Some of us hold onto a few bits a pieces of paper for sentimental reasons, but most of the countless notes, forms, to-do lists, etc. that seem to bombard us are quickly discarded. Still, who hasn’t thought about one or two things with regret, realizing too late that what had seemed disposable at the time was actually a paper fortune, hinting at the future?
Susanna Baylon, former KXLY news anchor, is unabashedly sentimental.
“Almost everything on display in my home has a story,” she says.
To illustrate this, Baylon points to a framed piece of paper hanging on her dining room wall. It is a 2001 invitation to the first Diamonds and Diva’s gala. The fundraising event for the now-shuttered Spokane Opera was held in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel, which was undergoing an extensive renovation before its grand reopening.
Although she didn’t know it at the time, it was also an invitation to a new life.
Baylon was Master of Ceremonies for the gala. She’d invited a male friend to go with her and the tall man across the table had brought his mother to the Black Tie event.
“I thought, ‘What a nice guy,’” Baylon says, “But that was it.”
They went their separate ways that night but the next time their paths crossed, she remembered him from New Year’s Eve. And this time there was a spark. Eventually, Dean Fries contacted her and they had their first date at Rockwood Bakery, near Manito Park. Surrounded by the rich raspberry-colored walls, romance bloomed.
Almost exactly one year after their New Year’s Eve introduction, Baylon ran across the printed invitation and realized it marked the beginning of what she was already hoping would be a lifetime together. So she made a plan.
“I had it framed for him for Christmas, hoping he would someday ask me to marry him and that I would get it back and it would hang in our home,” Baylon says. On the back she’d written, "A miraculous night I thank God for every day."
She got her wish. The couple married in 2003, in the place where it all started--the lobby of the Davenport Hotel. And the framed invitation took a place of honor in the home they now share with their 7-year-old daughter. It shows well against the deep hue of the wall which just happens to be the exact shade of the interior of Rockwood Bakery.
“When I look at the invitation now,” Baylon says. “I always wonder how different my life would be if I had not been a part of that event.”
“And how many women can say they met their future husband and mother-in-law at the same time?”
Cheryl AnneMillsap’s audio essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons" which is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane.