, right? I began coming here in suit and tie, with a corporate job on the mainland. I would bring fresh bread and goodies from the mainland. Weekends were endless. Now look at me, smelling of walleye every day, driving a truck and wearing fishing shirts. So, yes bait and switch, but I would not change it for the world.
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