One of the best perks of traveling as much as I do is the acquaintances I have made along the way. Every time I return to an area, there are faces I look forward to seeing again – and the show is not complete until I see all of them. Over the years, some of those acquaintances have become good friends . . .
In September 1999, we went to Greenville, South Carolina for the first time. And in those days, the first time we went to an area meant we got a big stack of cards with new names and addresses for our mailing and e-mail lists. I usually glanced at the card as the customer handed it to me, to make sure I could read the e-mail address so I could type it correctly when I got home. So it was when I encountered a nice lady with a daughter a year or two younger than Ryan tagging along – I glanced at her mailing list card and the e-mail address started with “MarisaNMom”. So I pointed at her daughter and asked the obvious question – “Is this Marisa?”
It was. I have no idea if they were dressed identically that day (it wouldn’t surprise me), but I enjoyed visiting with them and that e-mail address stuck in my mind. So a year later when we returned to Greenville, I saw that same mother and daughter and greeted them with “Hello, Marisa!” I also saw the startled look on her mom’s face and felt the need to explain why I remembered Marisa’s name – and my friendship with Kathy Markwardt was born.
I honestly don’t know if I have actually seen Marisa in person in the past 14 years – but I have seen lots of her pictures at shows in Greenville and Atlanta when Kathy and I have crossed paths and updated each other on our children’s activities. Through our conversations, I learned that her husband took a job in Wisconsin for several years while the rest of the family stayed in South Carolina, but he has been back in the south for a couple of years so I should have been caught completely off-guard last weekend when Kathy walked into our booth at a show near Milwaukee . . .
Kathy was in Wisconsin visiting family and they all came to the show together – but Kathy’s cousin beat her to our booth and told me she was the the room! So I wasn’t surprised to see her, but Kathy still had a surprise for me . . .
Marisa is engaged, and the lucky guy’s name is Louis. Kathy and I spent several minutes reliving Ryan’s wedding and talking about her plans for Marisa’s. And I felt a little older with the realization that the catalyst for our friendship is now preparing for a walk down the aisle.
Here we are, 15 years later, and our friendship endures. And her e-mail address still starts with “MarisaNMom” . . .