After one week on match.com I received an email that piqued (not “peeked” as another subscriber wrote) my interests because it was funny, razor-sharp and quick. Many emails, a phone conversation, and many more texts later found me on my first “first date” since 2001.
Over the past few months–since the holidays, I suppose–I’ve been considering what should come next in my personal life. With a rich and supportive circle of friends–most of whom are coupled–I found myself as the “odd man out”–never by their actions or words. But at a certain age it’s normal to be paired up. It’s what most if us want. I can certainly appreciate that.
Online dating seemed like the only viable option. Though I’d done it before in 1999-2000ish era and really have no prejudices against it, it seemed awfully unappealing to me. It lay in the back of my mind for a couple of months until I finally had to confront it. And it a took a Skype conversation with my Argentine amigo Diego (and some wine) to help me unearth it. And the answer wasn’t really that surprising: I was embarrassed, ashamed and sort of annoyed I had to follow up an iconic, textured love relationship–that ended far too early and without our permission–with an online profile and photos that would be scrutinized/discarded by strangers.
It was somehow in acknowledging that when I was able to be free of it and move past it. It almost allowed me to look forward with some excitement as to what possibilities might lie ahead for me. I know what it’s like–the good and the bad–to be in a healthy, loving relationship, and I don’t relish the idea of living the rest of my life without being one. I don’t mind saying I owe it to myself to see if its out there for me. Whether or not I find it again, what I had with Ken will never cease to fill me with love and pride, knowing I’ve experienced the truest of loves; one that can never be replaced or forgotten.
Certainly as Friday evening approached and I prepared for my date, Ken was heavily on my mind. But not with any feelings of sadness, doubt or betrayal. He was pumping me up, telling me to go for it. In my mind’s eye he’s my biggest supporter. No one would wish this kind of happiness for me more than he would. And it was of great comfort to my butterfly-stuffed stomach and tingly nerves.
Just the fact I wanted to go on a date was such a revealing symbol to me, someone who doesn’t do anything I don’t want to do before I’m ready to do it. It felt good and right. And it wouldn’t have at any time previously. It was another indication that I’d moved significantly further down my path of grief. Knowing the time and effort I put into grieving Ken was purposeful, and brought me to a moment like this invites great satisfaction. Like I didn’t just clock in every day, I showed up and did the work.
As for the date itself I can only supply general information about my feelings. I’ve never written a post that included someone I don’t know very well, and I want to be sensitive to his feelings and experience. But as far as first dates go–especially one gapped from its predecessor by some dozen years and, in many ways, a lifetime–it was ideal. Fraught with laughter, curiosity, flirtation and even reverence for Ken as my date asked kindly about him and our life together, the time flew by and before I knew it, it was a smile-inducing memory.
Regardless of what the future holds for my dinner date and me I will always think fondly of this occasion and be eternally grateful for his humor and compassion in making this momentous night so easy, comfortable and unforgettable.