This Is How We Met: Megan Tietz's Story
This Is How We Met: Renee Ronika Klug's Story

This Is How We Met: Shawn Smucker's Story

 If you fancy yourself to be a writer, you simply have got to know Shawn. I connected with him shortly before I quit my job in June and he has been such a source of encouragement to me. (I feel like I've described most of the contributors as 'encouraging' but it's true. I surround myself with good blog friends, don't I?) Not only is he a gifted writer, he and his family are driving across the country for the next four months. How cool is that? 

We meet an older man who seems to know
I miss my dad.
And he smiles through the limbs.
We talk easily with him
until the rain begins.
This is the brotherhood of man.

- Innocence Mission, “Brotherhood of Man”


Spring, 1997

He was a back row student. His compadres joined him at the far reaches of the room, talked right up until the moment the teacher spoke, then took average notes, paid average attention, and escaped with Bs.

She was a front row student. She sat cross-legged on her chair, huddled under a thick, gray, wool sweater with oversized brown buttons. She took copious notes and in turn received copious As.

The final project in “American Lit After 1900” involved doing a presentation on any author from that period. The professor called the two of them to the front of the room. It took the boy much longer to get there than it took the girl. They had both chosen Arthur Miller, and the teacher wanted more details on their presentations to make sure they wouldn’t overlap.

That’s it. That’s how they met. He smiled at her, said he was focusing on Death of a Salesman. She smiled back, said she preferred The Crucible. If you do not know this boy and this girl, you could learn quite a lot about them from their choice of books.

And nothing came of this chance, front-of-the-classroom encounter, or at least not right away.

He thought she had the sky-bluest eyes he had ever seen, but there was the fact that school would be out in two weeks. And there was also the fact that, later that day, he saw her tentatively roller-blading and laughing alongside some guy who was probably a jerk. So she moved to the back of his mind, buried by concerns of upcoming finals and a summer that always went too fast.

* * * * *

Fall, 1997.

The boy realizes after the first week that he has five classes with the girl. He becomes a middle-of-the-classroom student. He takes better notes. He becomes rather infatuated by the girl, and after various inquiries discovers she has broken up with the jerk on roller blades. The guy is no longer a jerk. He is actually a rather nice person.

Walking from one class to the next, they take the same route everyday, and she trails on behind him. He realizes this. He stops to needlessly tie a shoe, to let her catch up. Her eyes widen, and she slows. Slower. Where is she? he wonders. Finally he stands up (deep breath), turns around, introduces himself.

They walk slowly together on a warm September day. His hands are in his pockets. She holds tightly to the straps of her backpack. There is a path through the grass in front of them, a line of exposed earth through the green.

And that is how they met.


I never can say what I mean
but you will understand,
coming through clouds on the way.
This is the brotherhood of man.

- Innocence Mission, “Brotherhood of Man”

Shawn, his wife Maile, and their four children are currently on a 10,000-mile journey around the United States, meeting with writers, participating in community projects, and seeing the sights. Shawn has written five books and blogs daily at