Several years ago I was fortunate enough to become a Field Consultant for 7 Eleven which, despite the stereotypes is a phenomenal job and a great company to work for. In the training process you basically start as a third shift cashier and work your way up to the position you were hired for. It was a fantastic training program and I will be the first to tell you those third shifters are worth their weight in gold. The program took nearly a year to complete, but I had several years of C-Store experience so I fast tracked a little bit. I LOVED IT! ALL OF IT! At that point I was making good money and I actually got the chance to go home every night and see my girls. Plus it allowed me a chance to be myself, and to get away from the horrible marriage I had at home. Through this job I was able to disguise my personal life for a good 8-12 hours a day then go home to my princesses. I truly felt blessed!
My trainer, we will call her Natalie, had all of her Store Managers in her area come over to the store I was training in to meet me because she is just an awesome leader like that. One by one they filed in, shook my hand, introduced themselves, offered their help with anything I needed, then they went back to their stores. It was a really great gesture and greatly appreciated. The very last Manager that day immediately caught my eye, and I mean WOW! I had never laid eyes on her or spoken a word to her before but I was suddenly a 16 year old boy, nervous, dry mouthed, hands sweating, and I got butterflies in my stomach. She had a radiant smile, shining, gorgeous, chocolate brown eyes, and a rack only God Himself could have created. I felt weak in the knees and I mumbled so badly through the intro she probably thought I was “special”! After she left, I told Natalie she would be the next Mrs. Swain. Natalie quickly told me I didn’t have a chance in Hell. It was a tight group of people so my words traveled quickly to Nancy. It didn’t take long for me to find out the woman of my dreams found me to be quite an “ASSHOLE!” Wow right? So I thought…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! GAME ON!
Yes, I was still married at the time, but it was over way before then. We had a marriage of convenience at that time, and three beautiful little girls to consider, but I was still married so I could not go all out after Nancy like I normally would have. I had to strategize. I could not stop thinking about her, but she seemed very happy in her life, and I may be a lot of things, but I am no home wrecker nor could I afford to be accused of flirting with a store manager I could possibly some day supervise. It was very complicated to say the least, but I just could not shake it. The more I had the chance to talk to her or ask her questions about how to do something, the deeper I was falling. She knew how I felt about her from the beginning, but the whole “asshole” and being married thing deterred her from even giving me the time of day outside of work.
I went through almost two years of this with her. I would call her while I was driving from one store to another to ask her questions I already knew the answer to just so I could hear her voice. She figured that out quickly, but man I had it bad. To make things worse, I began to find out she was just as unhappy at home as I was, she had three daughters also around the same ages as mine, and had the same birthday as my soon to be ex-wife, just one year older. Strange coincidences like these just started happening, strange, but really great too.
Somehow, I kept getting sent to her store for projects…wink wink! If you know Nancy at all, she runs a pretty damn perfect store, so I knew I had Natalie’s blessing. We talked a lot. Mostly about our kids, but there was finally mutual flirtation going on. We listened to each other, and realized how unhappy we both were. Both of our main concerns were our kids. We kept that focus.
One day, okay hell with that shit, it was December 2nd, and I will never ever forget it! Nancy was sent to court to represent our company. Once again, I was sent to her store that day to do a reset while she was gone. When she returned she was pretty shaken up, our eyes locked, and right then I knew. I knew the last two years of patience and doing the right thing had finally paid off. She pulled me into the office of her store and laid the still greatest kiss of my life on me. I melted! DONE, Silly putty! We agreed to go to dinner that night and talk. I have never been so nervous in my life. I felt 18 again. I knew at that point God had sent me this way out of my league Puerto Rican Angel in my time of need, and I was not going to let her go. We went out for wings and beers. Yes beers. Double plural but remember I am a red neck! We soon lost track,of time talking about our kids, what we like to do, families, and everything else imagineable. We knew things were going to be very complicated from this point forward, but we both wanted to see what might come out of this. We kept it hush hush at this point since there was no need to ruffle feathers or get the kids involved if we didn’t think things would work. Their lives were hard enough and birthdays of our oldest daughters and the holidays were quickly approaching.
The next few weeks flew by. I talked to my Grandma Hale who was my confidant. She was dieing of cancer and dementia but was sharp as a tack that moment I talked to her. She knew something was wrong, but told me to always follow my heart, believe in God, and LIVE every day. She passed on my oldest daughter Samantha’s 16th birthday. We did not tell her that day of course, but it was very difficult for me to hide all the bottled up emotions I had going on. It was tough but we couldn’t ruin Samii’s day!
I finally made the decision to move out on my own because I just couldn’t take it any longer. That same day, Nancy asked her guy to move out also. I swear it was not planned that way, it just happened we both thought we wanted to get through the holidays for the kids. It was actually New Years’ Day! How fitting huh? I was scheduled to have a meeting the next day so I called Nancy for advice. She let me know her situation that day as well. We met and she secretly, for some reason, helped me find an efficient apartment which just happened to be right across the street from her store, and the courting began.
We knew things were going to be complicated, but we had no idea the things we were about to endure. My oldest (Samii) wanted nothing to do with me. Nancy’s kids rebelled some too. We had to plan little meetings around our girls, work, and divorce proceedings. It was a tough go. I still don’t know how we did it, but we did. We prayed together a lot. Still do, and it was by the grace of God things would somehow work out each time. We slowly introduced each other to our children. She would come with me to football games or cheer competitions so we could at least watch Samii cheer and get a peek at Shayna and Lexi when they weren’t with us. We blasted through each challenge that presented itself, and I still would not change a thing.
The one challenge I never took into consideration was the looks we would sure receive. I’m white! Very white! Redneck white! Nancy is Puerto Rican. I guess I gave my fellow human beings more credit than they deserved, but we got over that too. It just really became a funny shock to our kids’ friends especially Nancy’s, when they found out I was white. Quite comical even. Even more funny was the group of friends we hung out with were all made up of mixed race couples, a male gay couple, and a female gay couple. It was an amazing bunch!
As life continued on for the Swain clan, we meshed. We lost alot of battles, but won the wars. Feelings got hurt, things were said, tears we shed, but I still wouldn’t trade the chance of meeting her for anything in the world. Things worked out, our kids found out the truth, and fences were mended. We don’t use the step word very often, we are a family accepted from both sides of our wonderful families and we are all back together and thriving!
God is so good, and so is life!!!!