In November 1998, I attended a New Jersey multi-class high school reunion. Pushing 50 with a short stick, I was still single, living large in Long Beach, California. I was gobsmacked to run into my freshman year “heartthrob” (she back then, a senior), but now divorced, healed and content with her life in Maine. We enjoyed a conversation, a dance, and exchanged email addresses – thank God.

The cake that sealed the deal for Buddy Doyle and his freshman year heartthrob when they met again years later. Photo by Buddy Doyle

January found me in Atlanta on business. She’d invited me to Maine for a mid-win-tah visit. My flight left Atlanta without incident, but approaching Boston, the pilot somberly announced that Logan had just closed because of (incredulously) – a snowstorm! But we were clear to give landing a shot.  My connecting flight up to Portland wasn’t gonna happen. The line for a cab stretched down to Providence. I called my heartthrob and suggested I hunker down, an’ see what’s-what come morning.

I finally got a cab ’round midnight. The driver was a character. In a distinct Rastafarian accent: “Where you want to go, mon?”

“Maine – but a warm motel will do for now.” With time to kill, I told him my story up to this point.

“Oh … you are a ver-r-ry lucky fellow!” he beamed.

“Hold on now – I’m just going for a friendly, platonic visit – sleepin’ on the couch.”

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He laughed. “Couch? Couch for watching TV, mon … no, I t’ink you are a ver-r-ry lucky fellow!” Mercifully, we finally found a vacancy.

Daylight dawned. All flights were still grounded. I called my heartthrob to explain the predicament. She mentioned a connecting bus to Portland. I thought (to myself!)  “A bus? I’m from California … I don’t take buses.” She continued, “It’s only about $20 …” My inner voice suggested: “Son … with the three-hour time difference, you could grab a nonstop to LA, get in at least nine holes of golf, dinner an’ drinks with the boys. B’sides, Maine’s frozen solid, dude!”

My heartthrob interrupted. “It’ll be nice to see you again, Buddy. I’ll make blueberry pound cake …” Another (distinctive) voice in my head said: “You hear dot, mon? She make blueberry cake!”

I imagined California weather in the 70s. Warm, clear – and sunny. I had to make a few decisions: (1) Snow or sun? (2) Cake or surf & turf? (3) A seat in first class – or one on … a bus? BOTH voices in my head thundered, “BUS!”

I sat in the front seat, staring through a huge picture window, not realizing I was watching the coming attractions of the rest of my life. Soon, a sign: “WELCOME TO MAINE: The Way Life Should Be.”

On Sunday, Oct. 2, my heartthrob soulmate and I celebrated 23 years of The Way Life Should Be. Opting for that big, comfy Portland-bound bus was the best decision I ever made. Every day, even when it’s snowing, I remind myself that I am indeed a ver-r-ry lucky fellow. Sure dot, mon!

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