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Columnist for a Day: Love at first sight really happens

When I was living in Victoria, B.C., a co-worker asked whether I wanted to join him on a road trip to South Padre Island, Texas.

Working for Stena Lines (formerly known as B.C. Steamship), having an entire winter off was not uncommon.

“When do you want to leave?” I asked.

“Early tomorrow morning,” he replied.

Eight hours later, we found ourselves southbound on Interstate 5.

We decided to modify our plans by adding a week-long layover in the San Diego Mission Beach area. One evening we had dinner at the Red Onion, a beachside Sports Bar. My intention was to people-watch while sipping a cold pint paired with a tall plate of nachos and Monday Night Football.

Suddenly my world shifted into slow motion. As I looked up, I saw a woman sauntering my way with a confidence that echoed with each step. I leaned in and said to my buddy, “See that redhead coming this way? That’s the girl I’m going to marry!”

He took my beverage and poured it into his almost-empty mug.

“No more beer for you,” he laughed, while returning his focus to the huge TV above our heads.

This goddess continued in my direction, and when she was a few feet away, our eyes met. Trying to sound cool, I blurted out something about the palm tree embossed on her blouse. Her eyes never left mine, her smile pierced me. I was overcome.

She held out her hand saying, “My name is Kerry.”

I took her hand while introducing myself. I never wanted to let go. Not once did she pull back. In fact, she leaned in closer. She asked what I did for a profession, and I gave her the Readers Digest version of my story.

I asked, “Are you an actress?” She laughed and tossed her long, red curls behind her. She told me she was a registered nurse. I was impressed.

Here I was speaking with someone who was rocking my world, only 10 minutes into this unexplainable relationship, watching this goddess helping herself to my nachos. Things were moving quickly. Fifteen minutes later we were embraced in a slow waltz. We danced our way onto the beachside deck, taking in the essence of the Pacific Ocean. The evening ended far too quickly.

Long story short, two days later I helped my buddy complete his trip to Texas. By the time I reached Austin, my priorities had shifted. Kerry consumed my every thought. I was on the next flight back to San Diego. When I saw Kerry waiting at the airport for me, my world was complete.

We met Monday Nov. 12, 1990. I flew back to her Thursday, Nov. 22. We were married Thursday, Jan. 31, 1991, on the La Jolla Cove cliffs, and after 27 years she still makes my socks go up and down.

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do.

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.