The first time we talked on the phone he asked, “Are you lost?”
I was looking for love. Eight years after a difficult divorce, friends advised me to create a profile on Match.com. After some thought, I opened the online dating app and posted the following: New York resident, founder of mom rock, seeks romance with rugged individualist.
Next to the listing I placed a couple of photos. In one picture, I wore green rhinestone glasses and a penguin hat while posing in front of the Empire State Building- flagging potential dates that a sense of humor was required. A second photo featured me handling a jackhammer at the entrance to my home, affirming I was someone who could take care of herself.
I posted my listing exclusively in Maine, which I imagined being filled with rugged individualists, though I had not been there since I was a child. The qualities I desired in a lover had been conceived after great deliberation. I was determined to forgo the standard handsome and rich and I did not want to date anyone from Westchester. Based on experience, those guys will run you over in their car if it means grabbing a dollar bill off the street. Instead, I was looking for someone brave, honest, and truly available to meet me in the places I hoped our hearts would lead.
In short order, I was alerted to possible dates. Clicking on Carl’s picture, I saw a blonde man standing next to a lake looking a little bit like Charlton Heston. His description stated: father, Christian, caregiver to mother. Hmmm, I thought. A Bible-thumping Mother-Lover, that sounds perfect!
During our first conversation, I asked him politely, if he had teeth – a non-negotiable for me.
We spoke by phone several times, enjoying convivial conversation before deciding to meet in Brunswick. I agreed to make the five and a half-hour drive north on a Friday, stay at a local Hampton Inn and then connect.
Carl arrived at the hotel in a blue pickup truck. His hair was cropped short. He was wearing a plaid flannel shirt and hiking boots. In the backseat were snowshoes and other winter gear. We chatted casually, heading towards the woods near Freeport where we commenced into the trees. Proactively, I had shared my departure time, location, and Carl’s phone number with my girlfriend, just in case he turned out to be an ax murderer.
We spent the afternoon trudging through the snow. Afterward, I shook his hand goodbye and thanked him for a lovely afternoon. Later that evening, I called, asking him if he wanted to meet for dinner.
Over cocktails, I observed him closely, unsure if he was my type. A talkative, ex-military guy, I was not certain we were well suited? But, a little voice told me to keep looking. I stared intently, not at him, but into him, I tried to read his heart. I had already been married to the alpha male from New York City, and after four kids and eighteen years, I sensed I needed to see with different eyes. Relaxing my gaze enough to stare past his clothes, his circumstances, and beyond his story, I witness his soul, becoming convinced that he was a good man whose kindness was palpable.
That date happened over thirteen years ago. For eight years we lived separately, raising our kids and spending time on the weekends and holidays. Finally, we moved in together, forging a path forward filled with tenderness, affection, and faith. Today, we begin each meal holding hands. Heads bowed, giving thanks for our many gifts, I know, at last, this is love.