In keeping with the spirit of loving me, I headed to the beach for a walk to get some exercise and walking meditation. (Where you think less than you normally do). I walked to the end, turned around, and as I retraced my footsteps in the sand, I don’t know why but I like to do that, I came upon a huge sleeping Sea Turtle that I had walked by a few minutes before. My previous footsteps came within two feet of it, and I never saw it. Talk about deep in thought.
What, you may ask, was I thinking about? One thing I need to work on is meeting and talking with people. My kids always tease me about being lonely and not having any friends. They are right. At least not here. I have never developed the skill (or had it come to me prepackaged as a baby) to walk up and meet strangers. My Son can have a best friend in 5 minutes anywhere. I’m proud of him for that. I always come so close, whether passing someone walking, standing in a checkout line, getting out of a car at the same time, or the brief encounter in the course of the day. Not that I don’t think about it, I do. I never say a word, and afterward, wonder how it might have gone, and did I miss a great opportunity. At least I am aware of it.
Obviously, I have met many people in my life, same as everyone else. I am trying to decide if my non-desire to reach out to meet strangers is because I am at heart an introvert, or is it a learned disorder arising out of my battle scars from relationships. I do know that when I lived and worked mostly alone on the farm, I was anxious to get around people. When I worked in a people-intensive business like the car business, I was happy to get home and away from everyone. Having a family and young kids tends to draw you away from others unless you have close family with kids or friends with the same. I had neither.
After my last divorce and I was still in the “I have to have a relationship” mode, I joined Match. I went on a total of five dates that summer, four of them one time, and one had two dates. One was coffee, one was lunch, one was dinner and those three ended with nothing to talk about. However, I would like to tell you about my first and last dates.
When I signed up, I wanted to find someone away from the city I lived in, just for some privacy. Starting to date again is awkward, and didn’t’ want to complicate it by running into someone I knew. I conversed with a few women by text and email, and one by phone. She seemed nice enough, had a cleaning business in a Minneapolis suburb, recently divorced she said, no kids at home. Her picture was nice and looked like she took care of herself. We set up a date.
Took about an hours drive, and the house was very nice and kept, in a good neighborhood. Two newer cars in the driveway. Maybe only a car guy notices that. I went up and was greeted by a woman who wasn’t her, and she called for my date and invited me in. She led me into the living room and introduced me to her husband. I sat down. In a while my date came out, she looked nice (a few too many tattoos for me, but I wasn’t judging at that point). After some chit-chat, we left to a place of her choosing.
As we were driving on the street, we passed lots of interesting bars and restaurants, and I was getting anxious to see what she had picked out. We turned towards an outdoor restaurant, which looked great, and she told me where we were going was about a block past that place. It was a bowling alley, with a Karaoke Bar. Kind of dumpy on the outside, but I thought maybe it was nice inside. It wasn’t. And we were the only two there except for a very loud and poor singer.
The waitress came to take our order, they only had burgers and fries, and I ordered a beer, she ordered a soda. After the waitress left, she told me she was an alcoholic. But she was clean now after spending several years in jail, and just got out. Did I say jail, I meant to say prison. And it wasn’t a couple of months in the slammer, it was a few years. She told me what she did but at that point my mind kind of shut down and it was so loud I could only hear every other word anyway. It apparently had something to do with a skunk of an ex-husband, and how he stole her business. That drove her to drink and do some bad things. Now her business was her and a couple of friends meeting at her house, which is a friend she is staying with until she can get a place of her own, and going off to clean houses. She didn’t have a license. I wonder if the friend and her husband were also searching for a date for her. They did look a little desperate and were really friendly to me. The final straw for me on the date was the story about her losing all her teeth in jail. Maybe it’s just me, but I like teeth.
We ate our burgers in that dive, me wondering how long is long enough to be polite to end it. After some silent moments, I made my move, did a yawn attempt and said we better get going because I had to work the next day. Good thing she didn’t know car lots were closed on Sunday, well, maybe she did. We both knew this wasn’t going to happen. As I headed home alone, I thought, what a great story, but I am sure not going to tell anyone. At least not until today. Now I’m no choir boy and have done some things I’m not proud of. Maybe I shouldn’t judge too harshly, but I do have two young kids I need to consider who will be role models in their lives.
My last date was a couple months after that. Started the same, text and phone, and I went to her city to meet her at a very cool outdoor restaurant in a trendy part of town. She was pleasant, pretty, and well spoken. Nice new car too. This is going well I thought, so after walking her to her car after dinner, we both agreed it was worth a second date. The next date was the following weekend, and we went to a live play at a theater after having dinner, which was fantastic. I hadn’t been to a live play in years and loved it. I had picked her up at her apartment, and we sat out in the car and talked for a while when I dropped her off. We both agreed we should see each other again, and I headed home feeling like maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel. The only uneasy feeling I got was her mentioning that she thought her ex was stalking her. We all have our baggage I thought.
We talked on the phone a few days after, and I mentioned I was probably going to cancel my Match membership. The next day I was searching on Match how to do that, and the phone rang. It was her. She wanted to know what I was doing on Match when I told her I was going to cancel it. I must be looking at other women and playing the field. No amount of explanation could convince her otherwise, and she hung up on me. Apparently, you can see if someone is online, and that flipped her switch. Needless to say, I have never talked to her again and canceled my Match membership too. I guess the only thing I feel bad about now is that I shelled out about $500 bucks for the two dates. I did enjoy the play, however.
In hindsight, I’m pretty sure they had a story to tell about me too. Sometimes you have to look through the other person’s eyes to get both sides. There was a reason that the connections weren’t made, and I wasn’t what they had in mind to fill the gap in their lives. They probably looked at me as some desperate, lonely older guy, grasping for air. And they would have been right.
That brings me to today. My curiosity got the best of me, and I went on Match to take a look at the available options in Maui. I feel that I have started to get a handle on my own life, and Match is a pretty easy way to start that task of meeting someone. Doesn’t have to be a romantic one either. Let’s just say my timing is pretty good to love myself, and not try to fill any loneliness with more drama. Of course, I didn’t sign up, but it did reignite some interesting memories.
I am aware of the fact I should connect with people here. My kids get it. They encourage me to open up and meet people. So for now, I’m putting “meeting strangers” down as first on my list and I will keep you posted, or blogged.
If I signed up on Match, found my profile and asked myself out, would that count?