epistolize.

\ ih-PIS-tl-ahyz \  , verb; 

  1. to write a letter.
  2. to write a letter to.

Our Napa Valley hosts, John and Cathy, are the kind of people that give you space, but you find you don’t really want the space away from them. We’ve been at this help exchange job for over a week now and we’ve heard their stories several times. None of us stop Cathy from sharing because we know it’ll be hilariously different than John’s version. Daniel, Caroline, Dwayne, and I are hoping to make an “Alternate Reality TV Show” starring them. When they have absurd conversations about losing and finding John’s glasses, I lean into one of the other helpx-ers and ask, “Did you see that clip from The Alternate Reality Show about the glasses?!” We laugh.

These people make making friends seem easy. It happened quickly and the connection has strengthened at a surprising pace. I think it’s the fact that we have long meals and play cards and we all enjoy travel and food and drink. While pulling weeds, Caroline and I pick sections of the garden close to each other so we can share music and stories. I feel like we’ve covered so much ground, garden wise and personal story wise.

This conversation happened last night over milkshakes:

Beth: How did you two meet?

John: Well I met her cousin. We all had dinner someplace.

Beth: Did you sit by him? Were you smitten?

Cathy: No.

John: She didn’t even know I was there.

Beth: So then how did it ever happen? How did you get together?

John: She went on a trip to Europe for nine months with her parents. By month three, I missed her.

Cathy: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

John: So I called the operator of Italy.

Cathy: You did not call the operator of Italy.

John: I did. I called Italy and said, “I need to find a girl traveling with her family.” They asked me why and I said, “I think I am in love with her.” Then they went on a mission to find her. All I knew is that the town started with the letter V. They took my phone number and started calling the V town’s grocery stores.

Cathy rolls eyes.

John: And then the operator would call in between to update me. “No luck here,” she’d say. Finally she called and said, “We have a lead! There’s a family that meets your description in Vernazza. The grocer has alerted them to come to the store because of a phone call from America. They’ll be calling you soon.”

Cathy rolls eyes and sips her red wine.

John: So Cathy’s dad says in a panicked voice, “Who is calling from America?” And I said, “Is Cathy there?” He sounded shocked as he said, “It’s for you” to his youngest daughter.

John takes a bite of French bread.

Beth: Ahh, then what did you say to her on the phone?

John: I said, “I think I’m in love with you.”

Beth: What’d you say, Cathy?

Cathy: “Oh. I know.”

This all happened in June of 1967 and John epistolized the rest of the summer. In one epistle, he wrote, “Do not unpack your suitcase when you get home. Let’s go away.” So they spent a few nights in Carmel. On their third date on the steps in front of a fraternity house, he said, “Wanna get married?” And as Cathy was chomping on her gum, she shrugged and replied, “Sure.”

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