Not all of Cupid’s arrows get off on a beeline; some sail circuitously.
Case in point: Richard and Parie Donaldson, who met at Amarillo College and dated as freshmen, but then parted ways, were unexpectedly reunited more than three decades later and today are closing in on their second wedding anniversary.
It’s a Valentine’s Day story with some curious elements. About a week before their rekindling, you see, both had premonitions – he from a fortune cookie, she while crossing paths with one of his kinfolk.
Then the website malfunctioned and . . . well, let’s back up.
When Richard Donaldson first met Parie in 1981, they were newcomers to AC and her name was Pam Jones – she felt switching to Parie Jones would lend a little bounce to her aspirations of becoming a professional dancer. Didn’t happen. She instead became proprietor of a successful wedding and event-planning business in Amarillo called Parie Designs.
When Parie (then Pam) first met Richard, she thought he was “snarky” and deemed that feature an attribute – still does.
Depending on whom you ask, including the principals themselves, Parie and Richard dated anywhere from three weeks to several months – it just wasn’t that serious. Then they went their separate ways: he to Texas Tech; she to Sam Houston State.
Both married and had two kids each. Life ensued. Fast-forward to the present decade.
Parie, single once more, returned to Amarillo and opened her event and flower shop. Richard, an accountant and single again too, had a home in Dallas. Thanks to mutual friends and Facebook, they had remained marginally cognizant of each other’s whereabouts and doings. But even though Richard’s Amarillo roots brought him home on occasion, the pair bumped into each other all of two or three times over 30 years – again, it just wasn’t that serious.
Then came the near-simultaneous premonitions. Richard extracted a missive from a fortune cookie that forecast an impending relationship. Parie caught a rare glimpse in town of Richard’s older brother, a sighting that prompted a nostalgic and fond recollection of her old AC flame, she says.
Just one week later, on Feb. 13, 2013, the eve of Valentine’s Day, Richard suddenly realized he’d forgotten to send his mother a greeting of any kind.
“I thought about calling 1-800 flowers, doing one of those FTD things, but then I thought, no, I’ll go online and order flowers from Parie,” Richard said.
But the Parie Designs website was at that moment unaccountably on the fritz. He had to place his order over the phone, and the call he made was answered by the owner herself.
“I never answer the phone,” Parie said. “When he said ‘hi, this is Richard Donaldson,’ I literally almost dropped the phone. We immediately kind of picked up on the repartee we tend to do, the sarcastic snarkiness – we both love that.”
Just like that it became, well, serious.
After that “we talked every single day for three weeks,” Richard said. “Then we just decided it was time to see each other, so she drove to Dallas.”
Parie made that drive on March 1, 2013. They were married on March 1 of 2014, and now it is Amarillo that they both call home. Occasionally they take a stroll through AC’s Washington Street Campus, where their circuitous romance long ago sprang from Cupid’s bow.
“If it wasn’t for Amarillo College we never would have met,” Richard said.
Paire, wearing a neckless fashioned from the fortune her husband discovered in that cookie of yore, agrees. “I loved Amarillo College,” she said. Those were some of the best years of my life. I love that we have such a great institution here.”