In 2013 on my 51st birthday, I took a picture of myself. It was the first thing in the morning and I photographed myself in my bathroom mirror about 2 minutes after I had gotten up. I look like I had been dragged behind a particularly large bus. For about 3 miles. In the desert. On the moon.
I had been bleaching my hair and waffling between shoulder length and the short short hair I really wanted. The bleaching was the transition into having the white in my hair be ok, and not just, why does my hair look like the broom over there in the corner?
This photo was also telling, because I have what I call the “Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” smirk on. This smirk began a few months earlier when I looked around my life and realized I was over 50 and that I was looking as at good as it was going to get for me. Under the smirk was the belief that I was going to always be single. And under that, and not very far, was the question of whether or not I was interested in dealing with this alone and loveless and solitary life for another 20 or 30 years. It was this long hard stretch of highway that I was not looking forward to.
My life was good, don’t get me wrong. I had a job I liked, I had a home I could pay for and live relatively comfortably in, I had a good relationship with my remaining family member. But there was a weight to my life that was overpowering. I was in physical pain, and in mental “who gives a shit.” The physical pain was from the fall 3 years earlier, and from being fat, and from working in a job that I never get to sit down to do. It was from me not bothering to take care of myself, because I just had given up hope.
My boss Mike Kelley saved my life.
He offered to pay for me to go to Seattle Athletic Club because they had a swimming pool, and that would be a way for me to feel better. I could exercise in water, safely and get stronger. So in July (?) I began going. The first day just getting my old ratty swimsuit on was a challenge. Then going up and down the ladder was more of a workout than I expected. I was stiff and sore the next day. But I also felt a bit better.
I continued to swim for a month or two. One day, a particularly beautiful fall day, I was floating in the water day dreaming. I could look out the high windows and see the end of summer green of the leaves on the trees waving in the blue sky. I was at peace, suspended in water and relaxed. Content for the first time in years. No pain, no thoughts, just peace and grace.
And then in my head I heard, “get back on-line”.
I knew that I should try one more time to do the “dating thing”. One last time. I let go of the belief that it had never worked before, so why would it work now. I just thought, I am in this place of total surrender and not thinking life is all that worth living, so what the fuck. The next day I took a selfie after work and put my profile on two websites, Plenty of Fish (where Marilyn had met Blaine) and Geek 2 Geek. I am a Pisces so I almost always have two things going at once. It helps me feel balanced.
I had no faith that this would work. I have been trying this for years and I either get super scary ass guys responding or none at all. I mean not even the scary ass guys will respond to me.
On Plenty of Fish I had a guy named Mark Casanova respond to me. After I made the first move. He seemed nice and was not horrible to look at. And he was tall and lived within the 25 mile range I was firmly set on. I have learned that unavailable can mean all sorts of things, gay, emotionally and physically distant, married. Mark Casanova was none of these things.
We talked on-line and then set a time to meet. We planned on meeting at the Barnes and Noble in Northgate. Coffee date. Sunday afternoon at 3. Easy peasy.
I went and waited 30 minutes. Granted he was texting to tell me he was running late. But still. When he finally arrived he looked like a very nice man, like someone my father would have been friends with through the police department. He changed the coffee date plans and suggested a walk through the mall. Then he took me into a camera store to look at cameras because he wanted to replace his, which felt like an errand to be done at another time. He offered to take me to dinner, and I said sure. We went to Azteca in the mall. There he regaled me on his amazing ability to make money, his love of gambling (where I could stand beside him in Vegas as he played the tables) and his skill with making money. Then as I had a mouth full of food, he said, “I want to just lean over and kiss you right now.” Which is something I have not had anyone say to me in 20 years. It was shocking and I also felt irritated and flattered. I said, ” I am eating a burrito right now.” Cause that is what you say in that moment.
After dinner and lots of conversation on his side of how he was new in town and, where should he buy a house that would be convenient to me, and did I mention I have skills with money?, he walked me to my car. Then he said, “I am going to kiss you.” And he did. And I felt nothing other than a desire to wipe my mouth.
And then I thought of Dave.
It took me a week to muster up the nerve to let him know that I was not going to be dating him. He was texting me how we could go on a day trip the next weekend. And I kept waffling. Then on Sunday a week from the first date, I called my friend Grace, who I felt he might be a good match for, and asked her if she would think it weird if I gave him her number. The fact is that he was very nice and very smart, and he was raring to go, which I realized I was not. She was open to it. Because that is the great thing about Grace, she is raring to go and try anything.
Then I called Mark. I let him tell me that I was apparently not ready to date yet, which was mostly right, and that I was making myself clear by not responding to him, again, spot on. Then I told him that it was weird, but that I thought he and my friend Grace might hit it off, then he could still be in our circle. Which as I write this makes me aware of what a ridiculous thing that was, and I am surprised he didn’t put a hit out on me. But I know how disappointment feels, and I just couldn’t bare that I was doing it to him. He was first and foremost a nice man, who made the mistake of thinking I was a nice woman.
He deserved someone to love, who loved him back.
He deserved a Dave.
I deserve a Dave. I deserve my Dave. I am stunned that I have my Dave. And though I tell myself I am worthy of his love, I am amazed that I have it.
So almost 1 year to the day of the morning of my 51st birthday, I am engaged to my Dave. In one year my world has turned upside down and I want those 20 to 30 years now. I want them desperately, because I can share them with my Dave.
What a difference a year can make.