Ok, so last week was a teaser. I was still afraid to believe it was real, but with every passing day I am more and more sure. I’m in love. With a man. And he’s in love with me. My substantial defenses have been unable to repel this onslaught of kindness, wit, intellect, energy, and love. I feel like our lives have been on a trajectory toward each other for a long, long time. The graph illustrates exactly where we were supposed to intersect. I have an image of the universe giving a power-point presentation on it. I am so happy. Love is a powerful hormone.
I keep asking myself how I could be so lucky? But then I think, how much of it was really luck? That we showed up on the platform at the same time? Maybe. That the train was late? Definitely. That we discovered within the first two minutes of conversation that we had a lot in common? No. Pure skill. That his meeting got over in time to get to my talk? Sure. That he asked me to dinner? That I said yes? No. Not luck. That was motivation and risk taking. I’m going to give us credit for that. Ok, might have been a little lucky that I had a free evening. Ok. There’s that.
I have been single for thirteen years. I can’t believe it has been that long. I got married young and we grew together into our marriage and family and were (I thought) a really good team. We created rich, shared experiences, raised five kids, traveled all over the world, built a house, built careers, and loved each other. It was unthinkable that he would leave all that. When he did, I picked up the pieces of my shattered world, and figured I’d find someone else rather quickly. I’d never been alone or without a man in my life. I had boyfriends through high school and college, usually overlapping. When the reality of divorce sunk in, I realized I didn’t know how to be single. I’d been half of a couple for most of my life and single was a foreign land. Enter the hell hole of middle-age dating. In rural Maine. When you have a job that requires being on-call 24/7 and five teenage kids. It wasn’t pretty.
I dated a couple of guys I thought had potential. I’d consider the compromises I’d have to make, and when the list got longer than my weekly shopping one, I would think, no. Not going to work. There were a few I scared away right off the bat. I think that was when I suggested our second date be a day-long hike or bike trip or something. The most noteworthy retreat happened when Mr. X asked me for a date and I told him I couldn’t as I was a little over my head with a project I started at home. He offered to come over and help with with it. I told him, it was kind of a big project. Oh, that was fine. He was very handy. So I said, okaaaay, come on over. When he got here and saw the huge hole in the ground where we were pouring footings, the look on his face was really rather hilarious. I said, “So we are pouring a foundation and then moving that house there onto it, and adding a kitchen and bedroom. Did you bring your own tools?” I’m pretty sure he figured he was going to help me hang pictures or put up a shelf. He went and bought lunch (for himself), came back and ate it while watching us work, and I never saw him again. Surly teenagers scared off a couple more.
So I decided dating was not worth more rejection and I was meant to be alone. I think, deep down, I felt completely unlovable, so why even bother? (Note the defenses reference in paragraph one.) When I started writing the book in earnest, I used to say that I didn’t have time to date anyway, and the book was my boyfriend. I consoled myself with a fantasy that there was a man out there who was perfect for me and when the time was right we’d meet and live happily ever after. The man was impossibly perfect. But so what? It was my fantasy, and I could make him anything I wanted. I described him to Ruth, gushing as if he were real. “He is amazing! He is smart and funny and loves to do all the things I love to do! He surprises me with tickets to concerts! He plans backpacking trips! He’s in great shape! He writes beautifully! And he loves me so much!” She asked where he lived? I thought, a city. Yes, definitely a city. That would be perfect. Winters in the city, summers in Maine. Yes. I told her I think a studio in the East Village. How’s that? She replied, “Linda. This is a fantasy. Make it a brownstone in the East Village.” Ok. Sure. Then we’d have room for guests. There’s no parking, but I won’t need a car in the city anyway. She asked how we would meet, but I hadn’t worked out those details. But for sure it would be something completely romantic and random. Out of the blue! Neither of us were expecting it or looking for anyone! It would hit us like a ton of bricks! I left that to the universe to work out. I shouldn’t have to think of everything. She asked if he had kids? I told her I hadn’t decided yet. “Oh, surprise yourself”, she said.
Well, I’ve got to say, the fantasy gods were pretty darn generous. No, he doesn’t live in the East Village. But everything else is about spot on. Frighteningly so. Well, we haven’t gotten to the happily ever after part yet. I’ll have to report back on that. And seeing the reaction of my friends, well, I have not had this much fun in a long time. I told him we cannot disappoint everyone. We have a civic duty to keep this fairytale alive. It really is community service.