I’m two years, four months and six days out from tragedy. Dan died.
If I am anything, it is determined to not be bitter. To not be a sad, dark eye on the skin of the potato. I have many things to be grateful for, and I am. I have my daughters, my dog, two cats, my family, my friends, good fortune, good health, a beautiful home and a 20 pound weight loss under my belt.
And I have an overwhelming feeling of love. I was lucky to know such beautiful, solemn, unbridled and fully requited love. It could have been 8 minutes, and yet it was 9 years. I would change nothing. Well, maybe that one piece of news, that he was terminal. That I would have changed. But, I can’t. It was not Gods will; it was random science, evolution of the species gone horribly wrong.
So, here, at this point, I think occasionally of wanting to find love again. Because of everything I miss about Dan, his smile that was my security blanket, his laugh that made me queen, that feeling of euphoria when I’d see his red car parked in front of our house, these things propel me softly to the internet of promise and possibility.
I’m nervous and yet I throw my line out anyway. Into the void I cast my hopes.
Very little action in this dating pool. It’s unresponsive or absurd. The ones I like don’t even bother to look at my profile, and the ones that write to me, for the most part are either perverts, lunatics or from across the country.
Finally, one, local, guy wrote to me and I thought he was interesting. He seemed open hearted and sincere. He was smart, a widower, and Jewish. A Hamish guy. And I was somewhat tempted, but, then not, because he is 12 years older than me, and I thought that’s probably too big a gap. But I was nice and I wrote him to thank him and to say all of what I said above. I thought it was nice of me to explain my decision.
I was simultaneously emailing with one of the lunatics, but that didn’t get past about 2.4 exchanges before the verdict was clear. Stay clear.
Then the old guy wrote back to basically call me on the age thing, and to remind me that I’d written down on my preferences that I would date someone up to age 73, and he had that beat by a year. And, he suggested, maybe we could meet and if after meeting, I still felt the same, well no harm done. I was a little flattered that he was persisting, and I raised a hope that if I met him I might not feel as though he were an “old man” and that I might be sparked. So I agreed.
My standard first meeting is to go to a bar and have a drink. This guy suggested meeting in the morning, and then he let me know he doesn’t drink in the morning. Ok. Whatever you say Mr. Healthy Pants. I don’t care. I have no problem having a vape or two before our 10 am meeting at the always chi chi and exotic Izzy’s Deli.
From nearly the moment I said yes, I was still thinking no. I came to dread the whole idea. The night before our meeting, I wanted to write and cancel about 14 times. But I didn’t. I had insomnia, and the main recurring thought was, this is not going to go well. The morning of the meeting, I wanted to go back to sleep, pull the blanket over my head while my brain psycho babbled, I should not have agreed to this.
But, I threw on my skinny jeans, combed my hair with my fingers and went.
I showed up to Izzy’s about 10 minutes early. The place has some resonance for me, as the last time I was there was with Dan. I had wheeled him to the table, and we shared a pastrami. But that was then, and this is now.
I chose a booth that was in clear sight lines to the front door and ordered coffee. I needed fortification! And then I saw him walk past the front window and come through the door. He was a bit stooped; you know the way older people can be. Something about the way the top of the spine hovers forward. I looked straight ahead, sipping my coffee, waiting to be discovered.
A few more minutes, and he hadn’t come over. I looked towards the front. He was perusing the deli counter, kind of haphazardly looking around. To be honest, he looked dazed and confused.
Alone at my table, I toyed with the idea of just letting him flounder there. I half hoped he would think I’d stood him up, and walk out. The dread rose again. I would steal glimpses of the door to see what he was doing. He looked towards me, unseeing, and I even raised my hand up to wave. Still, nothing.
I should have taken all of this as a sign that the date was a truly, monumentally bad idea, but,,,,,,,,, I didn’t.
Finally, I stood up, walked towards the door, and said hello. We shook hands, and returned to the table. I guess it seemed like the polite thing to do. I really felt like I was greeting my grandpa for an obligatory social meal.
We ordered breakfast and chatted. We exchanged some stories, the why’s of our shared widowed status. He was a good listener. He seemed open, if halting. His hearing was a little off. But we managed to keep the conversation flowing.
Right about the time that I thought my parking meter would run out, and after I’d eaten my pancakes and he’d slathered his potato pancake with egg yolk and apple sauce (yuck! That would be reason enough to head for the hills), I said
“I’ve enjoyed talking with you. But I don’t really see this going down the path of a relationship. I think you’re a really nice, interesting man, and someone is really going to love getting to know you, but I don’t feel like that’s going to be me.” I overused the word really to emphasize everything. I really did.
His face fell, even further than the usual 72-year-old wrinkled sags. He looked up at me, back down at his egg yolks, and then off out the window. He just looked defeated.
We had a few more words between us. I tried to make it easier. I apologized.
He just looked crestfallen. Poor guy, he’s lonely. He was married 27 years. He has no children. He wants someone to keep him company. My heart felt a mix of utter empathy and guilt. But I was still resolved that his emotional rescue would have to come from someone else. I mean, I’m lonely too, I want companionship, but I have to feel that the companion is someone with a bit more resonance with me. We are generations apart in the 12 years that stand between us.
I guess he thought that since we’d had a conversation, than it was going well. But, well, that’s not enough.
We walked up to the cash register, and I took out my money to pay for my half of the meal. He matter of factly determined that my pancakes couldn’t have cost more than 5 dollars, so he only accepted that much from me.
As we walked outside, I kept repeating that I was sorry, and his face still looked crushed, his stoop a bit more pronounced. We shook hands, and I wished him well. I told him he was a catch for the right person. He looked at me, and then back into that far away place in which he realized that he was in fact still alone, that this one little meeting at Izzy’s hadn’t changed that and he walked towards his car.
I walked towards mine, with the helium relief that this was over. After all, two lonelies don’t make a wife.