Full Circle: How I Met My Wife
The day that changed my life for good

We met, like all great lovers do, on the eastbound platform of the Frankford El. Like any other anti-social college student, I stood at the very end, where the last car would pull in. There would be more empty seats and fewer strangers to deal with.

And then I saw her standing there — young and pretty, tall and sparkling — looking at me. I had no idea who she was. I had the blankest of stares on my face. She smiled and walked right at me.

“You’re Maury,” she said. I answered her with all the ease of a third grader taking a quantum physics exam. “Um, yeah,” I said.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” This was getting harder now.

“Well, you look familiar,” I said. No she didn’t.

“I’m Andi’s friend.”

Andi was my high school girlfriend who, like the jerk I could be, I dumped for a 19-year-old blonde.

“Oh, sure,” I said. “Now I remember. You’re Carol.”

Close. She gave me a half chuckle.

“I’m Susan.”

“Of course,” I said. “That’s what I meant. Susan.” This was going well.

By now, the train was pulling in. I signaled her to go ahead of me. She sat down at a window seat. I then made the most significant decision of my life. I sat down next to her. And for the next 45 minutes, we talked. About mutual friends, about the war, about which restaurant had the best cheesesteaks in Northeast Philly.

When it ended, and it had only just begun, I asked her which bus she took from Bridge Street.

“The 59B,” she said. “What do you take?”

“What a coincidence,” I said, “that’s my bus, too.”

No it wasn’t. I just didn’t want this to end so fast. In the 10 minutes it took to get to my stop, I grilled her.

“Are you still going with that guy?”

I had no idea what guy I meant. I didn’t know if there even was a guy. I just wanted to see if she was available. And she was. Not being able to think of a cool way to get her phone number, I went with geography.

“You live on Akron Street, right?”

“No, I’m on Horrocks. 6700.”

Bingo. And here’s my stop.

I was home alone this week. My parents had made a rare pilgrimage to Miami Beach to visit relatives.

When I walked in the door, I dropped my books and yanked the phone book out of the hall closet. She had a listed number.

Always the pinnacle of sophistication, I decided to wait a half hour before I called her. Didn’t want to look too desperate.

The phone call went well. She said she was glad to hear from me. Then I pushed the envelope and asked her if she had any plans that night, that night that was 4 hours away. I asked her if she liked basketball, because our school was playing at 7. She said she loved sports. Loved sports. And that was the moment I knew this was the girl I wanted to marry. She was only mildly confused when I brought her back to my house to watch the game on TV.

“Want to order pizza?” I asked.

“I already ate. But I’ll make something for you. What do you like?”

“PB&J,” I said.

She walked into the kitchen and made me the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I ever ate. This was Kismet. The next day, I took her with me to the airport to pick up my parents.

“This is my girlfriend, Susan,” I said, the minute they got off the plane. The look on my mother’s face was priceless. She had been gone only a week and my whole life had changed.

And decades later, through good times and tough times, loving times and The New York Times, like the people who pushed and piled onto the El train, we’re still standing.

April 2022
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