July had always been my favorite month, but July 2004 changed all that. I’d been married two years and was headed toward Splitsville. One minute I was daydreaming about buying our first home together and thinking of baby names, and the next I was looking for an apartment to rent and divvying up our wedding china.
August couldn’t come soon enough. In fact, I was scheduled to start a great new executive job at a non-profit in August and couldn’t wait. Then the call came in asking me to start earlier. Actually, the very next afternoon. Twenty-four hours before my move. How could I tell my new boss “no”? So, the next day, I said goodbye to my then-husband for the last time, knowing I would never see him again. He had agreed to leave town that day to allow me to continue packing and move the following day. It was the nicest thing he’d done for me in a while.
A few minutes later, the phone rang. I figured it was him, calling to say he regretted everything. That he would change. That he didn’t want to throw it all away after all. It wasn’t.
It was the local jeweler reminding me I’d dropped off a charm to be inscribed with my initials. It would be ready for pick-up in a few hours. He wanted to confirm the order of my initials. Since I wouldn’t need those initials anymore, I asked if he would engrave that day’s date on it, 7/29/04, instead.
When I arrived at the store and handed him my receipt, he smiled and asked, “Would you like your necklace in a box or to wear it?”
“Wear it,” I said emphatically, as if I was giving myself an order.
“Alright then, let me help you,” he said as he began putting it around my neck. Then, speaking to my image in the mirror, he said “ What does this mean, this date? Are you celebrating something?”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I said directly into the mirror at my own reflection, “Actually, today just happens to be the worst day of my life, and I always want to remember it. This way, in the future when I’m upset about something stupid, I can remind myself it’s not half as bad as today was.”
Needless to say, when I went to pay, he waved my hand away and said, “No, no money. No charge, Lady. I thanked him and left, wearing the worst day of my life on a silver chain around my neck. Then I took a deep breath, hopped in a cab and showed up for work.
Work that first day just happened to be assisting with the coordination of the largest singles event in NYC. How ironic! My role was to help the sponsors get set up and ready to host three thousand young professionals aboard the USS Intrepid. I threw myself into the job, thankful to get my mind off of everything else that was going on.
Later that night, I was introduced to one of our sponsors. He’d heard I’d helped his team set up all day and wanted to meet me. “So you’re the reason our area looks so great,” he said. “According to my team, you saved the day.”
“No problem at all,” I mumbled. We talked for a few minutes, and suddenly an event photographer asked to take our picture. Before I knew it, this guy had his arm around me and was smiling at the camera like we were a couple. He smelled great, and once the flash went off, it dawned on me that he was really handsome. We chatted a bit more, and after about fifteen minutes, someone radioed me on my walkie-talkie, so I excused myself. As we shook hands, he looked me in the eye and said, “Hey, I know you’ve got a lot going on tonight, but there’s something I wanted to ask you. Do you have a necklace with every date of the week on it?” he said, smiling.
I grabbed my necklace, horrified that he had noticed. What the hell was I thinking wearing this on the day of the actual date? What could I say? All I wanted to do at that point was curl up in a ball on the floor and disappear, but there he was waiting for a reply. I took a deep breath, and I told him what I’d told the jeweler. After I said it, I couldn’t stop. I told him I had left my husband and was moving tomorrow. I would probably be fired, making July 29, 2004 even worse.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “But lucky for me, because I really enjoyed meeting you, and with that wedding ring on I figured I’d have to settle for being friends.” He smiled warmly. Before I could say anything, he said, “I’ll tell you what, Jenny. Give me your number and in two months, once you’ve moved and gotten settled, I’m going to call you and take you to dinner.”
I couldn’t believe my ears—this handsome, sweet man was offering to take me on a date. I nodded dumbfounded and handed over my digits. I really hoped he’d call, but I knew that it was a long shot. In two months, he probably wouldn’t even remember where the scrap of paper with my number even was.
Two months to the day we met he called. Three days later we had our first date. A year and a half later he proposed. Five months after that we got married. That was eight years ago, and I still wear my necklace every day—only now July 29, 2004 refers to the best day of my life, and that’s what I tell anyone who asks what the date around my neck means. Funny how things happen when you least expect it.
[Photo credit to Jenny Powers]
Like what you read? “Heart” this story above, comment below, or consider submitting your own story!