From the Winery, Uncategorized

Share Your Love Story #2

February 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Duane & Erika

Duane & Erika



It was February 18, 1993 and a typically rainy winter day in Eugene, OR. My brother David, with whom I lived and attended the University of Oregon, was to head off to Neskowin the next day to join his girlfriend and several of her friends from the University of Puget Sound for the weekend. He asked if I’d like to tag along and I accepted, having no other plans.

It was a great group of friends sharing food, drink, music, laughs and walks on the beach. But there was one particular girl, Erika, who left my senses impaired. I did my best to disguise stolen glances and maintain my composure, but I was wrecked. On one of the late night walks on the beach, we all found ourselves in a pitch black cave of sorts and I somehow ended-up next to Erika. No part of our bodies were touching but electricity surged through us like a Tesla coil. We both played it cool throughout the weekend, neither hinting to the other what we both felt. There never was any flirtation and we said our casual goodbyes before heading in opposite direction at the end of the weekend, not expecting to ever see each other again.

Over the course of the next several months, I wrote Erika three letters that were never sent. Each revealed to her that I could not stop thinking about her, but I lacked the courage to actually drop them in the mail (remember, this is before the internet or cell phones). We both graduated that Spring and she moved back to her home town of Boulder, CO, while I got a job in Eugene. That summer, I visited my brother in eastern Oregon, where he was doing some field work as a part of his Anthropology degree, and revealed to him that I could not stop thinking about Erika and that I had written and destroyed three letters. He shot me a look that was the equivalent of a club to the head and likely disparaged my manhood a bit, before making me promise that I’d write one more letter and actually send it. I did that as soon as I got home. The letter was simple; I told Erika I couldn’t stop thinking about her and invited myself to come see her in Colorado. Ten days later I got a return letter from Erika saying she couldn’t stop thinking about me either and that I should stay put, as she’d be in Eugene for the Grateful Dead shows later that month.

We spent the evenings together after each of the shows and Erika decided to extend her stay for a couple of nights. On Sunday night we headed off to camp at a favorite spot of mine on the coast, south of Florence. By the time we reached the trailhead to begin our hike in, it was pitch black and raining heavily. To get to our destination, we’d have to wend our way through a Sitka Spruce forest, through a stretch of beach grass and over some dunes. I had done it dozens of times, but Erika was trusting me to find this spot without a flashlight and in the pouring rain and howling wind. We eventually made it to the beach, where I built a structure out of some driftwood, covered it with a tarp and set-up some sleeping bags that would remain dry throughout night. In the morning we woke to a warm and cloudless day and took turns reading chapters of Old Man and Sea to each other, while lounging in the sand.

The next day I took Erika to the airport and the day after that I quit my job. Three weeks later I’d be living in Erika’s parents’ basement in Boulder.  I wrote Erika an epic love poem everyday of that three weeks that separated us and she still has every one of them. We’ve been married for nearly 22 years now and still live in Boulder, where we are raising three kids that have the good fortune of parents that are still crazy about each other.

Check back for another love story tomorrow, and send yours in too!

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