I wasn't supposed to love Nate Grady, let alone marry him. But we found a love that triumphed over all adversity...just like Jane Eyre, my very favorite heroine.
I was young, bookish, naive...on the verge of entering the convent--and then I met him.... The day I abandoned my old life, the day I agreed to marry him, now seems an eternity ago. But despite everyone's objections, I fell for Nate. An older, previously married man. My first and only love. My husband.
When I looked into Nate's eyes on our wedding day, the rest of the world vanished. If I was crazy for doing this, I prayed the craziness would last forever....
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March 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Night We Met by Tara Taylor Quinn
January, 1968 San Francisco, California
Life started the night we met. Everything before this was merely preparation for what was yet to come. It was a Saturday evening and I'd gone to a local pub just down the street from St. Catherine's Convent. I'd been living in a private dormitory at the convent for a couple of years, studying education at the small elite women's college a block away--and was just two weeks from becoming a St. Catherine's postulant and beginning my life of poverty, chastity and obedience. The San Francisco pub wasn't a place I frequented often, but that January night I needed the noise, the distraction, as much as I wanted the beer that I would drink only until it got me past the unexpected tension I felt that night.
After all, I had prayers and then Mass with the sisters early the next morning, followed by religious study.
At a little table some distance from the shiny mahogany wood bar, I sipped my beer, watched merrymakers and pool-players, and contemplated the fact that I didn't belong anywhere.
Not on a date. Or at home watching television with my family. Not out with friends, not in a library studying and certainly not on the completely empty dance f loor in front of me.
I was an in-between, having left behind the person my parents, siblings and friends, knew me to be. And yet I hadn't arrived at who I was going to become. The friends I'd known were getting married, having babies, exploring the world and its opportunities while I was living on the outskirts of a society I was on the verge of joining. I had three years of religious study ahead of me before I'd be allowed to take my final vows and become one of the sisters with whom I'd soon be living.
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sitting there feeling sorry for myself. I'm far too practical and stubborn and determined to waste my time on such a defeatist emotion. I was simply taking my life into my own hands even as I gave it to God. Trying to understand the reasons for my decisions. Testing them. Making sure. Soul-searching, some folks might call it.
For that hour or two, I'd left my dormitory room at the convent and all that was now familiar to me, left the sisters and their gentle care, to enter a harsher world of sin and merriment and ordinary social living to seek the truth about me.
Was my choice to wed myself to God, to serve him for the rest of my days, the right one for me, Eliza Crowley, nineteen-year-old youngest child of James and Viola Crowley?
A woman's laugh distracted me from my thoughts. A young blond beauty settled at the recently vacated table next to me with a man good-looking enough to star in cigarette commercials. They held hands as they sat, leaning in to kiss each other, not once but twice. Open-mouthed kisses. The girl wasn't much older than me, but she had a diamond on her finger whose karat weight was probably triple that in my mother's thirtieth-anniversary band.
I couldn't imagine any of that for myself. Not the hand-holding. The kissing. And certainly not the diamond. They were all fine and good and valid for some lives. Just too far removed from me to seem real.
As I drank my beer, I saw an older woman sitting at the bar. I had no idea when she'd come in. The place was crowded, the seats at my table the only free ones on the f loor, but I'd pretty much noticed everyone coming and going. Except for this woman.
Had she appeared from the back room? Was she working there? Maybe a cook? She held her cigarette with her left hand. There was no ring.
Judging by the wrinkles and spots on that hand, I figured she had to be at least sixty.
Had she always lived alone?
I pictured the house I might have--a single woman by myself. It would be white with aluminum siding, and a picket fence and f lowers.