Thursday, June 16, 2011

Three Laps to Complete the Circle

 -  Sandie Galindo’s memory to share with the ones she loves. Documented by Dawn Gernhardt

It’s easy to go about your life without reflecting upon the delicate patterns and coincidences that occur. However, Sandie has learned from her past. As she returned to places where she’d been, with each full circle, she spiraled upwards.  

Sandie and I recently discussed her life, and marriage to Ben. She wanted to share the importance of their relationship — and the possibility for love that it’s built upon. Sandie recalled meeting Ben at work, after a series of less than fulfilling romantic relationships. When she first saw him, how could she have known that five months later, he would be her husband, and that they would be married for fifteen years—and still going strong.

“I had just started my job at Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa the day after Thanksgiving. It was an upscale hotel for this area - Sonoma County. It’s a beautiful area in the wine country.”

Sequestered in a tiny room, working as the hotel and spa telephone operator, Sandie answered and directed calls. She found solace in connecting with employees who would wave greetings as they passed by her window. One day, she noticed a particularly unfriendly employee who didn’t greet her in the same manner as all of the others.

“One day I saw this guy walk by the window. He wasn’t very friendly looking - almost mean, in a way. I said to myself, ‘I wonder who that is. He’s kinda grumpy looking.’ Usually everybody would wave.”

“Later, during one of my shifts, this guy came in and I didn’t even hear him. He was right behind me, and he said, ‘Excuse me, I’d like to get the garbage can.’ He was working in housekeeping at the time. He didn’t introduce himself, but he was still polite enough to say excuse me.”
 “I looked around and all of the tables were full except for this one table where this unfriendly guy was sitting at and I thought, ‘Oh God.’”
One day, while searching for a place to eat among the crowded lunch room patrons, Sandie found more than what she was looking for. 

“I looked around and all of the tables were full except for this one table where this unfriendly guy was sitting at and I thought, ‘Oh God.’ So I walked up and I had my food and said, ‘Do you mind if I join you?’ He was sitting at the biggest table and it was just him.”

“So, I sat down and we started talking and he seemed to be kind of friendly. It was nice; we talked about our kids and our families and how he got here. He was from Mexico City. He was living with an elderly woman that had property in Kenwood. He told me how he had met her. She helped him bring his kids here from Mexico.”

In the days after they ate lunch together, when Ben would pass by Sandie’s window at work, he would wave and smile.

“One time, around the 4th of July, he brought me these cupcakes that were decorated red, white, and blue and I thought, That’s interesting.”

“Shortly thereafter, he asked me out on a date. I’d been divorced twice already, and I’d been in a really bad relationship. So, at this point in my life, I wasn’t looking to find another person.”

She said yes anyway.

“It was on Wednesday, July 17th. I said sure, do you want to go out to the ocean? They have nice places to eat. And I have a coupon.”

It was the third day of the week. Good things come in threes for Sandie.

“He came over and met Mom, and picked me up and we went out to the ocean. We walked out on the wharf. We had a good time. We came back and were driving around. I could tell he was very shy. I could tell that he wanted to kiss me. We were on Lynch Road looking out over Petaluma. It’s a great view. It was still light out, in the summer time. He kissed me. We started dating.”

Two months later, they moved in together.

“He was really serious. He was more interested in a relationship at that time than I was. He was such a nice guy and I could tell that he was sincere. We moved to Glen Ellen. When I had gotten married to my first husband, Owen, we lived on Madrone Road in the apartments just down from where I was living with Ben. To me it seemed as if it was coming full circle. Here I was, twenty-some-odd years later, living on Madrone Road again - with my third husband.”

Some times we make mistakes. And, we’re better for them if we can learn a thing or two - or three. Sandie may have been in the same physical space as she had been, but emotionally and spiritually she was evolving—this time, thanks to her relationship and marriage to Ben.

“We got married on December 10th. Ben had gotten the rings. We decided to drive up to Reno, Nevada. We both took Friday off so we had the whole weekend. We left early in the morning. It was just pouring so hard all the way up through Sacramento, all the way up to Auburn. And then we noticed it had been snowing. We had to wait on the road to get past Donner’s Summit. I was getting worried because it was getting late. The funny part was that Ben had put the date on our rings. I said to him, ‘What if we don’t make it? What if we’re married the day after? Why did you put the date on our rings?’ ”

But, they made it in time.

“I have his name in my ring and he has my name in his ring – it’s nice that we have the rings – with the right wedding date!”

Sandie and Ben’s relationship deepened over the years.

“We moved to Webster Street in Petaluma. Webster was right off of Broadway, which was really close to the street where we lived when I was born. Again, I had come a complete circle.”

Each return for Sandie held a new sense of awareness and hope. As a couple, living in Sonoma and Petaluma, they raised Ben’s three children. These were the same places where she’d grown up, and had raised her own two children a decade prior.

Sandie and Ben currently live at her childhood home in Petaluma. Her parents left her the house where she had grown up. "That’s where we had moved when I was three years old. Again, full circle. Three circles.”

“Thank you, Ben, for letting me sit at your table and eat lunch with you. I love you.”

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