Hmm.... found this one sitting in my "drafts" section of my blog. Not sure why I never published it. I had begun the story of re-entry into the dating world months ago, and wrote this right after the last. So... I'll publish it now so I can get on with the rest of the story soon!
The next guy I met, I honestly wish I'd come across later in the process. I think timing would have made a real difference. Who I was then, and who I am now are very different. But I came across J1 online, and he was one of the first I'd messaged before they messaged me. Reading through his online profile, he sounded like my twin. We liked most of the same things, he had a similar sense of humor, and was a Christian (oh, wait... did I mention all the other guys listed themselves that way, too?) We texted for a couple of days, then decided to meet... I was about to leave for Kentucky the first time, and wanted to meet "my twin" before I left. We met for coffee at a local waterfront park, with lots of walking trails. We got coffee (he paid, and yes, even that impressed me), then we walked and talked. And walked, and talked and walked and talked... For HOURS. He was hilarious, easy to talk to, and he seemed to find me the same. (He told me recently I was also one of the few women he'd met from online that was more attractive in person than in my profile photos.) While walking on a trail, I had this burning feeling... I wanted him to hold my hand! But he didn't. At one point, we sat and watched the last of the sunset on a bench on a dock, and he slipped his arm around me. The first sign he may have interest beyond friendship. I felt like a teenager again... all aglow inside from the smallest physical contact. Long after the sun had gone down, we both agreed we didn't want to walk anymore, but didn't want to go home yet, either. So we rented a movie and went to his house. He opened my car door for me... a very new phenomenon, but one I very much enjoyed. It made me feel important, respected... like a girl. We shared a blanket on his sofa, he put an arm around me and held me close... and I fell asleep on his shoulder. Ha ha. Beginning a long tradition of me falling asleep during movies, and him giving me crap for it! When he dropped me back at my car, he gave me a hug... but no kiss. Did he like me or didn't he? I wasn't sure what to think at that point.
But the next day, he texted me again, to say he had the afternoon/evening free, and did I want to hang out? Well, YEAH, I did! We discussed for a while what we could do, and ended up combining some ideas. We played frisbee golf at a local park, then went to a taqueria for authentic Mexican food, and played Bananagrams while we ate. Then we went to a coffee shop, but with our warm drinks, sitting with his arm around me, on a leather sofa, next to a fireplace, we were getting sleepy! So we decided to walk. As he opened the door for me, he also offered me his arm. I took his arm, but before we got across the parking lot, I slid my hand down his arm and took his hand. (Don't make fun of my inexperience! At 35 years old, many of these experiences were new to me... or at least a distant memory!)
We walked around a nearby housing development, holding hands and talking. It started to rain, but we didn't care... we just kept walking. At one point the conversation turned to dancing (both of us had mentioned wanting to take dance lessons at some point), and we stopped on a streetcorner for him to show me a few dance steps he'd learned at a class in the past. Get this... we slowdanced... on a streetcorner... under a streetlight... in the rain. Seriously... there are few things I can think of more romantic than that. It's the stuff movies are made of!
The rain continued, and we decided to get out of the rain, but again, didn't want the date to end. We decided to go to the gazebo in the park near where I grew up. It would be covered so we'd stay dry, but we could still enjoy the outdoors. We drove over in his car, holding hands (except when he had to shift gears), walked into the park to discover there were homeless people sleeping in the gazebo. But the rain was starting to let up, so we continued walking. We walked through the neighborhood I grew up in... I showed him my family's homes, my elementary school, and we walked and talked, discussed architecture, made jokes, and eventually ended up back in the park. We found a bench near the fountain, that had been protected from the rain by the trees, and sat and talked for a while. It wasn't long before the conversation turned... he said he'd really like to kiss me. So we shared our first kiss, in MY park... the one I'd played in throughout my childhood. Then we walked and talked and kissed, until the wee hours of the morning, at which time, we went back to my car to say goodnight. Before I left his car, he admitted he wasn't intending to kiss me until our THIRD date. So when he made his next move, I had to tease him and ask him which date THAT was inteded for! ha ha.
Our third date... was the very next night. It was a Sunday, he had small group for his church that night, so I invited him to come over to watch a movie after my kids were in bed. We watched his favorite musical (Guys and Dolls), until ALMOST the end when the kissing began again. And continued until early into the morning. I felt things with J1 that I'd never felt before. A connection, an acceptance...
Two days later, I left to visit a friend in Kentucky for a week. I stayed at a hotel near the airport overnight to catch an early flight. And I talked J1 into coming down to hang out with me, share breakfast at the hotel restaurant before I left for a week. He agreed, and we talked and kissed all night, but were so exhausted at breakfast that we were really quiet and it was a little awkward. He drove me to the airport (even though I could have taken the shuttle), he hugged and kissed me goodbye and wished me a safe flight.
We texted off and on while I was gone, then met up for dinner the night I returned. I was so tired after 2 hours of sleep, and a 4 am flight. But we had Thai food, then walked to the beach nearby, kissed on the beach, then I had to leave to meet another friend I was going to meet that night (a girl!)
The next day, I offered to help him and his roommate build a fence. But when I got there, they had decided not to work on it, so J1 and I watched a movie, snuggled on his couch. I met his roommates, then we went to the beach to walk, hit a used book sale and had a laid-back, fun afternoon. When we went back to his house to get my car so I could go home... he gave me a hug instead of a kiss. That was my first clue that something wasn't right. A couple of days later we had "the talk"... on the phone, late at night... he said the fact that my divorce wasn't final bothered him. That he couldn't feel comfortable calling a married woman his girlfriend. He also felt we were getting too involved too fast, and needed to work on our friendship more first... that we needed to take a step back. I appreciated his integrity and honesty, and agreed, though I was a little sad to see something so exciting, fresh, new, joyful, and fun come to an end. But I hung onto the hope that maybe someday... he'd want to take another chance.
We've discussed it since, and it seems I'm likely permanently friend-zoned. He doesn't see anything happening between us, despite the fact that we are mutually attracted to each other, we are awesome friends, continued to hang out several times a week (though that has cut down to more rarely now that I'm in a more serious relationship... not that it needed to, but he got suddenly busy, too), we enjoy each other's company, joke, tickle, and have tons in common. Sigh... I'm not going to convince him, nor do I want him to be convinced... I want the man I end up with to want to be with me more than anyone else... to feel lucky to be with me (and I with him). I don't want him to have to be convinced. So that remained one of my closest friendships, with the occasional ache for quite some time that I wished he wanted to give things a try again. Logically speaking, though... he's not ready for the package that is me. Namely, my kids. He's not there yet Not ready to be stepdad to 4 high-needs pre-teens. They adore him, but he becomes one of them when they are together! More proof that he was meant to be my friend, and a friend of our family. An honorary member, even.
To be continued...