This is Part 1 of a 3 Part Series…stay tuned for parts 2 and 3
I should’ve known better. Fifty-five years old. Divorced. Two grown daughters. Single-parent for a majority of their lives (thank goodness for my babysitting parents). Worked full- and part-time jobs and finished both a graduate and terminal degree in my field. Independent. Assertive. I can change the filter on my water heater and shovel the snow out of my driveway. So why on earth did I let this man in? How did I allow him to weaken my resolve to remain single? How did he scale those 6-inch thick steel walls that surround my heart?
Any other man would fail to break through that emotional barrier.
So how did he do it?
He reappeared out of my past. He knew me from thirty-eight years ago. From college. Before I became bitter and jaded and resigned to a life of singledom. That was his in. The fact of the matter, though, was that I instigated it. I initiated the reconnection.
From time to time we all reminisce. We wonder where old friends or lovers are and what they’re doing. We had dated for a brief time in college but he ended it. I always thought of him as the one who got away. You know, the one you picture yourself married to. Enter Facebook. I did a search and found a profile with his first and last name. I sent a text asking if this was [blank] from Rapid City, SD, and if he attended UW-Spokane. I even knew what he majored in and mentioned that as well. No response for about a year. Then, I got a text message back. He was living in Missouri. We texted back and forth briefly and exchanged phone numbers but when I discovered he was married, I pulled back. No thanks. Didn’t need that kind of drama.
Some time passed. He left me a voicemail to wish me a happy birthday.
More time passed. He wished everyone on Facebook a Happy Easter from New York. I thought he lived in Missouri? I didn’t respond to his posting. But then, on a Friday night while I waited in my office for my daughter to finish class, he IM’d me.
He had taken a job in upstate New York. I live in New Jersey. He couldn’t believe it. That close!
I asked after his wife. She was living in Missouri. Strange. He asked if it would be too forward to meet for coffee. I won’t lie. I was curious. Thirty-eight years had passed. Would he be the same?
We met for coffee at a Starbucks equidistant from both of us. He hadn’t changed much as far as I was concerned. Same boyish good looks. Still muscular. Still smart. Still a little nerdy. Everything I look for in a man. Why didn’t the red flag go up right then and there? Or did it, and I just refused to see it?
When I asked after his wife again, he admitted that they were in counseling. They had grown apart. She had been a stay-at-home mom for their two boys (both had developmental delays). He had poured himself into his work and when that wasn’t enough, into Boy Scouts as a troop leader. Two people living in the same house. More like roommates than husband and wife. He kept saying they were a team. But was that enough to continue a marriage, he wondered.
Hard to be in counseling when he’s in New York and she’s in Missouri, right? He couldn’t find work in his field there and she didn’t want to move out east. It didn’t seem like they would be able to work things out if they were so far apart. First, emotional distance. Now, physical distance.
We chatted for over two hours and agreed to go out hiking one day soon. It felt comfortable with him. Like old times.
A week later, he texted me. He decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to get together since he was still married. I agreed. I admitted that the spark was still there. He indicated likewise.
Time passed again. He posted on Facebook that he had just gotten back from an overseas trip to Thailand. Minutes later, he called me. I had been wondering during the time that we hadn’t spoken why he and his wife were separated. So, I asked, “Did you ever cheat in your marriage?” That question doomed me to six+ months of emotional turmoil. If only I knew then what I know now, I would have never asked that question. It set off a chain of events that I’m still attempting to recover from.