With our ten-year anniversary just around the bend, I have decided to tell the story of when I knew Katie Formisani was the one. Some might feel they found the one on a romantic date, or when their significant other did something so caring that they knew they couldn’t live without them. I found out Katie was the one in a cornfield in Iowa.
To really understand this story, I have to back up to May 5, 1989, the day of the worst tornado in the history of Winston-Salem. I had just turned nine, and my parents took me to see the movie, Field of Dreams, at the Hanes Mall movie theater. It was just a normal cloudy evening when we went into the theater.
About one hour into the movie, or around the time that Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) was at Fenway Park with Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), the movie blacked out. A couple seconds later, an usher hurried into the theater and shouted that there was just a tornado in Clemmons and “it is headed our way!”
Me at 9
My family in 1989
Luckily for us, the movie theater is about as safe of a place as you can possibly be in during a tornado (no windows, concrete). We stayed in the theater for about an hour, until they came in and said it cleared up outside.
On our drive home down Stratford Road, there were some downed trees and the power seemed to be out most places but we couldn’t imagine what it would be like at home. It wasn’t until we got to our alley in the back of our 1228 Glade Street house that we really saw the damage. The alley was blocked by fallen trees, so my dad had to park the car and we climbed over fallen limbs to get to our backyard. When we arrived, the tornadoes devastation hit home literally as a gigantic pine tree from next door had fallen on the back of our house.
We were able to get inside through the front door, and luckily our beagle, Abby, was okay. A large limb had also flown through my bedroom window and scattered glass all over my twin-sized bed. My family was able to fix all of the destruction and no permanent damage was done.
In 1989, we didn’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime, we just had Blockbuster. Back then, it took a long time for a movie to get from the movie theater to VHS, so I was unable to see the second half of the movie for another year. The father-son baseball movie is still one of my favorite movies until this day.
Fast forward seventeen years to when I was 26-years-old. I had been dating Katie Formisani, who I met working with children with autism, for about 8 months when I asked her to drive across the country with me.
The previous Christmas my parents gave me some money to take a trip. I had driven across the middle part of the United States when I was eighteen, and looked forward to traveling to some more states as I attempted to get to all fifty (I am stuck at forty-two plus Puerto Rico).
I decided to drive across the northern part of the country to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I planned out a two week trip that would include several stops, including Yellowstone, the Badlands, the Grand Tetons, and Chicago. I got up the nerve to ask Katie to go along, and surprisingly she said yes.
We packed up a tiny 2002 green Volkswagen Jetta and set out across America. After two nights in South Bend and Chicago, we headed to our next destination, Fargo, ND. The trip was already slated to be nine hours. I really tested our relationship when I asked Katie if she minded taking a little detour to a tiny town called Dyersville, Iowa to see a cornfield. The detour just happened to be one and a half hours one way for a total of three additional hours to our already long trip that day.
Katie could have easily said, “no way! Why would I want to go that far to go to a tiny farm town in the middle of Iowa?” But she didn’t and readily agreed. She knew driving to see the cornfield where my favorite movie was filmed was very important to me.
We got to the field, and I made Katie pitch me several baseballs as I attempted to homer into the corn that Shoeless Joe Jackson and the White Sox would disappear into as they headed back to heaven.
Standing on that remote cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa, I found out that Katie was the one for me. We continued on the trip and had a fantastic time. She me when I said I could fend off bears with my baseball bat in Yellowstone. She followed me off the hiking trails back into unchartered land in the Badlands.
We were married a little over a year later and we now have two terrific children and a great life together. On October 11th, we will reach our ten-year anniversary. Each day, I learn more and more that I was right when I figured out Katie was the one on that cornfield.
In Field of Dreams, there is a very emotional father-son scene capped with my favorite lines from a movie:
John Kinsella: Is this heaven?
Ray Kinsella: It’s Iowa.
John Kinsella: Iowa? I could have sworn this was heaven.
John Kinsella: Oh yeah. It’s the place where dreams come true.
This movie has a special place in my heart as I survived a tornado watching it as a boy and I found where my dreams came true (and continue to come true to this day) as a man.
Archie Graham in Field of Dreams: “We just don’t recognize life’s most significant moments while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days’. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”