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An alley, a mysterious stranger, a knock at the door. A love story that couldn't happen today

An alley, a mysterious stranger, a knock at the door. A love story that couldn't happen today
I think fate was at work here. (Steve Sedam / For The Times)

I’ve always been a firm believer in fate – how being at the right place at the right time and making the decisions that we sometimes make are somehow determined by a greater influence that for now I’ll just call the Universe.

I first became aware of this influence while I was a junior at Troy State University in Alabama in 1972. While sitting in hair-rollers under a bouffant hair dryer in my dorm room I decided in that very moment to quit school, break up with my then fiance and become a flight attendant. And I did just that one year later — which brings me to this story and how choosing to simply open a door changed my life forever.

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I was living in Hermosa Beach in a tiny studio apartment right on the sand behind Perry’s Pizza. The smell of pepperoni and yeasty pizza dough was always prevalent, but the monthly rent of $150 was all I could afford on a flight attendant’s salary. It was a small space, but had a wall of windows and French doors that led outside.

It was a sunny day and I had just cleaned my apartment, and went out to drop the trash into the dumpster in the alley behind the building. As I turned around to go back inside, a sleek silver Jaguar XKE slid past me and as I watched it pass by I could see that the man in the driver’s seat was looking at me through the side view mirror. Our eyes met.

When I returned to my apartment I could still hear the rumble of the Jaguar just outside my back window. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and I somehow just knew it was the mysterious man in the Jaguar.

Now, you have to remember. This was a time before smartphones and e-mail and the 24/7 news coverage about bad things that can happen when a stranger shows up at at the door of a single woman living alone.

I had to make a decision: Go hide in the bathroom until he left, or open the door to a complete stranger? I opened the door.

The handsome man that stood before me in a navy blue windbreaker smiled and asked almost apologetically, “Have you ever seen someone and passed them by and then knew you’d regret that you never attempted to meet them and now they are gone forever?”

He handed me his business card, and asked me for my phone number. I obliged, not knowing quite why, but I was intrigued by the bold, romantic gesture.

I explained that I was leaving the next day for vacation and would not return for two weeks. He asked that I call when I returned. I was not so inclined to do so, as I was going on vacation with my then-boyfriend, who lived in Illinois.

The truth was, however, that the long-distance relationship with the boyfriend was not going well and during the ensuing vacation we bickered and fought, and my thoughts began to turn to the handsome Jaguar guy back home. When I arrived home, I still had no intention of calling him as he had requested but it was not long before he called me.

Our first date was a bike ride along what was then the newly installed bike path along the beaches of Manhattan, Hermosa and El Segundo, followed by beers at the Poopdeck in Hermosa Beach and a fierce game of foosball. I was struck by his simple act of chivalry — carrying my bike over the sand-blown portions of the bike path — and I loved that everything about him was so physical.

Things escalated from there and before we knew it we were moving in together. And then in a brave moment while sitting on the beach in front of our apartment in Manhattan Beach only three months after we had met, I proposed to him. He said he would think about it. A few months later, we were married in a secluded cove on the sand in Malibu.

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So the question remains: Was it fate that brought us together? One person taking a short-cut down an alley on his way to the office, the other deciding to dump trash in that alley’s dumpster at that very same moment.

I think fate was at work here.

We were an unlikely match for sure.

He was Jewish and 15 years older than me, with a 4-year-old daughter. I was Catholic and only 21. But somehow it all worked.

Forty-four years later I’m still in love with the Jaguar guy — his name is David — and so happy that the Universe intervened when it did.

I personally wouldn’t advise anyone to open up the door to a stranger today. But I am so grateful that I opened the door to the man of my dreams, and the wonderful life that followed.

The author — and the Jaguar guy — live in Silver Lake. L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.

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