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This week our guest columnist is Maggie Allyson, a grande dame of the romantic arena.

Love at First Sight: Can it Last?

Wise men and therapists often warn us away from that intense and sudden thrill we call love at first sight. Sometimes it’s a trap, just our repetitive patterns starting up all over again, luring us to a partner who is pure poison but whose characteristics are familiar enough to reel us in.

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Rare indeed is the human being who can resist that sizzle and smoke. I know I can’t. But listen, little children, to a tale that, oddly enough, does not end in tragedy:

I was twentysomething, fleeing a bad relationship that had soured in Austin. Nothing held me there, and friends were living in Formentera, Spain, where they had sailed on a trimaran they’d built in their garage in Wichita Falls. Now their plan was to sail on to India, and they wanted me to tend their cats and gardens in Spain during their adventure.

Well, sure.

I quit my job and settled in with film-industry folks in Dallas to make a little money as the departure date drew near.

I didn’t have wheels but was able to borrow a Volkswagen bus for the gig, rounding up jeans, chambray shirts, metal plates, and forks for 100 extras in a prison scene. I made stencils and stamped numbers on the shirts, dipped the plates in acid to dull their shine. Our commercial, for Alka-Seltzer, would go on to win multiple awards.

Every time I’d start the VW, my inner voice would go into announcer mode: You will go on a long voyage in this vehicle. Uh, no. No, I won’t. I’m going to Spain.

I finished the assignment and went to Terrell to stay with a buddy for a couple of weeks until the ship departed. (Yes, I was crossing the Atlantic by ship.)

One lazy afternoon, I heard someone on the porch of the derelict family mansion. I looked down the staircase and saw a figure, backlit, frizzy hair an illuminated halo.

I walked down the stairs and opened the screen door.

Ah, we were so young then, our lives so fluid. And we knew everyone.

A slender young man walked into the dim hallway. Over his shoulder I saw the VW bus in the drive.

That night I showed him the map, the island of Formentera half a world away. Later that night I found him pretending to sleep.

Within a few days, I had requested a refund on my transatlantic voyage. We packed out scant belongings into the VW and headed west. He was a musician working in Los Angeles.  How unlikely this was to work out. We didn’t even know each other. Our conversations were easy and familiar, but when I turned to look at him, I registered shock. Who was this person?

We moved into the little out-back apartment he’d been living in. The musicians who soon became familiar to me were already familiar to music lovers around the world. And no, I won’t drop names except for one dreamy encounter: I awakened from an afternoon nap one day to see a beautiful, beaming face leaning in through the open window, hovering inches above my own. It was Taj Mahal.

That was the summer that men walked on the moon and the Manson family rampaged through the city. Apricots fell onto the sidewalks and rotted underfoot despite their fragrance.

The band broke up, and we missed our friends in Texas. So we headed back. Our soundtrack? “If I can just get off of this LA freeway without getting killed or caught …”

And 20 years later, we were still together. We were good people who recognized each other and took a chance. Now, 40 years later, we live apart. Not a classic storybook ending, but a fine postmodern denouement. We’re still best friends.

Is there a moral? No. Do I have advice for others who fall in love at first sight? No. Am I glad I climbed into that VW bus and headed west? Hell, yeah.

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