The fourth and final chance meeting between Liam and I happened in January 2007. He had been living in Boston for a few years with good friends and working in the sales industry. I had recently finished an academic year of grad school in Vermont, followed by a fall semester of student teaching in the Bronx. I agreed to work for a couple of months in Rhode Island for a family as a nanny—something I’d done both summers prior, to make extra money for school.
My good friend, Bridget, a former colleague from my Boston teaching days, still lived and worked in the area. Her twin brothers were co-hosting an 80’s party at a bar in Fenway Park for charity, so I decided to leave Rhode Island for the weekend to spend time with her and her family. Also, Bridget and I had spent a lot of money one Halloween a few years years earlier, purchasing Top Gun “Maverick” and “Goose” costumes from a Cape Cod Army Navy Surplus store. We agreed that we would take advantage of any kind of dress-up party for years to come to make the most of our financial investment. This seemed like a perfect occasion.
Kerry (Liam’s cousin, my college roommate, and the “reason” for Nora’s existence in the first place) had recently moved from Chicago to Boston. Naturally, I called her up when I knew I was going to be in town, and invited her to the 80’s party. She, in turn, invited a couple of her cousins, one of whom included the man who would become my husband.
After mingling and moonwalking for a bit at the party, I looked up from my adult beverage, to see Kerry enter the bar with her fiance (now husband), Prithvi. Soon after that, Liam arrived too, and we all began to small-talk. I spent more time socializing with Kerry, but it seemed just as soon as she arrived, she abruptly left. I think this had something to do with the fact that she and Prithvi had come from a law school Scotch-tasting party, and had had their fill of spirits for the evening.
So, Liam had been abandoned by his cousin, his one real connection to the party, apart from this girl he’d met a few times off and on over the years. He called some friends to come and join him, but was waiting alone on them to arrive.
I was busy flitting about the place and hanging out with friends, but kept looking over to Liam sitting at the bar with his pint of beer. Because I am a well-mannered gal, and because I felt bad that it was my friend who caused Liam’s solitary state, I kept walking over to him to make sure he was doing OK and having fun. We ended up chatting for some time. I can’t tell you about what specifically, because the alcohol consumed that night has interfered with my permanent memory. But, I was keenly aware of a shift that took place as the night wore on. Polite conversation gave way toward flirtatious banter. We could say it was the alcohol at work, but I prefer to think of it as the universe acting on energies that had built up over the years, waiting for just the right moment, to bring two people together. Yeah, definitely. Well, either that, or the whiskey and the rum and the beer. It’s hard to know for sure.
At the time, Liam was single and looking for a relationship. I was single and looking to avoid a relationship. I was proud to be wildly free and unattached to anyone or anyplace. In fact, I’d been considering moving abroad to teach English. At the end of the evening I do remember Liam suggesting we get together to hang out or go on a date in the near future. He mentioned a house party he and his roommates were throwing in a week. I told him that I had no idea where I was going to be in a week, or even a month, hinting that I might not be the best candidate to pursue, or with whom to enter into a steady kind of anything.
In the end, Liam was not to be deterred. Instead, he proved to be persistent. And charming. I couldn’t say no to the countless invites that kept coming my way in the months following the party. He took me on a couple of really great dates, right away, one of which included an Irish music concert at the Somerville Theater. I remember stealing a glance at his profile during the show and thinking to myself, “He’s so dreamy.” Only I wouldn’t have actually said that in my head. It’s too 1970s or something. But I could tell early on, that contrary to my plans to remain free and unattached, I was really falling for the guy.
Just three-and-a-half years after that final encounter in the bar, we got hitched. And here we are, nearly five years into a pretty solid and amazing marriage, with two beautiful daughters, and a son on the way. So, whoever is responsible—Kerry, Bridget, the universe, distilleries and/or breweries—I’m grateful, for sure.